Putting the Holidays Into Perspective With ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia

Tuesday as I was driving home from work, the radio announcer mentioned that there are only 40 days left until Christmas and I immediately felt myself start to panic and stress.   It has been a really rough few months and I haven’t even started or began to start thinking about Christmas shopping and everything else that goes along with the holidays.  Once I heard that announcement, however, my old Type-A personality kicked in and I started thinking to myself everything I needed to do:  shop, wrap presents, make Christmas cookies, put up the Christmas tree, send out Christmas cards, plan a Christmas day meal – you all know the routine us women put ourselves through.

Then while my heart was beating faster, and I was imagining another major CFS flare happening because of the holidays, I had a lightbulb moment.  Why am I getting so stressed out?  Who says that we have to do all of these things we wear ourselves out over year after year?  Who says you have to bake cookies?  Who says you have to buy gifts and worry about getting them wrapped?  Who says you have to mail out Christmas cards?  The older I get, the more I start to realize that all of these things are what we’ve been conditioned to do because somewhere, someone told us that these were all things that have to be done in order to enjoy the holiday season.

This year instead of buying a bunch of gifts, I’m giving gift cards.  If I do give a gift, it’s going in a gift bag with tissue paper.  If it’s that important for Christmas cards to be sent out, my husband can do it.  We can go out to eat instead of me working for two days in the kitchen and having myself worn out from trying to prepare the perfect Christmas meal. 

To me, Christmas is about seeing my son happy and enjoying the holiday and if that means I have to give up a lot of other stuff so I can enjoy him that day, then so be it.  It’s just not worth it anymore to me to do all of this stuff that doesn’t do anything but make me sicker.  I have talked with  a lot of CFS & Fibromyalgia patients and it doesn’t surprise me how many do not enjoy the holiday season.  While Christmas is supposed to be about celebration, family, joy and love, for us sick ones it becomes more about stress, flares, and complete exhaustion.

I don’t want to feel that way anymore.  While I always enjoy my son’s enthusiasm and love of Christmas, I want to really feel that for once.  I don’t want to be so exhausted that all I can think about on Christmas morning is how I can’t wait for the next few days so that I can do nothing but rest and recover.  I don’t want those feelings this Christmas or future ones to come. 

So if you are getting stressed out and feel a flare looming because of everything you think you have to do for the holidays, just remember this post and that you don’t HAVE to do a lot of it.  There are ways to make all of these traditions we put ourselves through every year a lot easier and we deserve to enjoy the holiday season thoroughly!

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Comments

  1. I’ve been doing gift cards for several years. Sometimes I shop on Amazon for dvds, books, etc. if I know what someone wants. I quit cooking holiday meals several years ago. Sometimes I’ll do a brunch but never a big dinner. I was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago so the usual holiday dinner is a no-no anyway. We like to go out to holiday buffets and everybody can get what they want.

    This year I’ve set up a Christmas wish list on Amazon so family members can just go there and see what’s on my list. I’m setting up one for my husband and am going to get the kids and in-laws to do the same.

    That makes it so easy to get something people want. Gift cards to restaurants or for iTunes or that sort of thing are always appreciated but books and movies and such are a nice little gift to be opened.

    We also plan traveling during the holidays — as in vacation not visiting people. We have Christmas Eve with family and then we take off Christmas Day when no one else is traveling. It’s a nice time for vacation and is very relaxing over the holidays. We travel home on New Years Day, again when no one else is on the road.

  2. I was just thinking the same thing about Thanksgiving. I just told my grown kids that they would have to do most of the preparing because it will only make me exhausted for days after. They agreed. God love them.

  3. Oh, and with Christmas. I’ve been catalog shopping and having them sent to me. I just can’t do what I used to anymore. It’s frustrating. I have Sjogren’s Syndrome, CF, Fibro, heart dis., Degenerative Disc Dis., Osteo-A. I’m just not what I use to be and never will be. Oh, and all that keeps me pretty depressed too.

  4. perpetualspiral says:

    Oh great. I read the first sentence and started to panic and stress too! Thanks A LOT! LOL

  5. Jane Farmer says:

    I didn’t panic too bad at Thanksgiving. Of course, I didn’t realize what I was in for. My 1st year dealing with this chronic illness and debilitating fatigue. I even had the gall to tell my mom to come on up to my house and we would cook together and it would be fun. NOT! Now, Christmas is almost upon us and I get to dread the dinner with the in-laws. That’s worse because they don’t believe I’m sick and I am sick just thinking about it. I am ready for the holidays to be finished and over with and I’m not even finished shopping yet much less anything else. God, please help all of us who have chronic pain to make it as gently as possible thru this holiday nightmare (oh, I mean season).

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