Christmas is a time of cheer and happiness. It’s when we look back at all the wonderful things that have happened this year and feel absolutely amazing! But… for those of us dealing with medical complications or the seasonal peak in illness, it can be a tough time. 

Christmas makes us all re-evaluate emotionally in some way. Since it’s a yearly marker in the sea of never-ending change that is life, it makes the differences between this year and the last painfully obvious. For many years Christmas was a terrible time for me, not only because my reduced immune system means I spend every December in a haze of cold-medicine and antibiotics (also bronchitis had seasonal fun in my lungs for a number of years)

Every Christmas passed by in a blur of illness and phlegm but it was the lucid parts that stung the most. The first Christmas after becoming ill and being diagnosed I told myself was just a blip- it didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t be well again by the next Christmas. My life would definitely be back on track.

The next Christmas I was still ill and the year had been hell: one part of my body going wrong after another, barely managing to stay awake through the days. What made it worse was my friends returning from their first term at university or coming back home with amazing stories from their gap year trip. I felt miserable and alone. The next year and the next and the next were all the same: I cried, I felt awful and I couldn’t help but dream of what Christmas SHOULD have been like. 

I’m a hugely positive person. If truth be told I’m at the ‘annoying’ end of optimistic: I genuinely believe that everything will be fine and all people are innately good. When life throws its obstacles at me I shrug and say ‘oh well, at least it keeps my life interesting!’ HOWEVER, there is something about Christmas that knocks my internal happy system out of whack.

Christmas is always the marker: “I’ll be home by Christmas”, “We’ll move in before Christmas”, “I’ll sort it out prior to Christmas.” . It’s also the marker to your happiness with the year over all- “the year was bad but at least Christmas was good!” and if the year is amazing but the Christmas is bad: “the year was ok but Christmas totally ruined the whole thing!” 

I had an idea in my head all those years of what a perfect Christmas should be like but the one in my reality never ever lived up to it. I wanted the magical christmas of the adverts but I never saw anyone like me represented in them. I couldn’t run around and go sledging or even most years sit up to eat Christmas dinner with my family.

The truth is I should have thought of it as just another day.

I had adapted my thinking to find joy in the small moments of every day life and to not castigate myself for the things I couldn’t do but I struggled to apply the same thoughts to the Christmas holidays. Why need Christmas be the thing we judge the year by? Why not instead just take it as a chance to spoil yourself or congratulate yourself for making it through another year?

When you’ve already had a hard year it’s important to take every part of Christmas that makes you happy and run with it. Don’t feel you have to do something you hate just because it’s tradition or exhaust yourself by visiting every single one of your relatives in the space of a week- they’ll still be related to you next year.

This year I’m going to use the Christmas holiday as a chance to relax, kick back and recharge my batteries rather than comparing my Christmas to everyone else’s. If things get done they get done and if they don’t then at least I didn’t make myself sicker trying to force things through. 

Be kind to yourself this Christmas. Remember it’s about taking care of yourself as well as others.


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