How To Cope With A Chronically Ill Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but for me the winter months are the most joyful, magical and most wonderful times of the year. As the seasons change, the colours and weather does too; the mesmerising transformation from tolerable mediocre  temperatures and an array of autumnal warm blends of colour that surrounds you, to the purest horizons of bright white sky’s, cool crisp air, crunchy frosted grass, and of course when the rugged silhouettes at night appear and the trees last leaves have fallen, you know it’s not long until the first sheet of snow lays among the hills and animal footprints are stamped into the untouched snow. 

While lakes and streams freeze over, Christmas fairs and markets open up. As thousands of festive street cuisines like the famous hog roasts, warm mince pies and chestnuts are sold; communities will gather together, strangers help each other and someone may get engaged to be married and have a selfie to show. Many people show acts of kindness and good will to those who need it the very most, people give money to those less fortunate so they can have somewhere warm to go.

While Children’s nativities, Christmas carols and Christmas parties get you in the joyful sprit. Santa’s grotto at the local shopping centre makes the kids believe while the adults see the smiles beaming on their faces and are troubled by the amount of shopping and gift wrapping they are yet to achieve! 

But for me, somebody fighting a chronic illness- all the above is just imagery swirling in my mind. I didn’t make it up, unfortunately it’s a story which used to be real once upon a time. Due to my conditions I’ve been robbed of most of my teenage life; celebrations aren’t what they should be now-no fancy Christmas do’s for me! Mulled wine, or maybe preseco would be lovely, but I don’t mind (or have not choice but to) lay in bed starring at a gorgeous, sparkly Christmas tree. 

I like to visualise the nature and beauty of the outside world. I screenshot the view I saw when I once woke up to a white Christmas and I captured the best times sledging down the gradient hills and making pretty angels in the snow. I store them in my heart and take them wherever I may go. Because now I’m bed bound I haven’t been able to see the seasons change, but I’ve accepted that and it’s okay. Now they only change in my imagination when I count down the calendar days. 

Since not being able to properly celebrate the festivities over the last few years, I often dream of what I used to do which occasionally reduces me to tears. Every year that passes, even if I can’t physically see it, I always wish upon a star hoping I have a much better, healthier New Years. I dream to go to winter wonderland, go ice skating wrapped up warm in REAL clothes-another wish of mine is to go to capital FM’s jingle bell ball and visit my favourite singers which I would adore. Id also love to watch the nutcracker ballet (again) but until I can I will close my eyes and visualise all festivities I cant attend.

To all the people who are unable to eat over the festive period because of conditions like Gastroparesis or gastrointestinal dysmobility, and to those who are too unwell to enjoy Christmas as much as you’d like to be. Its okay, you’re not alone.

I know you feel angry, frustrated with yourself and sometimes jealous of the average healthy person and their ability to have never ending fun and freedom. But it’s okay, you’re not alone. I’m not as independent as I’d like to be. 

I know you may feel guilty for destroying your family’s Christmas because you’re too unwell to join in with old festive family traditions. You hate yourself for splitting up the family because you were too sick to travel, or you’re an inpatient in hospital and it’s impossible to relive the annual activities like you were able to do previously when you were healthy. But it’s alright, that’s life- change is not necessarily a bad thing! 

Breathe. Go with the flow. See what happens. You never know, it might turn out much more special and spectacular than you first thought. 

The most important thing to remember is that your family isn’t upset about you ruining their day, they’re just upset that you’re sick-that’s not your fault by the way. Never beat yourself up over something you can’t control. It’s only just a day. 

No matter where you are, as long as you find happiness beyond the pain and exhaustion, you smile and laugh until your hearts content and most importantly, if you’re surrounded by the people you love, you will have the most joyful, wonderful most magical time of the year…
You’ll soon realise despite it not being the Christmas you’ve dreamed of, you wouldn’t of had it any other way.