Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Happy Kwanzaa!
Christmas is great – it is – to see family, to stuff your mouthful of turkey and rip paper off a box full of knickknacks that your sister ordered for you off of Amazon. It’s the holidays…the time of giving. What’s not to love?
But for you, reader, it might be a little more complicated than that…
Seeing old faces might also mean you have to explain why your health has dwindled…why “it’s that bad” that you had to quit your job …why it’s so difficult to get better…
Gathering for an epic meal may require you to turn down certain foods you’ve eliminated out of mere desperation for something to work…alternatively you might not be able to resist – the wine, the pie, the whatever it is – and then the holidays, which are supposed to be festive, become your down fall.
And so the holidays, as grand as they may be, can become the ultimate challenger to that thing we all want: remission.
How much will you be affected by your mom’s cousin’s opinions about Lyme disease being a hoax? Or by you’re admittance that you are not as far in life as you’d like to be? Or maybe you will lie, and say you’re “fine, just fine – no complaints here!” and then how exhausted will you be by the end of it?
In other words, how much will you let other people play a role in the success and failure of your health goals?
This is not a Lyme Disease issue. This is a human issue, and for most people their ‘cross’ is that they put on a few pounds over the holidays. But for someone with a chronic illness like Lyme Disease or another co-infection, the repercussions can be far more tiring, painful, deeper and longer-lasting. And when every relapse feels like a massive failure, like the bugs will become that much more antibiotic resistant if you slip up, it doesn’t just make you irritable the way putting on ‘turkey weight’ does for the average Joe…it can be…terrifying.
So I want to reach out before the Christmas celebrations start. I want to tell you that discipline is important, but so is joy. Don’t eat half a pie and quit your Lyme protocol for a week, but don’t fixate on whether or not your food was prepared in industrial oils, and don’t skip out on the festivities all together. It’s up to you how much you want to let loose – will it be a glass of wine? TWO glasses? Merely the intent to stay up until midnight with your family and enjoy the fact that you’re frikkin alive to see another Christmas? The important thing is that, whatever your version of ‘loose’ is, you are conscious of it.
And finally, I want to tell you that being with your family and friends over the holidays (and in general) is important, but their opinions ain’t. I don’t know if this will resonate, and maybe this is just something I am writing for myself, but don’t worry who believes in Lyme, or who feels just so terrible for you or who tells you for the fifth time that you just need to try this or that snake oil miracle. Just don’t worry.
Obviously any stress affects a sick person more than a healthy one and for that reason alone it’s important to give no f*cks. Whats more is you don’t need to explain yourself!
We’ve all heard of books like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and the title is enough for us to nod, to think ‘ya, ya…I knowwww, I knowwww” but it’s easier said than done. ESPECIALLY when you’re thrown into a room full of the people from your childhood. It might be impossible to give 0 f*cks, true. But I think this practice is more important when you have a chronic illness than for anyone else.
You don’t need to describe how hard life is to your siblings NOR do you need to fake your ‘okayness.’ None of that matters. Because the holidays are not about you and your disease. And they are not about your siblings and their achievements or sorrows. Every holiday celebration is a moment in time when families – whoever is left of them at the time – come together before they are no more. Once this one passes, that’s one less moment you will all be together.
So sure, you might have (very) serious health problems, but there’s not one person at that family table who will be spared of their mortality. Slowly but surely you’re all on your way out! It’s morbid but it’s true. All the more reason to be present, to partake and love and give despite whatever pain and suffering you may tackle on a daily basis. This is the time of year to be happy you’re still here. To miss it would cause some serious FOMO!
So enjoy that piece of pie.
Shrug off the ignorant comments in regards to your health and other. No one’s perfect.
Love those around the table.
Get back on track on boxing day.
And be merry. Doink!
For more of my morbidly pleasant articles read Lyme Lessons.
HealthTalks is giving away there top 20 most popular health talks of the years. Check that out here.
Also for the holidays, my book It’s Not Just Lyme: Understanding the Metabolism’s Role in Fighting Chronic Infections will be 67% off from December 28th to January 24th.