Joy to the World – bite me!
‘Tis the season – well, almost. The holidays are right around the corner. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or none of the above, the reminders of how happy everyone else seems to be are everywhere. The ads are all showing happy, smiling people with loads of family and friends surrounding them. They all seem to be without a care. No one in those pictures has to worry about money, or doctor bills, or pain, or medications – or depression. Surely the rest of the entire world is happy and peppy and bursting with love at his wonderful time of the year. Right? No – not right. Don’t buy it. What your seeing in all those ads is just that – advertising – not reality. Between the stress of the season and the expectations placed on us all by the marketing machines of the big advertisers, it can be an overwhelming time of year for a lot of people. Add to that the filter that an MS’er must look through – one that can include an uncertain future, pain, numbness, loss of abilities, loss of independence, loss of employment – and you’ve got one unhappy elf.
Sometime, part of the problem is a lack of managed expectations. Whether we expect of ourselves, or someone else expects of us, MS’ers can feel like we’re letting everyone (ourselves included) down because we can’t be relied up to make it to the party or to cook the big meal or to get the gifts bought. We really need to give ourselves a gift – the gift of forgiveness and understanding. Let’s agree to forgive ourselves because we can’t do everything we wish we could – or others want us to. It seems like such a trite saying but it’s so very true – “it is what it is.” That little saying has been my mantra now for a couple of years – and it has saved my sanity on more than one occasion. We can’t change our situation – we have MS and we’re limited on some level or another. Accept that to do too much is going to have repercussions and don’t get caught up in “shoulding” all over yourself!
Have some stock answers ready when people ask you to do something you know will be too much for you: “I’d love to, and thanks for thinking of me, but my MS is acting up a bit so I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to _________________” (fill in the blank). Or “I wish I could, but if I do that, I’ll be knocked out for a couple of days. I have to manage my MS carefully and doing too much can set me back quite a bit.” Or, my favorite: ” MS is a jealous disease. If I give too much attention to anything else – like doing too much or getting stressed – it comes at me with a vengeance.” Sometimes just explaining what the potential impact to your health will be is enough for people: “if I do too much, get too tired or too stressed, my MS can flare and that can potentially mean permanent disability for me. This stupid disease doesn’t mess around. I can be fine one minute and literally, the next minute I can be hit with an MS bitch-slap!” I’ve heard from some of you that your family and friends are so callous as to not care or to call you lazy or a faker. I’m so sorry that you have such unfeeling people in your life – but maybe they truly don’t understand MS? Maybe by explaining just a little bit – like that last suggested statement, would be enough to quiet some of those “doubters.”
The holiday blues can hit anyone – not just MS’ers. But – we do have an increase from the general population when it comes to depression. The holidays can definitely increase the likelihood of it really settling in. Certainly there are biochemical reasons for that – and those can be addressed with pharmaceuticals or other mood-altering “medications.” But for some of us – it’s just the stress and the loneliness of the season that can make us feel really lost. For us – happiness can potentially be found in things we do, choices we make and surrounding ourselves with like-minded people. Even if the world seems to be crumbling around you, if you have someone to commiserate with that really understands what you’re going through, you can find some relief, some friendship, some hope. First and foremost: I’m always here. Email me at Kathy@FUMSnow.com. I’ll get back to you asap. I’d like to put together a group of us that will work toward finding some happiness together in this crazy season. We’ll go through the book “The Happiness Project” together, discuss it throughout this season, lean on each other, share suggestions on how to find happiness and live better despite this silly disease, and just not fall prey to the holiday blues. If you’re interested, please email me at the email address listed above, and I’ll give you access to the new, private Facebook group I’m starting TODAY. Sure hope you’ll join the fun! But even if joining a Facebook group really isn’t your “thing” – I hope you’ll use some of the tips given above and reduce your stress, honor your limitations and actually find some joy in this season. Merry Everything!
**Click the link to purchase and download the book or order a physical copy of it here: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. By the way – did you know -you don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book? Yep – just download the Kindle app on your computer (or smartphone), get registered and download books!! Same is true for the Nook. 🙂
Special thanks to FreeDigitalPhotos.net for the cool sad and happy Santa pictures!!