Are you excited for the next few weeks or dreading it? If you suffer with a chronic condition I can guarantee you'll be worrying about so much more than buying the right present for your uncle Dave or getting the turkey in the oven on time.
I don't write much about CFS/ME over here on my little space on the internet but all that is going to change. Why? Mainly because it's something I'd like to discuss more and bring awareness to, but also because it's been having a huge impact on my life lately.
I've lived with CFS/ME since my teens and trust me, I'm not 'just tired'; it's an overwhelming, excruciating exhaustion, along with muscle/joint pain, poor memory/concentration and sleep disturbances.
Christmas used to be my favourite time of the year but I'm not feeling it anymore (if you want to find out why, I explained it all here) and having a chronic condition only makes things so much harder. How do I get up early after hardly any sleep the night before and get through two days of family-time? How do I concentrate when playing board games? How do I not fall asleep in my gravy? How do I have intelligent conversations with people when I'm in agony and just want my pyjamas? How do I laugh when all I want to do is cry? How do I get through the next few weeks?
I don't know about you but I don't have to freak out about decorating, cooking, cleaning, or entertaining mounds of people. My boyfriend and I are having Christmas dinner alone together in our house as it's the first time we've not lived with family. He's cooking, and we'll no doubt lounge around all day in our pjs - but in the evening we're spending it with Ian's family. If I'm in pain and fatigued (which, let's not mess about, I will be) getting dressed and going out will be the last thing I want to do, but I will.
So, what will I do if I'm feeling extremely exhausted?
- Wear comfy clothes
There's absolutely nothing worse than not feeling your best and being uncomfortable. I'm not going to show up in a onesie and I'll probably have a full face of makeup on (because that's how I roll) but I'll make sure I'm wearing something that I know I can relax in if I need to.
- Find a comfortable seat
Similar to comfy clothes, it's really important to find a seat/sofa that you can sprawl on. Hard, low-backed chairs only do more damage to me, and after a few minutes I can guarantee I'd rather lie on the floor (even if I won't ever be able to get back up) than sit on it. Sitting somewhere unpleasant only adds to the pain and thus the fatigue. I'm planning on taking my lumbar-support cushion to help my comfort levels.
- Be honest and pay attention to my body
If brain fog has taken over and I can't string a sentence together, or if I'm in pain and need a bit of extra attention, I'll tell Ian and he can help me come up with a plan.
- Go home early if I have to
If that plan involves leaving earlier than planned, so be it. Health comes first and despite wanting to stay longer, I know if I do more than I'm capable of, I'll end up in a flare.
- Take time out
I don't have to constantly talk to someone or be doing something. I can take a moment for myself if I need it and I'll try not to feel guilty.
- Enjoy it
It's not going to last forever and since I spend a lot of time on my own, it'll be a nice change. Have fun.
I hope these tips help you have a more comfortable Christmas and New Year.