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To Anyone Who's Chronically Ill and Dreading the Holidays

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To anyone who is dealing with chronic illness and feeling less than cheery this holiday season:

I have been there, and I want you to know that it’s OK.

It’s OK if you can’t make every, or any, holiday party.

It’s OK to leave a holiday party or meal early, if you don’t feel up to it.

It’s OK to be nervous about dealing with food at holiday gatherings, whether you have dealt with an eating disorder or are on a medical diet.

It’s OK to scale back on the gift giving, especially if medical expenses have hit you hard.

It’s OK to spend the holidays inside, with a loved one, a pet, or just yourself.

It’s OK to ask for help if you are hosting a holiday meal and are ill.

It’s OK to decline hosting said meal in the first place.

It’s OK to feel overwhelmed, and to step back from everything and retreat.

It’s also OK to come back out when you feel ready.

It’s OK to question the religious aspects of the holidays because of your own struggles, or the struggles of those around you.

It’s OK to not feel the holiday joy that everyone says you have to feel.

It’s OK to get your joy from reading, resting, sitting down. You do not have to overexert yourself in order to celebrate the holidays.

It’s OK to not make New Year’s resolutions, since you don’t know what the next year will bring.

It’s OK to tune out the noise around you and listen to your inner voice and your body.

It’s OK to experience and react to the holidays differently than before you were ill.

It’s OK to redefine the holidays in a way that works for you. Chronic illness changes every aspect of your life, and the holidays are no exception.

Please remember these things as we head into the holidays, no matter what you do or don’t celebrate.

Peace and love,


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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 12, 2016
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