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15 Ways the Holiday Season Is Different When You Have Fibromyalgia

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Now that December has arrived it’s officially the holiday season in my household… which has me thinking about what the holiday season is like when you have fibromyalgia like me. I’m not hating on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, but the holidays are more complicated when you have chronic pain, chronic fatigue and an invisible illness.

That’s why this year, I want to share 15 ways the holiday season changes when you have fibromayglia — similar to what I shared last year with celiac disease. If you have fibromyalgia, I hope this list reminds you that you’re not the only one having a holiday season with plenty of chronically-not-so-awesome quirks. And if you know someone with fibromyalgia, I hope this post gives you a better understanding of what your loved one is experiencing during the holidays!

1. Holiday parties and social events may sound more draining than enjoyable.

So instead of being the first person to arrive and the last to leave, we might duck out early due to a “prior commitment”… to our bubble bath or a cozy bed.

2. We may be able to go full-blown Santa Claus one day… and turn into the Grinch the next.

Helllooooo fibro flares — especially after we push ourselves too hard the previous day.

3. While others dread being asked if they’re still single, we hate hearing, “You aren’t better yet?!?”

4. Drinking may not be part of our usual party routine…

Especially considering the meds we’re taking to treat fibromyalgia, alcohol and fibro warriors don’t always mix well.

5. If we live somewhere that gets cold, the holiday season can literally hurt.

Not to mention that the change of seasons and weather can be especially rough on our joints and sinuses.

6. We may need to eat a particular diet to feel our best, so we have to regularly turn down offered treats.


7. Because the holidays disrupt our usual routine, we can feel extra anxious or experience additional flare-ups.

8. Some days, the most festive activity our body is up for is binge-watching Hallmark movies.

So if we cancel plans or need to change our pumpkin patch visit to a Netflix marathon, know we’re not trying to be demanding!

9. If this is our first holiday season with fibromyalgia, we might grieve the traditions we can’t easily participate in anymore.

Such as going on long fall hikes or making treats that no longer agree with our body.

10. Fibro fog can make it trickier for us to easily socialize at parties or even buy the perfect presents for friends and family.

Who was I buying something for?? What did I want to get them again??

11. We may avoid festively scented candles because even “yummy” smells can trigger a flare-up.

12. Honestly, the holidays can be exhausting… so we may need more “me” days than usual.

This doesn’t mean we don’t love being around our friends and family. But we do need time alone to recharge.

13. We can feel extra guilty for saying no, not being able to do what “normal/healthy” people can, or not being able to spend as much time with loved ones as we’d like.

14. When people do consider our needs in their holiday plans, we’re extra grateful.

People who believe in our invisible illness and do their best to accommodate our needs truly do create a magical holiday season for us.

15. Holiday cheer can’t cure our fibromyalgia or lessen our pain… but we treasure the moments we do get to spend with loved ones.

And supportive friends and family truly are the best holiday gifts we can get!

The Bottom Line: Living with Fibromyalgia During the Holidays

Speaking for myself as a fibromyalgia warrior, I can say that I look forward to the holidays just as much as everyone else! However, I also have different expectations for what those holidays will look like… and that’s OK.

If this is your first holiday season with fibromyalgia or with a loved one who has it, I strongly encourage you to consider what your holiday season might really look like. What steps could you take to help prevent and manage flare-ups? What could loved ones do to help you participate in holiday festivities as pain-free as possible? Because once you answer questions like those, it will be much easier for you to have a truly magical holiday season… even with chronic pain and fatigue. And if that’s not a Christmas miracle… what is?

This post first appeared on my blog, Casey the College Celiac.

Originally published: December 3, 2020
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