Challenges of the Holiday Season for IBDers
Let's start with more of an obvious one. I spoke about this part in in depth in my article about Thanksgiving so I don’t want to repeat myself. However, I do know it is always worth bringing up again. I hate how much of an issue this area is for those with severe Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, but lets face it, it is! So we might as well continuously acknowledge if (regardless if we can change anything or not) so others don’t feel so alone and to hopefully spread some awareness/help others understand in the process.
Familial and Romantic Relationships
Being around family and close friends isn’t all peaches and rainbows like it appears on social media. There have been times, as recently as this Thanksgiving, where I have had an awful morning with someone close to me, only to then have all the pictures look like nothing ever occurred. If I have those types of stories then I KNOW others do. People do not share the behind the scenes. I have seen amazing things posted on social media that I flat out know are not true. Cheating spouses posing together with romantic hearts all around them, for example. Point is, it is natural to compare yourself to others but please remember that while most people are not dealing with the same challenges you are with your chronic illness, that doesn’t mean everyone else in the world is living this dream life. It has taken me a long time to realize that.
Having said that, I know relationships with romantic partners, relatives or friends can be really compromised by IBD. It SUCKS. It is not fair. I am not going to twist this into something positive; it is flat out awful we have to go through turmoil in our families all because of our stupid disease that we have no control over.
I get it...
Needing to Cancel/Unpredictability
There are a decent amount of holiday parties and get togethers during this time of year. A lot of people who live far away may be visiting and there is a lot to do and see. For those of us who suffer from an unpredictable chronic, invisible illness like inflammatory bowel disease, this can cause extreme anxiety. Not knowing how you will be feeling on that particular day, or knowing you physically cannot take the plans your loved ones have in place even though you want to more than anything, can be very hard to swallow. The latter then forces you to either push yourself which could potentially make you or the situation worse or not attend, which then releases feelings of enormous guilt.
We also never want people to think we do not care or are unreliable if we cancel last minute. It is a very difficult thing to balance.
Phony Smile as Though the Year Has Been Great
Most of us are experts at putting on a phony face. In fact, I think I live wearing a mask except when I am home. However, talking about all that has happened over the year and what everyone has been up to can be difficult for someone who has been only dealing with health challenges. It can cause feelings of inadequacies which are exacerbated by all of the things you want for your life but due to your IBD, have been unable to achieve them.
The holidays cost a lot of money. Between buying gifts, extra food, decorations, family obligations, work functions, etc… there can be an enormous financial burden on anyone, let alone someone who has minimal to no income. This can cause a lot of pressure, leading to self doubt and feelings of unworthiness. One might think: After all, if I can’t even buy my relative or close friend a decent present, what kind of person am I? I am not saying that statement is the way to think - AT ALL. But it can lead to feelings of that magnitude.
We all know the holidays should not be about gifts and materialistic items, but in our society, it is hard to get around it.
People Not Understanding
The holiday season can certainly be a joyous occasion, but it can also be a little daunting for those people who suffer from IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).
You have read a lot. Do I even need to waste your time writing about this? :)
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?