Holidays and Chronic Illness

Last updated: November 2019

Holidays are a very trying time for many people. Although the movies and media may not portray it as such. We all have our issues, even those of us who seem the most put together.

The stress of living with a chronic illness

Whether it's the stressors of family, friends, the pressure from society or the simple "beauty" of this time of year, plastered all over social media that's got you down, there's someone out there who can relate. Holidays are especially crazy for those of us living with chronic conditions. Conditions like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis have been "invisible" for a very long time now. These conditions highlight very uncomfortable, or "un-ladylike" topics and because of this, we're often silenced. Many of us don't "look sick" at all, making this time of year especially challenging. Family members questioning the validity of your food fears ( and/or concerns). People who know nothing about you nor your condition constantly offering advice and cures. Trust me, I know the holiday game plan.

This time of year is tough, but you are tougher.

As corny as it sounds, it's true. Whatever kind of despair you are facing, I can guarantee there are at least 15 others nearby feeling the exact same way. At times, the holidays, along with my condition, can make me feel misunderstood. As if no one will ever be able to relate to the struggles I face, or at the very least, be able to empathize with them. That constant worry is tough but very valid.

I often preach for less time on social media, but this is where the good of it really shines through. The online IBD community is one like no other. We are tied together by our conditions and through the good and bad, we have each other. You have an entire community of people here, online, to vent to and lean on when you're feeling overwhelmed or down.

The holidays can be a depressing time of the year

It's a beautiful time of the year, but still extremely depressing. I understand.

Although our conditions play a huge part in things, so do the people and circumstances surrounding us. Because of this, I'd like to invite you to share your thoughts and opinions, worries, fears, even joys with us! On November 21th, 2019 at 7PM EST, I will be hosting a Twitter chat on Chronic Illness and the holidays. I'd love if you'd add it to your calendar! To participate, all you need to do is follow [me] ShawnBethea_ on Twitter, have your profile set to "public" and on November 21, use the hashtag #HealtheVoicesChat to follow and add to the conversation.

It's a tough time, but I am a firm believer that with community, brings comfort. Talking about the very topics that weigh so heavy on my mind constantly, with my IBD friends alone, always leaves me feeling heard and understood. I hope this chat will do the same for you. Even if you're not currently struggling, or the holidays don't bring you grief, I encourage you to join the chat and spread your light on those who really need it the most.

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