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Know Someone Chronically Ill This Holiday Season? You Can Help

By HERWriter
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Know Someone Chronically Ill at the Holiday Season? You Can Help MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

Living with a chronic illness is hard all year round. During the holiday season it causes unique extra challenges. I knew nothing about this before I became chronically ill myself. I have had many years now living with ME/CFS, some holiday seasons moderately affected and some ruined.

ME stands for myalgic encephalomyelitis. CFS stands for the ludicrous name of chronic fatigue syndrome. But that's another story.

Chances are someone you love is saddled with a chronic illness. There are lots of these illnesses. Arthritis, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, many cancers, fibromyalgia, diabetes, IBS, celiac disease, heart conditions, lupus, neurological disorders, are just a few.

Many of these are invisible illnesses, that is, the person may look fine. They may look downright great. But the person who is chronically ill deals with many struggles in ways you may not be able to imagine. Sometimes a lack of energy can be like a lead balloon that hampers everything you can think of, and plenty that never occurred to you.

Would this person you care for like to do some gift shopping? Maybe. But maybe they can't manage the crowds, stores and lists on their own. Or maybe they can't make it out of the house — possibly out of their beds — at all.

Pain can leave a nasty boot print on all activities.

Does the person you care about need help with buttons or tying their shoes? If you can offer before they have to ask, or before they struggle through the ordeal, life is easier.

Does it hurt them to open a car door? Get to that door first, and open the way.

Try to think ahead and be prepared to bridge the gap to protect their fragility. And always feel free to ask if something is hard for them, your concern will be appreciated.

For some, mental fog, which makes it difficult to think or remember things, is a crippling symptom. Some may find it hard at times to talk, or to understand what is being said.

If you can do the talking and take charge at the store counter, you could make the difference between them being able to go out or not.

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

beautifully written.

December 28, 2014 - 9:52am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you.

December 28, 2014 - 3:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

This is such a lovely way of expressing just how hard it is for someone who is chronically sick. I just gave up years ago of trying to explain to my family [I don't have friends any more] how difficult it can be for me to make arrangements in advance to go anywhere only to have to cancel because I'm just not up to it. They don't understand how stress can upset my whole body- and mind. When things get too much and I burst into tears they can't understand that it's not because I'm weak it's because I've taken too much on. Emotional Lability can just overcome me and I cry. They lose their temper which just makes things worse. I hate being sick and am tired of it. If you have a strong body it's impossible to imagine how hard it is when you're so ill and yet look OK. Thanks for this- I might just try and bring it to their attention.

December 20, 2014 - 2:09am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I do indeed know how that can be when you're so exhausted everything falls apart and nothing is possible. I'm sorry your family doesn't understand. Perhaps the day will come when they will.

I'm glad you liked my article, it is a difficult topic to present in a way that people can receive it.

December 21, 2014 - 3:27pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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