Are The Holidays A Difficult Time For You? How I've Continued To Love Them Despite MS
As a child my favorite movies told stories about characters that were wealthy, beautifully coiffed and inundated with all sorts of social invitations.
Inevitably one scene or another took place in a grand ballroom at someone’s estate. Men always wore tuxedos and women wore evening gowns.
I was an invisible guest looking in on a world foreign from my own. I adored watching their stories unfold on the dance floor.
Each movie had a Jane Austenesque quality to it. They fueled my already Utopian view of how I thought life was. Adding fuel to my fire were holiday movies. Everyone ended up having hearts of gold while singing and dancing their way into each other’s hearts.
Every story ended neatly with a tied bow for our viewing pleasure.
But no one ever had MS.
And after my diagnosis, I quickly learned that my story was nothing like theirs.
The holiday season can be a difficult one for those of us with MS. We want our lives to play out like a holiday movie. We want to be surrounded by loved ones and all of the people we care about. We’d like to dance, ski, skate, take long walks, attend holiday parties, or host a party of our own.
Yet MS invades our world. It slows us down. It leaves us feeling lonely or isolated.
In the world outside of books and movies, non-disabled people get caught up in the frenzy of technology. (To be honest, we in the disabled community can get caught up as well. I need to join an Addicted to Social Media Anonymous!) They are constantly on a treadmill of using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, emails, cell phones, webinars, and conferences.
For those of us with MS, we sometimes feel left out. Fatigue, depression, an inability to walk or having bladder issues can keep us from taking part in the world around us.
A few weeks ago I felt slighted and sad when I took my slow walk around my neighborhood. A neighbor I’ve known for years slowly walked past me. She was on her cell phone, and although she saw me walking slowly, she never looked up to wave hello or smile. She knows I have MS and that I sometimes have difficulty walking, yet she never bothered to take one second of her time to wave a simple hello.
I was beginning to believe that humanity was becoming a lost art
I love this time of year and the magical feeling I get during the holiday season. That feeling is a gift to be treasured, and I always want to keep it near to my heart. But in a world going crazy, is that possible?
Miraculously, when I was at my lowest point, I received two phone calls within ten minutes of each other. One was from a precious family member, the other from a close friend. They lifted my spirits and renewed my faith in people.
The simple kindness of a phone call was all it took to lighten my heart.
I’ll never have the social calendar of Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story or of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.
I have to learn to accept others for who they are, and let go of others who are not gracious and caring friends.
The magical holiday season I love so dearly will be what I make of it, not how others make it for me. I will enjoy it by giving to others in need; sharing my joy with loved ones, carrying kindness in my heart and honoring myself.
I don’t have all of the answers on how to feel joyful during the holidays. But I do know that by taking care of your physical and emotional needs, while enjoying every minute spent with loved ones, is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
Always remember you are an integral part of this community of people with MS at MultipleSclerosis.net. We can always lean on each other.
Happiest of holidays to you all.
What will you do to make your holiday more meaningful, less isolating and more joyful?
Does listening to music help lower the severity of your stress or MS symptoms?