The holidays have arrived! We’re two weeks away from Thanksgiving and all the expectations that come with this time of year.
The message we receive is, “There’s so much to do: shopping for presents, shopping for food, cooking the food, arranging to see lots of friends and family, spending time with friends and family, attending office parties, and more!” And through there is the additional message that you “should” smile and be happy.
Yet reality can fall far short of expectations. A woman in my office this week spoke about how she didn’t have the energy to cook the Thanksgiving meal as she always did and how badly she felt that she was letting her family down.
This is the hidden side of illness that is not talked about and so often misunderstood –the lack of energy that accompanies treatment.
If you’ve been in treatment for breast cancer, or if you’ve been struggling with a chronic disease such as fibromyalgia, PCOS, depression or anxiety, messages of holiday cheer may not resonate within you. And not being able to share in the festivities can trigger feelings of guilt, isolation, and depression.
I have some suggestions that I’ve seen work with the people in my practice, and I’d like to share them with you.
Fatigue is invisible. Even if you are in the middle of treatment, many people don’t have an internal frame of reference to understand what you’re going through. Being open and honest about your limitations will help others have realistic expectations and no one will feel upset when you have to turn down invitations or pass on turkey duty.
If you are the person who has always hosted Thanksgiving or other holiday events, this is the perfect time to accept an invitation to go to someone else’s house. All you need to do is show.