The front door of a house hosting a holiday get-together.

The Impact of Holidays on Individuals with Lupus

Before my lupus diagnosis I use to love when the BER months came around: SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER, DecemBER. The BER months signified cooler weather and that Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas was right around the corner. This was the time where my family and friends would come together and it was just a time of joy and celebrations. Good food, lots of laughter and just so much fun and great memories to be made.

However, after I got my diagnosis, the holiday season brought on new challenges and made me anxious for the holiday season.

Holidays and fatigue

Fatigue is a major symptom for me. So hosting is usually out of the window for me and my family. Whenever we have get-togethers it usually lasts for hours (and don’t even get me started on the prep time and then clean up time). All of that does not mix well with me anymore. With lupus, I need to take frequent breaks and will have to pace myself to ensure I don’t burn myself out. Whenever we do have holiday parties to attend, I usually end buying something to bring and will arrive late or leave early to these events.

Increased risk of getting sick

Dealing with a weakened immune system, I am also now very paranoid on who I surround myself with. I always mask up but that does not mean others will even though they know about my health issues. This has made me a bit wary about attending parties, especially when there's a lot of people and guests that I am not so familiar with. It just takes one sick person and I could end up in the hospital. With masking being optional and covid cases rising, holiday parties have kept me on edge.

Avoiding alcohol

Parties are also filled with alcohol and people trying to peer pressure me to drink. When I got my lupus diagnosis, I chose to quit alcohol. My doctors never recommended it, but it was a choice that I had made. Every time there is a party, there is always someone saying one drink won’t hurt. It gets annoying always having to explain myself and my decision. But, I never back down.

Chronic illness grief

Holiday parties also take an emotional toll on me. The guilt and frustration that I can’t do more or help around more hurts. I know it is not my fault but I just wish there was more that I could do. The chronic illness grief usually hits harder around this time as well, because I can’t help but think about how life was like when I was healthier. All the what-ifs play in my head but then reality sinks in that it will never be that way.

Holiday challenges with lupus

Despite all of the new challenges that the holiday brings with lupus, I have also learned that it is going to be ok. The holiday season will never be the same, but with proper planning and a great support system I could make it work and still be able to enjoy it with family and friends.

As a lupus warrior, I always need to plan ahead. That way I can build in my rest time and know when to conserve my energy. I also have learned that I cannot do it all and that it is okay to ask for help. I have also learned that it is okay to say no to things and to set boundaries. I need to put myself first and ensure I do what is right for me. I am also very thankful for my husband, parents, close family and friends who understands what I have to go through and are willing to help any way that they can.

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