For many of us Christmas is a time of excitement and celebration, but for those living with a chronic condition it can be challenging – both physically and emotionally. If you have a friend or family member who has a chronic illness, there are some very simple things you can do to help them over the festive period that can make a big difference….
Don’t expect them to go to every party, family gathering and drinks with friends. Remember: just because they did it today doesn’t mean they can do it tomorrow. Space out social gatherings or suggest quieter venues. Ask them what they can and can’t have at social gatherings.
Offer to help with Christmas preparations
Preparing for Christmas Day can be stressful for the most of us, whether it’s buying presents, visiting family or simply managing expectations, but for those with a chronic illness it can be overwhelming. Offer help. Sit and down and work out what really needs to be done and what is achievable. However don’t take over and do it all. You might think you are helping but in reality, this might leave your loved one or friend feeling left out and inadequate.
Spend time with them over the festive season
People with chronic illnesses often do not tell their doctor or healthcare professional that they are struggling with their mental health. It can be very hard to distinguish between a symptom of their physical illness and what is potentially depression. Being there for them creates a support network which makes them feel cared for.
Offer to bring a dish over
Because someone with a chronic illness can tire more easily, offering to prepare them a meal can go a long way.
Check they have enough medication over the festive season
Over the festive season, shops will be shut and medical services limited. Make sure that someone with a chronic illness has enough medication to last over Christmas and into the New Year.
Don’t forget that everyone has different needs
Our needs are very individual and unless you know someone very well, it’s probably better to firstly let them know that you would like to do something that will help them and listen to what they suggest.
Ask them how they are and listen… really listen!
Someone may look or appear well, but that doesn’t mean they’re feeling okay. Giving someone a chance to talk about how they feel could make their day better and make sure they feel supported.
Do you know someone who is spending Christmas on their own due to their illness? Invite them over even if it’s just for a cup of tea. People with depression, mental health issues and anxiety are often forgotten. If they aren’t up for a visit, give them a call…
Spotted this poster on Facebook today. So true and so well said…. It is so important to keep an eye on the nearest and dearest, talk to them about it and share our experiences…
Just a few months ago we received a note from our children’s college – a young man of their age ended his life. One of my children knew him – he was in the same year…. Then my other son, who lives at the University Hall of residence, mentioned that he decided to become Resident Assistant (RA) so he could help younger students who are struggling… They already had cases of students cutting themselves there…
Feeling depressed or suicidal is not a character defect, flaw or weakness. Lots of people who were experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts have no history of mental illnesses, drugs or alcohol abuse. It is just sometimes people get lost in life and can’t see another way… Listen to them carefully and help them gently to get back onto their feet and find their way…
When I’m hurting, Hold me, And never let me go. The longer that you hold me, The more I come to know That it’s true, You really love me, And you care if I’m okay, There’s just one way To teach me that And holding me’s the way.
Your words mean far less to me, Because anyone can say ‘I love you’ But to show it Is a harder game to play. So when I hurt, please hold me Nice and tightly to your chest. When I hurt, your cuddles Are the balm that works the best.
This song touched my heart with its simplicity. Sometimes life takes you away from people who were once close to you. You slowly drift apart, drowning in the sea of everyday routine. Every now and then however you ask yourself: “I wonder how he/she is? Is he/she alright? If not, is there anything I can do for her/him?”
Or even worse – you suddenly learn that this person went through a very tough patch in life and you were not there for her/him. You had no chance to help or at least share the pain and now it is too late… You did not know, but that does not make that lump of bitter guilt inside you any smaller.
Even when you are trying to keep in touch with people who were once close to you, it often ends up in a superficial polite conversation about work, family, children, weather and lots of routine trivial things, while the most important questions go unanswered and often unasked. No words can hide the awkwardness and emptiness that speaks…
Are you alright? Do you have someone whom you can tell anything that worries you, anything that comes to your mind? Do you have someone to give you a hug whenever you need one?