Sunday, November 18, 2012

When Poor Health and the Holidays Collide | Psychology Today


Another gem from Toni Bernhard
" As I say in my book, How to Be Sick, one of the bitterest pills for me to swallow when I became chronically ill was that suddenly the very activities that brought me the greatest joy were also the activities that exacerbated my symptoms. Prolonged socializing is one of those activities."
"People write to me all the time, convinced that some kind of moral failing on their part brought about their health problems. Let me set the record straight right here: it's not our fault that we are sick or in pain. We're in bodies, and bodies get sick and injured. It could happen to anyone. It took me many years to stop blaming myself for being sick."
* * *
I've recently had a conversation with a friend who seems to think that my ills could be solved by socializing more, not understanding that not only is trying to follow a multi-participant conversation exhausting, but that socializing in winter exposes me to flu and cold germs that can take me down for weeks.  My condition simply doesn't square with his personal experience that his depression is eased by socializing.
As for Toni's second point, I have had MANY people lecture me that I'm sick because it's my own fault -- either they think I violated basic health habits or they think I should be able to pray myself back to health.  I spent decades begging "I'll be good, I'll be good, please, God, make it stop!"  Neither the prayers nor the attempts to become a better Christian by doing even more for others had any effect on my health ... in fact, all the things I did for others made me sicker because I didn't have the energy to spare.
The only thing I did "wrong" was to leave my germ-free apartment during flu season.  But if I'd been so paranoid about getting sick that I'd locked myself in and refused to go to work or for groceries till March, there would be other reasons for people to condemn me.
If prayer were enough, don't you think 30 years of prayers from 17,000,000 patients worldwide and their families would have produced a cure?
Fortunately, TV has figured out that there are a lot of us who are home on holidays.  Instead of wearing myself out on Thanksgiving either by spending 8 hours in my own kitchen, or making my way to someone else's house, I will be curled up with my knitting, watching the Macy's Parade on NBC in the morning and other parades on CBS in the afternoon.  When I'm too sick to cook, I just nuke a turkey TV dinner.  This year I'm feeling a little better and will pop a Louis Rich turkey breast portion in the oven.
Similarly, on Christmas, I stock up on take-out from the neighborhood Chinese restaurant so I don't have to cook, and settle in for a day of holiday-themed specials.  HGTV often has show after show of extreme Christmas decoration/light displays, and my local NPR radio station plays a variety of Christmas programs, including "Lessons and Carols from Kings College" and "The Messiah".  Much more enjoyable than having to endure someone's family drama.

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