Part II: Ultimate Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Holiday Resource

The Final Push

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As you get deeper into the holiday season with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), things just keep getting tougher, right? Symptom flares are pretty much inevitable. You may be facing some hard truths about what you can and can't accomplish in time. Especially if you're prone to depression, the holidays can be an especially difficult time emotionally.

In the last week or so before Christmas, it's important to take stock of where you are, both in terms of how much you have left to do and in terms of how you're feeling.

(For help with earlier stages of the holidays, see The Ultimate Holiday Resource, Part I.)

Lists & Priorities

If you haven't yet, make a list of everything you feel like you "have" to do before the big day, and then, with how you're feeling in mind, look at whether you can realistically get it all done.

No? Yeah, me neither. Looks like it's time to prioritize: what absolutely, positively must happen? What can go by the wayside without the whole season imploding? What tasks can you delegate or ask for help with?

Usually this time of year, the big think looming over my head is wrapping presents. I have to remind myself that most people are just fine with gift bags! For my kids, I know it's more fun tearing off the paper, so I'll try to wrap a few of theirs. If I can't, though, I can't. Bags it is. Stuffing in plenty of tissue paper can help compensate for the lack of ripping.

My extended family is good about asking me to provide simple things.

I usually have goals beyond what's required, and this is the time for re-assessing them. If I'm not up to making a pie or two, I'll just stick to cranberry sauce and mulled cider, which take very little time and effort.

If you're having trouble with prioritizing, read The Holiday Survival Guide. It's written as a months-long process for avoiding a last-minute crunch, but it'll help you out in a pinch, too.

When it comes to Christmas Day itself, I have a gameplan that I follow every year:

It usually keeps me sane and in as good a shape as I can reasonably expect.

Aftermath: The Post-Christmas Crash

It's pretty much inevitable that we're not going to feel good on December 26. That's the one day of the year that I know ahead of time I'm not going to do anything – and I mean anything! It's a stay-in-jammies, watch-Netflix-in-bed kind of day. I won't have the spoons for more than that.

If you don't get the "spoon" reference there, you absolutely must read this wonderful essay:

I know you don't need anything else on your to-do list, but it's important to think ahead and make sure you're prepared for a flare. For the things you need to think about, see:

That'll help you recover spoons faster than if you're caught with nothing to eat and have to run to that much-dreaded grocery store!

New Year's Resolutions with FMS & ME/CFS

Doesn't it seem like we've just put Christmas behind us when New Year's Eve suddenly arrives?

It always takes me by surprise.

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions – they don't ever last, do they? However, the focus on resolutions often has leads us to thinking about goals. Goals are a good thing, but only if they're approached in the right way.

For help with that, see:

If you're going to a New Year's party, be sure to read:

Holiday Depression

No matter how careful we are, symptoms can still knock us down and spoil our plans. Some of us may be alone, or may feel left out and forgotten as people celebrate around us.

Whatever the cause, holiday depression can become a reality for any of us. The resources below can help you identify the problem and begin to deal with it.

If your feelings really start to overwhelm you and you're thinking about suicide, call this number:

  • 1-800-273-8255

It's a VA hotline, but anyone is welcome to call. The staffing and training there are better than at many local agencies, so you'll talk to someone who can really help you.

Millions of people have FMS or ME/CFS, and millions of people suffer from depression. What that means is that – thanks to the Internet -- we are never alone, and we never have to bear the full burden of our illness alone. Finding out that someone out there understands and cares about you can make all the difference.

If you know someone who might be feeling alone or depressed right now, reach out to them in some way. If you think someone you know is suicidal, help them get help before it's too late.

Where to Find Help:

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