Happy Holidays - Sam

Guilt, around everything? 

I didn’t think I suffered from anxiety. I honestly didn’t see myself as much of a worrier, at least I wasn’t. But trauma impacts us in such variant ways, because trauma comes in all different shapes and sizes.

What I find really curious is the fact that my trauma wasn’t what I thought was mental or cerebral. I’ve had two open heart surgeries which is physical, caused by a physical problem, solved by a physical solution. However, somehow, I was impacted mentally.

This is because the brain controls the lot, so when there is trauma or stress on the body the brain feels that too.

I think the link between the two is still quite stigmatized. Meaning we struggle to compute what had happened to us mentally, when what is happening to us is physical. Why we would we then begin to experience: depression, anxiety, cognitive issues – Brain Fog. That’s what the common name for all this is. My question is, if we know the impact on our mental health can be altered due to our physical health, then why does the support no come hand in hand? Why do we have to suffer the debilitating physical symptoms, along with the confusion of why we feel so shit?

Around the festive period I feel it sometimes worsens due to the expected or associated joy that comes from this time. I find myself questioning why? Is it the pressure of knowing that we will be with friends and family, exchanging gifts and time and emotions. Does this mean we are supposed to be “happy”? I find that this particular period of time in the year is stressful and anxiety driven, by most.

So then why, as Chronically ill people, do we feel the extra guilt that comes with the season of goodwill and happiness? Because we struggle at the best of times, without the added pressure of everyone else’s emotions and requirements. Because we fight all year long, we feel the extra guilt due to others feeling a similar pressure.

So, I ask, why? For all. Why is this time of year specifically stressful when it’s supposed to be joyful and celebratory? Because every single one of us, disabled or not, put a certain prevalence on it being perfect. Due to the continued output of social media, celebrity influence, etc. I think we forget that gifts and décor mean nothing compared the human reaction of being within the company of loved ones.

Happiness is a state of mind, an emotion that comes and goes, like all other emotions. So why do we hold it so high? To the point of making ourselves ill over the prospect of the perfect picture of Christmas. In reality, there is no perfection in life itself, only what we make of it and what we take from it.

My advice, regardless of your personal situation or the situation of the world, be thankful for the support and love that you receive - but also that of what you give. Being disabled or chronically ill brings guilt regardless, but your loved ones also love you regardless. It’s a time of year to celebrate both our similarities and differences by coming together in person or virtually. By remembering the gift of the season is not wrapped, but is the gift of life, health and love – from and to the ones that stay in your life. The focus should be on the love and effort that is put in by most to achieve perfection. Then when is perfection ever achieved?

So live and keep going, this is the only gift that I want from those I love and hope that this is the same opinion of others around me.

Although the holidays maybe different from then norm, it’s not about how, but about who.

All the best for the year ahead,

S x




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