We in the world of hidden disabilities probably have even more stress at the holidays than other people, because our routines are blown. I’ve written before about our dedication to routine (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/03/our-feline-dedication-to-routine/) . Routines keep us going even when we don’t feel it up to it—they give us a script for our days and a sense of accomplishment when we manage to follow them under adverse conditions.
With the holidays and gathering with family, either in our own space or theirs, all our go-to coping behavior is disrupted. Even a simple question like “where should we go out for lunch?” is fraught with new decision factors.. I cooked Christmas dinner for 5 people with different tastes and dietary restrictions. I have to admit I was pretty pleased with myself for the way it turned out.
I’m having increased pain simply from not managing my days the way I normally do. It must be much worse for my sister, who has fibromyalgia and flew here. Air travel and its corresponding pressure change messes us up even more than our “abled” family members. I have to do pre-boarding and then be the last off the plane, because the jostling from my fellow passengers always results in direct elbow hits to my arm screws. The pressure change alone is enough to give me a feeling like an ice cream headache in my arm.
Yesterday I was out shopping with my mom and sister in a cute local gift shop. I hit my standing limit and went outside to find a bench to sit on. On that hip street in my college town, there was no place to sit down for blocks. I sat in the car, and we moved on to a bookstore with reading chairs tucked in all the corners.
What disruptions to routine are you dealing with this season? Do you have any brilliant coping strategies you’d like to share? I hope it’s still a joyful time for you, despite the extra problems you face.