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Christmas is a wonderful time of year because you get to spend more time with your family which might not happen often during the year. It also can be a very stressful time of year because between holiday preparations there is always a doubt something won’t get done or arrive time. I love celebrating Christmas because it gives me an excuse to spend a bunch of money and no one will judge me for it. The holidays can be a stressful time for both abled and disabled people because we both have to navigate shopping crowds and hope that we find that perfect gift. When you have a disability you may not necessarily have to buy for as many people or prepare Christmas dinners but what abled people don’t have to stress about during the holidays that disabled people do is the challenges of a disability. The holidays are stressful for everyone but when you have a disability it does not end at shopping crowds and hosting events. In this post I am going to talk about things that are stressful for me as a disabled person during the holiday season.
Shopping at inaccessible stores- When you go shopping as an abled person you may not even realize how inaccessible stores are because it’s not as difficult for you and you’re able to navigate inaccessibility easily. When you have a disability that is not always the case and you cannot navigate inaccessibility but rely on stores to at least be somewhat accessible. I like to do as much online shopping as I can because every store has some aspect of inaccessibility. Sometimes it’s not that bad and I get it why you may think that would be accessible but other times it’s a bit ridiculous and I don’t understand what made you think a box in the middle of the walkway was a good idea. How hard would it be for stores to make their aisles a little bit wider so wheelchair users could easily navigate? You might have a few less racks but you would gain accessibility and disabled people would be more inclined to shop there.I can’t even go to a store where I can checkout easily because the register often are too high and I can barely see what I am doing. I almost always need help because it’s not designed for a short disabled person. Disabled people should be able to checkout without help and if we need to call for assistance it’s not accessible because we should be to shop independently and not stress every time we go to the store.
Pain does not take a vacation- Yesterday I decorated a gingerbread house for my church because it seemed like it would be a fun activity to do. At first, it wasn’t so bad until I had to massage icing in a piping bag for two minutes to prep it. It was not a hard task but what I was forgetting that I was quickly reminded of as soon as I started was my wrist pain! I got the job done but it was not painless and it was the longest two minutes of my life but I wanted to do it right so if it fell over I can at least say I followed the directions. Many people with chronic pain struggle during the holidays because although it is a wonderful time of year pain does not take a vacation and it’s something you always have to think about. Some people don’t even find enjoyment in opening gifts because it triggers pain and although it’s fun to see what people got you it’s not fun opening it. Simple tasks are still going to be difficult for chronic pain sufferers during the holiday season and if you want to make it easier skip the fancy bows. Chronic pain sufferers will not appreciate difficult wrapping like someone without pain might and will most likely just be annoyed by it!
Getting a ride to the store- I will never be able to drive because my eyes don’t work together and it would be dangerous even if I got a car with hand controls like most people with physical disabilities do. If I want to go somewhere I fully depend on someone taking me or public transportation. In my experience, people are more rude during the holidays because they are stressed so I like to do as much online shopping as I can to minimize the amount of time I have to be out. I can usually get most of my shopping done online but sometimes the person I am shopping for is not the easiest and I need to go to the store for inspiration.. It’s not as easy for me to plan a shopping trip because I can’t just get in my car and go but have to wait for someone else to be available. I appreciate it when people take time out of their day to take me shopping but it’s not always the most convenient schedule for me because I have to work around someone else’s schedule. I have had to reschedule blog posts because I needed to go shopping and it so happened that the only day someone was available was on a post day. I don’t mind rescheduling content and will if I have to but I don’t like to because it messes with my consistency. I could take the accessible bus to work with my schedule but that’s not always better because it usually would end up being an all-day affair!
Food triggers at holiday parties- I feel lucky that I don’t have or job or friends that like to throw holiday parties because I hate them so much. I don’t hate parties because I am anti-social and I do love hanging out with people at social gatherings but when you are surrounded by so much food you shouldn’t eat it’s not the same. Some foods interact with my ACE and can cause major issues which I don’t mind if I am home but if I am out I would like for this not to happen because I am not always prepared for it. I go to a few church events during the holidays and have fun but it is still stressful doing all these things and not knowing if it’s going to cause a problem you are not prepared for.
The holidays are stressful for everyone because we all have a little bit of doubt that we won’t find the perfect gift in time. When you are disabled you may not have to do nearly as many preparations as abled people do because it’s too difficult but that doesn’t mean you stress less as a disabled person during the holidays. Disabled people have challenges to think about during the holidays that abled people will never have to worry about. Chronic conditions often can flare during the holiday season because you get out of your routine and eat more things that you try to avoid during the year. Disabled and abled people stress during the holidays because everyone has stuff they would like to get done. The stress of a disabled person is different than if you were abled because you can never forget the challenges of your disability. What things are you most stressed about during the holidays as a disabled person and how do you cope with it?