Here’s something I didn’t know until this week: the third Monday of January has been named “Blue Monday” aka the most depressing day of the year. Created by a marketing genius in the travel industry, Blue Monday is when New Year resolutions typically end, credit card bills roll in, and you can count that it’s usually cold outside.
Now I don’t buy into any of the hype. Maybe it’s because I’m a realist or maybe it’s tough to break what is already broken (thanks neuromyelitis optica). Regardless, my take it or leave it/it is what it is attitude wasn’t phased by it. Or so I thought.
One of the most challenging things NMO patients face is navigating personal relationships. Most of us are really blessed to have great support networks but on occasion even the best ones can fall apart. Other than the ask for medical advice, the most common thread on the patient support site is on how to manage relationships when we don’t feel good. For those of us living with disease, stress can really affect us and nothing is more stressful than the disintegration of our relationships. Furthermore, it’s tough to have those closest to us be sympathetic to our physical needs when they are angry with us.
Maybe the universe likes to ‘keep it real’ for me as it seemed like everyone around me on Blue Monday was just not in sync. Despite being busy, I will always make time for my friends and family, especially when they just need an ear to listen. And that was tough because I care and I internalize that and by the end of Blue Monday I was exhausted.
So here’s my advice for patients dealing with drama, either your own or that of others:
- Get a best friend. I am nothing without mine. She hears out my rants (always siding with me) and is the third party of disbelief (I have to tell you what so and so did! Can you believe she did that?!)
- Put a time limit to how long you’ll deal with a situation. If you must fight take a time out after a set time. If you’re the sympathetic ear, end the call/visit after a certain time frame.
- Remember, it’s their drama and they just need an ear. If it’s your drama, know what you need to end it and tell the other party. No one reads minds.
- Get sleep. Eat. Take your medication. Don’t punish yourself beyond the conflict.
- Get some physical activity. Take a walk, exercise, get fresh air.
- Remember we’re probably tougher than the other person because we have to kick NMO’s butt every second of every day. That gives us an advantage and thus, not even a fair fight.