Information about non epileptic seizures and Non Epileptic Attack Disorder.

Christmas and NEAD

By on 11 December 2015 in General

At this time of year, we are bombarded with adverts for the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Families are shown happily gathered at tables groaning with food. Children are always delighted with the gifts they have been given. Homes are decorated with style and taste. Of course, the reality is totally different; there are tears and tantrums, half cooked turkeys and cats pulling down Christmas trees. When you have a chronic health condition such as NEAD, Christmas can be a nightmare rather than a joyous occasion. Here are some tips to help you cope with Christmas.

1. Manage your and other people’s expectations: Take ‘perfect’ out of the picture and aim for ‘good enough’. The important things aren’t whether your Christmas tree lights should be coloured or plain this year, or should you serve turkey or goose, it’s the fact you have a roof over your head, food to eat and family and friends around you. Make sure you do the things you can do and that you enjoy, and equally make sure that the people around you understand what your limitations are. If you feel like going to a party, then go, but make it clear to the hostess that you will only be there for a short time.

2. Spread the load: In many households, one person ends up doing the majority of the organising, present and food buying, decorating etc and by Christmas that person is exhausted, frazzled and likely to hit the Prosecco with a vengeance. Last year, that person may have been you but during the year NEAD has changed everything. This year, give everyone in the family tasks to do, from the smallest child to the oldest grandparent. People love to be involved and feel they are a part of the process. They won’t do it the way you would, but that’s the whole point. Your tree may not be the colour coordinated perfection that you see in magazines but it will be a true family effort and your kids will love it.

3. Pace yourself: The fatigue that comes with NEAD can make you feel like cancelling Christmas altogether but if you pace yourself properly, you can actually get to enjoy yourself. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and take a nap if you need to. Plan your activities carefully so you don’t try to do too much in one day. Make taking the kids to see Santa the only activity you do that day; don’t think that while you are there you can buy a load of presents etc. Internet shopping is fantastic for people with chronic health conditions.

4.Be aware of your triggers: Flashing lights, loud noises, lots of stress…Christmas has it all. Think about things you can do to reduce your exposure to seizure triggers. Some people may find that wearing coloured glasses helps with the flashing lights (like the ones Bono in U2 wears). Make time every day for your relaxation techniques and stress busting activities. Go and hide in your bedroom with your art therapy book for an hour, go out for a walk somewhere quiet and peaceful, listen to Christmas carols, whatever works for you. Alcohol and NEAD don’t go well together so make sure you don’t drink too much and eat sensibly.

5.It’s not about the money: If you are going into debt to afford the ‘perfect’ Christmas, something is wrong. We live in a world where so many people have nothing yet we in the Western world are teaching our children to expect everything on their list to be given to them. One big present and a few smaller ones is more than enough. What your children (and indeed other family members and friends) really want from you is your time, your attention and your love. Granny would much rather have a cup of tea and a chat with you than that expensive silk scarf you are planning on posting to her. In large families, agree that you will only buy gifts for the children and set a limit. It can be a fun challenge to see who can come up with the most original gift for £5. Homemade gifts are not a sign of being cheap; rather they show that someone was willing to take time and effort to create something individual and special. Having NEAD means you have more time to sit and read a book with your child, create a beautiful piece of craftwork, or just chat to your elderly neighbour. People appreciate the gift of your time far more than anything you can buy in a shop.

6. Be grateful: You may be feeling very low right now but consider this: If you have a roof over your head and live in the UK, you are already much richer than millions of other people around the world. Take a moment to really appreciate what you have, your family and friends, your home no matter how small. NEAD may be an unwelcome presence in your life but you are much better off than you think. Focus on the positives in your life, write them down so that on your bad days, you can take out the list and realise that, actually, life is ok.
Merry Christmas everyone!

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