By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie
When you live with a chronic illness, parties and socialising can be a challenge. Small talk, alcohol and standing up are all things that you will have to contend with. In recent years, I’ve avoided social situations, especially around the Christmas/ New Year period where people tend to drink excessively. I had to give up alcohol a few years ago due to my POTS. I wasn’t a big drinker to begin with and I do not miss it because why would I want to consume something that would make me even more dizzy than I already am?
Here a a few tips to help you navigate the festive season and NYE parties:
1. How to answer the dreaded ‘so what do you do?‘ question
If you’re at a party where you don’t know a lot of people, chances are that you’ll be asked the standard small talk question of ‘what do you do?‘ Of course, this is an easy question for a normal person to answer, but if you spend your days throwing up or waiting for the next doctor’s appointment it is not something that you want to discuss at a party. My polite response was always ‘I’m taking some time off right now‘ and then I would discuss some of the charity work that I do or my favourite hobby. If you’re brave, then you could always answer honestly. Unfortunately, in my experience, this can often make people uncomfortable, especially if you’ve just met them.
Find out more about answering this difficult question in this post by What a Pain.
2. Managing people’s expectations around alcohol
People expect you to drink when you’re at a party and will often try and press a drink into your hand, even if you don’t want one. It’s your choice if you want to drink alcohol or not. There are many reasons why a person may not be drinking at a party. Not everyone who doesn’t drink has a medical condition. They could be driving later, they may not like alcohol or could even be a recovering alcoholic. If a person is pressuring you into drinking, then they probably aren’t someone that you want to be around anyway.
3. How to quash the standing around fear
Parties often have a lot of standing around. If that’s not something that you normally do, then don’t compromise your health for the sake of other people. Find a chair or use your mobility aid. If you’re unsure of the format of the event, contact the host beforehand to find out and let them know of your health requirements.
4. Don’t turn into a pumpkin
If staying out late isn’t your thing and you’re usually in bed by 8 pm, be like Cinderella and leave the party early. There’s no need to break from your usual routine during the festive season, especially if one party could leave you bedridden for a few days.
Parties are supposed to be fun and are a good way to meet new people. Contact the host beforehand to let them know of your dietary/ health requirements. They will want you to have a good time as well. If you don’t want to discuss your illness with a stranger, then you don’t have to.
What are you tips for enjoying parties as a Spoonie?