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Posted on 1. February 2018

Surviving Valentine’s Day with a Chronic Illness

By Abbie Cornett

Valentine's Day! Has there ever been a holiday more likely to bring disappointment for someone with a chronic illness? For weeks leading up to the day, we are bombarded with images of happy couples enjoying romantic diners, beautiful bouquets of flowers and, let's not forget, the chocolate! Our expectations are raised to dizzying heights, only to be dashed by reality.

The truth is that having a chronic illness only increases your chances of not having an Instagram-worthy holiday. Don't feel bad; you are not alone.

Whether from illness or a loved one letting me down, I have had more than my fair share of being disappointed and sad on holidays. I am slowly learning, though, that if you want to avoid disappointment, the question is not how to spend the day, but rather how not to spend it:

  1. Don't feel sorry for yourself; it doesn't change anything. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positives in your life such as your family and friends.
  2. Don't be alone. Many people are not involved in a romantic relationship. That doesn't mean you have to spend the evening alone. Call up your bestie and invite him or her over for takeout and a movie.
  3. Stay the heck off of social media! Who hasn't looked at Facebook or Instagram and been jealous of their friends' lives. We all have "those" friends whose lives seem so much better or more glamourous than ours. Remember, while what they post may have some measure of truth, they are probably exaggerating! Many people make elaborate posts to hide their own insecurities and unhappiness! 1
  4. Don't have unrealistic expectations for you or your significant other! Expectations for romance on Valentine's Day have reached unrealistic heights. Face it, not many of us are ever going to drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower on February 14th. Instead, focus on "the kind of relationship that you have and the person you're having the relationship with," says professional matchmaker Samantha Daniels.2
  5. Don't let your happiness be dependent on another person. Only you can control your happiness. If you wait for other people to make you happy, you will be waiting a long, long time. True happiness comes from inside you!
  6. Don't think it's silly to indulge yourself. Book that spa day, and buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates. You deserve it!

Regardless of whether you have a chronic illness and are married or single, keep your expectations for Valentine’s Day realistic, and you won’t be disappointed.

1 Wiki How. How to Move Beyond Facebook Envy.
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2 Papa, A. Valentine’s Day: Unrealistic Expectations. Fox Radio, Feb. 13, 2017.
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