Merry Mocktails: Surviving the Holiday Drinking Season

Jamie Tripp Utitus
Written by
Jamie Tripp Utitus

I love the holidays because, to me, they are synonymous with cozy. I love cozy things. I love the smell of cinnamon wafting through the downstairs. I love my children’s faces at the thrill of some aspect that is brand new to them and so old to me that I almost stopped noticing. They are such lovely little reminders of the JOY we should feel during this time of year; they are gifts all wrapped up in their little holiday-printed jammies.

But the holidays for someone living with multiple sclerosis can get annoying and stressful for many reasons. One of the things that can get especially hard to avoid during the holidays is alcohol. If people started putting drinking restraints on those of us living with MS, or labeling everyone who chooses (with their doctors) what is best for them, I may just decide to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and skip the season altogether. It’s not because I am a drinker. It is because I hate people telling me what I should or shouldn’t be doing when they don’t know my MS like I do.

So can you drink during the holidays if you have multiple sclerosis?

Regardless of my answer or your answer, be merry in the small things. Like the ones I mentioned above. The answer is…wait for it…it depends on YOU and YOUR MS. I am not here to offer you the scientific pros and cons of drinking when you have MS.

The reality for people living with MS is that stress affects us. Having to buy gifts, new clothes to attend a party because we can’t even squeeze into the old ones, everything we need to sustain a “merry” holiday financially adds up and makes it more stressful. This reality forces us to choose wisely, prioritize, and regroup. So, we must limit the number of parties we attend and, of course, drinking. I simply can’t be hung-over and push through. My body doesn’t regroup like others’, not if I’m going to manage my MS and function in society.

So this leads me to…THE GUILT. If I can accept a couple of the invites, I feel tremendous guilt over the other 20 that I cannot attend. Do we need to pour (pun intended) more guilt onto the chronically ill if we choose to have a drink during the holiday season? It’s a question I wrestle with when some people make comments about others with MS and drinking at a party.

So all I can say is drinking during the holidays is between you and your doctor. Only you (collectively) know how it will interact with your MS and what your history with alcohol is! It’s that simple. I almost feel like this entire article should have begun and ended with this: You tell me…Can YOU drink with YOUR MS?

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