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Not Feeling Very Jolly

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

You hear it everywhere.

You’re supposed to be jolly, because the song says it’s the season for it.

You’re supposed to buy the perfect gifts and be chatty at holiday gatherings. You’re supposed to do something fun on New Year’s Eve.

What if you don’t feel jolly? What if you’re worried about the future and you want to lie low?

You might feel like there’s something wrong with you, like you’re not doing it right.

Many factors can contribute to the feeling of not being “with it” during the holidays. These can include being sick or recovering from an illness. They can also include waiting for a diagnosis and not being sure if you’re sick or well. In other words, being in limbo.

Low counts and fear of relapse

Back in December, 2008, I was in limbo.

My blood counts had begun falling about six months after my third stem cell transplant for leukemia. I didn’t know if I was physically sick, but I was sick from the fear that I was relapsing.

On Dec. 18, I wrote a blog post headlined Biopsied, Transfused, and Still Wondering:

“The counts were not better today, unless you consider the hematocrit, which was 25 after Monday’s transfusion. This was still below normal but high enough to avoid a transfusion. My white count was .6, which is quite low. I knew my platelets were very low, due to the red pinpoint dots (petechiae) that were making my legs resemble a pointillist painting.

“As I’ve said, I really have no interest in knowing my numbers when my platelets are extremely low. Today I found out by accident. I went into the infusion room in search of the lunch cart, and I bumped into my nurse from the other day. I told her that my blood counts weren’t back yet, but that I thought my platelets were still low. ‘Well, they were only 2 the other day, so I’ll just get the order going,’ she said. Two? When they were 164 (normal is 155-410) just a few weeks ago?”

An unwelcome visit from carolers

A group of carolers made matters worse. While I was waiting for my appointment, they came into the waiting room. They wore Santa hats and reindeer antlers and sang “Deck the Halls,” “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer,” and “Silent Night.”

I wrote, “Sometimes a harpsichordist or other instrumentalist plays in the outer waiting room that is usually not so packed. This is where these kids belonged, where people could wander over and listen if they felt like it.

“It was through no fault of their own that they ended up crammed in almost on top of the patients; somebody put them there in what seemed like an exercise in cheering the patients up.

“But you could see that many, like me, were having a hard enough time keeping it together. One woman moved further away. I took the other half of an Ativan.”1

You are not alone

If you are having a hard time, you are not alone. I’m not a mental health professional, but you don’t have to be one to know that it’s OK to feel blue when everyone else appears to be so bright. And by the way, chances are that not all of them are as cheerful as they appear to be.

It’s OK to walk away like the woman in the waiting room did, OK to take an Ativan like I did, and OK to do what you need to do – within reason – to make things easier on yourself.

Another idea is to do something kind. I’ve heard this called “committing a random act of kindness.” It could be something simple like complimenting someone, usually in my case a woman, on her earrings or her outfit. I thought of this the other day when I was shopping after a disappointing tennis match and a stranger picked me up. She said she liked the way all my colors – blues and purples – coordinated. I laughed and thanked her. I said most of my clothes are the same colors. Then I told her I liked her colors too. She said she tries to make things simple by mixing and matching. On the way out, we passed each other and smiled. It was a cold and rainy day, but I think we both felt warmed by the connection.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Gordon, R. Biopsied, Transfused, and Still Wondering. Running for My Life. Available at


  • Ann Harper moderator
    9 months ago

    Sometimes it is just the little things that make us feel better. Holidays can be a tough time and it’s at those times we have to find our inner strength and keep moving forward.

  • bluchs
    1 year ago

    Ronni I don’t feel very jolly either.
    It is OK, I think people may find me to be a scrooge these days, I am not, I just don’t feel the holiday spirit ?
    All I feel is fear of the unknown, I was at the cancer center this morning, and a woman sat down right next to me( there were several other places to sit?
    I was wearing a face mask, as I always do, because of my compromised immune system.
    Any how, I almost immediately moved to another seat, far away from her, ( I said nothing)
    Now I feel like the Grinch, because I moved and said nothing, I fear, I may have offended her?
    I wish I could have said something, but I am depressed and sad, and well, I guess I just did not think about her feelings, ??
    I should have, it is not in my nature to ever be rude, but my actions were rude.
    I wish I could go back and say Happy Holidays.
    But then, they are not really happy for us, are they?
    I do feel alone, it almost is worse, when I see others happy ( caroling etc. )
    I long to feel that warm connection again, I can only wonder, if I ever will???

  • Ronni Gordon moderator author
    1 year ago

    I feel it again, I just don’t like to be told WHEN to feel it. Even though I don’t know you, I feel confident in saying that you’ll feel it again too. Also, by moving, you were protecting yourself. That is not the same as being rude. So although it’s easier said than done, you could try not to be too hard on yourself. She probably was involved in her own thoughts and not thinking about you!

  • bluchs
    1 year ago

    Thank You Ronni
    God Bless You, Your works helped me feel better

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