It has been almost six months since my last post. The last time I had radio silence on the blog, I was pregnant and experiencing morning sickness. So you may be wondering if that is the case yet again. I am here to tell you that it is not. This is not an announcement post or anything even close to that!
In all honesty, I had zero intentions of even writing this. But last Friday morning as I was scrolling through Facebook, I ran across this post. It instantly resonated with me- so much so that I felt a strong call to share more about my own personal experience with finding joy after a chronic illness diagnosis. I shared it on my personal Facebook page and am sharing it here with you.
Six months ago when I last posted on this site, this article would have meant nothing to me. I honestly would not have even understood how finding joy with Lyme disease was possible. The past six months have been transformative for me. Mostly in regards to my stress/anxiety-level (one reason I have taken this writing hiatus) and my ability to be happy and feel joy. So without further ado… here is how I am finding joy after a chronic illness diagnosis of Lyme disease.
This month marks one year since I received my chronic Lyme diagnosis. Though I was relieved to finally have some answers after years of searching, this diagnosis shook me to my core. As the late months of 2017 and early months of 2018 brought with them a postpartum flare of my symptoms, I experienced days where I was not well enough to work or even drive. For months, I let my physical symptoms overtake me and I lived in almost constant fear (of what may happen, of never feeling better, of not being able to be a “good” mom). My Lyme diagnosis had taken over my life. It was always there at the forefront of my mind, and each symptom acted as a constant reminder of how “unfair” it was to feel so old and yet be so young.
If you know me well enough, you know I am not the type of person to give up easily. I am stubborn. Once I set my mind to something, I am all in. So the idea of “accepting” my disease for what it was did not settle well with me. It felt like giving up.
I feel as though everyone has a breaking point or a moment that wakes them up and causes them to start living again. This past June was my moment. I cannot pin point anything in particular that happened, other than I was tired. Tired of living with almost constant anxiety. Tired of feeling depressed. Tired of feeling sorry for myself. Tired of missing out on the joys of motherhood. I knew something had to change. In the month of June I took my first step back into living life. I began meeting with a therapist who specializes in chronic illness diagnoses, and I made the choice to try an anti-anxiety medication. At that point, I figured I didn’t have much to lose.
It turns out those choices were some of the best I could have made for myself and my family. Four months later, and I can honestly say I am enjoying life again. While I am always ever hopeful of feeling 100% better at some point in the future, I also know I would be doing myself a major disservice by waiting for that time to come to start enjoying life. It is kind of cliché to say that you only have one life to live, but it really is true. If I spent the rest of my life surrounded by fear and sadness, I would have given up so much of the joy I am capable of feeling through my work, with my family and friends, and as an advocate for healthy living. I may not have the “perfect” life, nor is life playing out how I once dreamed it would, but I have a whole heck of a lot to be thankful and grateful for.
At this current point in time, I am feeling physically better than I was during my flare, but not pre-Lyme better. Most importantly, I am feeling stronger and happier. I am also learning that accepting Lyme as a possible forever thing doesn’t mean giving up. It means being open to trying new treatments, but not letting them overtake my life. It means living life and enjoying it despite its imperfections.
These days I am grateful to say that I have far more “good” days than “bad.” But when the bad days creep in, I know they won’t be there forever. Most importantly, I now know I am capable of finding and creating joy where it once didn’t seem possible.
I hope this posts brings hope to those struggling with chronic health issues. I am not sure when I will post again, but I do hope to give a more detailed update soon regarding the Lyme/co-infections treatment plan I have been on since June.
P.S. Talking about anxiety and depression and taking medication for it is nothing to be ashamed of. I fought it for far too long, but it is easily one of the best decisions I have made regarding my treatment plan. It doesn’t make the Lyme symptoms go away (see, it’s not “all in your head!”), but it sure makes the challenges of living with a chronic illness a whole lot easier to handle. I have Lyme disease but Lyme disease is not me.