It takes huge amounts of bravery to get through chronic, late-stage Lyme without losing yourself and your mind in the process. When I found out I had Lyme, though I believed it I didn’t want to hear about it, talk about it, think about it, watch videos of other lymies, read their blogs, plan on starting a foundation when I got well again, advocate Lyme, or anything. I wanted nothing to do with it, yet it consumed my body and controlled my life. I wanted to close my eyes to it and live in a little world where the word “Lyme” wasn’t ever mentioned. But I couldn’t because I had it. And I had it bad. I freaked about taking more and more medications, but at the same time I knew they were necessary. I was having terrible meltdowns every other day, it seemed. And I was only getting worse.
I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I think it happened around the time I got my PICC line. It just sort of put it out there for all to see. I literally wore it on my sleeve. Or under my sleeve. That’s when people started asking me questions in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Me, not my family members. They wanted to hear from me. And that sort of personalized Lyme for me. It made me feel involved and even intelligent as I shared my knowledge of Lyme with them. Before I realized what was happening, and before I knew how badly shutting talk of Lyme out was affecting me, I was opening up to it, talking about it more, accepting it. Lyme was mine. I had a PICC to prove it. And for the first time in years, I felt like people would believe, truly believe, I was seriously ill.
The anxiety I had about it that was keeping me from fully accepting the illness was harming me more than I knew. When I started opening up about it, I felt the weight of trying to shut it out- an impossible task- lifted from me. A little place inside of me began to heal. I learned more about Lyme, about its co-infections and all the other little buggers that go along with it. It seemed that each time I went to a doctor’s appointment I found out I had something else. But you know what? I was glad to find out because that meant I could heal. If you don’t know you have it you can’t get help for it. What is the saying? “In order to defeat your enemy, you must know them?” If you don’t know you have Lyme how will you defeat it?
Now, I feel like I know my own strength. The meltdowns didn’t go away on their own. I’m on a lot of medications for many different things. It still scares me, but because I know I have to do this to get through I’m more at peace with it. It’s not easy to accept Lyme; it’s a horrible condition. But accepting it really does make the journey to wellness more bearable. We are Lyme warriors! And warriors are nothing if not brave! Be proud of your battle scars!
I think that most people would rather face the light of a real enemy than the darkness of their imagined fears. -Max Brooks
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. -Sun Tzu