Suffering from a chronic illness is hard!
Throughout my journey with chronic Lyme Disease, I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing chronic illness warriors. The people I have met may have different backgrounds and experiences, but there is an underlying thread that binds them together.
Those with chronic illnesses often share that they feel misunderstood by the people around them.
Even those with strong support systems may feel like the healthy people in their lives just can’t quite comprehend the pain they experience.
Being unable to relate to our friends and families can leave us feeling discouraged and misunderstood.
For anyone out there who cares about someone with a chronic illness, I want to let you in on what I truly feel can make all the difference in being able to better support the chronically ill.
It’s 2017, friends!
Can you believe it?
Back in June, when my health was the worst it has ever been, I couldn’t see past the day in front of me. I didn’t know if I would make it to the next day, let alone push through to the end of the year.
Now that we’re finally to January, I can look back and see some of the ways God has worked in my life over the past year to bring me to a better place on this chronic illness journey. I’ve recognized that there is hope!
Over the past few days I’ve worked on setting some goals (Read this post if you’d like tips for goal-setting with a chronic illness!) and have been thinking about what it means to live intentionally even when I can’t control how I’ll feel.
All around the internet, I see bloggers posting their lists of goals and resolutions or sharing their one word for 2017 that sums up their heart’s desire. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy hearing what others are planning or learning through the process of goal-setting. It can be inspiring to think about what could be.
But, those of us with chronic illnesses may feel discouraged because we think we can’t live up to a healthy person’s goals. After all, it might be a struggle for us to just get through the day.
As I think about being intentional in 2017, I am also choosing to be realistic and to give myself grace.
Are you a dreamer?
I sure am!
I absolutely adore thinking and dreaming up big plans and goals. The idea of fresh starts and new ideas spurs on excitement in my core. Growing up, I couldn’t wait for the first day of school each year. The newness of crisp notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and clean erasers made me quite the happy camper.
For me, enjoyment can be found in laying out goals with a plan in mind.
But now, as we approach the new year, I find myself contemplating how goal setting should look when battling chronic illness.
Realistically, my goals may not come to fruition.
It won’t be for a lack of trying or desire. It might be because as hard as I try, my body and mind just won’t let me do it all.
I’m learning that it’s okay. It’s all right to be unable to achieve everything we want, even if the world around us gives us messages about working harder and prioritizing.
Those of us with chronic illnesses are already fighting an uphill battle just to get through the day.
During the hardest times of my life, I had trouble consistently reading the Bible and connecting with God.
Have you ever felt that way?
Even though I was a Christian and wanted to honor the Lord with my life, which included being faithful in daily prayer and Bible reading, I found myself feeling distant from God. Whenever brain fog from Lyme Disease and co-infections would come on strongly, I would be faced with a block in my mind. That mental block left me unable to pray or comprehend scripture in the way I desired.
I just didn’t feel connected to God anymore.
In Finding Hope with the Fog (get your copy – it’s free!), I share about the way God met me in one of my weakest moments when I was having a panic attack. He used the Psalms to remind me of how good He is. He showed me that I can always turn to Him in troubled times even if I can’t always feel His presence.
Reading the Psalms is something I now do regularly because I can connect to the emotions of the Psalmists and am always reminded of the bigger picture in our suffering.
It may feel as if God is distant and He doesn’t hear our cries of suffering, but that’s not true. God knows. He loves us and He will respond and be our place of refuge!
Lyme Disease, huh?
That’s one of the illnesses I have. You may be reading this because you have Lyme Disease or you think you might have Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease can be difficult to diagnose but will affect every area of your life.
It’s utterly miserable. If you have Lyme or think you have it, then I am deeply sorry. I wish you weren’t going through this. I wish none of us had to deal with this pain. (I’d also love to join you in finding hope in this rough season!)
My Lyme Disease story is not uncommon.
I cannot recall a specific tick bite that spurred on all of these problems, however, growing up, my family went camping regularly and I was bitten by ticks. I never knew much about Lyme Disease. Now that I’m older and have learned more, I found out that a place my family would regularly camp produces a lot of Lyme Disease cases.
When putting the pieces together with my Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD), we have come to the conclusion that I likely contracted Lyme Disease and co-infections as a teenager.
In high school, I struggled with fatigue, mood swings, rage, weight fluctuations, depression, suicidal thoughts, and problems with concentration. I began to act out in ways like never before. My grades began to slip a little and overall I had a harder time focusing in school. My driven personality ended up carrying me through to graduation and college, but it was not without a lot of anger and heartache. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I often felt like I couldn’t control myself. (For a lot of high school I was also on Clindamycin for acne, which I now know also treats Lyme!)