It’s been a little over a year now since I found out that Lyme disease was likely the root cause of my autoimmunity and chronic illness. At that time, I had already worked with a few clients who had Lyme and their stories were resonating with me in a deep way. Though I was already experiencing major strides in healing and living a relatively “normal” life, I always wondered if I would find out what had been the reason why I suddenly became so sick nearly 8 years ago. You can read more of my story in past posts, but for today, I wanted to share three of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since finally getting my diagnosis.
- Don’t judge. Please.
Don’t look at someone and think “They look fine, therefore they are making it all up.” People with cancer look fine. People with a prosthesis or in a wheelchair can look fine. The point of invisible illness is that it is INVISIBLE. Below the surface, under our skin. EVERYONE is waging a war you don’t know about. Yours may be something different, but don’t look at someone and automatically assume that they can’t be sick because they “don’t act like it.” In truth, someone with a chronic illness is trying VERY VERY hard, to be seen as “normal” or “looking good.” Trust me on this!
- Don’t over identify with your diagnosis.
This can be extremely difficult for a newly diagnosed patient to handle. At first, they want to immerse themselves in the community, learn all they can, connect with others like them. It is HARD to resist finally being heard and validated by others living and feeling just like you.
Be careful that your disease doesn’t take you over. Your conversations, your social circle, your daily activities should be a healthy mix of people and things that encompass a variety of areas. If all you are talking about is your diagnosis and how it makes you feel, you are likely to experience even more loss in your life from those who don’t or can’t understand, as well as opportunities for jobs, travel, new friends. Be careful to keep your mental game strong and your emotions felt and processed in healthy ways.
Also, be willing and open to LIFE! As best as you are able, don’t let your diagnosis get in the way of joy and pleasure. This is a big part of focus in my 1:1 coaching program. It may take some creativity, but I promise you can be sick and still find hope, peace and love in the midst of the healing journey.
- There isn’t a quick fix.
This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. In the year since my doctors validated and agreed to test for Lyme, I have explored just about every treatment option out there. I’m a rip off the bandaid girl- I’ll jump right into the hard work if it guarantees a quick result! But chronic illness is exactly that- chronic. It took years to get to my worst and it will take years to recover from that. No matter how fast I want to push, that is the opposite of what will truly heal me. Healing needs to be felt.
My inner circle knows when it’s time to gently dial me back and refocus on all of the tools I ALREADY have at my disposal, instead of wasting time, energy and resources on the next big thing. I’m not perfect, (I got caught up in this pattern just yesterday) but I’m way ahead of where I used to be five years ago.
This is where a solid gratitude practice, prayer and mindfulness comes into play for me. Whenever I get caught up in the next “fix” for me, it signals that it is time to get back to basics. Zoom out. Refocus. Remember how far I have already come.
I am already the healthiest I have ever been, BECAUSE of Lyme disease and the growth it has propelled me into.
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I’m curious to hear your thoughts- what was your biggest lesson learned from your chronic illness? Comment below or send me an email!