I saw a quote recently that said, “it never occurred to me that one day I’d wake up sick and never get better.” It stopped me in my tracks because of the poignant sadness, truth & heartbreak that it held in those words. Healthy me never could have imagined that anything would last longer than a week-long virus/flu. Growing up every illness I ever had went away with a little rest, Dayquil & some TLC. It certainly never occurred to me that one day I would wake up with a “summertime flu,” (what we now know was Lyme) and never get better. However, I want to add an addendum to the word “never.” The word never for me means right now, in this moment, as I type these words. But the word "never" has taken many forms for me throughout the course of my illness, from diagnosis to present moment.
Let's take a trip down memory lane to the time when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I spent approximately the next 4 months in deep denial. Although I was educating myself by reading a lot & watching the documentary ‘Under Our Skin,’ I wasn’t willing to admit that what was wrong with me might not be a quick fix. I tried to live by myself hours away from my family & continue on with everyday life. Finally I was so weak, emaciated and sick that I begrudgingly moved home in January 2012 to get full time care and begin treatment. But here’s the kicker... at that time I left 90% of my things in my apartment and only took winter clothes home with me. Why? Because I was sure I’d be all better and back to normal by summertime. I can’t tell you how DEEPLY I believed that to be true. When summer rolled around and not only was I not better but I was actually doing worse, I conceded that I might need some summer clothes (even though I never left the house). And while my sweet dad drove 3 hours each way to pick up my summer clothes which I would never wear, the rest of my stuff still stayed put. I still paid rent, I still had the majority of my belongings there, and I was stuck in denial. I think it was maybe a year after I left that I finally got the rest of my stuff out, but honestly it could have been even longer. All I know is that at some point I crossed over from “I’ll be well soon” into “wait, will I EVER be well?” This phase happened right around the time when I experienced depression for the first time in my life. Suddenly I felt this feeling of panic that my life might be forever changed, and my gut reaction was to fight back. There is a control freak in me that refuses to rest until I feel like I’ve tried everything. I went through a period of many years where I read and researched endlessly in an effort to save myself. I had plenty of Doctor’s working with me, but I had to know all the cutting edge research for myself to feel like I traveled every possible avenue.
And here I am years later with that same gut reaction, although slightly altered. I don’t want to believe, accept, or allow into my mind the thought that I won’t heal. And by heal I mean fully and deeply have my life back. Not a halfway life where my battery is always halfway empty, and one small misstep or skipped supplement sets me into a flare. But while I wish to put that thought out of my mind, it’s always lingering just out of reach of my consciousness. Some days I wake up, look around, and think “this might be as good as it’s gonna get.” And while the selfish part of my brain demands more, the rational part of my brain reminds me that it’s also been much worse. There is a war going on in my mind on any given day throwing me from sadness, to anger, to determination, and lastly, understanding.
Now what I’m about to say is going to make sense to some of you, and will seem very out there to the rest of you, but I’ve (mostly) made peace with whatever outcome I get. And that’s because I believe in a God who has a purpose for my life even when all I see and feel in the moment is suffering. I know that God can see the big picture of my entire life, and somehow in some way there is a reason for what I am going through. That reason may not be crystal clear to me now (or ever), and it might be multi-faceted. But He has a purpose for my life and I believe that to be true whether things are going good or things are going bad. I think that God uses circumstances to grow us and grow the people around us, and some of the biggest change comes from the hardest moments. So while my determined and hard working spirit refuses to believe the textbook definition of "never," I also know that if that happens to be God's will for my life then He knows better than I do. But it doesn't mean I stop trying, and it certainly doesn't mean that I will resign my life to an acceptance of a reality that I do not yet know to be true.
So as I lay here in my bed too weak to even walk down the stairs by myself, I keep fighting... for a semblance of a life. And if I get it I promise to never take it for granted. Not for a single second. Life is so short and so precious, there is no time to waste living in any other way than what is authentic to you. The world tries to make us fearful to be honest with one another or to chase our dreams. I bought into that lie for much too long, and I know I never will fall into that trap again.
I watch humans worry so much about what others think about them. I watch them withhold love from people out of fear of rejection. Why? For what? If I could give one message to anyone out there who is healthy, it's this: Love others, be bold, live in a way that takes risks. Put your heart on the line again and again, even if someone tries to convince you to lock it up. Give, risk, live. Because I promise that if it all got taken away from you right now, you'd spend a lifetime wishing you could do it over.