The Only Way Out is Through
As some of you may know, I have chronic Lyme disease. I was diagnosed less than a year ago, but for years I struggled. Most days it was really hard to get out of bed and lead a “normal” life. My symptoms amped up my senior year in college (2017), and work and school were just about all my body could handle. Parties and extracurricular activities were out of the question. I didn't know how to take care of myself, I wasn’t eating the right foods, and I flat out didn’t like myself.
For those of you struggling with chronic illness, I send you love. I know how hard it can be to balance doctors appointments and a social life. Balance basically didn't exist in my life. I removed myself completely from the outside world after graduating college. I took a waitressing job where I was only working 5 hours a day, a few days a week. I had to save up all my energy just to go to work. I stopped talking to friends. I tried to push through workouts even though they would leave me feeling even worse than before. I completely isolated myself from everything. It was hard to explain to friends why I couldn’t go places or do fun things. At some point, they just stopped asking. I would be so uncomfortably bloated 99% of the time that I couldn't fathom doing anything fun. Pain coursed through my body daily and there was nothing I could say that would make sense to anyone. I mean I was only 22.
During that time I had a lot of time to think, and it was so excruciatingly uncomfortable. I had to face the music. I will be honest. I really hated myself. I liked nothing about myself whatsoever. There was a massive wall between who I was and who I wanted to be, and I had no idea how to get to the other side. I literally thought that was my reality, like this is what my life is going to be like forever. My depression and anxiety skyrocketed. I didn't think I deserved anything good in my life. I had the lowest self-worth possible. Looking back, I think this was a combination of societal pressure plus chronic illness. I had horrendous brain fog, bloating and I literally could not think straight. I felt so toxic, full of chemicals and inflammation that I was literally a walking zombie. It was like I was in another body.
THANK GOODNESS I took the time to reflect and dive deeper into what was causing me pain both mentally and physically. I was basically forced to swallow my pride and surrender. It was not easy but I got the help that I needed. I did a lot of journaling and got very comfortable with being alone. I became my own best friend. I dove into what and who I truly wanted in my life, and I got very comfortable with being uncomfortable. For years I berated myself for not being where everyone else was. I wasn’t going to grad school, no one was hiring me, and I was still living with my parents. Looking back, I had unrealistic expectations for myself. Realistically, there was absolutely no way I could work a full-time job. I wouldn’t last a week. My adrenals were shot and I never slept because of the inflammation. I played victim to my illness, and realizing this was one of the biggest turning points in my life. I lived by my illnesses rules. Once I started taking care of myself mentally, emotionally and physically, I was able to see a glimmer of hope. I took control of my life and that was the most empowering thing I could have ever done for myself.
It took years to get to this point. Now, I can honestly say that I truly love myself, and the woman I have become. Once I dropped the victim mindset, my world shifted. I started to look at things differently. Lyme was not happening to me, but instead it was happening FOR me. I became grateful for the little things and saw Lyme as a blessing rather than a curse. I feel clearheaded and I finally know what I want and the type of person I want to be. Lyme has put me on a path of healing and radical self love. I went through the struggle and the pain for a reason. I am not in remission yet, but I know that’s coming. My mental health and clarity has been absolutely game changing for me to beat this thing. I healed old wounds and past trauma and surrendered everything I thought I knew. It has been so liberating and I feel so grounded and centered in the person I am today.
All that being said, I urge you to sit with your thoughts. This may sound absolutely nuts, but I encourage you to start the process of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. Whether you have dealt with or are dealing with a chronic illness, are going through something life shattering, or are faced with a big decision, I urge you to try this. Our intuition never lies. Take out a pen and paper and start writing what comes up. When I first started, I would write down all my deepest and darkest insecurities. It was so uncomfortable and a lot of tears were shed, but it was absolutely necessary for my healing. At the time I am writing this, most of the world is forced to stay home. What better time to start than now? I figure, if not now, then when? I believe we go through things for a reason. One of my favorite quotes from Robert Frost is “the only way out is through.” This has propelled me through the darkest of times. It is also extremely relevant now. There is an awakening happening on all levels of our lives. You have to suffer and struggle to get to the next level. You have to go through the pain and discomfort to find that silver lining.