In my own personal journey with Lyme Disease, here are the things I learned about moving from survival mode to living intentionally.
DROWNING IN DESPAIR
When hard things hit you in life, they either make you or break you. For a long while I let life break me, until I decided this was not who I was or who I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to be defined by the worst thing that happened to me, I was going to be refined by it. Because what choice did I have? It was happening whether I liked it or not.
In 2018, I decided to pick a word to define the new year ahead of me. I had just been through the worst year of my life, trying to figure out what was happening to my body as I found myself stuck in bed and bound to a wheelchair because of intense pain and debilitating tremors. I couldn’t go to the bathroom on my own, drive for almost a year, take care of my own children, and I was in a constant state of panic and anxiety.
When we finally figured out after two years that late stage Lyme disease had taken over my life, I was depressed and didn’t see how I could ever get better. I felt like a burden to everyone around me and was exhausted from simply living.
At my worst, my symptoms ranged from migrating pains, tingling and numbness, extreme crawling skin, nonstop twitching and tremors, night sweats, body aches, dizziness and weakness, fainting, seizures, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, rashes, blurred vision, brain fog, panic attacks and paranoia. At one point I was taking over 80 pills a day.
FOCUSING ON LIVING INTENTIONALLY IN MY HARDSHIP
My life was messy and complicated and I was blind to the goodness that surrounded me on all sides. Family came and lived with us. Friends drove over to cheer me up. Strangers brought us food. We hired a nanny to take care of the kids so my husband could keep his job. Donations for medical expenses poured in. Church leaders prayed with us. Advice was given daily, optimism was overflowing. It was irritating. I was a grump. I cried every day, multiple times a day for months.
A week before Christmas, I finally had relief. My pain was diminished and I was walking on my own. Eventually my seizures were managed and the possibility of driving again was a reality. The twitching remained as did my weight gain and night sweats, but it was all about perspective at this point. I felt like I had just escaped a nightmare. That Christmas was filled with laughter and joy and lots of hugs and kisses. We even let our nanny go and I began staying at home with the kids again.
We celebrated the New Year and I picked my word for 2018–INTENTIONAL.
I was going to make the most of this second chance I’d been given. I didn’t know what the future held, I just hoped that it was Lyme-free.
LEARNING WHAT IT MEANS TO BE LIVING INTENTIONALLY
But when February rolled around, our joy was deflated as my husband started showing his own Lyme symptoms. I had “Lymie” friends going through relapses of their own and friends of friends reached out to me to help diagnose their own health problems. As the stress piled on, I lost my view of being intentional and slipped back into my own relapse. I was devastated. I ended up back in bed from pain and seizures, and asked my parents to fly back out to live with us.
My year of living intentionally stopped before it could even start.
My joy was all circumstantial. It was like I had a toolbox ready to go to help me get through the year but I hadn’t put any tools in it. If things were great, I was happy. If things were miserable, I was mad.
I wanted to succeed, but I didn’t know what living intentionally looked like for me. I didn’t know how else to live except for survival mode. My relapse only caused me to slip back into fearful, paranoid living. If I wanted to live intentionally and with any kind of joy, I was going to have to learn how. It wasn’t going to just happen.
CHANGING MY MINDSET TO LIVE INTENTIONAL
My symptoms improved again with time and medication changes, but my life was stagnant. I had been living as if I couldn’t do anything until I got better. Completely stuck in survival mode, I was basically telling myself I was useless as a sick person. What if this was the best it was going to get? What if I didn’t get better? Was I okay with living the rest of my life on pause? Of course not.
So I invested in the self-help section at every bookstore in my area. Reading book after book, highlighter in hand, notebook at my side. I filled out self-exploration journals, flipped through meditation magazines, devoured books on how to find hope during a hardship, and read memoirs of people overcoming their own hardship.
This time I was going to live as if I was already healed, and create daily habits of working on the health of my mind. If I could anticipate what I needed, then maybe I could deal my symptoms and anxiety in a healthier way.
Repeated over and over were habits that people would form to better themselves. Exercise, meditation, journaling, making their bed in the morning, waking up early–all things that I wanted to be doing. But first I needed to start with getting out of bed.
FILLING MY TOOLBOX
If I was going to be intentional this year, I had to make some plans. Give myself some ways to cope instead of living in survival mode. So I started filling my toolbox. And as I did, I felt my mind become clearer, my body more energized and my life more meaningful. It’s now six months since I last had a tremor and even longer since I’ve taken a trip to the hospital. I am happier than I’ve been in years and more prepared for the future than ever.
When Lyme doctors would tell me to try and lower my stress level, I would laugh. I truly believed it was impossible…unless I sat in a bubble and didn’t have bills to pay or children to take care of, and a body that obeyed my every command. I thought it was about control. Turns out it was about letting go.
I’m no longer obsessing about symptoms that may reappear because I’m living as though I’m excited for tomorrow, not fearful of it.
So I hope that this blog will be a helpful resource for you as I take you through some things I have learned about creating healthy habits and finding joy in the every day. Getting through a hardship is not easy, and you have to let go of perfection, but you can do it. I’ve got my toolbox in hand and I’m ready to fill it. Let’s do this thing!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
We all have been through survival mode at one point or another. I would love to help encourage you in your journey!
The place I started in my own path to intentional living was through Goal Setting. This is the process I used to give meaning to my days and ultimately my life’s purpose! You can download it here:
Also check out:
- Choosing Faith Over Your Fear
- Using Music as Therapy During Tough Times
- Free Intentional Living Wallpaper Background for Phones
- 10 Spiritual Goals to Have and How to Work Toward Them
- 5 Tips I Wish I Had Known to Get Out of Survival Mode
You’ve got this!
WANT TO LIVE YOUR DAYS WITH MORE INTENTION? SIGN UP HERE TO GET INSTANT ACCESS TO MY FREE PRINTABLES:
Love your honesty and thank you for sharing your story. You have been on my mind and in my prayers daily!
Thank you! Been thinking about you too and hope you’re doing well!!
LOVE this!! So many times in life we need to remember to be intentional! ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you! Miss you guys!
Love you and your faith and willingness to just live. Live life, live in the moment, just live. What an inspiration and answer to many many many prayers and pleading to God.
I just had too many good things happen to keep them to myself! Love you!
Love this and so glad you shared it with us. I can’t wait to read the next installment!
Amy I’m so glad you are doing this! Your journey will help so many others in their own journey! It is about letting go. We don’t like to let go. It’s about trust and we don’t do that very well either!! Love you friend!! Write on!
Thank you Diane. I know you’ve gone through battles of your own! Thanks for sharing those!
Love love love this!!! Thank you for your transparency and for sharing with us! I look forward to reading your blog. ❤️
Thank you. I’ve had so much encouragement along the way!
I ❤️ You are choosing to live by faith and not fear ! You are one of the most faithful, devoted mom , wife, friend, and teacher. I look forward to reading your blog in the upcoming year ! ❤️ You !
Thank you so much. Love you too! It’s been too long!
Love that you started this blog Amy! Thank you for your willingness to share your story. I know it will help so many! I had a a few months of health issues and the fear was shockingly crippling. I also got into yoga and it has become a MUST in my life. Looking forward to reading what you have to share!
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you found something that helps!