Thursday, October 9, 2014

A-Z

     Well Me and Lyme from A-Z...to The Now. I started serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in July of 2013 in the Columbia, South Carolina Mission. I served in Anderson, SC for about 6 months and then I was transferred in January to Hartsville, SC. Every missionary has ups and downs, but shortly after being transferred to Hartsville I began experiencing periods of emotion that left me very low and I couldn't climb out of them. I told myself that it was just a trial, and that The Lord was humbling me and that the good times always come after the hard, but I started lacking motivation. Getting up at 6:20 AM to run was nearly impossible. And I would fall apart and cry every night. During those times I would repeat over and over again: "I love tough things, I am the first to do tough things, I do tough things first. I AM A FINISHER!"

     And that saying kept me going for 6 months, during which I would be put on Antidepressants, have weekly calls with an LDS counselor. I would cry myself to sleep every night. I started having manic depression symptoms of extreme anger, restless to almost no sleep at all. Extreme mood swings, to self harm thoughts, which wound me up in "Room 9" in the ER. "Room 9" Can be easily described as a white cinder-blocked cell with a blue matt in the center of the room and a security guard at the door.  That was May 19th, 2014 and the first day my Mission President, suggested that I go back home to get help.
Me and my Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Holm

     Being a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you leave your home, strictly by volunteer, for either 18 months to 2 years and teach The Gospel, to say what Jesus Christ would say if He were on the earth today, to every individual you come in contact with. You are away from you family, friends, almost all technology and you are under the direction of a mission president who oversees the work in the Areas that they are called to (Learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at mormon.org).

    Though my mission had become a very big trial for me I still loved it. I was blessed with a wonderful companion, who understood what I was going through. Who was kind and patient, even when I was having an anger episode and yelling at her because I didn't want to take my medication, she understood and knew exactly what to say to get me to take it. We were teaching so many wonderful people the truth about our Savior. We were doings so much good, and meeting so many wonderful people! How could I leave it all behind? I refused the offer from my Mission President to be sent home. So I got a change of medication (for a 3rd time), and I began meeting with the LDS Counselor face to face.

Sister Ivie Eames and I at the Darlington Raceway in Darlington, SC
Then things took a turn for the worse...

     My medication either didn't kick in or had completely stopped working because after the ER incident, the self harm thoughts became worse. They consumed my thoughts and before I knew it the depression, that was so foreign to me, that I didn't even understand had taken my ambitions and dreams to serve the Lord. And on June 14th, 2014 I given a one way ticket back to Utah.

     July 10th, 2014 (which was ironically, my anniversary of entering into the Missionary Training Center to begin my mission), was the first day that I had heard of Lyme Disease. My doctor suggested to have me tested. At that point I was up for anything, I just wanted to get better, it had taken me so long to accept that I was depressed, and I had dealt with it for 7 months by then, I just wanted relief. At that point I had resulted to laying around the house, Most days I couldn't get up off my bedroom floor. And I had emotional anger outbursts at my siblings constantly. I just wanted some relief.

     Fast Forward past tests and medication change after change, to "fight" the symptoms while the awaited test results are processed. Fast Forward past the frustration of mood swings, of self harm thoughts, of  feeling completely alone with no answers. Fast Forward to September 4th, 2014. The prognosis was positive for Lyme Disease, yet I could never remember getting bit, or having that "bulls eye rash" that comes when you get bit. But I am now an official carrier of Lyme... And boy howdy has it been a whirl wind since.

     I felt like there was hope when I finally figured out that after 9 months, it wasn't just "in my head"... that all those times when I would tick off my companion and yell at myself to "suck it up", I really couldn't. I began antibiotic treatment, and continued on with symptom treatment as well. Since the Lyme Disease--which from the test showed that I was bit by a tick some 10-12 months prior, which was around the time I was in Anderson, SC--had so much time to spread and infest my brain, I had not only developed depression, but also, restless sleep (sleeping a full night, but feeling completely unrested when waking up the next morning), headaches, aches, and worsening mood swings, panic and anxiety attacks.

I don't know how many times I have just wanted to give up. Or how many times I have thought about saying, "forget all the medications, because I feel worse on these than I did without them!" How nice it would be to quit... It sounds pretty pleasing most days than not. But I can never quit. And I don't know why. Because like I said, most days it would seem the easier thing to do! But the quote comes to mind by Albus Dumbledore that says:

"There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

      And I truly believe that even though it is way easier for me to quit, it is not the right thing to do. How many days do I say "I just want to feel better!" How many nights do I still cry myself to sleep over how sick I'm feeling to where it just domino's and I'm crying about the first case of Ebola entering the USA and dreading the thought of me getting that on top of Lyme. How many times do I wonder if 2 years on Antibiotics really will make at least the symptoms go away. How many of my thoughts end up wondering if I'll ever be the happy me that doesn't have to force herself to talk, to smile, and wave... when the real me, that I shove deep down inside, wants to grunt, frown and shrug. How many times do I wonder what the normal me really is.

     Yet I continue on, maybe because that is the only thing I can do, maybe because Robert Frost said it better than I ever could in this quote:

     Life does go on, and its what we do with that fact that can make the most difference in maybe not somebody else's life, but in our own. So this is me, and how I live life, and battle Lyme while doing it.


-The Lyme Warrior