Friday, December 26, 2014


A story by me:
Setting: my bedroom
Time: around 10:30pm on any random day of the week.

I've just taken all my medicine for the night. Read my scriptures, prayed, and lights are out. Time to sleep right?... Right? Well, ya'd think so, but oh no! My brain decides to kick into speedy fast mode, and next thing I know, I am no longer in my bed.Physically I know I still am. But mentally I am in Hartsville SC, I look down and I see the name tag, I'm in a skirt, and I am sitting across from my companion in our cottage... I feel a thrill of excitement and for a moment I really can see it all! It's so real! I am back on the mission with Sister Eames!! 

Then suddenly it changes a little and I'm still a missionary, I still have that name tag, but I'm sitting alone on a blue pad in the white room known to me as "the dreaded room 9".  I can look out the little window of the door and see Sister Eames staring at me through the window, and a security guard right outside the door as well. I can smell the hospital, and feel my heart racing as I know what's happening to me and what I have to do and calmly say to convince the Dr, that stands in front of me, that I'm not as crazy as I sound from the other Dr who sent me to this dreaded room.

A thousand miles away I am shaking my head saying no you are in your bed trying to sleep!  For a second I gain control of my bearings and I wonder why the medicine isn't kicking in faster to make me fall asleep.

Then it changes again I am back in the Hartsville cottage that we lived in. It's night time and I suddenly feel a wave of anger that isn't me, but it's so real in that moment. I am angry at my companion. As she is begging me, across the room in her own bed, to go take some my antidepressants, I yell at her in frustration and slam the door as I stomp out to go take it. I punch a wall to let the anger out. My knuckles start to bleed. Then I go back to the bed and start to break down in sobs, apologizing over and over again to my companion. I'm sobbing for real in my own bed, but also in this memory. It's all so real.

Then it changes again. I'm still in the cottage, it's night time but the light is on... Sister Eames asks me a question, it's the one I absolutely dread. I start to cry and answer yes, knowing the events that my answer will lead up to. I try so hard to force myself out of this memory. But it is so real! And I know I'll have to relive it all so I just cry in my own bed and wait for it to be all over.The memory finally changes and I'm sitting in a room in the Stake center in Florence. I am telling President Holm everything. I can hear everyone else singing in the Chapel, waiting for the last zone conference with our Mission President and his wife, before they go home... It was my last as well.

Memory after memory comes and goes, but they are all so real! The packing up, saying goodbye to members, a convert, to less actives, and the worst, a companion who has put up with me and my craziness for so long, yet who I am so grateful for in so many ways words cannot express. It's weird how I remember those days flying by, but now in my bed they are painfully dragged out. In the memory I feel absolute sorrow and confusion in having to leave. In my bed I feel numb and exhausted. The worst part arrives, I pack up, I say goodbye and leave my companion. I drive to Columbia. I sleep, I wake up, I pretend to eat, I can't. Then I am crying on the phone in the mission office to my parents, telling them to not have anyone else at the airport. I am hugging my mission president in my last interview. I am flying home. I open my airplane book 3 times but can't read any of it, and though I try several times, I won't read any of it until about 5 months later. 

Finally it ends with me walking out to my family in the airport. Finally I am able to be in my own bed again. Mentally and physically I'm home. I have to remind myself the month it really is, how long I've really been home. I remind myself that I have Lyme Disease. That it's all the ticks fault. Blame the tick... Blame the tick... Blame the tick... I try to calm down my breathing. I'm crying and sweating really bad. 

It takes me about 20 more minutes to calm down. The clock now says 12:15am. I am out of breath and exhausted, but I am ripped in half. The sickest part is I love the fact that it is almost so real, it's like I am really a missionary again. And I get to be there. That is also the hard part, I get about 10% of good memories, but the ones I have to live are so hard they leave me sobbing and trying to get a feel of reality. I try not to think too much about how much of a wreck I am. And think, at least it won't happen for another week or so. That calms me down a little more and I can then feel my medicine start to kick in. I start to relax more and finally I can go to sleep......

That is just a tiny explanation of the flashbacks that I still get. They happen 1 or 2 times a week. They are awful, and occasionally wonderful, when I get a mix of a happy memory, but not. I have no words to describe how I feel towards the flashbacks that I get. They have nothing to do with Lyme Disease, but everything to do with traumatic events. And when I first started getting them I thought I was crazy. That I was in control and was letting myself just stroll down memory lane and visit those bad memories. But it became apparent I couldn't stop once I started. So Lyme Disease caused me to come home early, thus causing trauma, then causing me to have flashbacks that I am now having to relive weekly. Lyme Disease isn't making the flashbacks happen, nor did it make the trauma happen. But because I have Lyme Disease, it made me leave the mission, which is the trauma, which causes the flashbacks now. 

-The Lyme Warrior

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Some thoughts on change

I have a lot of mixed emotions towards change, I think most people do. The best way I think I can describe change and how it feels is to compare change to a flu shot. First is obvious, the pain of a needle being shoved in your arm, but also before that there is the anxiety of knowing the shot is coming, while they are cleaning of your arm. The sweatiness your palms get right before. Then there is the throbbing pain for the next day or 2 that hurts and aches. That is the best way I can explain change. It hurts but like a flu shot, in the long run it helps you.

Ok so maybe that isn't such a good analogy. But change is hard. And I'm not saying I have gone through the worst change ever, but I have had some big changes in the last couple months that have me finding it hard to believe how I have managed some. I have had tons of change lately. But I have realized that I can look back at all the change and events that has happened and I can hate it and be angry how things have turned out. How I got sent home and then diagnosed with a Chronic illness. Or I can look at  how I have changed from these tough events and have a totally different perspective.

I once heard someone say that their testimony grew more coming home early from their mission because they were sick, then if they would have finished. And where I find that very admirable, and amazing, I can't seem to believe that for myself. I can look back on the 11 months I served and see all the change that happened to me, and that I made in myself, and it is amazing! And when I look back at how I have changed after being sent home, I see less. But what I have been able to see is how strong my testimony really  is. I haven't had it grow sufficiently these past 6 months of being home like I did when I was out serving. But those 11 months were able to lift me up, and now I am witnessing just how strong I really am.

Change is hard. And the events that led up to this were hard to. And I really hope that one day I can honestly say that I am grateful for all that I am going through right now, because right now I can't say that honestly and mean it. But I hope one day I can.

So instead of looking at how little I have changed, compaired to fulltime missionaries coming home now, I can look at what has changed in me. The first thing I can think is self-patience, I was very poor at this on my mission, and I am definitely still learning it, and in no way an expert, but I am much more patient with myself, and I have to be.

Another change I have seen in myself is I am learning to control myself better, my words and my thoughts as well as my actions. I would get in trouble occasionally out on the mission because I didn't want to back down from a bible bash or an argument, because I knew I was right and they were wrong... Unfortunately, I never realized that they thought the something. But now, it's not that I shy away from a fight, I just know that I can't spend my energy on useless arguments and worries, because then a panic attack sets in and I freak out about everything. So learning to gain control of my inner self and emotions is a big change I have seen.

Another change is how I view people. I used to look at people that had problems and think like my mindset was... Well if they just worked a little harder and stopped making excuses they would be alright. But now instead of making mental suggestions and judgments of how people should fix their lives, I am now giving people more of a benefit of the doubt. I feel like I understand people more when they say they are having a hard day, or when someone appears to be struggling I can sympathize more, because I feel like I might know a tiny bit of what the other struggling person might be feeling like. So that is a big change I have noticed.

And finally the biggest change I have noticed, that I have sorta already touched base on, is I have noticed just how strong I really am. And I guess one never realizes how strong they really are until they are given something heavy to lift or carry, that is when they get the test. And maybe my prep for my test was cut short 6 months, but I am stronger than this burden I have to lift and carry. And I think if more people will stop thinking of a sudden change of events in a negative way, and realize the change in themselves while the negative events are happening, then maybe the events won't seem as hard, and change won't seem as difficult.

This is so true!
Gahndi once said "be the change you want to see in the world." I say be the change you want to see in yourself. Because if we all individually looked at what we could improve within ourselves than the world wouldn't need changing. And maybe that is what Gahndi meant all along, I don't know, but I do know that change starts with yourself... Myself.

-The Lyme Warrior

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A different point of view

Going into this next week I have a lot of stuff on my mind. I know in my last post I preached on staying in the now and living in the moment. But I am in no way an expert on it.

There is an analogy that my brilliant and wonderful mission president once said that has stuck with me, he talked about how life is like driving in a car and you always want to look forward out the windshield, and glance out the back using the rear view mirror. And it is only just a glance because of you are constantly looking at what's behind you, it is nearly impossible to drive forward. So I did that on my mission, glancing at the past but working hard and always moving forward on my mission.

Now, again, I don't want to speak for every missionary here, but I'm almost positive every missionary looked ahead to the time they could be welcomed home by their families... I know I did, the kind of thoughts I'd have was, What people would say. What I would do after getting home. The things I would say in my homecoming talk, the experiences and stories I could share. The welcoming home of your family and seeing everyone, especially the airport scene and seeing everyone again there. Those were all things I would look forward to that would help me to keep going on hard days.

As a missionary I would glance ahead like that and think of excitement and happiness! I would look forward to the person I was becoming. I would wonder in awe at the changes that would make me better. I would wonder what kind of better me I would be like when I would get off the plane to run into my families arms when I would get home. Then I would look back at how far I had already come (glancing in the rear view mirror). And I would look forward to what I had planned next in my planner for that day and go to work. And that was just a thought process of mine every once in a while, sort of to boost me up and keep me going.

Yeah but not for me.
It's a cool analogy, but one thing my mission president never explained was what happens when the road you are viewing through your windshield suddenly grows a tree in the middle of the road, and you slam into it and your windshield is shattered and your rear view mirror is twisted and bent and the clear road with exciting things ahead is gone. Because a giant tree decided to shoot up in the middle of the road and you hit it!

That's how I feel. Getting sent home was like smashing into a tree in the middle of the road. It wasn't like I hit a traffic jam and had to wait things out and maneuver some obstacles. No. I smashed into a giant tree.

There goes the happy reunion with the family. The changed self I hoped to be, yeah I changed... But not the way I thought I would. And the road was supposed to be 18 months! Not 11! I hardly had an airport kinda scenery that you imagine with a returned missionary. I told my parents I wanted just them and my siblings, nobody else. I hate that I walked off the plane feeling a sense of incompleteness and regret. Sure I was glad to see my family, but it was totally like a tree shot up in front of my car, inexplicable and painfully unfair. The stories I could have shared in my homecoming talk. The things me I could have been! It was all gone. I felt like my windshield was shattered. Just like my life's plans.

So up until that point I had tried to duct tape my "car" back together. And my shattered windshield I tried to glue back (that didn't work). And I tried to just say, well, this is as good as it's going to get. And I tried to drive it on the freeway with some duct tape and glue. Yeah, it just made things worse...

I have just recently realized that I need to treat my body as if it is a broken down car. I can't look ahead through a cracked windshield, and forget about looking back, the mirror is so bent that it is hanging on by a wire.

Ok so analogy aside, I have come to see that I have been asking the wrong questions. During the mission I asked "Why?", but I learned very quickly that just makes things worse and you never really get an answer anyways. So i came home, got diagnosed with Lyme Disease, realized it was taking away huge parts of my life, and so I started asking "When?" And "How long until?" Basically just trying to look ahead with a cracked windshield and not seeing anything but still driving anyways trying to hang with the bright shiny Cameros and BMW's. I was being impatient.

I also, on top of the impatience, was using my "Broken Crayons still color analogy". I said, well if I'm here what am I supposed to do here? What can I, this smooshed crayon butt, do to add something to the coloring book of life? What more can I do in this armpit of a situation? I thought I needed to get back into school for some reason. But that wasn't it because I had to defer from being so sick and now I'm unsure of when I can go back to BYU Idaho. This added to my impatience and had me asking "How long until I'm well enough to go back?" Or "How long until I can function normally again?"

Then another thought process of mine was, maybe I'm home to meet some guy and get married. Yup, that was one of my thoughts, I was desperate for an explanation. But it has become apparent that I went on more dates in high school than I have since I have been home... And I can count my high school dates on one hand!

So now, in the back of my mind I think, I came home for nothing. Just a diagnosis. I really can't color, or add to the coloring book of life. If I would have finished my mission I would be coming home December 10th... That's this week. I have scrambled to try and figure out a reason for being home. An explanation, anything! But it is looking like my crayon is not only the broken butt end... But the useless white one that nobody uses because the coloring book is all white pages, and nobody has use for a white one there.

And that has been my thought process, these whole, almost 6 months of being home. Seeing full time RMs being real Finishers, and me feeling useless and impatient. Wanting to know what more I could do in the situation. As well as questioning how long I would be this way.

Then it was suggested to me that I am on one of the most important "journeys" of my life right now. It was suggested to me that I am in this situation to learn the process of caring for my mortal body. And that gave me purpose, and much to think about. If that is my "reason" for being home, other than just a diagnosis of Lyme Disease, than that is huge! If I am sick and infested with Spirochette in my brain, and Herxing every month or so, because I need to learn to take care of my mortal body... Then that changes my whole thought process!

No longer am I asking "why me?" Or "when is this going to end?" But I'm asking, "how can I better care for myself?" "What more do I need to learn in this situation to better care for myself?" Or, "how can I tape my broken crayon back together so that it can color again?"

I'm still trying to figure all that out, and process it all at the same time. Meanwhile these questions have me doing things that I never thought I'd do in my wildest dreams! Not only have I kept up a blog almost weekly for 2 months now, but I have taken up hot yoga, (something that I have made fun of in the past) to help detox as well as help with my anxiety. I am seeing a therapist which I am sometimes still embarrassed to admit. I am trying so many different things now, just so I can figure out how to take care of this gift that my Heavenly Father has given me.

And though I still feel like I am not a for real finisher on my mission. I am going to have to learn to let that go, on my own time, and in my own way. But for now I can try and focus on figuring out what more I can do to help myself. And it is amazing how when you change how you look at something a whole new doorway is opened up, and a new journey begins, with an even better reason to keep going and learn to color once again.

-The Lyme Warrior