...I don't remember a ton of the next 3 days, I remember saying goodbye, I remember feeling so pressed for time to get everything done. I remember I didn't want to pack, I just wanted to work until the last possible second!
I will never forget, however, when Sister Eames dropped me off to ride to Columbia with the AP's where I would stay overnight at a senior couples home, then I would meet with president and fly home... She would go with the Sister Training Leaders to our area. We had said all our goodbyes and got all our crying out before we got there. But I remember watching her get into the car as we drove away. I felt ripped in half and I felt a huge wave of anxiety hit me... And it didn't go away for a good week or so. I felt so anxious and so alone, more than I had ever been! I told myself I had to be happy that she was getting a normal companion, that she wouldn't have to deal with me anymore...
Before I had left she made me swear I would write or email to her every week so she would know I was ok... After President told us I was going home, she kept saying "You are going to get the help you need now." And she said it with confidence... I wanted to believe her, but I couldn't. I felt hopeless and crushed.
The next day, June 14th, 2014 my mission president handed me his iPhone and told me to call my parents, he said they new I was coming home, but that was all they knew. I had kept it together really well after leaving my area, but when my mom answered the phone I fell apart. I couldn't tell her everything, I only had a few minutes, I told her my itinerary and told her that nobody was to be at the airport but her and dad to pick me up... She tentatively asked if my siblings could be there too... I didn't want it, but I agreed... I had to hang up. And for the first time it felt real, I had the tickets in my hand. I was walking out of the mission office, driving to the airport, leaving South Carolina... I felt completely hopeless and alone.
"I'm going to get the help I need." I kept trying to say, I felt like if I said it enough... then maybe I would eventually believe it...
Today, 2 years ago, I came home early from serving a mission in the Columbia, South Carolina Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I came home with no hope. I wanted to believe that I was going home to "get the help I needed." But I couldn't. There was no hope for it in my mind. I had no strength left to even try to find a hope in feeling better. The shame inside was eating me up, I had no strength because the shame and guilt I felt smashed up any strength I had left. I was in a scary place because I didn't care anymore. I wasn't in the state of mind to care about myself, or anyone else. I just wanted the mental pain and disturbing anguish that I didn't understand to stop pounding my head...
In 2 years I have found the strength. I have been blessed to see myself "get the help I need." It has come in so many ways, and I want to touch on some of those factors that helped me find the strength I know I didn't have. Emma Smith once said, "Strength isn't something you have, it is something God helps you find, one day at a time." I didn't realize until very recently just how much strength I have found in the past 2 years. There are many ways God has helped me find the strength to move on from this traumatic incident, as well as other incidents that would continue, and still continue to repeat in my mind on anniversaries like today... I want to touch on just a few.
The Strength to see my Blessings
It took a long time, but recently I have come to the conclusion that if I could go back to the choices I made leading up to coming home, and if I could go back and squish Dick The Tick before he could infect me with Lyme--if I could go back and stop all of that... I wouldn't. I am blessed to be able to see my growth since not only coming home, but my growth since I have been fighting Lyme for 2+ years.
My family, and wonderful friends who are nothing but angels placed on earth to help me are also blessings. I felt like when I came home I was losing a lot of friends from South Carolina, and I did lose a few that I thought were at home waiting for me also, but I remember feeling shocked at how many people stood by me. I didn't want to stand by myself, I couldn't understand why others wanted to, when I was such a downer, and such a mess. Every single friend, and family member that supported me, even though I felt like I didn't deserve it, was a blessing that I couldn't accept for a long time, because I wouldn't let myself. Eventually when I did come to accept it, I realized what a life line they all were, and how blessed I am for every person that stuck with me.
More than just angels that stuck with me, it has been a blessing to have people that still want to come into my life. The ability to make friends and find out they actually don't have any problem with the fact that sometimes I still get really down, fathoms me! I can't believe how blessed I am to have people that still want to be in my life, when I still don't always feel like I'm deserving. These people give me strength and hope that I am getting better everyday. And one day, they can know me without Lyme. Without me thinking of the next time I have to pop some supplements, or choke down a bowl full of meds every morning. Or have to skip something because of another appointment to the doctor, or the healer, or just miss out on a game of frisbee because the Lyme is winning for that certain day. I feel so blessed to have people that still want to be in my life, and help me through this, and still want to come into my life as well.
Strength to see the Changes in my Life
Lyme and coming home early has caused me to change for the better... as my body seemed to get worse, and somedays it still feels like it is getting worse (even though I am on the up swing of my treatment, there are still some days that I lose), my empathy towards others increased. I give people more of a benefit of the doubt, I am more understanding in every aspect. It took time, but as I accepted my own reality, that I really was depressed, I was thus allowing myself to have the strength to over come it. Empathy for others helped me to allow my own self to heal as well. As I wished and hoped for others who suffered with Lyme, or with depression, or even other things that I didn't even deal with, I was then giving myself a hope to heal.
When I realized this, all I wanted to do was help people. In helping people, I gave myself permission to help myself. It was the most selfish/unselfish paradox, and I still feel that way. In my mind, helping someone, even if it's just doing the dishes for my roommate, or something as simple as sharing a word of encouragement, I am able to forget myself. In forgetting myself, the depression doesn't win, the pain doesn't win, I do. Pain and depression are self absorbing, and I recognize that they can cause me to think and feel very selfish. But I have learned that if I help people, and turn outward, I am able to push past the pain and depression.
Another change that I see in myself that lends me strength is my perspective. When you have been suicidal and dealt with self harm thoughts, and then beat them... your perspective changes. And my perspective has changed. My priorities are more in order than they have ever been. I have a greater understanding of where the Lord wants me to be and who He needs me to be there for. I no longer see basketball as my number one priority. I don't find judging others to be high on my priorities list, which I didn't realize how high it was for not just me, but most people when I came home. How can I judge someone when I know nothing of their circumstances? I have learned recently that there is a motive that we can't see behind every harsh word, piercing glare, or even hard slap. Even though nobody deserves any of those things, I can now look at someone and understand that there is something, some reason that I don't know or understand, and that is the reason behind the way they act the way they do. My priority to usually judge them has changed to just an increase in a desire to better understand where they are coming from.
Strength to Accept
One thing that is still really hard for me is accepting where I am at in life. It is an issue of pride, and a personal problem. But there are still times where I don't want to accept the fact that I'm still sick. I don't want to accept that I can't go for a run most days still. And if I do, I don't want to accept the fact that the next day, no matter how many days in a row I have run before, I am still going to struggle to walk the next day. This is not only very hard for me to accept, but in doing so, it is very humbling as well. When I can accept the situation that I am in, I find it easier to then be an asset to those around me instead of a burden. I don't wallow in my self pity and focus on myself, I find that when I can accept the situation I am in, I can then make the most of it. And that is a huge blessing in my eyes.
All in all, there are many different ways that I feel God has helped me find the strength that I need to keep going with my fight against Lyme Disease and my PTSD that likes to come around the anniversary of some of the hardest moments of my past. But the strength that I am constantly searching and finding help me to constantly turn to God for more.
-The Lyme Warrior