Monday, March 6, 2017

The Mental Path to Remission

I am working this year on getting into remission, that is my goal, and that is what I want. I have learned over the course of my battle against Lyme that it is as much mental as it is physical. And the mental battle is much more challenging because you can't take ibuprofen when you are feeling frustrated and it takes the frustration pains away. It just doesn't work that way. So I have come up with some ways that I am working on to help me heal mentally from Lyme.

2 years ago I wouldn't have been able to hike this waterfall, it is a simple hike normally,
 but my cousin and I were able to do it a couple weeks ago and to me, that is a mental win!

1- Learn from the losses

Some days you win some, and other days you lose, but it was Malcom X who said "Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains it's own seed, it's own lesson, on how to improve your performance the next time." And that is what I am talking about. 

I feel like most people would say that they have more losses in a week than gains, but that is just me. I could be wrong. However, I believe, and have had to change my mindset on losses. I used to think a loss, whether it was a card game, a basketball game, or you did really bad on a test, just meant either A) you suck, or B) someone or something was just better than you, or it was too hard and so you therefore lost. I used to think this way, but now I realize I am wrong. 

I now see losses as Malcom X saw them: as an opportunity to learn. I take a day that I am in more pain than usual, more depressed and down on myself, and I look back at it: I can see things like adjustments I need to make so I don't feel that way again, like eating, or exercising. I can see maybe how I got out of it and maybe make a mental note to try it for next time. Any time I feel like I have lost a day to Lyme Disease I have to realize I just have to change my mind set and ask, "what did I learn in this loss?" I tend to find I actually gained more than I really did lose.

This is hard to do sometimes, because sometimes we just have down right blow out losses. These days make me feel almost hopeless, and above all frustrated. However, I try in anyway possible to find the improvements and changes I can make along the way.

2- Take pride in the wins

I have talked about the losses, and while I have had many of these over the past 3 and a half years now, I have to recognize the wins. Sometimes it's not a whole day that is a win, rarely ever is a whole day a win with a chronic illness, but I take my wins by moments, not so much by days. 

The first way I can take pride in a win is by celebrating my successes. If I successfully made it a whole day without getting too down on myself about school, than I allow myself to feel good about that. It is a way of mentally rewarding myself, I'll watch a funny Olan Rogers video on youtube, I'll read something that doesn't have to do with my Nutrition 150 text book. There are little things I can do to celebrate my victories. For example, last week I was more upset than usual because I wasn't able to eat with a big group of people because of my diet restrictions. I didn't end up splurging and just giving into the delicious smell of cornbread and chili. So when I got home I made myself my own really good food. 

The second way I take pride in my win throughout the day is by making sure I take note of my victories. I can't always reward myself by making myself good food that I actually can eat, however, I can make sure I recognize when something good happened. I am still working on this part. An example might be if I wake up one morning and the day is great, than something happens later in the evening and I'm down or in lots of pain, instead of marking off that day as a loss because I forgot all the good stuff I was feeling earlier, I can take note of how well I felt earlier in the day, and then I don't necessarily have to see the whole day as a loss, but I can give myself credit that most of the day was alright.

3- Let the good in

I have noticed that if I do #1--learn from the losses, I can then see more wins as well, and by being able to see these I find I can let more good into my life. This helps boost my mentality into beating this disease mentally. I feel like by allowing myself to have good times I am also allowing myself to heal as well. And why shouldn't I be allowed to have goodness and happiness in my life? Why can't I fight Lyme and not be happy? As with anything else in my life that is hard. Why can't I be a hard working, exhausted, busy college student and yet, happy? I feel like sometimes all we need to do is allow ourselves to be happy, and have goodness in our lives.

These are simple steps I have undertaken to try and be more mentally sound while trying to beat Lyme this year. I am not perfect at them, but I feel like they are meaningful and helpful to me.

-The Lyme Warrior

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On the edge

I can feel it... It is like living on the edge, and for me, I feel even more on the edge...edgy...edged? I don't know how to explain it other than I feel like I'm 12 and my parents have woken me up and told me we are going to Harry Potter world. They have loaded up the car and a half hour into the drive they yell: "Just Kidding!" And turned around laughing the whole drive home.

I feel this way because I have set a resolution to be in remission by the end of this year. I have lots of mini-goals to help me get to that point at the end of the year. I want this so bad. I have felt since about October that there has been a turning point in fighting Lyme, in which I am coiming out on top most of the time now. This is a big change from just 6 or 7 months ago. I have modern and natual medicines both working on my side, I have more energy to work out and be fit again. I have a better focus on keeping my diet healthy and strict, and because of that, I have thrown out the window all my cheat days. I used to justify cheat days a couple times a month. I would be found saying "Diet starts Monday again..." on a Thursday! I have come to the realization that I am not going to beat this if I don't stick to everything I have learned over the past 3+ years.

However, I feel on edge for the reason of wanting this disease to be gone, and still dealing with set backs. Where the set backs are minor colmpared to a year ago, I find myself getting more frustrated, because I can feel myself so close to remission, but then I have a Lyme flare up and I feel dissappointment set in.

For example, this weekend I woke up not feeling well. I was struggling to focus, my brain fog was bad, and I had a lot of chronic pain in my body again. It persisted through Sunday, so I walked home from church early at the urge of my awesome roommate who was concerned for me. When got to my apartment I realized I had forgotten my key (thanks brain fog). However, my friend who lives 2 doors down always has her apartment open. So I texted her and asked if I could take a nap on her bed. I woke up about an hour and a half later with no recollection of where I was or how I had gotten in the bed I was in. I didn't remember walking home, being locked out and ending up in a random bed, I was disoriented and delirious, confused and scared. I still don't remember that, and what is even more concerning is I used to have episodes like this, but not for about two years!

I have been frustrated, concerned and stressed about it for the past two days. I keep telling myself I should be getting better, and I keep asking myself, why is this happening again? There is no answer to the question, expect for BECAUSE I HAVE LYME DISEASE. I need to remember that Lyme is so fickle, and remember that flare ups are good. I have been mega-herxing again (click here to read about herxhimer reactions), which I have to remind myself it is good. It means I am getting better. However, at the same time, I feel crappy. The pain, headache, and extreme fatigue is wearing on me.

I have to remember to keep an open mindset about it. I need to allow myself to be ok with feeling sick, because it means I'm getting better. Where I want more than anything to get into remission I have to remember that it is still going to be a process. It isn't a gradual strait line, it is a roller coast of healing, and where the roller coaster is traveling up, there are still ups and downs in that roller coaster. This is my challenge for the new year: be ok with my progress towards remission!

So for this, I am on the edge. I am almost to remission, or symptom free, but it's not there. It's just at a distance. It might sound silly but I can almost taste remission, and for that, I am edgy about being on edge.