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Exhausted Hope: Getting Through the
Dark Days of Chronic Lyme disease
Restore hope through reason
The darker days a person with chronic Lyme disease experiences can be the days that really test the limits of their will. It’s simply a willingness to continue to move forward and find answers to ameliorate the condition, but on a bad day -- the darkest of days -- it can sometimes be most surprising that what’s left of that will, has not completely vanished. It truly makes you wonder how a person -- a human being -- so capable of such intellectual emotions, can go day after day, year after year, enduring debilitating physical symptoms and a deteriorating cognition. A brain that observes its own plight, that which struggles to find answers, and tirelessly attempts to console and reason through the conditions that all which led to this very moment. The moment at which you realize, once again, you’ve been struggling for so long, and that you’ve searched far and wide, but somehow things still aren’t right.
How many times can you tell yourself you can get through something that you’ve yet to get through? It’s no wonder it becomes harder to believe your own words. And while sometimes emotions can be overbearing, or completely cease to exist at all, if observation of your conditions can be, then so can reason, and it is the brain’s ability to reason through that will be the last sole voice an individual can invoke to make it through the day. The bad days that come with chronic Lyme disease are unquestionably rough and trying, but here are some tips to ride them out.
Accept that you’re having a bad day
You’re having a really bad day and it’s okay. Your symptoms are really taking a toll on you, and your mind may be getting the best of you, but you’re going to be okay. It’s really important to accept that you’re having a dark day when you’re having a dark day. It can be hard sometimes to give in to the symptoms, especially when the Sun is shining, or you have an obligation, but listening to your body is a smart choice. Nobody wants to pass up a trip to the beach, or put off that load of laundry, but if your body and mind aren’t up to it, don’t force it - embrace your bad day.
When you accept that you’re having a bad day, you reduce the friction between what you’re feeling and the world you’ve been a part of your entire life. Acceptance is about letting go what is beyond your immediate control, and for you, right now, it’s feeling relatively good or normal. And while no one with chronic Lyme wants to give in to a bad day, we all attempt somehow to lessen the suffering and make the condition more bearable. This is done by not resisting the bad day -- more friction is created by doing so -- but through accepting and then embracing what you are a part of, for a little while at least. By choosing this route, you take the road of less friction and make the mental struggle of having a bad day, that much smoother.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible
You and your bed [or couch] are on a first name basis, but while the relationship may be bittersweet, there’s no denying it’s the one place that cradles your body and mind best. It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon, you’re not feeling well, again, and you're resisting the urge to lie down. Why? Well, you’re tired of being bed ridden or maybe you have obligations, and this is completely understandable. But if you do have the opportunity to rest when your body and mind are calling for it, don’t resist - rest!
Making yourself as comfortable as possible doesn’t start and end with a bed. There are little things you can do that will add up greatly and contribute to the comfort level as a whole. If you happen to be sensitive to light, close the blinds for sometime. If your jeans leave you feeling on edge, throw on a pair of sweatpants. If you normally skip 1 or 2 steps while walking up the stairs, just take them one step at a time this time around.
By making yourself as comfortable as possible on a bad day, you lessen your suffering and making enduring chronic Lyme that much more bearable. And while sometimes making yourself comfortable may conflict with what needs to be done or how things should be done, you’re playing the game of chronic Lyme; no one really seems to care about the rules of a game they’re not playing.
Dealing with chronic Lyme for the extended period of time that you have can make you desensitized to the reality that you’ve been a part of. You likely don’t feel the same way about the illness in the beginning as you do now because your mind and body have adapted and accepted it, in order for you to carry on and survive as is. What was once considered a pure, isolated illness in the beginning, may have gradually transitioned over time to the normal by rooting itself within the fabric of the mind. But it’s not normal. It’s not normal to suffer enigmatic, debilitating, and persistent symptoms for such an extended period of time, especially with no guidebook for the journey. And you can definitely look back and easily recall the worst of moments throughout the ordeal, but remember, you can’t look back if you haven’t made it this far -- look at how far you’ve come.
Let tomorrow’s possibilities be today’s salvation
Today, you’re not feeling well, but you’re taking it easy -- which is good! Sometimes, maybe more times than not, when you’re dealing with a bad day with chronic Lyme, it’s incredibly easy to feel discouraged with your healing. To help get you through the bad day, think of what you can do differently tomorrow, if not today, to lessen the chances of having this experience again.
While the process of avoiding a bad day is in no way black and white, it’s a gradual process in lessening their frequency and the level of debilitation they bring. The key to this is to be a detective and learn what may have caused your recent bad day. By analyzing the situation and reasoning, you give yourself an upper hand by possibility avoiding the cause of this type of bad day in the future. And if you feel as though this option was exhausted a long time ago, then the alternative is to talk with your treating physician about what may be causing your bad days, and if you feel your physician isn’t helping, then maybe consider seeing a new physician if you’re not too attached and can break free easily.
But for now, you’re having a bad day and taking it easy. Right now, taking it easy is the only thing that brings some level of tranquility to the harsh reality of chronic Lyme disease. But sooner or later, you won’t need that tranquility as badly, and you’ll make your move. You’ll know exactly what you need to do to gradually reduce, over time, the chances of experiencing a bad day again. Let that knowledge be the tranquility and salvation to get you through the day.