I’m Casting a Light on the Shadow of My Lyme Disease

If this past week has taught me anything, it’s that life moves in cycles of the very good, the very bad and the very impossible in-between, but it never lingers in one place for long.

A few weeks ago, I didn’t think I’d make it through this relapse. Two and a half years of unimaginable hell were behind me, and I was ready to let it go and move forward with my life. I didn’t think I could go through that again. But then — denial. I was so eager to be well that I ignored the signs, forgetting that signs of every kind are here to guide us to something better.

So, it got worse; I got sick again. I slept for weeks (Rip Van Winkle had Lyme. That may not be true, but I’m pretty sure it’s a fact.) I gritted my teeth through the pain and cried that I found myself here, again — here in this darkness, this limbo. Back then, I forced myself to look forward. I had a family to love, a job to return to and I was building my business and ready to publish my first book. I thought, one last dream, to hold my book in my hands. That’s what I was fighting for. One last dream.

But it wasn’t all I was fighting for, and every “I love you” from my parents, hug of comfort from my brothers, visit from my friends and snuggle from my dogs reminded me of that.

This is the dream I turned to these past few months, the only dream that has ever really mattered.

It took me a while to realize this. When you’re stuck in the darkness, it’s hard to see the light for what it is. You believe it’s just a trick of the mind, another layer of shadow. But light casts shadows, and even the smallest pinprick is enough to disrupt the darkness; the more it grows, the faster it chases those shadows away.

Here’s a secret: Even in the darkness, the light inside you never goes out.

My light grew dim for a while. It’s not easy to admit that — you want to be strong and brave and have faith in life — but sometimes the struggle takes its toll. Your light begins to fade, and you fade with it. I felt useless, unwanted and, at times, abandoned. It’s a helpless feeling, being sick. It’s like watching out the window as people live their lives while you’re left behind, wanting to live yours, too. It all seems so close, and you reach out, but your hand touches glass — an invisible barrier separating the living from the waiting.

Being sick is a lot of waiting, a lot of wishing — you wait and wish so much, you wonder if you can burn your own light out in the process. That’s when it fades. That’s when you lean on others to help you nurture the flame until the fire inside of you is burning brightly again on its own.

That’s what it took this time. Family reminding me they loved me; my dogs telling me they needed me; my friends showing me they remembered me when I had forgotten I was once something more than this illness.

That’s what I’m celebrating. The victory of those bedridden days passing into memory as recovery time takes hours now, not days, as the fatigue lifts and the pain ebbs and the longing for life is reborn.

I’m taking my place in the world again. I’m casting light against the shadows.

Because it only takes one lonely spark to ignite a flame.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Lyme Disease

Burning Jack O'Lantern on a rustic table with autumn decorations, darkly lit.

Celebrating Halloween the Spoonie Way

Holidays can be extra hard for those of us with chronic illnesses. Expectations can hit head-on with reality and cause negative memories for the next year to come. We may not be able to attend all events we want to, eat foods that are traditional, or socialize without anxiety. This creates even more room for [...]
Living painting - young woman completely covered with thick paint

The Rejection of Chronic Illness

I’ve never experienced so much rejection so quickly and so deeply since my chronic Lyme diagnosis. That word really isn’t in my repertoire, but this therapist said to me last week, “Why do you feel there is so much rejection around you, Genevieve?” It confused me because I thought by discussing my symptoms and how hard [...]
half of woman's face with blue and purple hair

When I Realize What I've Lost Because of Lyme Disease

This is the worst part of day — that time between being faraway in dreams and being awake and distracted by work, when the reality of all that is happening and has happened sets in. It’s when you hear people passing outside your window — teenage girls on their way to school, shoes slapping against [...]
woman in jean jacket walking on the beach

The Reality of Living With Chronic Lyme Disease

The Reality My name is Tori Ashdown and it’s 4 a.m. on September 19, 2016. A normal kid my age would be more concerned over the fact she can’t sleep because she has class today. For me, it’s different. I am on the sideline of my life, watching everyone run this huge life marathon that [...]