How My Journey With Lyme Disease Has Taught Me to Be 'Happy Here'
Eight years is too long. I wasn’t expecting something as small as a tick bite to change my entire life, but it has. Ingrained into every decision is the fact I am still sick, and likely will be for the rest of my life. I don’t like to say those words, because they hurt. And more than the hurt I feel on my own is the hurt others bring into your life because they don’t understand.
When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease I knew so little about the disease. At first, I was elated I was finally being diagnosed, but the more I learned, the harder it was to remain happy. Happiness is difficult when you are trapped within your own body, home and bed. Sometimes it felt like everyone was moving forward while I was stuck here.
As the years went by, I was met with new struggles. I was functioning, but I wasn’t normal. While other people in their 20s were able to do just about anything they wanted, I was stuck picking only a few things that would still end up making me exhausted for days. It was at this point people started noticing I was doing some things like grocery shopping, and other things that were enjoyable to me, like going on a date with my husband. People saw this as me being totally well, and expected me to be functioning the same way everyone else did.
When you are chronically ill, people put a timer on how long they think you should be sick. Time had run out on me, I shouldn’t have been sick anymore. I started to get questions about why I didn’t have a full-time job, why I didn’t go to certain events and if I was so sick, then why wasn’t I home in bed feeling sorry for myself? It’s hard enough dealing with my own judgments, but dealing with other people’s just confirmed the judgments I was putting on myself. I wasn’t happy. I felt so frustrated that I wasn’t able to do the things everyone else could, and on top of that to be scrutinized by someone else’s idea of how I should be doing.
I wish I could say this scrutiny ended years ago, but it didn’t. I am still dealing with questions and statements about what my life should look like now. The struggle to be happy is still there, but I have learned a few things over the years. One, my happiness does not depend on my health. Two, others’ opinions don’t matter. Just because I am likely going to be dealing with my illness for the rest of my life doesn’t mean I can’t be happy.
My faith in Jesus Christ has been one of the things that keeps me going, and helped me realize that happiness is not about your circumstances. My happiness is found with my relationship with God. One of the biggest blessings in my life is my family and friends. They keep pushing me, they keep holding me up. What others are saying about me and how they think I should be living my life doesn’t matter. The people who think I should be at a certain place in my life don’t know me. Those are not the people who matter in my life.
I have learned so much in the past eight years, and one of them is to be happy where I am. Happy here.
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