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I Was Ready to Give Up Fighting Lyme Disease Until My Friend Said This

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It is hard to have a chronic illness and not compare yourself to others. I am guilty of that. It’s always been said you should only compare yourself with you… the only problem with telling someone with a chronic illness she should only compare herself to herself is it entails her to remember who she used to be, what she used to be able to do, and makes her hate her situation even more.

In comparing myself to everyone I eventually came to a question: Why? Why am I still trying? I am tired. I am not making it work like everyone else, so why am I still fighting?

I learned “why” about a month ago when a smart friend told me something nobody has ever told me before. It was one of those rough days when Lyme was winning everything. The depression was bad, and I was ready to ditch school and go home sick. I was ready to give up on everything. I. Was. Done. And I told my friend that. I told her I was tired of being strong. I didn’t want to fight anymore. I wasn’t the “Lyme Warrior” my blog said I was. On and on and on I went.

Until she finally said, “Ya know what, do it. Just give up! Go ahead.”

I was stunned. Nobody had ever said that to me. I don’t tell people when I feel like I’m losing just to have them tell me I’m “strong” and “I can do it.” That’s not me. But she did the opposite of what I expected.

Have you ever felt words hit you with so much force that you physically shrink backwards? Those words hit me like a punch in the gut. I felt myself sway back. Finally I answered through tears: “I can’t.”

“That’s right, you can’t, because you won’t. Because you are not a quitter!” She answered with even more force, and I knew she was right.

It took a huge breakdown to realize I can’t quit, I won’t quit, and the reason is because I am strong. To realize how strong I really was I had to have someone give me the permission to give up. I realized just because I was tired of fighting didn’t mean I was going to give up.

I can’t give up because I won’t. I just won’t. I won’t let myself. I realized I am tired. All the time I am tired. It’s part of Lyme. But I am not tired of being strong. I was wrong when I said that because if I was tired of being strong I would have quit, and I realized, through my friend, that I can’t quit. I am still so grateful that someone saw it in me enough to boldly point it out. If I wouldn’t have been granted permission to give up, I wouldn’t have realized it in myself, and since then it has been freeing.

Just because I have realized I can’t give up because I won’t, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I still get down on myself.  I still slightly compare.

It’ s either a comparison between sick-me to them, or sick-me to non-sick-me, but I don’t let it get me down. It’s like ripping off a Band Aid too fast. I allow it to hurt and sting for a second, and then I attempt to move on and deal with me the best I can. Because I know I won’t give up. So why linger on things that will just frustrate me to want to give up?

Learning to be OK with myself, my sick-self and learning just how strong I really am by realizing I can’t quit because I won’t, have been two important things for me in building confidence. I hope I can continue to be strong enough to overcome my comparisons I make towards myself and towards others.

Another version of this story can be found at Blame the Tick.

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Thinkstock photo by Ala Charnyshova

Originally published: January 8, 2017
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