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What I Tell Myself When I Feel Like I Haven't Accomplished Anything as I Fight My Illness

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As another week draws to a close, I find myself thinking, “What did I accomplish this week?” This is a common thought for me on a Saturday morning. I began a new protocol for Lyme disease treatment this past week and it has taken its toll on my body. Still, I know this is another step closer to hope and healing in this long and often winding journey with chronic illness.

I have to remind myself that success is small steps that are taken right now. Some days it feels like I take baby steps; well, make that most days. Then once in a while I will have a decent day, when I can take bigger, deeper steps in this journey of life. It is so hard for me to move at the snail’s pace I have been subjected to since my health began to largely deteriorate over the past 18 years. “Slow and steady gets the job done” often feels more like I’m on a merry-go-round at the park. Spinning in place, moving, but actually getting nowhere.

So many days I feel like the proverbial hamster on a wheel. Round and round I go, constantly striving to get in a bit of work here, between a nap there. The constant work/rest cycle is exhausting in itself. The mind-boggling fatigue and pain of Lyme disease dictate much of my day. I recently saw a quotation by Lena Horne that seemed to sum up my struggle.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” — Lena Horne

I rely a lot on my faith. My belief in a higher power is an integral part of my life. For myself, I am personally grateful to God who helps me to carry the burdens He has given me. But, I understand there are those who do not believe as I do. And, I think this quotation can be applied in several ways to our lives.

I have a very loving and supportive family and group of friends who try to understand my struggles with Lyme disease and all that it entails. I think one of the single hardest things for me to learn has been to accept help when it is offered. So often, I have refused the help of others, feeling it showed a sign of weakness on my part, possibly feeling that I would then have to repay the favor in kind and not knowing where or when or if I would ever have the energy to do so. There has often been the sense of obligation or guilt in my mind when it comes to accepting the help of others. I have learned that at least ninety percent of the time, these fears are unfounded. That more often than not my family wants to be a help to me out of the love and concern in their hearts. It is me that has placed limits on that love and devotion. Note to self: accept help when offered.

Another thought about burdens: A heavy heart makes a burden even harder to bear. It helps to keep a bright outlook on life and try and be as upbeat and  as positive as possible. There has to be a want to in your heart and mind. A desire to keep going. I love to read little books of uplifting poetry and quotations. I love reading my Bible. I also enjoy reading about others who suffer similarly to me and derive strength and encouragement from their stories. It helps me not to feel so alone in all of this.

I am chronically ill, so I do realize that positive is not always possible. Believe me, there is no sugar coating on Lyme disease. But, I have found that it is possible to have acceptance. I have accepted that I am chronically sick. I do not want to wallow in it so to speak. Just accept it! But, I am grateful for the breath in my body, shallow as it may be. I’m thankful for the hands I am typing this blog post with, no matter how much they hurt. I am thankful for so many things. A thankful heart is a happy heart. I repeat this to myself often. It helps.

So I sit here and recap my week. I think over the little things I have accomplished. When I really sit back and look at it, I can see the progress. No matter how small the steps were, I have taken a few this week. I have traveled a little further down this road of life.

I think about teaching my daughter her ABC’s on her first day of school. I think about that load of laundry that got washed, folded and put away.

I think about the small crochet project that I finished for my sister’s birthday gift. The miniature painting I completed for my Ebay shop.

I think about the naps I took, that I know I need for the healing process ahead. I think about the phone conversations with my grown daughter, my mother and my neighbor. The beautiful flowers that my son gave to me just because…

I enjoyed wrapping the birthday gifts for my daughter’s 5th birthday party this weekend. I remember the get well card mailed to a far away aunt. I think about the checks I wrote to pay the bills.

And then there is today, my little daughter’s 5th birthday party. I will rally myself once again and step up to the plate. I will smile, I will talk, I will welcome my family into my home. I will. Because, I rested this morning. The story of my life. Rest and then live a little.

“Rest to live and live to rest” is a mantra I have learned to live by. A mantra I have by necessity learned to live with. Like the saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” It just so happens that my small step is to rest.

Originally published: September 12, 2016
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