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When I Feel Frustrated at How I'm 'Lacking' Due to My Illness

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Life with Lyme disease is so freaking hard.

Thanks-but-no-thanks to chronic Lyme disease, I find myself lacking in so many areas. Having said that, I’m certainly not lacking in feelings of frustration and guilt toward myself. These fiends stealthily sneak up on me all too often. Sometimes I greet them at the gate. “Hey there,” I say from a distance. “I know you and you’re not welcome here today.” Other times they barge in unannounced and I don’t even know they’re there until the damage has already been done.

They cunningly whisper thoughts into my ear.

Why is your home a disaster? When’s the last time you vacuumed? What’s with all the Amazon boxes everywhere? And ew, is that… mold in your bathroom?

You can’t walk faster – and farther – than this? Fancy living in a state with mountains if you can’t even climb the smallest summit.

Just fall asleep already. It can’t be that challenging to be comfortable.

What do you mean you don’t feel better yet? You’ve been in treatment for over a year! Maybe you’re just making things up…

You still haven’t called your sibling – or parent – or friend? Heck, what kind of of sibling/daughter/friend are you?

What made you think you can handle caring for a child when you can’t even keep up with yourself?

I think anyone who battles an illness knows where I’m coming from here. Similar thoughts may also pass through the minds of those who are not ill. As humans, we are always being confronted with things that can hurt us. What is unique about my breed per say, or those who can relate to me here, is that the frustration is significantly intensified.

We don’t forget to call someone once. Instead, it may be weeks before we have the time and energy to make the call. We don’t get behind on a chore or task just here and there; rather we may feel constantly behind. We are not merely limited by the 24-hour day, but by what our bodies are physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of. We are limited because our bodies are literally at war with a foreign enemy. Albeit, it’s a very small enemy (microscopic, even), but the overall damage is catastrophic.

People who are in my shoes easily grow frustrated with circumstances that are completely out of our control. Frustration turns to guilt as we compare ourselves to healthier peers, whether we come to that comparison on our own or it’s prompted by said peer. It’s like we are snails comparing ourselves to cheetahs.

So what can we do? For me, the tendency to grow frustrated is a constant battle among the greater war of my chronic Lyme disease. And for me, the biggest weapon I have is honesty.

When I talk my frustration out to someone who understands – my husband or a friend with Lyme – I’m able to put things into the right perspective. (Sometimes. Eventually.) Often, my husband catches me in my moments of anger. Maybe I forgot to go to an appointment that day, or maybe I burned dinner for the millionth time. He reassures me over and over again that “it’s OK” before I actually feel that it is “OK.” If I’m really stuck (which is often), he’ll talk me through the big picture:

“So… you’re still upset?”

“Gahhh! Yes! I just wish I didn’t forget/that I wasn’t so clumsy/that I could check at least one thing off my to-do list. I’m so terrible at everything.”

“No. You’re not terrible at anything. You need to rest. You’ll always be behind, but you’re doing your best and that’s all you can do. Take care of the baby, take care of yourself. Everything else comes after that.”

Phew. Relief. Truth.

I am doing my best.

It may be hard for some to understand but really, truly, I am. If they (or you, the reader) don’t believe me, that’s not my problem. If they make their disbelief known to me and thereby add to my false guilt, that’s not cool. But it’s still their problem.

I have enough problems of my own.

I will always do my best.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 18, 2017
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