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The Small Things I Do to Embrace the Permanence of Lyme Disease

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Chronic illness is a big commitment. It’s a commitment that you must choose your health first. Doctor’s visits over visiting with friends, recovering from treatment instead of going to work or class. To rest, recovery and heal over doing the things you enjoy. It’s a commitment for life. You can’t go back.

I didn’t willingly sign up for this commitment, but these are the cards I’ve been dealt. I don’t have much say in the matter. And that can be hard, especially if you’re someone like me who has no cure and no real treatment plan. Chronic Lyme disease is a game of getting your symptoms and infections as manageable as possible. This illness is something that is permanent, something that isn’t going away.

I personally struggle with the whole idea of permanence. I feel like that’s common with most people my age, and especially so when you’re living with a chronic condition. I’m supposed to be figuring out the rest of my life but I’m no longer able to work, to go to college, to live independently. The only thing I know for certain about my future is that I will be sick.

I’ve watched the anxiety and dread from the permanence of my illness slowly seep into the rest of my life. And I paid attention to those feelings, acknowledged them, then found a way to move past it. I made a list of permanent things I’m afraid of committing to or losing, and I use it as a reminder to push my edges and grow.

Dear me, here’s your reminder: Many aspects of permanence are scary, but work on embracing that. I believe in you!

1. Stickers

You have so many beautiful stickers and you’re so afraid to use them. But they’re being wasted on those sheets in your desk drawer. Decorate your laptop, your water bottles, your wall. Put them on magnets so you can move them around!

2. Hair

Your hair grows. It will grow back and will grow out of everything you do to it. Get that haircut you’ve been considering. Dye the ends of your hair, or all your hair. Get a new, ridiculous color. Embrace it. Take control of what happens to your body.

3. Redecorate

Paint that room a new color. De-clutter. Downsize; get rid of those knick-knacks that have no personal memories attached to them. Reorganize something. When something feels stale, change it.

4. Your phone

Get a new case! Rearrange the layout of the apps and delete the ones you never use. Get a screensaver that makes your heart happy when you see it.

5. Take more selfies

On your good days and on your bad days. See how you change, see
how you stay the same.

6. Get a new piercing or tattoo

Be in pain for something you want for once. Decorate your body in things you love, reclaim your body control.

Strive to find small ways to embrace or find change in your everyday life.

Originally published: October 21, 2018
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