May is Lyme Awareness Month--a month dedicated to educating the public on all facets of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. We thank all of the patients, advocates, and Lyme organizations for their dedication in helping to spread the word and save lives. Here at LymeBrave Foundation, we're taking an unfiltered look at what it's like living with this chronic illness by opening up our journals and sharing the highs and lows of life with Lyme. Join us for our 2018 awareness campaign by helping to #shareyourstory. Contact us to find out how!
Editor's Note: The following was originally posted on Cassidy's personal blog, dated October 2016. Check out her profile below to learn more of her Lyme disease story.
It’s time to talk about the two dark monsters that live underneath every Lymie’s bed: anxiety and depression. I’ve had my share of both of these things and I’ll be the first to say they suck. Over the summer, my anxiety was the worst it had ever been. I would get anxious about Every. Little. Thing. I would be eating dinner and have such anxiety thinking about what we would have for dinner the next night I almost broke into tears. I would be anxious over things I had no control over, and when I realized I had no control, I would get more anxious. Thankfully, starting acupuncture really seemed to help to lessen my anxiety. However, every so often it comes back in full force. The past few weeks, for instance, have been incredibly anxious weeks. All day every day for the past few weeks I could not shake the anxious feeling; that’s when I started feeling sick. I have not been feeling well for the past few weeks to begin with, but this week was exceptionally worse. I’m exhausted all of the time. Everything aches and hurts. I get so hot I break into a sweat, then two minutes later I’m shaking because I’m so cold. I gasp for air as if I’ve been suffocating and feel faint constantly. I’ve started having trouble reading again and even watching TV. I am continuously dropping things due to the weakness on my left side. Every time I have a symptom pop up, I get anxious. Every time I get paralyzed, I think back to the state championship football game two years ago when I was paralyzed for the first time. I remember how helpless and scared I was, and those same feelings flood back in. Each time I can’t breathe I think back to August 13, 2016 when I found out I had a pulmonary embolism in my left lung, and I get scared all over again. Whenever I find myself sprawled across the bathroom floor waiting to throw up, I think back to when I was back at Salisbury sobbing in the bathroom at 5am, waiting for my dad to come get me because I was so sick, and I panic. The fear of sinking back to those times is always there. That’s the anxiety I always feel: the darkness of worse days is always lurking in the background waiting to come out and consume my life all over again. And that’s when the depression joins in. I think of how I never got to live a normal adolescence. How I never will experience the true college life. I think of all the dreams I had of internships and travels that will never happen, and I curl into a shell. Now, you would never know these feelings are going on inside my head. Not to toot my own horn, but I deserve a fricken Oscar. Heck, every chronically ill person deserves an Oscar. Every day I get out of bed and plaster a fake smile on my face (sometimes better than others). Every day I go through the motions of living, but I’m not actually living. I’m just waiting. Waiting for the shoe to drop. Waiting for the next symptom to show up. Waiting to get paralyzed again. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. When I get into this dark slump I constantly ask, “Why me?” I think, “What did I do to deserve this pain? What did I do to be cursed with such a burden? What did I do to get my life turned inside out?” I’ve been told over and over again that I was given this life because I was strong enough for it, and some days that is the case. Some days I wake up, turn up “Fight Song” as loud as I can and power through my day. Other days… Other days I listen to “Rise Up,” cry a little, and crawl through my day to hopefully make it to the end in one piece. Some days I get so sad that I just cry and cry and cry. I cry for the life I once had. I cry for the life I dreamed of having. I cry for all those who suffer with me, and for all those who lost the battle.
Some days I get mad. I get mad that I have to live in this agony. I get mad that that doctors can’t fix me. I get mad that my life is full of medicines and bills instead of friends and fun. I get mad that people don’t see the true horror that is Lyme disease. This is what Lyme disease is: a constant battle with anxiety and depression--on top of everything else. I have an incurable chronic illness that anyone in their right mind would be a little anxious and depressed about that. Some days I may want to let the disease win, but I’m kind of a sore loser so it can have this match.
I’ll just fight harder next go around.
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Cassidy Colbert has been battling chronic Lyme disease for over six years. She now dedicates her time to advocating so no one else feels the burden of this horrible disease. Want to know more about Cassidy? Find her on social media!