Welcome back to More Than Lyme features, this weeks theme focuses on the importance of Self-Love!
To gain a better and more broad understanding of this subject, I asked a handful of Lyme Warriors how best they cultivate self-love and all that goes with it...
Meet Gemma. A young woman from the Netherlands who made the decision to put her dreams of becoming a veterinary technician on hold after finding out she had Lyme. This pause enabled her to put all her attention to the task at hand: healing. Despite the odds, decision did not discourage Gemma, but instead, motivated her to live each day with even more strength, drive, and determination than she did before. Nothing, not even a crippling disease can stop her from fulfilling her dreams.
Q: Letting go. In the process of being diagnosed with Lyme Disease, what things have you had to sacrifice and let go of? And how do you cope and adjust to this new way of life?
Gemma: I’ve been ill for over three years but recently we discovered I’ve been dealing with Lyme disease all this time. I’ve had to sacrifice my study, my internship and my job. I was studying to become a veterinary technician (specialized in surgery), I was an intern at a Veterinary Clinic but due to my illness I have had to put that on pause. I’m not sure when I will be able to start. Due to Lyme I had to quite my part-time job, so you can imagine the stress that it brings. I try to life from day to day and not let the stress get to me. Just because it isn’t working out right now, doesn’t mean it will never work out, right?
Q: Following your passion. What activities do you do for yourself that help feed your mind and body? And how do these activities help you stay motivated through the good and the bad?
Gemma: At this point I have put my passion on hold. I just to be an intern at a Veterinary Clinic and I would also volunteer as a care taker of stray animals. At this moment that is not possible. I do have really nice colleagues that keep me updated about everything and that’s really nice. They only thing that keeps me motivated through the good and the bad is knowing that one bad day doesn’t mean I have a bad life.
Q: Being mindful of what you think. Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and difficult to keep in check--what are some of the positive thoughts you focus on when you're feeling down?
Gemma: Recently I have been feeling emotionally drained. Now that it really got to me that Lyme will always be a big part of my life it’s difficult to focus on anything except Lyme. Day in, day out I try to learn as much as I can about Lyme so I can deal with it better. I’m a control-freak, so by reading and doing research on Lyme I feel like I’m in control of my own life and that’s great. Also, I get really positive after spending quality time with my friends. Those moments are the only moments I forget I have Lyme and I just feel like one of the girls. I try to focus on the fact that even though I have Lyme that I’m not any different from anyone else.
Q: Someone to lean on. Asking for help can be hard, especially when you're suffering from Chronic Lyme--simple tasks often become difficult and you are forced to look to others for support. Tell us about your community, who they are, and how they help you and challenge you to keep fighting.
Gemma: I have a lot of support around me, especially my boyfriend who is (unfortunately) taking care of me every day. Recently I carefully started to open up emotionally towards my family and friends and I feel like I’m able to breathe again after a long time. Dealing with Lyme and all of its perks makes me feel really insecure and ashamed of myself. I’ve always been a tough cookie so admitting I feel insecure and ashamed is really hard to do. I’ve been fighting for the last three years, and during all the hospital visits, doctors, specialists, emergency rooms, and all the ‘Lyme attacks’ I’ve kept telling myself that the only thing tough enough to kick my ass is me.
Continue to follow Gemma's story as she takes each day as is, making sure to surround herself with the people she loves and the things that make her thrive. Good luck, Lyme...you don't stand a chance against this girl.