A creator, cook, motivator, wellness blogger, adventure advocate, loyal friend, and Lyme Activist. Victoria makes a point of surrounding herself with the people, places, things, and food that will not only nurture her, but push her to live a life beyond the limitations that Lyme Disease brings, all while encouraging others to do the same.
In her own words...
"The longer I have lived with the diagnosis, the more I work to break out of that shell and force myself to continue to do the things that I love, even if it means that I might wear myself out. I listen to my body, but I continue to challenge it!"
This is her story...
Q: Describe how you saw yourself before being diagnosed with lyme, during the process, and after living with the disease for awhile. Have the feelings towards yourself changed over time? If so, how?
Victoria: I was so surprised to be diagnosed with Lyme Disease. I had been suffering from chronic pericarditis for a year, along with joint pain, fatigue, widespread inflammation and irritability. I knew that something was wrong with me, but all of the doctors were at a loss as to why I was not getting better. Once I was diagnosed, I felt scared. Everyone had advice on what I should or shouldn’t be doing, who I should see, what books to read. It was overwhelming. I was very fortunate to find a Naturopathic Doctor in my area that specialized in Lyme Disease. I got into see her right away.
After 5 months of treatment, I’m already feeling good! I think that the hardest part of being diagnosed, is that you start to define yourself as a sick person. The longer I have lived with the diagnosis, the more I work to break out of that shell and force myself to continue to do the things that I love, even if it means that I might wear myself out. I listen to my body, but I continue to challenge it!
Q: When you're feeling at your worst, where do you pull inspiration from, and how do you keep yourself moving forward?
Victoria: When I’m feeling my very worst, I get up and take a hot epsom salt bath. Most of the time, this is enough to get me going. I take my dogs for a 3 mile walk or go to yoga almost every day! I also love to hike and paddle board. For the most part, once I get moving, I tend to feel so much better. I have a food blog, so I often draw inspiration from food. I love being in the kitchen and cooking. Lastly, I love to travel, often participating in fitness and yoga retreats.
Q: It's important that we keep doing what we love while fighting Lyme, even if it is that much harder to do. What are some of your favorite ways to tap into your creativity? And how do you think these creative outlets have helped you heal?
Victoria: My food blog has been my creativity outlet. I spend a lot of time developing healthy, tasty recipes, working on food styling and photography, writing blog posts and hosting a Cookbook Club Dinner once a month. The dinner parties are a fantastic way for me to remain social and continue doing what I love, with out all of the stress of cooking all of the food my own. Each guest or couple brings a dish from a recipe they have chosen. All of the recipes come from a cookbook that I have selected. And, of course, the recipes are plant based and healthy :) I believe that I am doing so well because of my healthy diet and being GF for 4 years. Cooking is essentially, part of my Lyme treatment.
Q: When you're feeling your worst, what goes through your mind? What emotions take over, and how do you feel? Then, the hardest part: how do you overcome the pain, reminding yourself that you're worth the fight?
Victoria: The mental health component of Lyme is enormous. It can create depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc. It really messes with your head. I kept a journal for awhile. It was scary to see how dark my thoughts became. When you feel your worst, it’s very isolating. You feel like no one understands. It’s very lonely. I felt like running away and disappearing. I am lucky that I work with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and they Lyme literate and are currently working on Lyme initiatives. They have been amazingly supportive.
Q: Sure, there's the endless list of downsides when it comes to fighting Lyme Disease, but what are some of the good moments and feelings that have come of it? And how do you think those things have changed who you are today.
Victoria: I am working with NAMI of Southwest Washington on forming a Lyme Coalition. As a mental health pharmacist and Lyme survivor, I will be presenting to local physicians, supporting and guiding clients and sharing my story with legislators. I feel inspired to make a difference in this cause! Maybe, I can do some nutrition education as well?! The sky is the limit! This experience has solidified my future as an advocate and educator in so many ways.