Adrienne Joy Clements
Welcome back to More Than Lyme's Self-Love features! I stumbled across this lovely lady's Instagram during my first couple weeks of taking the plunge and starting More Than Lyme. I knew immediately that I needed to have her part of my life, more importantly, she was someone I knew would become a driving force behind those fighting a chronic illness; a force forever pushing, motiving, and sharing the importance of self-love. I am in awe of her perseverance when it comes to set-backs, her humble attitude towards change while facing fears, and her ability to radiate hope and help others love themselves and let go of what is no longer needed. Simply put, the Lyme community would not be the same without her presence and her voice.
This is her story...
...Hi, my name is Adrienne and I am a recovering perfectionist. And perfectionism + chronic illness = lots of opportunities to embrace our imperfection. I like to joke that Lyme Disease came into my life as the ultimate lesson in letting go.
Question: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?
Adrienne: Before getting sick, I was an active graduate student, entrepreneur, volunteer, community member, and world traveler. However, when Lyme came into my life – so many things that I considered part of my “identity” had to be put on pause.
Learning how to relate to my identity in a new way, was a huge adjustment but incredibly important in learning to cope on this illness adventure. Striving to remember that I am worthy simply because I AM, not because of what I DO. And it’s a process. Releasing grief + embracing the present is a moment by moment adventure.
But my favorite self-love coping tools include: mindfulness + meditation practices, journaling exercises, spending time outdoors, playing with my awesome pup, and connecting with others who understand (Instagram is a great way to do this!).
Question: 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?
Adrienne: I like to consider myself a Jackie-of-all-trades, and have so many different passions. I enjoy learning, creating, connecting, traveling, and playing! Spending time outdoors nourishes me on so many levels – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Even if all I can do is sit out in my backyard – the sun, sounds, and earth are so healing.
Cooking fun new recipes, researching things I am interested in, participating in advocacy, creating art, playing board games, traveling to new lands (or exploring them through photo + video), writing + blogging, spending time with loved ones – all these things feed my mind + body and remind me about what it really important.
On top of that I am blessed to be following my calling as an Empowerment Coach who serves other Invisible Warriors so they can overcome the mental + emotional obstacles of living with chronic illness. Working with the incredibly strong + inspiring people I do every day is an honor, and also powerful motivation for my own illness adventure.
Question: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?
Adrienne: Yes, mindset is EVERYTHING. Negative thinking is a huge part of what I help my clients learn to control. Because I know first-hand how controlling negative thinking can be. My inner critic can be real nasty sometimes! Research has shown us that the “mind” is an embodied experience. That means that what we think doesn’t just influence our brain, but also our bodies. So healing our mind, in turn also heals our bodies.
One of my favorite tools for getting back to a positive place when negative thinking takes over is to play the “Mind Lawyer” game. I search for evidence to support these supposed “truths” I am telling myself. If there is no evidence – than the thoughts are probably irrational. Then I use my mad inner lawyer skills to dispute those irrational thoughts, and present evidence for why the opposite may be true. Once I have presented that new more positive evidence I try to create a new more empowering belief.
The more I reframe my thoughts this way, the easier it starts to become. Moment by moment, thought by thought! Change is a step at a time.
Question: 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.
Adrienne: I feel very blessed to have a wonderful partner and fiancé, Frederico, who has been my go-to guy on this lyme journey. To say that he is a stand up man, is kind of an understatement. We were only together for a year when I started getting sick, but the up and down challenges of this never scared him away. In fact, he proposed to me last October soon after I received my official Chronic Lyme diagnosis and told me “I am in this with you”. I mean, THAT is a MAN. He pushes me to take care of my needs and ask for help when I need to, even when that is the last thing I want to do. On top of being my #1 caretaker he is a full time musician + educator and Dad with the biggest heart. Words cannot express my gratitude + love for this man.
In addition to Frederico, I have a wonderfully supportive immediate family who has been there for me every step of the way. My father in particular. Even though I am almost 30 I am still Daddy’s little girl. So many do not have family support, and I am so grateful for the support I get from mine.
But my newest community, and one that means so much to me is my Instagram community! It is by far by favorite social media platform now. Connecting with spoonies and lyme warriors near and far has been incredibly inspiring, healing, and motivating for me. There are so many powerful Invisible Warriors out there fighting to live a life they love in spite of illness and openly sharing their stories daily. It feels like I have found my people, and I am pumped to continue to build my tribe there. In fact, right now I am facilitating a fun summer challenge on Instagram to promote self-love in the spoonie community and connect Invisible Warriors. It’s the summer of spoonie self-love y’all! Search the hashtag #selflove4spoonies to join in on the self-love adventure!