Well, my people, it is Sunday afternoon. I’m really happy I survived this past week. I hope all of you did too. I am feeling much better today. Thank you all for your support. Today, I was pretty productive if I do say so myself! After a week of being too sick to do anything besides lay in bed, I was up and fairly active today. And no nausea! Which makes this day even better. Since I was way behind on grading, I told myself that if I could knock that out, I could come and write here. It was a great incentive!
I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog, and its focus. Yes, the focus is on Lyme disease and more specifically, my own personal experiences with treating and living with this disease. Over this past month, I have run into some people on social media and people in in my day to day life who also deal with a chronic illness and that, for the most part, has been a wonderful way to connect. However, it has also made me reflect on my decision to begin telling others about my illness. Coming out of the closet, so to speak, about having Chronic Lyme disease.
When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, I told my immediate family and my boss. In the beginning, while I knew I would have to treat for awhile since I had been sick off and on for about 3 years before the diagnosis, I had no idea that this might be a chronic illness for me. And, as I was so very sick back in 2013 when I found out finally what was going on, I thought it only prudent and honest to explain what was going on to my boss. The support was overwhelming. I also shared with a few colleagues who are dear to me. Otherwise, no one else knew, and I was happy to keep it that way. In my head, I felt that telling other people was a burden to them. It almost felt like by telling them, I was making excuses about why I couldn’t keep doing everything I had been doing. Being sick, to me, was a sign of weakness. Not that I thought that about other people. That only applied to me. Always the perfectionist, I am way harder on myself then on others (although I am sure my students would beg to differ!).
This strategy, the one of silence and limited sharing about my health, worked for a bit. Well, almost 2 years. And while I did make progress in treatment, I just could not continue with all of the responsibilities I had at work. I was in a leadership position and a club sponsor. These along with teaching 5 upper level junior/senior classes every day. I just had to make changes and move some things off of my plate so I could focus on improving my quality of life. This treatment thing was taking much more time than I had anticipated. Making the decision to no longer sponsor the club I had started back in 2008 and then also stepping down as a leader, these were tough, tough decisions. I struggled with feeling less than, incompetent, weak…oh, the list goes on. Reorganizing my priorities was a challenge. But I knew that I did not want to end up sacrificing my work by becoming more ill or vice versa. Something had to give.
Taking the bull by the horns, I relieved myself as club sponsor and my leadership position at the end of last school year. But in order to do this, more people were going to have to know the reasons why I was making this decision. Uncomfortable to say the very least, at least for me. I’m not big on sharing private things unless it is with close friends. In order to move on though, I did indeed share the basics about my health issues with my colleagues and my boss. I am chronically ill at this point, I have good times and then I have some really bad times, such as this past week, and I cannot make it to work. Communicating with others what was/is happening to me has become a huge relief.
Looking back, I honestly can say that I wish I had done so earlier on. Being more open and honest about my health has actually led to some great conversations with others. It has humbled me in ways I never knew. The kindness and understanding people have is truly amazing. Do I still have days where I feel like a burden? I sure do. But opening up has been a truly important step for my recovery, I believe. Thank you all for joining me on this journey!
Have a great week! -b