Written by Project HEAL co-founder, Liana Rosenman
I spent most of my teenage years treating my body like an enemy: hating it, blaming it, manipulating and controlling it. Through recovery, I’ve learned how to appreciate myself as a whole person and to love myself for who I am. I have realized the strength and goodness that lies within my body. I became my body’s friend rather than its enemy.
The thing is, I’ve done a lot of HEALing over the years. In a lot of ways, I became more in tune and aware of my body and was healthier than ever. My life was full of beauty, exploration and learning. I was in love with life and in love with living. My moments were filled with good friends, loving family and hard work. I was happy. Truly happy. But, that was once upon a time (or at least for now)!
I took my body for granted until I woke up one day and realized my immune system stopped doing its job. My body has become my own worst enemy because I am no longer in control of my body — Lyme Disease is. Lyme Disease is caused by a spirochete—a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme is called “The Great Imitator,” because its symptoms mimic many other diseases. It can affect any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart.
I have always prided myself in being productive. Organizational systems made me swoon. There is something about systematically organizing your entire life into one little book that excited me. I must say, one of the best feelings in the world is when you have a beautifully laid-out, organized, color-coded day where everything fits together like a puzzle (because I just couldn’t say NO and had to use every single square inch of time in my day on something). I got a kick out of ticking off a to-do list. Goals? I had them down baby! Success and my addiction to achievement were ingrained into the person I was.
My plate has always been full. I’ve had a go-go-go personality for as long as I can remember. I think I was born with it. I wanted to do it all, and to be the best at all I did. For me, what’s on my plate determined who I was, how I saw myself, if I allowed myself to be happy. I judged myself based on what was on my plate. Somehow I thought life was about putting things on my plate and continually having to add more.
But life with Lyme has changed that. Life with Lyme means that I can’t predict what I’ll be capable of doing from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next. Lyme Disease has a way of bringing you down. You feel like you are living life in a box — looking out of a window and watching life passing you by. Each day is unique and to what degree my body will cooperate is unpredictable. I am learning not to be stuck on how things are supposed to be done.
Sometimes it feels like Lyme Disease has stolen everything – my health, my energy, my time, my relationships, my focus, my joy, my plans, my dreams – literally everything. I am quickly learning that I have a choice: I can push myself to an unhealthy point and try to make up for what it seems I’ve lost, or I can choose to accept that who I am in this moment is enough.
I believe that there are life lessons in every circumstance joyous or otherwise. Whether it seems fair or not, obstacles present themselves for a reason and the experiences and introspection that these difficulties bring, allow us to evolve. I am learning to just be for the first time in my life. I am learning to find time for small daily rituals that keep my body healthy and happy. I am learning to rearrange my priorities to focus on my health. But most importantly, I am going to have to learn how to slow down, focus on HEALing and balancing life.
I hope that although I am not on the path I intended to be at this age, nor where I want to be right now that eventually, I will find my way onto a path that I will be happy with, grateful and thankful for. Most importantly, when I eventually look back on life in a few years, I hope I will understand why things turned out they way they did.
Don’t worry Kristina- I won’t leave Project HEAL and start another non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about Lyme Disease.