How is it possible that at least every other thought I have is, in some way, related to Lyme disease?
I’ve often chastised myself for having a brain full of Lyme bits, because life is more than this dastardly illness, but how difficult it is to live this out when my minutes are filled with inactivity and fatigue. Even if I ceased to blog about Lyme, stayed away from the support groups, and stopped all my therapies, I would nonetheless remain mired in thoughts of illness and healing because my body reminds me every two seconds about how broken I am!
But something about devoting a huge percentage of my thoughts to healing this illness scares me. Not that we shouldn’t do all that is within our power to heal, but is it possible–and I’m about to say something bold here– that some of us stay sick because thoughts of disease and how to heal the body occupy the majority of our brain space?
I wouldn’t blame you for leasing out your mind to Lyme; chronic illness has a way of screaming for your undivided attention and I’m just as guilty as the next person of giving it all I’ve got in order to get better. And Lyme is so complicated, that much time and effort is required to get over the disease.
But here’s the thing. Life is so much larger than what we suffer and how to fix our broken selves, and I’m not convinced that giving Lyme my near-undivided attention is the way to regain my health. No matter how much I tell myself that I need to research this thing or do that therapy thing, or get encouraged on a Yahoo! group.
No, I think some of my attention needs to be diverted to the world and its needs.
I’m not denying the adage that we can’t help others until we help ourselves; it is true that you can’t give to the world when you don’t have anything to give away.
But are there any of us so empty within that there remains nothing for us give away? I don’t necessarily mean volunteering at your local Red Cross or doing some great humanitarian act of service, but rather getting involved in the world in a positive way.
Reading a good history book, for example. Painting greeting cards for others. Becoming an on-line advocate for abolishing war in Sudan. Gardening. Doing something, anything, that contributes positively to the world and which steers your synapses away from Lyme.
Part of the problem is, however, that some of us don’t want to do other things. Fear keeps us rooted in all things Lyme. As long as there is research to be done, or a new symptom clamoring for relief, we won’t give the other things in life more than an iota of our attention.
For me, I prefer the excuse that much of what I know these days is about Lyme, and I should use that knowledge to help others.
For the sake of my healing, however, I’m trying another science experiment. And that is to cultivate an awareness of other things, and especially God.
I respect everyone’s right to believe as they wish, but when it comes to my god, I think my Creator would prefer that I take my eyes off of my health and root my gaze firmly upon Him instead. His concern may be for me to forget my aches, forget the next Lyme book I need to read and instead write my own book, about something has nothing to do with Lyme but instead a novel about a woman who has been taken prisoner by drug lords in Colombia.
But to just leave my healing to Him and attend to my body only as He directs. Because in the end, I believe that it’s God who’s in charge of my health and well-being, and He can heal me, with or without my help.
But how do I, how do any of us, give the brain another hobby when life’s circumstances conspire to suck us into thoughts of disease and How on God’s green planet should I fix this or that? Shouldn’t we make it our life’s mission to heal? After all, without our physical health, we can’t do anything anyway, right?
Consider that “healing,” in the broadest sense of the word–mind, body and spirit–, may instead be achieved when we open our lives to something greater than trying to fix what ails us, but not to the exclusion of giving the body traditional Lyme therapies. Perhaps it is a delicate dance between the two, and above all, acknowledging and trusting our Creator to guide us in the best way to spend our time and energy, as we release the fears that keep us entrenched in musings of illness. These may include; fears of not healing, feeling out of control, that life is meaningless with Lyme, and others of the like.
For me, moving away from the musings is an act of the will and asking God every day to nudge me in the direction in which I need to go, and then believing that He has my best in mind.
So far, I have found that, once I pull myself away from thoughts of Lyme by engaging in other activities, it becomes easier to live a life of balance and peace.
Recently, a friend wrote to me about how getting a job proved to be more healing for her than staying at home, despite the physical demands of work. She wrote of how getting her mind outside of herself through work was more therapeutic than resting on the sofa.
Not all of us with Lyme are well enough to do this, but where the line seems to be blurred, why not try a paid activity for a few hours everyday?
Doing this, or some other meaningful brain diversion, could give your immune system a boost in ways you hadn’t thought possible.