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- August 10, 2021
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All of us, right now, are doing something we don’t want to do: we are quarantining ourselves, our families, and our cities, in the face of an unprecedented global threat. Nothing about this is fun for us and nothing about it was voluntary–and in that way, it’s a lot like something I’ve been facing for the past six years of my life: chronic Lyme disease and Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome.
Because of this, my coach Carolyn Freyer-Jones encouraged me to write about my experience as Lyme patient, in service to all. As someone who is used to her physical choices being taken away, she thought I might have valuable perspectives to share about what we are capable of when we are facing something larger than us, and how to do something you don’t want to do, one day at at time.
Upon her prompting, here is my experience, and my advice, to serve you (if you’d like) in moving through this time with as much Grace and enjoyment as possible.
There are big, painful things in the world that we are sometimes asked to face. The good news is–they are capable of being lived through and learned from. And I’m going to share my best practices to do so, below.
1. Slow way down around needing answers today. When you’re in a Lyme flare it’s tempting to seek answers about what might be happening to you, and what will happen next, as a form of imagined control. What’s causing this? When will it end? How quickly can I get myself “out” of this by muscling it and controlling it and knowing knowing knowing? Sadly, even though it feels like more information will protect you, seeking information from an anxious place like this only makes it worse. It will increase anxiety, future-tripping, and obsession, because we don’t see the good possibilities when we are triggered, we only see the frightening ones. So if you’re emotionally activated about COVID-19 or struggling with fears, it is NOT a good time to look for answers about how bad this is, when this will be over, or how much longer you have to go. Instead, just slow way down. What is happening RIGHT NOW, right HERE? Do I know what my next meal is? Do I know my obligations and plans for the day? Do I have the resources I need to complete just what’s on my plate today? Then everything else can wait to be figured out. Really. Crises like this unfold slowly, over time, and the picture becomes clearer as we go on. Big global plans and answers materialize over time but they don’t materialize from your obsessive online research and demanding answers NOW. So slow down on the idea that “knowing” would make it better, and move your mental energy to the challenges and promises of just this day. Invisible progress is being made as you do this, by sources out there more resourced and knowledgeable than you.
2. Do this an hour at a time–really. Healing from Lyme disease is a marathon, not a sprint. If I had known, at the beginning, that it would take me six solid years of Lyme Disease treatment to start to feel relief of my symptoms, I never would have made it. I would have become mentally ill. I would have lounged around in obsessive stories of “I can’t.” But I DID make it. And part of why, was that I thought of Lyme as “this hour” “today” or “next week.” My strong encouragement is for you to do the same with the quarantine. Don’t aim for “another two months,” or God forbid: “July.” This is overwhelming to your brain and body, and it may not even be true. Instead, think of your quarantine as “today” “tonight” or “tomorrow.” Can you do this one more day? Of course you can. Which is good, because that’s all that’s being asked of you. Tomorrow, new, fresh resources will be available. That’s how stamina works. Trust me. I’ve done this. You can do it, too. One day at a time.
3. You don’t have to feel the pain of the world–feeling yours is enough for now. There’s a lot out there. Not all of it is yours to feel. So just think about your family. Your community. Can you help? Or do you need help? Take care of those first. If you have more left over, great to look bigger, and, it’s not required, because everyone has all the inner resources to take care of themselves right now–even if it doesn’t look that way to you. During Lyme Disease, I took a BIG step back from feeling the pain of others, or fighting for the greater issues I used to engage with. This was necessary for my own personal resilience and healing. It also allowed me to continue to feel LIFE-GIVING JOY during a time when something so big and hard was occurring in my life. You will need the same right now. The truth is, the pain of the world is always present, and always has been present. Now is no different. The pandemic is not the worst thing that has ever happened, and it’s not only bad. Lyme Disease brought in some of the greatest gifts of my life. It continues to deepen my appreciation for life, grow my self-advocacy, and increase my self-esteem. Some of the most incredible moments of my life have happened BECAUSE of Lyme Disease. COVID will be the same. And if you let yourself keep your eyes on your own plate, you’ll get to experience more of its gifts. Someone else’s suffering through this is not your responsibility, until yours is handled. YOU FIRST.
4. Turn it over to something greater than you. Seeing big, overwhelming events like COVID or Lyme Disease as an Act of God is extremely helpful, because it moves away from “us” as the locus of control. When we try to control uncontrollable global events, we are thrown into obsession, blame, fear, and rage. These don’t help you move through difficult times. So go to that bigger source when you feel lost or overwhelmed as the true “cause” of this. Release blame and condemnation of others. Let go of the idea that you were fucked over by a world leader, or a bat, or a pangolin, or whatever the small self is focusing on. Indulging in blame keeps you small and victimized, and small and victimized is not who you are. This came from somewhere way bigger than any one of us and an empowering perspective to choose is that it’s FOR us, to help us, and no one messed up here. By adopting this way of thinking, you’ll experience the curiosity to explore what’s being given to you, and the stamina to keep running the race.
5. Put this in the context of your Soul’s spiritual growth. What can YOU get from this? One of the most powerful moments of my life was the turning point at which I decided to use Lyme Disease for my learning, growth and upliftment. Before that moment, I was a victim who needed Lyme to end as soon as possible for her “real life” to continue. I’m sure many of you are feeling that way about the COVID-19 pandemic right now. And the problem is…it doesn’t matter how upset you get about COVID-19 or any crisis, or how much you want to speed it up, it won’t change the time it takes to move through it. So, why not look at what this could be doing FOR you, rather than against you? What might this new way of living be offering you? What might the blessings be of this time? How do you want to come out different as a result of this? Even if you are suffering in deep ways during this crisis, even if you, God forbid, have been touched by the death and dying piece, that, too, has gifts to share. When I thought I was dying, I experienced new realms of surrender, faith, self-reliance, and stamina. I tapped into inner resources I had no idea were even there. I became even more aligned with my Soul and my understanding of God. Lyme Disease showered gifts upon me, even in the midst of suffering. The key for me in receiving those gifts was looking at what parts of my life Lyme was watering and growing…not just the ones it was pruning back. This perspective could be life-saving for many.
6. Stories in the media won’t necessarily reflect your experience. Reading about the experiences of others can be helpful in a time like this, if it normalizes what you’re feeling. It can also be unhelpful, if you extend the lens of what’s happening out there to what will definitely happen to you. The Lyme community experiences a lot of fear, suffering, anxiety, and hopelessness. There were times it was helpful for me to identify with those experiences, so I didn’t feel alone, but there were way more times when I needed to protect myself AGAINST it. COVID-19 will be the same. Know that the numbers of the sick or dead will NOT necessarily reflect your experience, or the experience of your loved ones around this illness. Worst case scenarios generally do not occur, but the media will share them with you anyway. So pause on future-tripping, or assumptions inside of you about what this will look like for you. You holding in optimism, and slowed down Loving of now, will help you during this. It will help you have better physical health outcomes as well.
I’m rooting for you. If any of these connected with you, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to hear about your experience during this time, and to hear what it’s growing inside of you.
With loving, and total faith in YOUR resilience,
Sascha #mentalhealth #COVID19 #resilience