When did your journey with Lyme begin?
Like many Lyme Warriors my journey has been a long and winding road. I have had chronic illness issues since childhood, but the wildest ride of my adventure began in late 2012 when I started getting weird flu like symptoms, which included scary dizzy spells + blacking out. It seemed like all these symptoms ignited overnight.
All of a sudden I went from being an active educator, life coach, and graduate psychology student who was traveling the world – to having over 30 different debilitating symptoms, which forced me to both leave my job and graduate school to focus on my health and well-being.
This lead to me traversing a long road of visiting numerous doctors only to hear the infamous invisible illness line… “It’s all in your head”. As a counselor and coach I KNEW this was not true, so I mustered up the courage and kept on searching.
Was there a turning point in your journey?
Ohh goodness, there have been so many. But I would say the most profound was in early 2014 when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome + Fibromyalgia, and was told I would have to cope with these symptoms for the rest of my life. It was a very humbling moment to say the least. But my intuition told me something about that diagnosis was not right.
Being in Texas many doctors don’t believe that Lyme exists here. I was very fortunate that a friend of my family who had Lyme reached out and shared her story with me. My intuition went on high alert – “THIS IS IT!”. I was luckily educated on the best labs to use, and low and behold I had a positive Lyme test.
That positive test ignited the greatest hope I had experienced in 2 years of “normal” bloodwork. This taught me how incredibly important it is to tap into your intuition in terms of healing. NOBODY knows your body like YOU, even doctors. WE must be our own advocates.
What are some of your favorite tools for healing?
Lyme is such an intricate illness, so I like to take a mind-body-spirit healing approach. My top 3 healing tools include…
Therapy for Emotional Healing – Working through some of my past traumas using EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitation Reprogramming) therapy was HUGE for my healing. Being “seen” is a fundamental part of healing, and as a counselor I practice what I preach and believe therapy can be an incredibly transformative experience. Research shows us the body can hold emotional trauma for YEARS, and this can absolutely hinder physical healing. On top of that, it can be really hard to learn to cope with chronic invisible illness. I love that top Lyme docs are now recommending Lyme patients seek therapy to heal emotional wounds + learning tools to cope with the emotional challenges of chronic illness in order to heal.
Infrared Sauna for Physical Healing – By far my #1 fav body detox tool is my pop-up infrared sauna. I used to hate sweating, and now I can’t get enough! I use my sauna about 5 times a week to help with Lyme detox, and it has made a HUGE difference in my ability to heal and get back to life.
Solitude for Spiritual Healing- Being sick for so long can definitely be wearing on the spirit. So, finding time to tap into my inner world has been essential in my healing process. It can be easy to let this pass by with the busyness of life + physical healing, so intentionally making time for solitude to practice mindfulness, meditation, prayer, journaling, creativity, and other reflective activities has been a necessity to keep my spirit strong.
On top of that, I also love to heal with herbs, rife machine therapy, detox baths, essential oils, therapy dog cuddles, and by eating an Autoimmune Paleo diet.
What’s one thing you wish others knew about living with Lyme Disease?
That Lyme Disease is an invisible illness, and often times one cannot tell that someone has Lyme Disease. But just because one cannot SEE the symptoms of Lyme Disease, does not mean they are not real. In fact, most Lymies have 20+ debilitating symptoms.
Honoring the experience of those with Lyme Disease, and other invisible/chronic illnesses, is so important in the healing journey. The best thing family, friends, and loved ones can do for someone with Lyme Disease is to show them empathy + compassion, and support them by asking not “IF” they can help but “HOW”.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell individuals who have just been diagnosed?
That one of the most important steps in healing from Lyme Disease, or any chronic illness, is accepting where you are at. Resisting reality is a sure-fire way to stay stuck on the healing path. As the brilliant author Byron Katie says “When you argue with reality, you lose 100% of the time”.
Thriving with Lyme Disease will require you to be an Invisible Warrior. Yes, every-day you WILL have to fight battles that no one else can see. Battles of the mind, body, and spirit. And that will invite you to muster a courage and strength greater than you have known.
But, being an Invisible Warrior isn’t about fighting AGAINST our illnesses. It is about accepting where we are at AND at the same time fighting FOR our DESIRES. Fighting FOR the path of love in spite of fear. Fighting FOR hope in spite of uncertainty. Fighting FOR connection in spite of isolation. And fighting FOR our holistic well-being in spite of illness. Let your desires me your motivation to take empowered action every day towards well-being, and remember to be easy on yourself – your best fluctuates each day.
Do you have a spiritual practice? How does that help?
Having a spiritual connection has been incredibly important in helping me to stay grounded during an often tumultuous journey with this illness. Having a strong inner world is essential if we want to experience more equanimity in our lives. However, that means we must be disciplined and make time to strengthen and “train” our inner spiritual warrior.
So, I am always mixing up my spiritual practice based on what I feel called to do. The practices I enjoy most include: meditation, reiki (energy healing), mindfulness practices, prayer, visualization, mantras + affirmations, loving-kindness practices, positive + spiritual media (books, videos, etc), journaling, and many more.
What has been your biggest victory in your healing journey, and how did you overcome that obstacle?
The biggest obstacle AND my biggest victory was simply getting out of my own way. A diagnosis of a chronic illness can feel like a life sentence, and it can create a lot of fear + anxiety about the future, and depression about the past.
Our mind can start to play tricks on us, and eventually lead us to emotional paralysis about our circumstance. We can feel lost as we see the world moving along around us, when we feel like we are stuck on a not-so-merry-go-round we can’t get off of. Plus, with Lyme the bacteria can cause depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms.
Luckily, being a coach I have a big toolbox of mindset tools to put a stop to all the spiraling. Some of my favorites include 1) Searching for evidence: We have thousands of thoughts per day, and they are definitely not all true. Finding evidence (or lack thereof) to support our thoughts, can help keep things in perspective. 2) The Re-frame: If I start to get critical of myself or where I am at on my healing journey I like to press pause and re-frame the thought to a more empowering + positive + appreciative one. I strive to make myself do this even when it doesn’t feel natural. Why? Because neuroscience shows us that our thoughts literally re-wire the neural pathways of our brain. Therefore, the more we think positive, the easier it will be to think positive.
What are your hopes and dreams for your future?
This experience of Lyme Disease has changed me in profound ways, and it has rooted me deeper in my purpose than ever before. As a coach + counselor I have always worked with people facing invisible challenges. But navigating this experience of Lyme Disease has made it very clear to me that who I am meant to serve are my fellow Invisible Warriors.
Invisible Warrior is the term I like to use to describe those living with chronic + invisible illnesses or mystery diagnoses who are fighting to live a life filled with joy + purpose in spite of illness. Navigating an illness can be an overwhelming adventure at times. So, I am on a mission to support my fellow Invisible Warriors in overcoming the mental and emotional challenges of living with chronic illness, so they cannot only survive- but thrive even WITH illness.
It’s my dream to dedicate my career to building a tribe of incredibly supportive, loving, and empathetic Invisible Warriors who are ready to re-write their relationship to their illness and heal their illness stories together. I so look forward to continuing to grow this tribe and to being continually inspired by the tenacious and driven Invisible Warriors of this world. Are you an Invisible Warrior? Share your story on Instagram with the hashtag #InvisibleWarrior .
What are some of the things you have learned as part of this experience?
This adventure teaches me something new every day, and for that I am so grateful. But some of the big lessons so far have been…
1) That we are not defined by our circumstance, but by our response to it.
2) That there are some paths you must walk alone in order to grow and evolve.
3) That all we have is THIS moment, as we can’t control the past and the future is yet to come. But what we do today can influence tomorrow, so be here NOW.
Adrienne | Ignite Adventures