Lyme Disease, Perfectionism, and a New Normal

I almost cried on the elevator ride up to my office. I am so tired. Like, so, incredibly, deeply tired. All the time.

About 6 weeks ago I started to feel really sick. I went to the doctor pretty much right away and I actually said to her “I don’t feel right, something is very wrong.” I’m not a hypochondriac so it felt significant that I needed my doctor to know just how badly I was feeling. Her first instinct was Lyme disease but we started off doing a whole set of blood work to see what we could find.

The first round of blood work showed elevated levels of certain things but the Lyme test came back negative, as did everything else she tested me for. For weeks I had no idea what was going on with my body, and honestly it got to a point where I started to imagine the worst. Finally, after more rounds of blood work I was diagnosed with…mono. I couldn’t believe it! I thought mono was something you got when you were younger but apparently even us mid-30’s folks can get it. I felt relieved to have a diagnosis even though there isn’t anything they can really do for mono.

A few days later I got another call from my doctor. I could tell right away it wasn’t good news. That’s the phone call where I learned I also have Lyme disease. Yes, at the same time I have mono. I just laughed. I literally laughed because who gets these two serious illnesses AT THE SAME TIME? No wonder I was so tired (and still am).

What I’m finding the most challenging is dealing with the fatigue. I don’t know if it’s the Lyme or the mono or a combo of both that’s making me feel like I have absolutely no energy, but I do know that I hate this. I’ve struggled with perfectionism for pretty much as long as I can remember and not being able to do everything I could do 2 months ago is really, REALLY hard for me. My mom, and co-workers, keep telling me I need to rest more but I already feel like I’m resting a lot.

Making it through a work day is challenging. Being a single parent with two illnesses is challenging. Not being able to see my close friends as much because I don’t have the energy to drive places is challenging. Not being able to exercise, like AT ALL, is challenging. Not having immediate family nearby when I’m this sick is challenging (although my mom did fly up from Florida for a few weeks to help me, which was amazing and so needed). Feeling like I’m not anywhere close to my normal level of productivity is challenging. I don’t like this one bit.

I’m ready to be better now, please. But my instincts are telling me this is going to be a longer haul than I’d like. All the stories I’ve read by people who have had Lyme are not very encouraging, at least as far as a quick recovery goes. I’m doing everything I can think of — I’m almost done with a 3 week course of antibiotics and I just started seeing a naturopathic doctor to help me as well. I’m scared, though. I’m scared that I might not get back to my normal level of energy any time soon, or ever. I’m not ready to face that.


(Image via Etsy)

3 thoughts on “Lyme Disease, Perfectionism, and a New Normal

  1. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. With this pregnancy I’ve learned what “fatigue” really means. Everyone always says they’re tired and “being tired” is so hard to explain as something life-altering. It’s not taken seriously but it totally takes over your life. No exercise, not getting outside as much, and everything that goes with it makes it all worse but you just *can’t* do those things. It sucks. I can’t imagine there will be no treatment that works for you for the rest of your life, so just trust that it will get better. Maybe not the way it was, at least for a long time, but better than this. It will get better.


  2. Oh, Michelle — I feel your pain. One of the most stressful aspects of having Lyme is worrying about what’s next: will I get worse? Will I ever get better? If I feel better, how long will that last? It’s a nasty nasty thing and stress makes it worse. Do EVERYTHING you can to take care of yourself, including being as kind and compassionate toward yourself as you would be towards someone you love who is struggling with something beyond her control. I know how hard that is for people like us, but a friend of mine with chronic illness has told me over and over again that fighting against our bodies’ needs instead of listening and respecting them is not the way to get better. I try to remember this and cut myself some slack and I hope you will too. I am so glad you are getting good medical attention. Take care, dear.


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