June 13th, 2013 - Ashley
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"
As you may have noticed, things have been a bit quiet over here at Soggy Roots. There's a reason for this and I finally feel ready to share it with you.
I have struggled for awhile now with the decision to write about this on our blog. In the end though, it feels too central to what's happening in my life to be ignored. It feels insincere to continue posting pretty pictures and words that depict a carefree life when things are far from carefree. I also hope that by sharing this with you, by being vulnerable and honest and real, I can create a connection and ask for the support that I need from my community: YOU!
Four and a half years ago, in the fall of 2008, I began to feel really sick. Horrible full body joint pain, intense fatigue, and a general sense of not feeling well were the main (although not only) symptoms. I sought out answers from a variety of doctors, both Western and Eastern, and could find nothing besides some food allergies. It was an intense and hard year, one of the hardest of my life up until that point.
In the intervening years I have felt alternately better and worse, but I never again felt fully healthy. I guess, in some ways, I just sort of learned to live with it; it's amazing what we can get used to if we have to. Recently though, with the gentle prodding of my amazing partner and family, I began to see a new doctor who I hoped could shed some light on my mysterious ailment.
A few months ago I finally had my diagnosis: I have Lyme Disease. Like most of you, I knew next to nothing about Lyme, only that it was bad and something you really didn't want to have. I know a lot more now, although I'm sure that knowledge is only a fraction of what there is to know about this complicated disease.
Needless to say, the last few months have been some of the hardest of my life. I have started a treatment which has the unintended side effect of making you feel a LOT worse before it makes you feel better. I have been so weakened and exhausted, with intense joint pain and swelling, nausea, headaches, anxiety attacks and insomnia (just to name a few). Seemingly endless pills, supplements, frustrating dietary restrictions, doctors appointments, and constant conversations about all of it make me feel pretty overwhelmed most of the time.
It has been an intensely emotional journey as well. I don't remember the last time (if ever) that I've cried this much on a regular basis, or been so angry/frustrated/scared/sad/and hopeful all at once. One of the biggest challenges is my inability to do a lot of the things that usually make me happy: Playing hard outside, planning travels, socializing, and working steadily on my art and business.
And yet, some good has come of it as well. I have found myself growing and learning in new and exciting ways I never could have imagined. That's not to say it's been fun or easy. Sometimes I think the universe hands us the challenges we most need, and this feels like mine. Because of this experience I am learning to be more real and honest with others, even when things are hard. To be vulnerable and to slow down the pace of my days. To have patience and compassion for myself. To ask for help. I am learning that our value as humans is not in how much we can get done in a day, or how productive we are, but in who we are as people; something more essential and unchanging.
Deep down I know that I will be OK in the long run, that things won't be this hard forever. In the meantime though I am trying (and not always succeeding) to be present during this experience and to allow it to change me for the better.