…fight. Fight with everything you have.
I’m about to dig deep, get personal, and talk about my journey with Lyme Disease. Oh…where do I even begin? Four years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to talk about this without breaking into a million pieces. It has taken me quite some time to process everything. So here it goes…
How does someone go from running 2 full marathons and a 50 kilometer trail ultra within a 7 month time frame to barely being able to get through a regular day? A tick. A poppy seed-sized bug tried to steal my mind, body, and spirit. And my journey to finding a diagnosis was nothing short of heart wrenching.
Since this day, my life has never been the same.
On November 11, 2012, I ran the Marshall Mangler 50k. And just a month and a half before, I ran the Wineglass Marathon in 4:14:02, a 10 minute PR and still my true PR to this very day. I was at the fittest and happiest that I had ever been in my entire life.
I finished my first ultra in one piece…mostly. Aside from definite ITBS symptoms, hence the taping of my knee from another participant, I was okay. Prior to running the 50k, I had already made the decision to take 2 weeks off, and rightly so. I mean, I did just run 31+ miles over an 8 hour time frame. For a week following my race, I had stomach pain and nausea. This was no surprise to me because I usually have gastrointestinal distress when I run, so I chalked it up to that.
We’ve been together for 6 years now, and I feel like it’s finally time for me to express my love and gratitude that I have for you given everything we’ve been through.
When I first met you as a young girl, I was captivated. I turned to you to play games like Tag and Duck, Duck, Goose. It didn’t take me long to notice and ultimately wonder why you got along with other kids more than me. You made me feel weak as I stood there gasping for air. And the others…well? You made them laugh and smile. Why didn’t I get the euphoria? Why were you punishing me? I thought running was a natural human power, but why did I not deserve it?
As I got older, our relationship worsened. I tried to ignore you until I had no choice but to face you in gym class. I was forced to be friends with you. We played mind games with one another. You caused me pain, and boy did it hurt like hell.
Years had passed, and I finally thought that I was free from your torture. I didn’t have to face you, nor did I ever want to.
“Do you love yourself?” If you were to approach me in early 2009 and ask me that question, it would’ve been blatantly obvious that I didn’t. And not necessarily obvious with words, but with the way that I carried myself.
There I was, 20 years old, living a highly sedentary lifestyle in a 230+ pound shell. I didn’t communicate with many people, much less myself. I allowed myself to be bullied into silence by my peer’s comments, which left me feeling completely ashamed and worthless to all walks of life. Some days, I didn’t even want to get out of bed, nor did I feel like I had a reason for doing so. I self-medicated with food, and my unhealthy eating habits spiraled out of control for a majority of my young life. I was alive, but I wasn’t living.
To rid me of this empty void within my heart and soul, I brainwashed myself into thinking that food was my only comfort in life. Food made me feel alive, even just for a short moment…it gave me a high. But once it was gone, the feeling went away.
My hatred towards myself became so strong that I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was slowly killing myself with food…something whose purpose, ironically, is to aid in our survival.
Fear is a primal emotion. And you know what? I’m driven by it. I don’t believe in destroying fear before it destroys you. I don’t want to fight against something that will never cease to exist. I don’t want to waste my energy on the idea in which we can brainwash ourselves into thinking there is control over something that is inevitable. Fear is a natural response to potentially harmful ideas or situations. However, fear is a double-edged sword. Fear can be just as destructive as it is constructive.
Where does fear come from? It starts young. Our caretakers often teach us to fear at a young age. Strangers. Heights. Separation. Darkness. Some fears just occur naturally. These fears bestowed upon ourselves teach us that sometimes bad things are on the other side of fear. And that’s okay. That’s why fear exists. It’s part of life, and we learn to adapt as we grow in order to protect one another. Some fears are meant to be a warning signal, so maybe you stop and think, “Should I do this?” “Can I get hurt?” There are no hero points rewarded for intentionally coming into harm’s way.