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Daily Conqueror Moments

Daily encouragement and inspiration for the warrior in all of us. You can be a winner, a victor, and a CONQUEROR every day of your life. Lisa's posts will help lead the way on this cadence we call life.

Filtering by Tag: Lyme Disease Survivor

The Power to be Sensitive

Lisa Williams

 I contracted Lyme disease when I was 12 years old. I didn't know what was wrong with me, my parents knew nothing of Lyme, therefore it was never treated.
I fell into depression some four years later, due to fatigue and physical pain. The depression lasted about a year. During this time, my parents took me to a psychologist. He told all three of us during one appointment, that I was a normal sixteen-year-old girl, except for one thing.

I was highly sensitive.

Great. Just great. Why can't I be tougher?

If you've ever been criticized because of this, you know how it goes. You're told that you are too sensitive, that you need to "Toughen up". Your sensitivity is seen as a curse by others. If that's you, then read on, this blog is for you. 

Not really knowing what my Highly Sensitive "Condition" was all about, my parents asked questions. As it turns out, there is actually research on this innate trait, high sensitivity. The scientific term is “sensory-processing sensitivity" (SPS). People who are highly sensitive are born that way; it is not something they learned.

As children they might be described by teachers as shy or inhibited, especially in Western countries. As adults, they might be described as introverts. It is important to note that not all sensitive people are shy or introverts. In fact, 30% of HSP are thought to be extroverts.

I fall into that 30% category. However, although I am an extrovert, I possess many qualities of an introvert.

A HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) : 

Has a rich and complex inner life

Is deeply moved by the arts and music

Gets easily overwhelmed

Has difficulty performing a task when being observed

Easily startles

Is sensitive to pain, caffeine, and hunger

Is attuned to inner bodily sensations

Readily notices sensory change

Is highly intuitive, especially with parental intuition which is often termed psychic

Has sensitive skin

Is highly sensitive to chemicals

Is empathic- that is they can literally, physically, feel the pain of others.

May have premonitions in dreams and visions that come to pass days later. (Yes, this happens to me, often.)

When an HSP first enters a room, they are the first to notice odors, subtle sounds, and "feels" if there has been a recent argument in that room, and they startle easily.

When an HSP watches a movie or TV series, they immerse themselves in each of the characters. It takes them days to recalibrate their sense of self after watching a horror or scary movie. For these reasons, they usually refuse to watch these types of shows.

They are easily affected by others’ moods and stories.

Here's the thing: The brain of a HSP is different! They cannot help how they were born!

There are biological reasons for all the components of this trait. A HSP’s brain is wired differently and the nervous system is highly sensitive with a lower threshold for action. This hyper-excitability contributes to increased emotional reactivity, a lower threshold for sensory information (e.g. bothered by noise, or too much light), and increased awareness of subtleties (e.g. quick to notice odors).

There are also changes at the macro brain level. The areas associated with this trait greatly overlap with the brain areas that support empathy! Also, they have a hyperactive insula, which explains their heightened awareness of their inner emotional states and bodily sensations. This hyperactivity explains their sensitivity to pain, hunger and caffeine.

There is also some recent evidence that this trait is related to the infamous 5-HTLPR gene (serotonin gene).

HSP's are:

Loyal and dedicated

Independent, need little supervision

Able to deeply process and think about problems

Great listeners

Detail-oriented

Organized

Fair

Sensitive to the needs and emotions of people around them

Observant to nuances, like the body language and tone of clients (therefore, intuitive)

Among other careers, HSP's are often found in the following fields:

Artist

Writer

Musician

Nurse

Massage Therapist

Veterinarian

Naturopath

Botanist

Forest Ranger

Photographer

Makeup Artist

Child care provider

Farmer

May I repeat; Highly Sensitive People DO NOT need to "toughen up". In fact, they cannot "harden" because they cannot rewire their brains.

These types of people are just as worthy of love and respect as those who are not HSP. They can learn from you, and you can learn from them. They often make excellent leaders, due to their compassion towards others and attention to detail. They are not weak, flaky, or wishy-washy.

They will often be open and share their troubles as openly as their victories for the purpose of helping others. They are often misunderstood as being weak for these reasons.

If you are an HSP, be encouraged! YOU are a treasure and this world needs more people like you! After all, you make up only 20-30% of this world's population. You are NOT a mess, you're a Highly Sensitive Person. There's POWER in that, such as the rest of the 70-80% of the population does not have.

Refuse to be offended when people call you "Too sensitive".  Feeling things deeply is your Super Power!
You're an empathetic superhero!

xoxo
 

References

Aron, E.N., Aron, A., Jagiellowicz, J., 2012. Sensory processing sensitivity: a review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev.16 (3), 262–282.

Pluess, M., Boniwell, I., 2015. Sensory-processing sensitivity predicts treatment response to a school-Based depression prevention program evidence of vantage sensitivity. Pers. Ind. Differ. 82, 40–45.

Homberg, J.R., Schubert, D. Asan, E. & Aron, E.N. (2016). Sensory porcessing sensitivity and serotonin gene variance: Insights into mechanisms shaping environmental sensitivity. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 71, 472-483

Ashley, Avril, Daryl, Yolanda...and me.

Lisa Williams

Among my favorite things in this world are music and fashion. I don't mind a bit if you turn on some Hall and Oates and I'll get along just fine tapping my toes to the latest groove in a pair of Christian Louboutins. Both the music and the fashion are works of art that I don't want to live without.

The operative word here is "live".

Everyone of us just want to live this life of ours. We want to thrive and not just survive.

So what do I have in common with Ashley, Avril, Daryl, and Yolanda?
Ashley knows it's not in fashion.
Avril knows it's complicated.
Daryl was almost out of time because of it.
Yolanda knows it's more real than any Beverly Hills housewife.
And me...I'm a Lyme Warrior just like they are.

When your life is turned upside down, it's hard to let the rest of the world know about it, even when you're a celebrity. It's highly personal and you truly feel as though you're not yourself any longer. Lyme changes everything, and most of the time those changes are permanent. It takes a certain amount of time to learn how to navigate this whole new world. It requires courage to share your story with the rest of the world because, unfortunately there are people out there who are judgmental, some are committed to misunderstanding you and Lyme disease. Still others are just plain cruel about it all.

As for me, I'm just an ordinary woman. I'm not famous or popular nor do I have a gigantic following. I'm a human being though, and I am personally and intimately acquainted with the tragedy that is Lyme disease.  
That's exactly why I feel a connection to these beautiful people, because we're in the same war together. Some of us have had it worse than others, but we're all determined to win this battle and live to see all of the tomorrows that we possibly can.
I'm grateful that these celebrities have come forward to share their very personal struggles with Lyme because it gave me the courage to do the same.

Never underestimate the power that lies in telling your story.

"When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal someone else." -Iyanla Vanzant

So, I'm telling my story. Right here. Right now. In this blog and in my upcoming book due out in May 2016. I'm shouting it from the rooftops: "Lyme disease is horribly real, life altering and frightening, but it doesn't have to be a death sentence and there is NO requirement in allowing it to steal your joy or take over your life!"

Ashley, Avril, Daryl, Yolanda and untold thousands of other beautiful people, including myself, have all been to the brink and back, but, we're all still here and one by one, we're telling our stories in the hopes of bringing someone else back from the brink of despair, as well as doing everything within our power to prevent another human being from ever contracting Lyme.

So...
I will live my life! I will wear fashion that makes me feel beautiful, even on the days that feel so complicated. When Lyme makes me feel out of touch and out of time, I'll keep on keeping it real. I will carry on, and by God I will win and I will help others who are fighting in the trenches to win, too!

xoxo


#DailyConquerorMoments
#LymeDisease
#LittleGlimmerLymeFoundation

To My Warrior Sons

Lisa Williams

To my Warriors,

My sons,
I don't know what it's like to be a man, much less a man who went to war. A man who has had to see, hear and do things that no human being should ever have to. I will always love my freedom, but I know it could never mean as much to me as it does to a combat veteran, since I have never had to fight or bleed for it.

I've never had to defend myself, my comrades, or my country from terrorism. It’s never been a requirement for me to have to be physically stronger, mentally sharper, or stealthier than my foe.


Until now. Enter Lyme disease. As cruel a terrorist as they come.

I've never heard the sound of bombs or sirens that accompany them. I’m a stranger to gunshots and the inertia of bullets swishing past my face. But now, I’m familiar with another sort of battle.


I’ve no clue as to the feelings of loneliness and separation of my unit when it was time for me to go back home to a place that didn’t feel like home anymore.

Am I still a soldier?

Am I supposed to be a civilian now?

Does anybody hear me? Does anyone care?

How can they possibly understand me now, or what I’ve been through?

Why am I alive and my friend isn’t?

 Where do I even go from here?  

 All I understand is the Mama's perspective because that's the only perspective I could possibly know.  But after losing a friend to the ravages of Lyme, I’m now asking why she died and I am still left to fight. I feel a sense of what survivor guilt is like.

I understand the sleepless nights and restless days of being a war mom. I remember the numb, hollow feeling as the clock ticked by so slowly while I was waiting to learn if you were still alive. I was linked with the deep frustration and pain of no longer being able to protect you. I've felt the hot tears of sorrow and anger stream from my eyes.

Even if I could have protected you from all that war is and does to a person, you wouldn’t have wanted me to.

When you were born, I made promises to you. One of them was a promise to respect you for who you are and I want you both to know that I still do.

I accept your rough-post-war-nature, your defensiveness at times and the nature of your contention and I promise to do my best to understand you, both during the times when you let me into your world, and when you don’t or can’t.

I love your laughter and the joy in your eyes at everyday victories, even when I see your invisible scars. I respect their tenacity and what they stand for.

I will never say “I know how you feel”, because…I couldn’t possibly.

Letting the military have you for all those years is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Letting go like that, becoming an empty nester that way was brutal on my heart. The boys they sent to war are not the men that came home, and how could you be...it would be impossible for something of that magnitude not to change any one of us.

 It changed you forever; I understand that and I accept it.

I want you to know that I love who you are. You’re still my child. No war can ever change that or erase the fact that my own body was your home for 9 months.

See, I've known you since before you can remember, and I still see you. You’re like a window to me, even when you try to appear all tough to the rest of the world…I see past all of that. I can see past every last label that the rest of the world has so flippantly slapped on your back. I will always know the you that they never will and I accept you for exactly who you are. No matter what.

Your heart used to beat inside of me, along with my own heart, so, I believe that this process of motherhood is a lifelong one.

I’ve made and will continue to make mistakes along the way and although you’re grown now, and self sufficient…I’m still here, for anything you may need, even if it’s pancakes at midnight.


I know that I did my best to prepare you for whatever you'll experience now…and by the way, you’re doing a great job.
 

You give me strength even when you’re unaware of it, and, I guess this is how I know that I will conquer this battle with Lyme Disease or any other foe that comes my way…because I raised you. I figure that if I raised two warriors…and if I raised young men who are conquerors, then I can be one, too.
 

I guess I’m saying that I promise to always be here for you as long as I have breath in me and I promise to keep on doing my best to win my own personal war. I promise that all the promises I ever made to you are still in effect. They still mean something. They still hold value and truth.
 

But I still don’t promise that I won’t cry. That's one I could never keep, anyway.

xoxo

#dailyconquerormoments

Fight to Live Another Day

Lisa Williams

In 2004 I was ambushed by an invisible enemy. An enemy so evil that most people thought I was lying about it or at least exaggerating. This terrorist was so stealthy, he didn't even give up his identity until almost a year later.


This deadly assassin was called Lyme Disease.

 
When a person receives a diagnosis of a life threatening illness, it's like you’ve been ambushed. An ambush is a long-established military tactic, in which the aggressors (the ambushing force), take advantage of their own concealment and the element of surprise to attack an unsuspecting enemy from concealed positions.

By definition, the ambush contains the element of total surprise, which means the victims of the ambush have no knowledge of how it has been constructed, or of what measures may have been employed to prevent escape.
 

I had definitely been ambushed. With no clue how a person even got Lyme, and zero knowledge of what it was, I foolishly thought I could reasonably ignore my symptoms for a little while.

I ignored a rash near the base of my skull.
 

I thought my flu like symptoms were merely that, the Flu.
 

I ignored increasing joint and muscle pain.
 

I ignored small indications of short term memory loss, explaining it away as stress or lack of sleep.

I ignored blaring head and eye pain until I just couldn't anymore. 

I saw the eye doctor four times for multiple eye problems, but, when my eyes felt like they were on fire I suspected it was more serious that I had previously thought. During my last visit to her prior to a correct diagnosis of Lyme, she told me the tissues in my eyes were coming apart. She said it looked like someone had taken a straight pin and poked holes in my corneas. She explained that she could not continue prescribing steroid eye drops or I'd be at risk for developing cataracts.

Lisa, this just isn't normal. Do you have an auto immune disorder?

No, not that I know of, at least.

I want you to see a doctor right away, Lisa. Give me your word. This is serious!

I will.

I did see my doctor and I was told there was nothing wrong with me, so I got a second opinion. These well meaning physicians almost had me convinced that whatever was wrong with me was all in my head. One thought that if I just took an antidepressant, I would be all better. But I wasn't depressed. I liked my life.

No, I was sick, not sad.

Then the day came when I couldn't remember where I lived, how to do my job and eventually, I forgot who I was.  
 

I saw a physician who knew what I might be facing. He had me tested for Lyme with the most accurate test available, called The Western Blot Test.

All of the tests came back positive. I had Stage III Lyme and it had crossed the Blood-Brain Barrier, causing amnesia and other serious problems.

Ambushed.

Thrust into an ongoing war without my consent.

Hey wait just a doggone minute! I didn't enlist for this!

My life was on the line and I was so sick that I didn't even know how sick I was.

The one thing about being ambushed that has been proven by the experience of war is that the only likely method of survival is withdrawal from the killing zone by “the way you came in.” All other routes out of the killing zone may be blocked, and in a very well-planned and well-executed ambush, even the “back door” will have been closed by the time the ambush is sprung. The published military doctrine is “immediate, positive, and offensive action” against the ambush.

The value of withdrawal is the preservation of the force to “live to fight another day” and this is one of the things I decided I must do, but, how could I fight when I couldn't even remember my own name for longer than a few hours at a time?

My brain feels like it's dying one cell at a time. I'm trembling so much, all the time. I can't feel my legs. I feel like I might die today.

No, sweetheart, you won't die. Stay with me. Fight.

Are you sure?

You will live and not die.

But...nothing is clear. I can't make sense of anything, even television. It's confusing to me because I can't remember what happened just five minutes ago on the screen. Oh God please take this pain away or take me home!

No! You will live and not die. Say it.

I will live to fight another day.

Don't give up.

I won't give up. I promise.


I can remember foggy mornings in my city when I was a little girl. My sisters and I would stand on the front porch to determine how far we might be able to see. It was not uncommon for there to be zero visibility. We couldn't see our own mailbox at the end of the driveway or the house across the street. We called it "Pea Soup Fog".

Zero visibility. That was my brain on Lyme.

 

I withdrew from my job, my church, my family, and my friends in order to survive, and with the help of three of the nation’s top Lyme disease specialists, I took action to survive the ambush.

I withdrew from work after being told how serious this illness was. My co-workers seemed very understanding and although I missed my job, I just couldn’t do it anymore. 

I withdrew from my church because I didn’t have the physical strength to attend anymore. Although everyone on the pastoral staff was all very supportive and kind after my diagnosis, there were some people attending the church who were sure to tell me that they knew that I was some horrible sinner, and that’s why I was sick. One woman, who called herself my friend, was even sure to tell me that if I hadn’t detected the sin in my own heart that was making me sick, I just wasn’t looking hard enough. Another woman, who also called herself my friend, thought that she was doing me a favor by letting me know that if I didn’t get up off my butt and get well, my husband would leave me.

That was when I began to read the book of Job from the Bible, and I was comforted, because I knew that I wasn’t the only one who had ever gone through something like that. What I’ve been through with Lyme disease isn’t even a fraction of the trial that Job went through, but in spite of everything that he went through, in the end, he was still sure to express his gratitude to God. In the end, God had restored to him everything that the enemy had stolen. That gives me hope and it should give you hope, too.

I withdrew from my family a bit simply because I didn’t want to frighten them with how sick I was. Both of my children, Michael and Andrew were in the military and had now been deployed. They were soon going to be fighting on the front lines of war. I never told them how sick I was because I knew that they needed to keep their wits about them, and I didn’t want their worrying over me to be a possible reason for them not returning home. 

I withdrew from my friends, because I didn’t want them to see me in that condition, but it was in that precise condition that I found out who my real friends were. There were those who would come over just to pray over me. There were those who would come to bring meals and clean house. Then there were those who would come to visit me simply because I didn’t have the strength to come to visit them.
The only person in my life that I never withdrew from is my husband. My husband’s loyalty and faithfulness helped get me through this dark time. Chuck stood fast by my side through multiple hospitalizations, grueling treatments, and endless tests. When I didn’t even know my own name, he would gently remind me. When the foggy state of my mind was overwhelming to me, he would hold me close and remind me that everything was going to be all right. When I said “I feel like I’m going to die”, Chuck would encourage me to proclaim that I would not die, but that I would live to fight another day. When my life's cadence slowed down to what felt like a crawl through wet cement, Chuck took my hand and walked with me through it. I never would have made it without him.

Many people think that to retreat means to give up. Not in this case. I had to withdraw in order to redirect my steps, my energy and my life towards a place of healing. I never withdrew from the battle or tasks at hand. I stayed within the ambush just long enough to fight my way out of it's grasp. From deep within the battle zone, I fought with all my might.

I fought to live another day.

Lyme disease is an evil that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, except maybe some terrorists. Once you test positive for Late Stage Lyme, it doesn’t go away without a miracle. You always have to stay on top of it, making sure the bacteria level within your body is low enough for you to live. This disease has caused irreversible damage to certain functions within my body, but through it all, I have refused to give up or to allow such an ambush to steal my joy.

Yolanda Foster, (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) has Lyme Disease. She was showing improvement, but is reported to have relapsed. In the midst of her battle, she was quoted as saying these words, which I agree with 100%.

I am a firm believer that God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling...

I can attest to the fact that this battle with Lyme has indeed launched me into the greatest calling of my life.

Writing.

Speaking.

Inspiring, helping, and encouraging people by pointing the way for them towards overcoming and conquering their own giants. Many times in this battle, I've thought that I was making progress towards healing and remission, only to find that the light at the end of the tunnel was, in fact, an oncoming train. Thankfully, it didn't mow me down.

I've decided to be the one doing the ambushing from now on.

 

I will ambush others with kindness.

I will ambush the world with love.

I will ambush my own recovery, joy, goals, and mission.

I will live. With joy, passion, purpose and deliberation.

I will fight to live another day.

xoxo

#dailyconquerormoments