Every day this month, I will be blogging about my fight with Lyme disease and the various aspects of how it has affected my life. For today’s entry I would like to take you back to the beginning – to a time sixteen years ago, when I first became ill.
Several months after I turned thirteen years old, I began getting headaches. At first they would come and go, but then they increased to the point where I was never without a headache. I would wake up with one, I would go to sleep with one, they never ended.
At the time my family was residing in Europe. My father was in the Air Force, so my first doctor was military. He prescribed the max dose of Ibuprofen, to no avail; he then admitted this was beyond him and I should seek help elsewhere. Finding an English-speaking doctor in Europe was hard enough, let alone one who truly cared and was willing to help.
Two years later my family moved back to the States. The list of doctors I tried got longer and longer but many of them told me that my symptoms were “all in my head,” that I would “grow out of it,” or use various other excuses when they couldn’t figure out what was going on. During this time I was keeping up with high school (and making high grades) while also pursuing my future as a concert pianist by taking pre-college classes and practicing piano at least six hours a day. For every day except Sunday, I was waking up before 6am to accomplish all my daily chores and responsibilities. Unfortunately, my symptoms had widened to include intense gut issues, sleeplessness and depression.
At age 16, three years after I first became ill, my world came tumbling down. Now in the higher levels of math in high school, I was forgetting even basic concepts and having to re-do problems up to ten times, continually driving me to tears. When I sat down at the piano, I would forget what I was playing after a few minutes and become very confused, especially considering I had always played by ear (meaning, once I heard a song I could play it perfectly and instantly memorize it). Sleeplessness had reached a new level; if I got 3-4 hours of sleep at night, I was very lucky. Muscle and joint pain was so intense that just accomplishing daily tasks robbed me of every ounce of energy I possessed.
The depression was the worst. Every day, I would nearly black out multiple times because of panic attacks. There seemed no reason to live and yet, because of the intense religious circumstances surrounding my family, I could not talk to anyone about my depression. Finally, my body broke and I had to drop out of high school, quit pre-college classes and stop playing piano. I became bedridden from the mysterious illness that was sucking the life out of me.
Between the ages of 16-18, while bedridden, I attempted suicide three times.
To be Continued…