If you’re like me when I was really sick with Lyme disease, mornings are your worst enemy. Healthy people awaken with energy, but when you have chronic Lyme disease, you tend to awaken somewhere between 9 AM and 3 PM (3 PM being your “morning”) feeling as though you hadn’t slept at all. Or, maybe you awaken at 5 AM because you can’t get more than a few hours of shut-eye. Regardless, your body no longer remembers what a circadian rhythm is, and you feel worse than before you went to bed the night before.
Your limbs are like lead; your body is heavy with the weight of exhaustion, and pain courses your back and neck as every movement is met with a cracking of joints and aching of limbs. Negative thoughts plow through your mind like wild horses as low blood sugar and inflammation contribute to the depression of feeling horrible before the day has even begun. And yet, you can’t just lie in bed all day, even though much of you would like to. Somehow, you have to get up and find purpose and meaning in the day. It’s no easy task when Lyme disease symptoms hold you back.
Chronic Lyme Disease and The Struggle with Morning Malaise
I used to deal with the morning malaise by internally arguing with my body while still in bed. Had I been able to put it into words, the conversation might have gone something like this:
Mind: Okay, body, it’s 10:30 AM. We should have been up two hours ago.
Body: Just a few more minutes in the fetal position. I’m still wiped out.
Mind: I have a lot to do today…come on.
Body: Sorry, the adrenals wouldn’t be cool with that. Push them, and I’ll rebel even further.
Mind: We’ve been lying here awake for an hour now.
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Body: What’s wrong with that?
Mind: I have to get up. I have to make a living. I have to work to pay for those Lyme disease treatments that will get us well.
Body: Yeah, but if you push me, I’ll need even more rest. Do you want that?
So went my internal quandary, and for years, I ended up mostly pushing my body, rather than honoring its need for rest. And let’s face it: Many of us who have dealt with chronic Lyme disease do have to push ourselves because there’s nobody else who will provide for us or help us to get well. On the other hand, it’s a good idea for us, whenever possible, to find a healthy balance between work and rest, as our recovery can be compromised by a lack of rest and sleep.
Today, I still push myself, but I am learning how to respect my body’s need for rest. If I need to sleep late some days, or spend an hour or two in the morning in meditative prayer, then I do it, because I know I’ll be more productive if I do. And I don’t want to have a setback in my healing. It’s hard, because sometimes the pressure of work and other responsibilities pull at me, but I am realizing that rest is one of the most crucial and powerful healing tools there is, especially for us “type As” who have endured severe health challenges.
By learning to rest, I have found that I am now awakening more refreshed and energetic, and am spending less time battling my body in the morning. What’s more, I have learned to forgive my body for not functioning optimally, and instead thanking it for what it has been able to do. Both of these strategies have become powerful tools in my Lyme disease recovery, and perhaps you will find them useful, too.
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on October 17 2015 and was updated on August 26, 2020.
Connie Strasheim is the author of multiple wellness books, including three on Lyme disease. She is also a medical copywriter, editor and healing prayer minister. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: ConnieStrasheim.