My voice has gotten louder lately as I advocate for more of the things I care about, the things that matter--animal rights, human rights, the future of this country and our planet. I've always been somewhat outspoken about injustice and the need for humane treatment for all, but I kept it limited to my own small corner of the world. It's not that I didn't care to use my voice; it's that I wasn't brave enough.
Lyme Disease changed that for me. Lyme Disease changed everything for me. It ignited a spark inside of me that I didn't know was there, turning me into the advocate I'd always hoped I could be as I used my voice and gift of communication to build awareness and educate friends, family, and strangers on a disease that had long been denied and ignored. I stood up to ignorance; I fought against prejudice. Armed with knowledge from reading hundreds of research studies and my own personal experiences, I shared as much as I could with my world--often repetitively, sometimes to the annoyance of friends and family who wished I would talk about anything else.
But I couldn't talk about anything else. Because for the past five years, Lyme has been my life. When you're fighting a disease that throws your life upside down, it's hard to think about anything else.
So I threw myself into my advocacy efforts—building awareness and educating people on the dangers of this disease and its emotional toll so that maybe it might prevent people from having to suffer the same fate. Or, at the very least, it would help those who were experiencing this disease know they weren’t alone.
I would have been happy just advocating for Lyme Disease. I would have been happy spreading awareness through blog posts and social media, through my book, community events, and speaking with patients. I would have been fine with that, knowing my voice was quiet, but it was making an impact on this one vital subject.
But then came DAPL. And then the election. And I found myself unwilling to stand by and say nothing. So I began sharing my thoughts across social media—speaking more of my truth.
Truthfully, it’s terrifying. In this day and age, people don’t show their dissenting opinions respectfully, but instead choose to publicly harass. And there is no gray area, no room for changed minds or new thought—there’s only wrong or right, and god help you if you’re on the opposing side. It’s scary to stand up to that. But Lyme taught me something else these past few years…
It taught me how to be brave.
And there’s no going back from that.