Encouragement for the Mind

Words & Images by Rebecca VanDeMark

If there was ever a way for a breakup to happen, it would be any way but what was taking in place in front of my eyes and heart. As I stared at the man who was supposed to be my husband in a few short months, I felt that I had been run over by a truck and was observing the scene post mortem. In shock, I slowly turned to look at him, tears streaming down my face.

“You are the most beautiful woman that I have ever met. Incredibly smart. You have the largest heart of anyone I know. You are so sweet, and the funniest girl that I have met…but I just can’t marry you.” As his words found their place in the air to never be removed, I felt a piece of me die. His voice drifted to the background as we arrived at my apartment complex and walked toward my door.

I became angry and accused him of making his decision based on his mother’s desire for him to return to his ex-girlfriend. He became defensive, and the truth was on the table in front of us. I fumbled with this revealed knowledge as he kept yelling. Hurting, I yelled back as we stepped into my apartment, which did little to muffle our shouting. Our voices were loud enough that in a city that was known to be isolating, I had neighbors stopping by for weeks to offer food. But after all of the shock, all of the yelling, all of the quiet hurt questions, I watched the man whom I thought I was going to spend my life with leave forever. As loved ones expressed anger over the breakup, I wept often and worked to pick up the pieces of my shattered life. It seemed that nothing could be worse.

Until my health started to rapidly decline a few months later when I started to experience physical problems that I had never experienced before. I saw several doctors, had blood work done, was told that I was still recovering from the stress of the breakup and that with rest I would be fine. But in the following three years I found myself in a maze of dizzying health issues, trying to find answers to these baffling problems. I was repeatedly told that nothing was wrong and that I simply needed to find a way to better control my stress. I tried tons of different things and yet my symptoms worsened. This continued until January 2012 when I diagnosed with CFS and Fibromyalgia and was assured that with proper rest and treatment, I would recover in a fair amount of time.

There was just one problem.

Deep down I knew that this was not the complete answer and over the coming year my health continued to rapidly decline till I became unable to eat a normal diet and walk. For a former ballroom dancer who loved to move this was extremely frightening. After seeing more than 273 of the top specialists around the US and being told there was no hope or answers, I was finally and accurately diagnosed with Advanced Late Stage Lyme disease on the day before my 33rd birthday in March 2013.

It has been almost four years since that diagnosis. Four short and long years of fighting for my health, giving up my independence, and of battling to win the war on a misunderstood disease. When I think of the factors that have contributed to this journey of healing I always share the importance of the mind. I truly believe that my frame of mind has been the biggest contribution to not only my wellness, but my life.

If you are going through a difficult time in life I want you to know that you are not alone and that this season of difficulty is not the end of your story. Your story is much bigger than where you are at right now and you can win the battle that is in front of you. You can draw on strength and focus your mind on the truth that you can and will get through whatever you are going through. Take it one day at a time and when that is to much take it one second, one minute, and one hour at a time. You’ve got this. Focus your mind on what is possible and hold on to hope. You can do this.


Up next... A Letter Written to Heal and Finding Love Through Depression

Rebecca VanDeMark is a speaker, and blogger and the author of the newly released book, “December Caravan” which is a collection of short stories sharing the hope of an ever-present God and four other previous books including, “Praying through Lyme Disease”. Rebecca is the founder of Grace Engaged and Lyme Caravan Foundation. Rebecca holds degrees from Cedarville University, Regent University, and American University. Before fighting health issues Rebecca worked in Washington DC with two non-profit organizations and later taught High School History and Bible Classes for seven years.

Rebecca loves celebrating the beauty of the ordinary each day as she fights Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in addition to other health issues. She lives with her family, splitting time between the sweet south and upstate New York. Rebecca can be found at her personal website or on her blog. She welcomes emails at: rebeccaannvandemark@gmail.com.

Medical | Mental Health | Diagnosis | Lyme Disease