Chronic Illness :: Living in the Shadow of your Former Self


There are so many moms hiding in plain sight with chronic illness. They are cheering at the sporting events, volunteering for the PTA, and grocery shopping with two toddlers in tow, all while fighting a battle with their own bodies.

To the moms out there with an invisible illness, I salute you, and I SEE you.

I see you walking hand-in-hand with the shadow of your former self, hoping it will lead you back to who you used to be…

I see the missed social engagements and the friends who were once by your side.

I see you trying to fit together the pieces of a puzzle when half of them are broken.

I see the loneliness in your eyes even when you are surrounded by a room full of people.

I see a world that keeps spinning and a life that keeps passing you by.

My story and my battle are not rare. Just in my small circle, my life is surrounded by women suffering. Every day they look in a shattered mirror and see the fragmented pieces of themselves. They start each day wondering which parts of their body will work today. That’s what chronic illness does. It takes away your ability to be whole, to feel complete.

Chronic illness is a lot like grief. It is impossible to fully understand it until you go through it yourself. I never “got” it until it was me. I watched my mom suffer my entire life and never understood her. I just knew I didn’t want to be her. She spent most of her time in bed dreaming about who she wanted to be and all the things she wanted to do. She never became that person or did any of those things. Instead, she died alone in her bed one night, invisible to those who saw her everyday.

My biggest fear is that my illness will become my identity. I pray that it’s not who I am, but only a small chapter of a much bigger story. I pray to be whole again and do all the things I once did. But for me, it’s also important that I find peace in this place of brokenness. I have to find a new normal while still working toward healing.

Chronic illness is the face of both of these photos. I encouraged my husband to document the bad days, so one day I would be able to look back on how far I’ve come. In a world full of picture perfect Instagram stories, people don’t get to see the true struggle and our most vulnerable moments. I never want to forget where I have been. It’s also important to remember that just because someone looks like they have it together doesn’t mean that they didn’t start their day by picking themselves up off the floor.

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Lisa is a born and raised Memphian who has yet to call another place home. She’s so Memphis, she even met her husband, Paul, at a University of Memphis football game during her senior year of college in 2004. Go Tigers Go! After dating for only 6 months, they were married! Paul and Lisa now have 3 boys Quintin (2007), Emmitt (2010) and Walter (2014) who fill their house full of potty humor. They recently went all in with their business, Easel Town, opening their first brick and mortar location. Needless to say, staying busy is not an issue. Currently, Lisa is facing her biggest challenge. In December of 2017, she was diagnosed with Lyme Disease. Her battle with Lyme has forced her to constantly adapt to how it has changed her life; she works everyday to get back the things it took from her.


  1. Thank you for your courage and willingness to be vulnerable and help us to see you and others who suffer. I know you often don’t feel like it, but you are so strong, and it’s a privilege to be your friend. Praying for you.

  2. Hi LIsa,
    I’ve had chronic migraine attacks for 30 years. (I’m 52). They became worse with stress and hormonal changes, but were triggered by any number of things. If you are familiar with true migraine, you know it isn’t JUST a bad headache. I’ll have dizziness, vertigo, tremendous fatigue, sleepiness, short-term memory loss, trouble finding words, and other problems. In 2014, I was bitten by a tick while visiting family in VA. I then developed tremendous joint and muscular pain which were diagnosed as fibromyalgia that began with what I believe was Lyme. I’m currently taking meds to prevent migraines and another to prevent fibromyalgia attacks. I also have developed a rare kidney condition that requires a daily medication and close monitoring of my salt intake. It’s suspected to be a result of some sort of inflammation within the body. I also am taking meds to manage rosacea that developed agressively after 2014. In an effort to try to control the migraines that become worse with hormone fluctuations, I’m on an estrogen patch and a progesterone capsule. And I have an arsenal of meds to abort an oncoming migraine which may or may not work. If the meds don’t work, the migraine will last 3-4 days straight. I’ve had to give up work of any kind. My friendships have dried up. Trips often are disrupted by migraine. So, I completely understand. I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this and manage a family at the same time. My children have grown, but I also dealt with this when they lived at home. I say all of this so you know you are aren’t alone.

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