“If I Don’t, I Won’t” Part 4

Having graced the cover of countless magazines, the face of national commercials, and an actress in the movie “Love Simon”, Caroline has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time. However, after moving to LA and at the height of her career, she was diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease.

For this shoot, we wanted to convey the isolation that comes with having Lyme disease. It’s a feeling that is similar to being stuck underwater. In spite of this isolation, Caroline has demonstrated incredible personal strength as she battles against her diagnosis.


How has your diagnosis changed the way you see the world?

It’s changed everything. Never in a million years would I have thought I would have a PICC line in my arm - two tubes hanging out of my arm, I mean- WHAT?! Never would I have thought I would have my ability to drive taken from me. The small things we take for granted - which sounds so cliche’, but is so true. The freedoms I once had that I no longer have. It’s changed my perspective because, it’s led to me a multitude of emotions: anger for the first time truly, sadness, extreme depression, high anxiety, rage, suicidal thoughts, extreme isolation, self compassion, self love, inner strength, balance, love in general for those around me. It’s changed my life in every single way possibly imagined- too many ways to put into words. But it’s also reminded me that I’m strong, but also that I don’t always have to be strong, that it’s okay to feel all the rollercoaster of emotions this disease brings upon me & my family- that my life will never be the same. It may sound a little dramatic, but I know I’ll never be the same. I’ll be better- a more compassionate, loving, kind human for going through what I’ve been dealing with. It’s given me a new purpose, a new passion, a new focus. Something new to advocate for- to dedicate my time to.

What keeps you going after all the hard days with Lyme?

My faith, my family & knowing that I owe it to myself and other patients to be able to walk out of this dark tunnel someday and be able to state confidently to another patient “You will get through this. It will come to an end”. To show others that suicide isn’t the answer, depression doesn’t have to control everything even when it seems to overpower everything. I give all the glory to God truthfully. He’s the only thing that has kept me alive & breathing, but knowing that I have to keep fighting for my family - and to keep fighting to be able to state for those patients who will someday be in my position. I want to be able to state publicly all the things I constantly google and search for that I can’t find- everything I want to find to relate to someone; I want to be that person for someone else so that someone isn’t sitting at home so isolated feeling desperately alone like I was. Basically - knowing that I can help someone else someday who is fighting for their life, or someone who has a loved one fighting. 

What Does “If I Don’t, I Won’t ” Mean To You?:

If I don’t speak/advocate, I won’t be me. If I don’t share the painful truth I’ve learned from the trials in life thus far, I won’t be doing my job. I feel I have an obligation to speak. We are all given different gifts and we are all meant to share them with the world. Some people can’t speak, can’t share, can’t open up- that’s my strength. That’s where I thrive. I owe it to myself and to other survivors, other warriors, other humans to speak about the light at the end of the tunnel that is usually very hard to see if not impossible (feeling).

Follow Caroline’s journey through her site: www.sweetcarolyme.com 

And her very real and transparent Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sweetcarolyme

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