Mental health is a highly relevant and discussed topic in this day and age. Many seem to speculate over why mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are much more prevalent now, as opposed to twenty years ago. According to Mental Health America, over 44 million adults have a mental health condition in the United States, and the rate for youth experiencing mental health conditions continues to rise. For those suffering from Lyme disease, mental illness is an added challenge to a list of symptoms that is already quite lengthy.
Those struggling with mental health often feel as if they are fighting an uphill battle with no end in sight. Relationships, money, and hopes are stretched thin as individuals have to cope daily with feelings of prolonged sadness, fatigue, excessive fears and worries, and many more symptoms. Add that onto the challenges of dealing with a chronic illness such as Lyme disease, and life can quickly become twice as difficult and overwhelming.
Many are unaware of what exactly a Lyme disease diagnosis entails. For those suffering from Lyme, symptoms already include joint and muscle pain, brain fog, headaches, and facial paralysis, among many others. In addition to that, individuals may experience mental health conditions such as anxiety, panic attacks, ADD/ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. Major depression is quite common as those affected begin to lose who they once were. Lyme disease patients may also experience short-term memory loss, mood swings, learning disabilities, and personality changes.
It is difficult to imagine having to cope with even one of these mental health conditions, let alone multiple. If that wasn’t enough, other hardships come into play, such as losing your regular lifestyle, being misunderstood by friends and family, and struggling to function on a regular basis. Life is never the same.
The individuals who fight these demons can explain firsthand how Lyme disease and mental health challenges have affected their lives. Kyle, a father and husband battling Lyme, says of his condition, “the anxiety and brain fog destroyed confidence.”
Kim, a wife and mother, adds, “I started getting anxiety attacks and that’s been hard for me.”
Mental illness is tricky and often hard to understand unless you’re experiencing it yourself. For those who are not suffering from these hardships, try to be more understanding to those who are. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Let us be empathetic, not just sympathetic.
For those reading this who are suffering with mental health conditions as well as chronic illness, know that you are loved! Open up to those around you and allow them to offer aide and support. Help them understand what it’s like for you.
In the words of Claire, a fellow Lymie:
“You see my friend, it may be piercingly difficult at times, but it is those difficulties that will shape you into the glorious person that you were destined to be. For progression, growth, and grace bloom out of the deepest adversities.
You are not alone. You are strong. You are loved. Don’t give up. You may have Lyme disease, but Lyme disease will never have you. Your body has the capacity to heal and there are resources and protocols out there that can and will heal you with patience and persistence. There is hope and healing ahead.
Stay strong my friend. For there are battalions of people and angels rooting for you and cheering you on in your journey of Lyme.”
Read’s Claire’s letter here.
There is hope and healing ahead, for those diagnosed with Lyme disease as well as family and friends trying to cope with the change. Don’t give up!