What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection primarily transmitted by the bite of a deer tick or black-legged tick and is now the most common disease transmitted to humans via blood-sucking pests in the U.S. It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. To learn more about how Lyme can be transmitted, check out our other blogs.
Why Lyme is so hard to diagnose
Lyme is known as ‘The Great Imitator’ because its symptoms are not necessarily unique to Lyme, which means other diseases and disorders are often considered first. A key indicator of Lyme is a tick bite and a bullseye rash. However, not everyone remembers getting bitten by a tick, and not everyone gets a bullseye rash.
Testing is not advanced and only detects an active infection. You may test negative for Lyme and still have Lyme. In fact, Lyme disease symptoms can even reoccur or flare up after an initial round of antibiotics. Aside from antibiotics, understanding is also limited on how to best treat all of these symptoms. Lyme manifests itself differently in each person and its effect on the body is so broad, which only complicates the diagnosis process.
What Lyme disease feels like
Lyme is both mentally and physically taxing. While there are physical symptoms of Lyme that can include fatigue, headache, rash, fever, sweats, chills, muscle pain, joint pain, neck pain, sleep issues, nerve pain, facial palsy, brain fog and more, there is also depression, anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks, and loneliness.
Imagine it like this. You’re exhausted. You have the flu. You can’t remember what you were going to say. You have a hard time moving. You have the biggest headache of your life. You feel lonely, useless, and depressed. That is what Lyme disease feels like.
Each person who has Lyme may experience symptoms differently, but most would agree that the chronic pain has affected their life significantly. Watch this video to see people living with Lyme disease describe what it feels like:
Aside from the physical and mental effects, many feel that Lyme has robbed them of their lives. Spending many days in bed means missing out. It also places a big burden on their families and loved ones—assuming they even have a support system in place. People and doctors who do not understand often criticize Lyme sufferers for “making it up” or for “being lazy.” However, there is an entire community of people dedicated to sharing treatment plans, providing support and spreading awareness.
As research advances and awareness increases, we hope that people will never actually know what Lyme disease feels like—they’ll just be a little more understanding and compassionate towards those who do.