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Believe Me, I'm Sick! The Invisibility of Chronic Lyme Disease & How to Overcome It

When I started falling desperately sick in 2012, I knew I was in big trouble. I knew instinctively, even though I’d not yet been diagnosed, that my health problem was going to be difficult to overcome. What I didn’t realize, though, and could never have predicted, was the degree to which doctors, friends and even some family members would question the legitimacy of my complaints and my symptoms. It was like I had to prove I was sick. And this in itself made getting well even more challenging.


A very common complaint I hear from Lyme disease sufferers is that no one believes they are sick. Either you simply don’t look sick or you don’t look sick enough. You aren’t in a wheelchair, you don’t have a cast, your hair isn’t falling out, etc. Maybe you can still get dressed and go out and put on a good show, making it all the more enticing for the outside world to label you a faker.


But you’re not faking. In fact, you’re dealing with a monster of an illness. Although my memory isn’t what it used to be, I will never forget the doctor who suggested my complaints were “psychosomatic,” nor the friend who suggested maybe I was simply depressed. These accusations amounted to daggers in my back. And they were absolute nonsense. Imagine your car had quit running and when you took it to the garage to be repaired, the serviceman insisted the problem was fabricated because the car had a great paint job and was comfortable to sit in. That’s Lyme disease. You look okay, but you’re rotting on the inside and almost no one believes you.


Even after I received my diagnosis, it seemed people still behaved this way. “What’s wrong with her now?” or “she doesn’t look sick” were comments I had the honor of overhearing being said about me. I also faced an uphill battle with doctors who didn’t “believe” in Lyme disease becoming chronic, so when I told them I had tested positive and had already taken antibiotics to treat it, they didn’t want to talk anymore. In their eyes, I couldn’t have Lyme if I’d taken the requisite antibiotics for more than four weeks. And if I didn’t have Lyme, they didn’t seem to care what was wrong and sent me home. I had one doctor in particular who was legitimately more interested in arguing the merits of whether Lyme could become chronic than he was in helping me regain my health. The end result? I felt like total garbage—on top of being disabled—for simply having fallen sick.


I am absolutely 100% positive that if you’ve suffered from chronic Lyme disease, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But I want you to also know that this is all part of the illness, and it’s something you just have to accept and let go.


Getting well is a lot of work, and so much of it is a mind game. Your ability to stay positive and focused on the goal is critical. Hanging on to negative comments and judgments from others will just weigh you down. Imagine an airplane trying to fly while tethered to the ground. The outcome would be disastrous. The negativity of others is the proverbial tether to your recovery. Cut it loose.


If you run across a doctor who does not believe you, let him go. It’s not your job to convince him of anything. The fact that he doesn’t believe you means he is the wrong doctor for you, and that’s it. Move on. There will be plenty of other practitioners who will sympathize with your struggle and help you. When dealing with friends and family, it may not be so easy. Just remember that it is difficult for others to understand what they have not personally experienced. They simply cannot relate to what you are going through, and sadly, it may be easier for them to dismiss you than to have to actually accept your situation. Accepting your illness might mean they’d feel obligated to help. Perhaps they just do not have it in them to help you in any way, and dismissing you is a form of self-preservation. Whatever the motivation, forgive him or her. It has absolutely nothing to do with you. Your sole job is to get well. Whatever does not serve that purpose has to go.


The bottom line is that no one else has to believe you are sick to get well. You are in control of your health. Do the things you need to do on a daily basis—eat properly, stick to your herbal protocol, sleep eight hours per night, exercise to whatever extent possible, and meditate or do something you love each and every day. These are the things that should take up all of your mental energy, and these are the things that are going to get you well.



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Check out Holly’s new book, "THE HEALER WITHIN - MY RECOVERY FROM CHRONIC LYME, CFS, AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE," NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

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