Actually, I’ve learned many people need a little help from me to truly see the pain.
Lyme is known as an “invisible” disease. That’s because oftentimes we look pretty good on the outside despite feeling myriad symptoms inside. And—unfortunately—many of us are darned good at keeping those symptoms invisible.
My own reasons include:
- I don’t want those around me to worry.
- I don’t want people to know how sick I really am because I’m afraid they’ll abandon me.
- I hate the thought of becoming that depressing person who is constantly complaining about how crummy he or she feels.
But I’ve come to see that a dose of reality is a good thing. When people understand the seriousness of this illness, they offer empathy and support.
Beyond that, we need others to know how serious chronic Lyme can become, so more people understand diagnosis and prevention—and stay well.
I’m no stranger to major loss. As a teenager, I lost my beloved family home and other ties to childhood in the wake of huge financial losses for my parents.
Then came the death of my father after a five-year struggle with lymphoma. Later came the excruciatingly slow passing of my mother-in-law to Alzheimer’s, and my own mother’s declining memory.
Then, the nearly unbearable abyss of divorce. A few years later, I’d only just started to approach feeling whole when a tiny tick transmitted the lyme that knocked me to my knees—and even further down.
The holidays, a touchstone to the past, intensify the grief. I feel it in every cell of my being.
Recently I said to my therapist, who is helping me get through the many stresses of chronic lyme, “A year ago, I thought I had a handle on the losses lyme has sent my way. And I sure thought I had processed all that grief from childhood, and all that terrible pain from the breakup of my family. Why am I so overwhelmed all over again?”
And she said, “Because grief is like a rubber-band ball.” Continue reading