There are many challenging social and emotional sequelae of living with Lyme disease. Sadly, many of us can relate to the common theme of repeated doctor visits, looking for some help while various aspects of our life are whittled away bit by bit. But all tests come back “normal” and no one can figure out what’s wrong. And even when we do finally get some confirmation of documentable illness, our waking moments are spent managing facets of our existence that we previously were able to take for granted. And then, beyond the medical field, are our social contacts – our emotional support systems. These can take a hit, to say the least. Of course, it’s just human nature, and if we were on the other side, and fortunately untouched by Lyme, we might find ourselves “judging” as well, while trying to make sense of a seemingly incongruent pile of evidence – because “well, gee, you look fine.” An ongoing diet of self-doubt with extra helpings of invisibility does quite a number on the support framework of one’s existence.
Working on the well-being of our social and emotional lives becomes equally paramount to regaining the health of our bodies. And there are many ways to do this. Connecting with others who have shared these experiences is one of the most effective ways. Even if you are a support person, there are other support people who have shared your challenges, your frustrations. Connecting is key. When you hear someone in the same boat cry, whether with tears or with words, what you hear are sounds so familiar, feelings so often encountered, that the pain is shared – and somehow lessened. And unlike judgement which could block your view, empathy opens the door, and you reach that common depth where the soul speaks and listens. Though the emotion is profound and we sometimes feel beaten, the connection is uplifting, and we rise, actually empowered. People must come together to help counter the isolation that can be an unfortunate cornerstone of the Lyme experience. Indeed, one of the most important things we can do in this life is to let people know they are not alone.