I remember Christmas of 2012 clearly. I had just been diagnosed with Lyme disease and Babesia that past May and endured what would prove to be the hardest summer of my life. Although I was beginning to see improvement with treatment, the victories seemed few and far between. I was still sleeping twenty hours a day, still feeling the muscle aches and bone pain that bore little relief, still experiencing any number of the dozens of symptoms I complained to my doctor about on a monthly basis.
I still wasn't well.
I stayed at my parents over the holiday that year because I couldn't drive the fifteen minutes to their house. I dragged myself to the dining room, ate a few bites of our traditional dinner, then collapsed back onto the couch. It seemed like my body and spirit were at war with one another. On the one hand, it felt like my body was in decay. On the other hand, I was so grateful to be surrounded by those I loved most, celebrating a holiday that has always been dear to me. I can admit now what I didn't want to face then: There were times over the course of those two days when I wondered if it would be the last holiday I would spend with them, and I wanted to make it count.
I wanted those memories to last.
Fast forward five years. A few short months of remission, one relapse, a reinfection, and two new co-infections later, and everything feels so different. I'm still sick, that is undeniable. But the darkness that once enveloped me--the one that had me clinging to this holiday because I was questioning my future--has been replaced with light, with joy, with hope.
That is what time gives us. That is its greatest gift. Hope. Strength. Courage to appreciate the present and look forward to the future.
Wherever you stand in your battle with Lyme disease, I hope you are able to find some peace and joy in the season. I hope you are able to see the strength in yourself--how much courage it takes to survive this disease every single day. I hope you are able to feel how much love and support you have in this community, that there are people on your side, fighting with you in spirit.
More importantly, I hope that you are able to recognize that there is a light inside of you that this disease can never take from you.Enjoy this holiday with your loved ones. Make those beautiful memories. Keep that fighting spirit alive.
You are meant to be here.
Resources National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Patients with Lyme Disease and other tick-borne infections are at risk of suicide due to the documented psychological manifestations of Lyme and accompanying decrease in quality of life. If you or someone you love is suffering from depression and/or suicidal ideation, please contact your physician immediately or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK).
Mental Health & Illness: Lyme Disease
A collection of articles by top Lyme physician Dr. Robert Bransfield as published in the Lyme Alliance Newsletter. These articles focus on how Lyme affects mental health as evidenced in neuropsychiatric symptoms that manifest themselves as familiarly-labeled psychiatric disorders, specifically in the late or chronic stage of the disease. Read his Neuropsychiatric Assessment of Lyme Disease to learn more.