Lyme disease is described as a bacterial infection that arises when infected ticks bite an individual. The bacterium is known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The indications of Lyme typically begin within 3 to 30 days following a bite by an infected tick. Many people go through flu-like symptoms after the bite, but more severe symptoms emerge a few weeks after being bitten. This particular disease’s initial signs and symptoms include fever, chills, muscle, and joint pains, inflamed lymph nodes, rashes, and fatigue.
If Lyme disease is not promptly treated, its symptoms worsen and may include joint, tendon, and muscle aches, neurological diseases, major headaches, Bell’s palsy, and heart disease.
Most Lyme disease cases are being treated with weeks of antibiotics, depending on the degree of your indications and the span of time that you were diagnosed following the bite. Numerous individuals with Lyme disease turn to natural therapies.
Naturopathic therapy is a concept that involves an approach for the whole body. The naturopathic practitioner will assess your lifestyle, environment, diet, immune status, and other medical conditions that you may have to create a treatment regimen. Certified naturopathic therapists who are capable of recommending medications may prescribe antibiotics in conjunction with these natural methods.
Naturopathic therapy for Lyme disease may entail a combination of lifestyle and nutritional therapy, herbs, dietary supplementation, and homeopathic treatments prescribed according to your specific needs and indications.
Most people believe in the power of essential oils as effective antimicrobials. Some with longstanding Lyme disease indications have continued to use essential oils to help alleviate symptoms of their disease. When correctly administered, most of these essential oils are safe and have no ill side effects. But it is vital to use them prudently, as they can cause rashes and other skin irritations if not diluted properly. Additionally, some of these oils are not to be taken internally.
Buy high-quality oils that have gone through meticulous testing to guarantee that the products are safe to administer. Follow the dilution and usage guidelines that are placed on the label. Finally, discuss this with your doctor before using these essential oils to prevent drug interactions with your present medications.
Herbal medicine has been used in conjunction with medicinal therapy for hundreds of years. Many people have turned to herbs to help offer relief from diseases such as Lyme, particularly when antibiotics have not entirely helped get rid of their symptoms.
Garlic, for instance, has proven to have powerful antibacterial effects and could help counteract tick bites. A study on individuals who consumed garlic supplements claimed to have experienced fewer tick bites than a placebo group. Essential oils from garlic have been found to eradicate bacteria that mainly cause Lyme disease. However, garlic may interact with some medications, so talking to your doctor before using it for Lyme disease is wise.
Another popular herb is stevia, a sugar substitute and natural sweetener that originated from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It has also been proven to be effective in managing Lyme disease. The European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology published one study that found stevia extracts to be more potent in eradicating the bacteria causing Lyme disease than the current standard antibiotics.
This is a technique that entails eliminating heavy metals from the body’s bloodstream. Other individuals think that Lyme disease indications are associated with heavy metal toxicity due to environmental factors, such as lead exposure and pollution, and they decide to have chelation therapy for Lyme disease treatment.
The process involves administering a chelation agent that attaches to heavy metals found in the body and removes them via the kidneys. Chelation can be given intravenously by applying a chelating agent like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid and saline solution. It can also be administered orally.
Today, there is no evidence to confirm that Lyme disease is a result of or is aggravated by heavy metal exposure. Also, chelation therapy has not yet been proven as an official therapy for Lyme disease.
Other Natural Therapies
There are several natural therapy options provided to manage Lyme disease. A study done in 2015 recognized 30 natural therapies, including magnets, enemas, bee venom, acupuncture, stem cell transplantation, sauna, photon therapy, and nutritional therapy.
There is presently no information to ascertain the effectiveness of these alternative therapies, and in some circumstances, the therapies could be more deleterious rather than beneficial.
If you have been diagnosed with Lyme disease or have recently been bitten by ticks, it is vital to consult your healthcare provider. During this time, treatment of antibiotics is the only established treatment for a condition like Lyme disease. It is prudent to be treated the soonest time possible.
Natural treatments are believed to be conjunctive therapies instead of replacing conventional treatments given by your healthcare provider. Some individuals prefer using natural therapies in conjunction with prescribed antibiotics to help manage the disease.
Remember to talk to your primary physician before choosing to try herbal or natural remedies, as some of these therapies may have adverse reactions to the currently prescribed medicines you are taking.
Medical professionals are taught in their profession to ‘above all, not harm.’ But almost all therapies have both their pros and cons. Hence, before choosing any therapeutic intervention – whether diet change, exercise, herbal therapy, or medicinal treatment – people must study how these interventions may affect them. If you are considering therapy options for Lyme disease, individuals must investigate how well (or not) these therapies are, their adverse effects, or whether or not they have been proven effective.
Additionally, patients are urged to be open-minded about what may help, as some indications of Lyme might suggest an active infection while others may suggest residual effects of a previous infection; hence, it does not require antibiotic treatment. The objective is to reestablish one’s functional state and health to boost a person’s qualify for life.
As with other suggestions from this site, the consumption of prescribed or over-the-counter medications must be meticulously studied and discussed with a doctor to guarantee effectiveness and safety and evaluate for potentially dangerous drug interactions. Pregnant moms specifically must check with their doctors: a great website that can be used for increasing knowledge about drug reactions is “Mother to Baby.”
The three primary oral antibiotic medicines prescribed for Lyme disease include amoxicillin (Amoxil), cefuroxime (Zinacef, Ceftin), and doxycycline (Doryx, Monodox, Vibramycin). Intravenously, ceftriaxone (Rocephin) is the most recommended antibiotic to treat neurologic Lyme disease in America.
Non-Antibiotic And Other Methods
These methods are indicated for individuals with longstanding symptoms that have not alleviated or resolved following antibiotic therapy. If symptoms progress, it is crucial to take another look at the patient and identify whether or not other issues have emerged, potentially not associated with Lyme disease. For instance, tingling and numbness may result from diabetes, autoimmune disease, or vitamin deficiency.
Borrelia burgdorferi infection may cause numerous symptoms and require treatment with antibiotics, but these symptoms can be triggered although not prolonged by the previous infection. This might be because of residual inflammation, tissue damage, neural changes, or constant immune activation. In this scenario, symptom-based treatments are quite beneficial.
Aside from pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy has also had confirmed benefits for enhancing mood. Psychotherapy has various forms – dynamic, dialectical behavioral therapy, supportive, and transference-centered psychotherapy, each providing various benefits. Pharmacotherapy also has various forms. For depression, the primary choices are typically tricyclics, SNRIs, and SSRIs, other forms with more distinct methods of action.
Here are some important tips regarding anti-depressant treatments:
A lot of the antidepressants usually take between three and eight weeks before a visible effect is noticeable. Hence, it is not recommended to stop taking an antidepressant after four weeks because remaining on it for another three weeks might yield good outcomes.
Dosage almost always makes a significant difference. Other antidepressants work well at decreased doses, while some medications only work when they are taken at higher doses. Some, however, are more potent as the dose is gradually augmented. Other antidepressants, like tricyclic antidepressants, may require a therapeutic range. One form needs to attain at least a specific dosage to reach a suitable blood level.
Many antidepressant agents also assist in lowering depression and anxiety levels. But the opposite of this is not essentially true. Certain anti-anxiety drugs such as diazepam or clonazepam might not also essentially be effective in treating depression.
Therapy For Memory
Enhancing memory is quite perplexing. In Lyme disease, memory problems, particularly short-term problems and word-retrieval problems, are not uncommon. These frequently improve considerably with the proper antibiotic treatment. Over time, most Lyme disease patients gain back their cognitive abilities.
When memory becomes problematic, assume that this might be because of a primary issue with mood or attention. A person who cannot concentrate would obviously not be capable of remembering, as they have not attended appropriately to the thing he was supposed to remember in the first place. This occurs to every one of us, especially when we catch a person’s name at a party or gathering. If we do not concentrate on the name and maybe make a mental relation to the name to improve memory storage, we really won’t remember that name, and it will be gone from our brain within just minutes!
Patients with anxiety and depression frequently go through problems with verbal fluency and memory. When the stress, anxiety, and depression are resolved or alleviated, the verbal fluency and memory problems are usually resolved.
As for medications, attention problems can be enhanced with specific medicines like atomoxetine (Strattera), bupropion (Wellbutrin), stimulants like methylphenidate, or modafinil (Provigil). Medications that momentarily retard cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease (Aricept or Namenda), have not been meticulously studied for Lyme disease.
Neurofeedback can help improve attention, and it has also been shown to lessen pain and improve sleep. This method has long been studied and applied for fibromyalgia, ADHD, and migraines.
I got diagnosed with Lyme disease precisely a month after joining an outreach program to provide mental health services in a suburban area. As soon as the doctor confirmed it, my world stopped. I could see her mouth moving, but I could not hear a word she said. I only thought of standing up when the doctor motioned for the door, which I took to indicate that my checkup was done and that I needed to leave.
On my way home, I kept thinking about the diagnosis that I had just gotten. I had always been very careful about avoiding illnesses, and just that one time that I went out of my comfort zone, I got bitten by an insect that gave me an incurable disease. How cruel could life be?
The thing was, I could not bear to stop myself from feeling blue. I finally understood my previous clients at the medical hospital who were too depressed to believe that they could get better. My knowledge and expertise in handling and coping with depression went out of the window as I continued to experience it for three long months.
When Did Things Change?
My depression pushed me to leave my absence and let my colleague take over my clinic indefinitely. I would feel like a fraud if I went there and tried to counsel someone when I could not do that to myself. Despite my depression, I returned to the Lyme specialist’s office to have my disease monitored and ensure that it won’t be life-threatening.
The thing was, this specialist was smart enough to know that I was dealing with depression. She said that it was evident that my illness was not getting better, even if I already took some time off work. “It could only mean that you are still stressing over your condition, or you are doing excessive work outside of your workplace.”
Well, if I were not meant to get my treatment, I would be moping around the house, so it was undoubtedly the former. There was one thing the specialist told me that made me want to fight depression. She said, “You are wasting your time with Lyme treatment because it will not work if your mind and body are not into it.”
Operation: Fight Depression
The first thing I did was confide in my colleague about my mental issues. I was a little embarrassed to open up about it because psychologists and counselors took pride in resiliency. I worried that being honest about my problems would make others think less of my abilities. But this time, I took that for granted and told her what I had been going through for months.
It was a lengthy conversation, and I teared up a few times, even if I tried not to. My colleague remained as professional as possible and only offered me a tissue to wipe my tears, not to interrupt my train of thoughts. I mostly talked about my fears of dealing with Lyme disease forever and how it could affect my life.
When I was done, my colleague said, “Let me start by saying that I fully acknowledge your feelings and thoughts. There is nothing to be ashamed of admitting that you got depressed over the news that you now have an autoimmune disorder. In truth, if it happened to me, I might feel the same way.”
“Despite that,” the counselor added, “You also know that you cannot dwell on your negative feelings towards the illness for too long since it’s bad for your health.”
“I know,” I replied quietly. “I just can’t think of a way to get over it.”
“Hmm, how about you start with journaling for a week? You can write about everything you cannot say aloud, and I would not need to read any of it. Of course, you can decide to do that, but it’s not necessary,” the counselor suggested.
“You are right. I am also considering returning to the gym and blow off some steam there. Do you think that would help?”
The counselor nodded. “Then, whenever you feel like it, you return to your clinic and see some of your clients again. You won’t need to take on the most challenging ones right away, but knowing that you’ve changed someone’s life for the better may be the win you need to get over depression.”
To cut a long story short, I did everything that my colleague/counselor advised me to do and more. I started journaling, going to the gym, and eventually accepting clients again – all while I was still getting Lyme treatment.
I did not feel the change overnight as expected. In truth, it was already on the third week of counseling that I woke up feeling less depressed than usual. I thanked the heavens for that and used my renewed sense of hope to do more things that day. I did a thorough cleaning of my house, met my friends, and visited my parents to inform them that I was feeling better. Yes, they were mundane activities, but I could not even bear to do any of those months ago due to depression.
While I am still dealing with Lyme disease now, I know better than to let it – and depression – control me.
When I was asked where I would do an internship in college, I decided to do it in a regular hospital instead of a mental hospital. The reason was that I felt like the physically ill individuals and their families did not always get the mental help they needed during a health crisis. I knew all about it because when my dad became critically ill when I was a teenager and eventually passed away, the medical staff were so used to people dying that they could not think of consoling the deceased person’s loved ones. I remembered the doctors and nurses saying their condolences once, and then they moved on to other patients.
When I was already at the medical hospital, my duty was to go around the four floors of the building and talk to people in every ward. I would do this for eight hours for five days every week. The person could be a patient or a visitor as long as I would have something to report to my professor at the end of the day.
While many of my co-interns expressed their boredom, I enjoyed the job. I had always been what you might call in people person, which meant that I thrived in a populated environment. The more people I talked to, the happier I got. I hope to say that would not make me come across as insensitive, but I genuinely loved being there for others.
I noticed with the people that I talked to, though, that they had a very low fighting spirit. Many of the patients were worried about dying before they could even make their dreams come true. Others did not fully believe that their doctors could help them recover from their diseases, and so they were thinking of succumbing to the illness and avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for treatment.
Each time I heard that, I would always advise the individual to have faith and believe that they would get better. I learned from my professors, after all, that miracles could happen if the person wishing for it did not doubt it is happening. Although many would still die because of various illnesses, there were still a few people who proved that that’s possible. But whenever the person I was talking to would go away, I often wondered if I was not convincing enough or there was nothing that I could do for them.
Then, I Found Myself On The Other Side Of The Coin
I already got my Ph.D. in psychology and my license to do counseling in three different states when I got invited to do an outreach program in a suburban area in Pennsylvania by a friend. I had never done such a thing for a long time, and I missed it, so I agreed to do it for free. I thought, “What could go wrong?” I would only be offering psychological advice to groups and then reconnect with my old friends.
The event went by successfully, and I went home that day feeling fulfilled. I even promised my friends that they should call me again the next time they schedule another outreach program because I loved it so much. I could think about how many people I enlightened and encouraged do get counseling for their good.
A week already passed when my secretary noticed a swollen bump at the back of my leg. It felt itchy a few days before that, but I was so busy that I ignored it. I also got the flu around the same time, so I just waved it off and thought it must be a mosquito bite.
However, I had to focus on it when my secretary told me that the bump was still ten days later. Worse, its coverage seemed to have expanded. I took a mirror to see what she meant, and I was shocked when I saw that it almost covered the back of my leg. That pushed me to see a doctor on the same day.
I was lucky to meet a doctor specializing in diagnosing Lyme disease because she noticed its symptoms in me as soon as I entered the clinic. She asked me to do all the necessary tests to make sure of it, and my mindset was to do everything she asked. But once she confirmed that I had Lyme, it was like my surroundings turn gray.
The doctor was still explaining the possible treatment for me, but I was already spacing out as soon as I heard the word “incurable” come out of her mouth. I knew what that meant, given that most mental disorders were incurable. It meant that I would forever have to deal with Lyme disease, and no matter what drug I take, it could always come back.
And just like that, the counselor descended into depression.
(NOTE: This is the first part of a two-part blog. Kindly see the next one to know how I overcame depression after a Lyme diagnosis.)
I had always been an outdoorsy type of girl. It is most likely rooted in the fact that I came from a family of rednecks. Whether it’s the Fourth of July or President’s Day, or any holiday, we often found a reason to stay overnight in the woods. In reality, that was not too difficult to do, considering my grandparents’ backyard practically led to the forest.
My first memory of camping was seven years old, although it was apparently not my first time doing that. Back then, I remembered asking Mom what we would eat in the woods, considering I only saw her packing sleeping bags, water, and cooking materials. She smiled at me and said, “Anything that your Dad and uncles would find there.”
The answer confused me a lot, but it eventually became clear that the forest was full of edible plants that could cost hundreds of dollars in the city. Then, there was a river nearby that was filled with fish. When everyone got tired of swimming, the men brought out their fishing equipment and caught our lunch and dinner in no time. It was the coolest day in my life.
The older I became, the more I learned about camping. When I reached 11 years old, I could set up a tent on my own. By the time I reached my sweet 16, it was already easy for me to start a bonfire with whatever stones and twigs I could find on the campsite. While some of my friends bragged about their cellphones and new clothes, I bragged about my camping skills.
My love for nature pushed me to join a hiking group in college. Almost every month, one member of the organization would suggest three hiking locations, and then we would vote on which one to visit. It used to be a day trip, but when they found out that I was practically a camping expert, we started staying outdoors overnight.
In my second year in college, though, I had to back out from another hiking adventure due to fever. It was accompanied by headache and muscle pain, so I thought I had the flu. The symptoms went away after a week, but then they were replaced by rashes all over my body. I kept thinking of what could cause the inflammation, but I was never allergic to anything. Once my lymph nodes began to swell and my fever returned, I asked my mother to take me to a doctor.
Receiving A Diagnosis
The family doctor ordered me to get blood tests immediately. I did not initially understand what tests he talked about, but he mentioned Lyme disease to my mother. That’s what got my attention.
“Why are we testing for that, doc?” I asked.
“Well, I know that you spend a lot of time in the woods. Your symptoms may be for a different condition, but it is best to rule out Lyme disease early,” the doctor explained.
After two weeks, my worst fear came true – I got diagnosed with Lyme disease. I could not help but cry because I knew it was an autoimmune disorder and nothing could cure it. My mother allowed me to be sad for a few days, but she noticed that my mood did not change after that; she suggested personal counseling.
What is personal counseling?
Personal counseling is a type of counseling that occurs when a person has goals that they cannot achieve without a mental health professional’s help.
What are the benefits of individual counseling?
It increases a person’s self-awareness.
It encourages people to explore their thoughts and emotions.
It helps an individual realize their boundaries.
It improves a person’s communication skills.
It teaches people how to cope with issues healthily.
What are the types of counseling?
Child pediatric counseling
Marriage and family therapy
How do I give myself counseling?
You can start self-counseling by deciding on what goals to achieve. Whatever it is, you must think about it clearly and realistically so that you won’t fall face-first later.
Use your objective and subjective sides when you think about your problems. The reason is that your emotions most likely rule your subjective part; that’s why you cannot find a viable solution. But when you think objectively, the remedy may come more quickly to you than ever.
Try to understand your thoughts, emotions, and behavior more deeply. It may be challenging at first, but the task may ease up when you keep a record of your emotional and behavioral changes and assess what causes them.
Catch yourself whenever you talk to yourself negatively. That has a massive impact on your mental health. After that, you may counter such thoughts and say something like, “What if I think like this or that instead?” Over time, you will be able to change your way of thinking for the better.
Keep in mind that it’s okay not to get self-counseling correctly overnight. You have never done it before, so cut yourself some slack. But the more you try this form of counseling, the more you may get used to it.
Can you use CBT on yourself?
Yes, you can use CBT on yourself. Many licensed therapists have put out self-help books that may teach you how to conduct this form of therapy. However, if you have never experienced it first-hand before, you may want to see how it works in person.
Do therapists care?
Of course, therapists care about their patients. They cannot be effective at what they do if they don’t.
What should you tell your first visit to a therapist?
Most individuals talk about their problems during their first visit to a therapist and what they have done to fix them. That is how the therapist can gauge how much help the individual needs and how long therapy will last.
Do therapists get attached to their clients?
Not all therapists get attached to their clients, but it can happen to anyone at any time. Despite that, professional therapists do not act on it and process their feelings outside of the workplace.
What happens in a Counselling session?
Upon initial contact, the counselor may create an outline of how long a counseling session takes place, how they will communicate with you, and what happens if you go to sessions regularly or miss it. They may also remind you of their confidentiality rule, as well as their promise to listen to you without judgment. More importantly, they will help you realize that counseling does not provide instantaneous results – something good will only come out of it if you make an effort to heed the counselor’s advice.
How do I prepare for my first counseling session?
The first thing you must do is accept that you are already doing the right thing by setting an appointment with a counselor. Many people cannot take that first step, and for that, you should be proud of yourself.
Once you see the counselor and get past the initial pleasantries, you may start asking them about their process. This is okay even if you have not decided to get their services – most counselors will explain how they conduct counseling, and that will inform you if you should go forward or step backward.
You also need to realize that a professional counseling session is and will always be confidential. They will not post about your social media issues; they will not gossip about you with other patients. Everything that you talk about will only be confined to the four walls of the counselor’s office.
When your comfortability level has stabilized, you may try to figure out your goals for seeking counseling. Is it to find clarity regarding your thoughts and feelings? Is it to get over a painful experience that you have just gone through? There is no wrong goal; the counselor will not make you leave if you cannot develop a plan to achieve them. Despite that, you need to be honest about where you’re at so that the counselor can meet you there and help you from there.
Considering you are scheduled for another counseling session, it may be best to allocate an entire day or at least half a day to it. The reason is that you may want to collect your thoughts and emotions before the session begins. Post-counseling, you may be an emotional wreck. Thus, you need some time to process everything you have learned or discussed during the session.
Furthermore, you must check your expectations. The counselor wants to help you, but they cannot help if you don’t do your part and help yourself. Counseling may not also work after one or two sessions, and that’s okay – healing does not come easily. If it doesn’t, you won’t be seeking mental help.
How do you end a counseling session?
From the get-go, you need to see the end of every counseling session as a healing experience. You have talked about your problem and gained information on how to deal with it possibly.
You may also end the session by reflecting and summarizing what you have discussed. That is an excellent way to figure out what your next step should be.
Moreover, you need to show some flexibility when the session is about to end. Sometimes, it may seem like a ritual; other times, it may be meditative. The key is to do what feels natural for you and the counselor.
Is it normal to cry at therapy?
Yes, it is normal to cry at therapy. After all, you are letting yourself become vulnerable as you open up about your problems. You are bound to shed tears out of frustration, grief, sadness, and even joy in the end.
What questions will a therapist ask me?
Why are you seeking therapy?
What coping mechanisms have you tried while dealing with your problems?
Is it your first time receiving therapy? If not, how did you fare in your previous sessions with other therapists?
How would you describe your childhood?
How is your relationship with the people in your life?
What are your expectations for this therapy?
Have you thought of self-harm or suicide?
What questions do psychiatrists ask you?
Try not to be surprised if psychiatrists ask open-ended questions, such as, “How have you been?”, “Why are you here today?” or “How can I be of service to you?” This is their way of figuring out how they can help you or how much assistance you need. Just answer them truthfully – it’s okay even if you admit not to be okay.
What can I expect at my first psychiatric appointment?
Your first psychiatric appointment may be the most tedious session, considering you need to answer any questions, either verbally or non-verbally. The psychiatrist may also check your medical records and ask you to fill out various forms to determine how best to help you. This process may take up to two hours, so you should allocate a lot of time for it.
Psychiatrists are technically medical doctors who focus on mental health, so it should not be shocking to do a quick physical examination. Aside from the necessary procedures like checking your temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure, they may also have your blood tested and require a physical scanning.
Although mental health professionals promise to keep your details confidential, it does not mean that you cannot bring a friend or family member to your first psychiatric appointment. As long as you are cool with them being in the same room when the psychiatrist talks to you, that will be fine.
The psychiatrist’s primary goal is to know why you seek their services. In case you go to your first appointment with a cluttered mind, you should write down your reason when you feel calm and bring it to the meeting to avoid forgetting about it. Then, you can also keep a pen and paper with you during the session so that you can jot down whatever tips they give to you.
Keep in mind that psychiatrists welcome questions about their process or credibility. That is understandable for patients to be curious about, given that you are about to put your mental health in their hands.
After the first or second appointment, you can expect the psychiatrist to provide a treatment plan for you.
I would be lying if I said that my mood transformed overnight after talking to a counselor. In truth, it took months before I accepted my autoimmune disorder. But when I did, it was like a lightbulb lit up in my head, and I managed to find ways to keep my symptoms from flaring up and still live my life.
When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease, I thought it would be like flu or a health condition that is something temporary. I have no idea that it will come up to this long and exhausting health journey. At times, a lot of people tell me that it will soon go away. Honestly, I keep repeating that assurance in my head to focus less on the negative things. However, even if I try reminding myself that I will get better soon, I know things will never be the same again. And that what makes it more depressing. It just shows that a lot of people are insensitive enough to others’ feelings and uneducated on what Lyme disease is entirely is all about.
How’s Living With Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a chronic illness that often gets undiagnosed. It makes life a living hell. It feels like it comes up out of nowhere and is determined to stay forever. People without the disease might recognize some of the technicalities of the condition. But the struggle in the physical, emotional, and mental health is something no one can truly understand. There are instances that Lyme disease causes blurry visions. Sometimes, it can make you stay up all night. Then it goes to hurt your muscle and joint, which makes it hard to even stand up. You experience swollen lymph nodes, and God knows how painful that is. Of course, you can never crash out experiencing fatigue, where you feel like thousands of rocks are always on top of you. There is also this awful headache where you feel like something inside your head is trying so hard to rip your brains out. With Lyme disease, the body is constantly fighting an illness without an assurance of winning. Sometimes, you just can’t find the right way to feel normal again. There is this constant difficulty in doing everything. In unfortunate instances, even critical thinking seems out of the picture.
How’s The Emotional And Mental Health Going?
The truth is, the disease is not limited to only affecting the human body but also causes damage to mental health. Thus, the thought of people seeing it as some sort of laziness is beyond hurtful. It adds to the undying emotional restlessness because they do not know how exhausting everything is for such people with Lyme disease. There are still some individuals with Lyme disease that manages to stay positive about life, though. However, with those people who happen to experience a different level of anxiety, the way they see things are way out of line. Lyme disease can cause paranoia where there is suffering from an intense fear of being alone. That is because somehow, it pushes the negative thought of burden and unworthiness. With that, the feeling of isolation emerges. From there, the buildup of mental illness, particularly depression, crawls up in a fast-paced motion.
Having Lyme disease is a complicated struggle, and people often recognize it as an invisible chronic condition. Many times, you don’t often see its impact in your life because you get to think that everything that revolves around it is pretty much normal. You do not look sick, and all so people will never care to ask you if you are okay. Honestly, the pain and suffering from Lyme disease are indescribable. At times, you genuinely do not know why it is happening. There is no chance of knowing if the condition is really bad or that if you can shrug it off for the moment. All there is to think about is when something will jump out because there is this feeling that any time, there is something that is going to happen. It is always a constant struggle to physically adjust, emotionally relate, and mentally excuse yourself from anxiety and depression.
How To Manage A Day With Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease requires a lot of lifestyle changes. You go from taking prescription pills to therapy, avoiding certain food and places, and determining the dos and don’ts of a particular task. All of these require specific goals. Most of the time, managing it can cause an entirety of physical, mental, and emotional stress. With that said, you need to encourage yourself to live life better, even if you are struggling with a chronic condition. Find the right reasons why you want to live. Surround yourself with individuals that truly care, love, and support you all the way your health journey.
Everyone has something in their life that they deal with. It could be issues ranging from financial instability, family matters, work and school associated, and health-related problems. Thus, there is no point in overthinking about being alone for a second. It is essential to take care of the emotional and mental health because those are the most important aspects that can help someone get through Lyme disease.
It was seven years ago when I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. It was not that shocking for me because I never really thought it could change our lives forever. That time, I was not even scared at all. I am confident that, like any other mild fever and flue, I will soon get better. My family was genuinely worried about my health, but I was mind-boggled why they treated the news as a big deal. Currently, I am a grown-up teenager already. And now, I can say that it’s already clear why my family made a fuss over a disease I got seven years ago.
How I Got The Disease
The whole Lyme disease situation seemingly came out of nowhere. I was an active kid at school. I was a dancer and a baseball player. But one day, all of a sudden, my legs went numb. I began experiencing chills inside my body. There’s the exhaustion, joint pain, and even hair loss. That time I didn’t entirely understand what is going on. I thought maybe my body is failing me because of too many physical activities I do every day. That is for both at home and school. When my parents took me back to our house, I made sure to rest and be healthy as I can be. But resting on those days is the worse. I got bored and eventually became emotionally and mentally unstable.
After a couple of days, my parents noticed that my condition is not getting any better. That is why they have decided to take me to the hospital. However, most doctors were unable to figure out what is wrong with me. And although some of them already suspected Lyme disease, they dismissed it due to the negative results on my blood tests. It was a sad moment for my family and me because experts couldn’t explain my situation. Some doctors even called it a psychological condition, and that maybe I was only trying to fake it. Honestly, it was so devastating when one of them tried to convince me that I should tell the truth that I was only making things up.
But fortunately, there was this one expert that sticks with me through my Lyme disease battle. It was then I tested positive for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. And on the first few weeks of treatment, I managed to move half of my body. And then a couple of days, I was able to feel my toes again. But as soon as I started to feel better, the treatment ended because my family can no longer afford it. That was the worst moment of my life because I thought I was going to stay hopeless forever.
With all the emotional frustrations I have that day, I posted it on my social media account. It was a story of hopelessness and feelings of defeat. I was about to accept my faith that I will no longer experience the life I have always wanted. But a miracle happened. People from across the country offered some help. Some individuals even created a fund-raising that will gather enough money for me to continue my medication. I was so overwhelmed and happy that my darker days turn into light. My family didn’t waste any moment and scheduled me for another consultation and treatment. The process was so emotionally and mentally exhausting. But I was glad to get back to it.
In My Family’s Busy Lives
It has become my family’s ritual to assemble and divide medications in our dining table. Although I had to take almost 70 pills a day, it doesn’t matter. These are pills and supplements prescribed by my doctor. These are necessary because my Lyme disease and other infections caused by it are severely damaging my body. My condition is worst that it crippled me. For the past years, I was often lying in my bed or sitting on a wheeled chair. My dad would carry me around the house if ever I intended to change locations from time to time. But that is okay. Yes, some of my lower body’s nerves are severely affected by the diseases, and I understand that it will take a while or even a couple of years for the nerves to regrow. But I am more than willing to wait for that to happen. Maybe not in a couple of years, but soon I will be able to move my lower extremities.
For the past couple of years that I was hopeless, I now have the reason to fight. With proper physical therapy, continued medication, and my family’s support, I will soon be able to walk again. As I envisioned myself standing, it already makes me happy, excited, and motivated to get better. I wholeheartedly thank all those people who supported family and me throughout this Lyme disease battle.
Summer season is here, yet we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is also the season for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness in the United States. This disease spreads through bites of infected ticks, and it could lead to permanent disability on our bodies if left untreated.
While these two diseases are different, some people mistook Lyme disease for COVID-19 and the other way around.
Here are some reasons why the symptoms of Lyme Disease and COVID-19 are confusing and the key features to distinguish between these two diseases easily.
What Makes COVID-19 And Lyme Disease Confusing
According to Jory Brinkerhoff, Ph. D, “Lyme, like other tick-borne diseases, is associated with general flu-like symptoms, [such as] fever, head and body ache fatigue. These are also symptoms of COVID-19.”
He added that “tick-borne diseases are not likely to cause respiratory symptoms like those seen in COVID-19, but there are certainly symptoms in common.”
Lyme disease’s early signs and symptoms include fever and chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. If left untreated, the last symptoms are severe headaches and stiffness, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc.
On the other hand, some early signs of COVID-19 are dizziness, shortness of breath, fever and chills, nausea, muscle or body aches, fatigue, congestion, diarrhea, sore throat, etc.
You can observe that some of Lyme disease symptoms look familiar because they overlap with the symptoms of COVID-19. But despite the similarities in the symptoms, doctors and scientists say that there are key symptoms that easily distinguish Lyme disease from COVID-19.
How The Illness Enters The Body
One of the first vital differences between Lyme Disease and COVID-19 is its entry into our bodies. Cold viruses and coronavirus enter the body through the nasal passages and tissues, so the most infected parts of the body are those in the respiratory system.
However, tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease enters the body through the skin and bloodstream; hence the symptoms appear on our skin and other organs inside our bodies.
Testing And Treatment Options
There are two steps in testing for Lyme Disease, and both of which are blood tests. If both blood tests resulted positive, it is a definite diagnosis that you have Lyme Disease.
For COVID-19, it requires a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to detect if you have the RNA of the virus. The PCR test happens through swab tests or saliva samples.
To protect yourself from acquiring Lyme Disease, doctors recommend limiting your exposure in grassy or wooded areas, such as forests. Since a bacterial infection causes Lyme Disease, antibiotics such as amoxicillin can fully recover a patient.
On the other hand, doctors suggest to limit close face-to-face contact with people outside, wash your hands immediately once you get home and wear face masks if you are out to prevent transmission of COVID-19. There is no approved treatment or vaccine yet to cure COVID-19.
Erythema Migrans Rash
Erythema Migrans, also known as bullseye rash, is common among those who have Lyme Disease. 80% of the people suffering from this disease develop a rash around the tick bite, which resembles a bullseye.
This distinctive rash helps doctors to recognize that the person has Lyme Disease. The redness may feel warm to the touch, but it is itchy or painful, and it may appear on any part of the body. This symptom is not present in COVID-19.
Worsened Symptoms for Lyme Disease
Severe symptoms will appear if there are no early symptoms present that need treatment or left untreated. Lyme Disease can infect the skin, joints, muscles, nervous system, and heart rapidly. These symptoms may appear one to four months after the infection.
Some of these symptoms include conjunctivitis, swelling of the joints, facial palsy, multiple rashes appearing on the body, poor memory, and numbness in the arms or legs. These symptoms are usually not present in COVID-19 as well.
Know More About Lyme Disease And COVID-19
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we must protect ourselves whenever we go outside. This precautionary measure is crucial, especially to those who have Lyme Disease as they are more prone to the COVID-19 virus.
During this time, it is best to know both diseases to be prepared and be equipped with the necessary protection and medication for speedy recovery.
Countries all over the world are in high alert due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various establishments and schools closed down, and governments issued stay at home orders to limit the spread of the disease. For people with Lyme disease, this can be an extremely stressful time as they are scrambling ways to protect themselves against the coronavirus.
Lyme disease and its accompanying co-infections can make your immune system more susceptible to catching contagious diseases. If you’re suffering from the devastating effects of Lyme disease, there are ways you can do to keep your health in good condition amidst the ongoing pandemic.
How Lyme Disease Increase People’s Risk On Contracting Coronavirus
Information about the COVID-19 and how it manifests in humans are still under study since it is a brand-new threat. Therefore, there is no definitive link that says people with Lyme disease are more at risk of the pandemic. Health professionals, however, do recognize that people with compromised immune systems are more likely to contract the virus.
Borrelia Burdorferi, the bacteria that generate Lyme disease, can impair certain aspects of your body’s natural resistance. The bacteria can take refuge in your body through the suppression of your antibodies. But, your immune system doesn’t entirely shut down. Your body will launch attacks continually to eradicate both Lyme disease and other “co-infections” microorganisms.
The low-level chronic inflammation burdens your immune system. It will have fewer resources to beat any new threats coming to your body. Your body’s immune response can eventually fail, leading to autoimmunity where your body will falsely attack itself.
This sequence of events can mean that your immune system, once infected, is less prepared to defend itself from the coronavirus. As of now, there are no known treatments and cures for the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, our immune system is our only guard to protect ourselves from it.
Protecting Yourself From COVID-19
If you have Lyme disease, you must remain alert at all times and follow the necessary precautions. Listed below are some of the things you can practice to protect yourself from catching the disease.
Practicing social distancing prevents the spread of the disease. Avoid having close contact with people who are sick or who are around with people who are ill. Since people with no shown symptoms may still have the virus, do make sure that you’re six feet away (about two arms’ length) from other people. Social distancing is particularly crucial for people who are at higher risk of getting the virus.
Don’t go outside frequently unless it’s necessary. Avoid joining mass gatherings or visiting crowded places.
Clean your hands often with soap and warm water. Cover all surfaces of your hands and cleanse it for at least 20 seconds. If it’s not available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. Before touching the pathways in your body where the virus can enter, such as your eyes, mouth, nose, and ears, ensure that your hands are clean.
Disinfect the regularly touched objects and surfaces in your home. These objects can be the tables, chairs, doorknobs, remotes, toilets, sinks, or light switches in your household. And of course, the one you’re probably holding the most while in self-isolation, your cell phone or tablet. The coronavirus can stay and live on surfacesfor up to three days.
According to Jill Carnahan, MD, one of the best ways to avoid coronavirus for those with Lyme disease is through “Minimizing inflammation that can further tax your immune system.” Some of the effective ways to reduce inflammation are the following:
Eat anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, high-quality protein, and healthy fats. Avoid eating sugar, simple carbs, or processed oils as it can elevate inflammation. The food you consume has a significant impact on the levels of the inflammation.
Prioritize high-quality sleep, rest with a minimum of 7-8 hours each day. Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillows and keeping your room dark and cold allow you to have a relaxing nap.
Emotional stress delivers hormones that add to the inflammation. Since stressors in your life can be unavoidable, you have to find healthy ways to cope with the weight you’re feeling. There are ways to manage your stress, such as exercising, meditating, journaling, or communicating with people closest to you. Moving your body can lower the inflammation in your system.
Whether there’s a pandemic or not, practicing these ways and minimizing inflammation can help you in coping with the stressful effects of Lyme disease. You can also support your immune system by taking antioxidants, immune-boosting supplements, and keeping your digestive tract healthy. Supporting your immune system will make you feel more lively and energetic as you go through this pandemic.