Someone in your family has Lyme
If you have found your way here not because you have Lyme disease,
but because someone in your familly or someone you know has been diagnosed with it, let's
begin by saying thank you for wanting to learn more about it.
One of the most difficult things for people, particularly family members,
of those who are fighting this disease is trying to understand it. It is hard
to wrap your head around a disease that is so difficult to diagnose, treat, and
understand. It is hard to recognize the severity of a disease like this when you
look at the person and they seem fine.....they "look good."
Resentment can often be created prior to diagnosis especially with
spouses and partners, because the Lyme patient complains constantly
about being sick and not feeling well. They may get depressed or have
anxiety. They may explode in bouts of anger and aggression. They may panic
and go to the doctor or emergency room sometimes on more than one
occasion, only to be told they are fine and nothing is wrong. Often times they
are labeled as a hypochondriac. When it is the person who is supposed to be
your life partner or someone close to you telling you this, it creates a barrier,
and a lot of negative emotions, anger, and resentment for both parties.
Please understand that this disease is a highly complex disease....it
affects every person differently and to different severities. Diagnosis is
not simple, treatment is not simple, and the Lyme patient struggles with trying
to fight to get their life back and at the same time not complain too much so
others don't get frustrated with them. It takes an immensely strong person
to battle this disease. And doing it alone is often not an option.
People that suffer from Lyme disease NEED support from their close ones. They don't need you to "fix" them. They don't necessarily need you to
understand, but they do NEED you to support them. They NEED
you to cheer them on and give them hope. They NEED you to tell them that
you believe in them and that they can do this....they can make it...they
CAN get their life back.
They don't need anyone to belittle them, tell them it is all in their head,
that they look good, or that they are over-reacting. Unless you are in their
body, there is no way for you to understand what they are going through, how
they are feeling, what thoughts are going through their minds. And it's OKAY if
you don't understand.
Lyme disease doesn't just affect the body....it affects the mental state,
the emotional state, the ability to communicate, the ability to cope. Often
times the pain is just a small portion of the experience. It is difficult to
pinpoint what is Lyme related, and what is not.
Understand that they may not be able to do as much as they normally
can. They may be too fatigued or sick to go on outings, or even to maintain
household chores and responsibilities. They may even lose their job or not be
able to work. Do not use that as ammo against them. If they were in a car
accident and in a wheelchair, would you be angry with them because they
could no longer do all the things they used to be able to do? It's no different.
Believe me, they already feel bad enough that they can't function
normally despite their desire to.
Understanding is the best medicine. Knowing that you are there,
no matter how bad it gets.....that you will help them out of bed....that you will
tell them it is okay no matter what......that you tell them every day how proud
you are of them for sticking with this and fighting it.....that you believe in them
and their ability to beat this thing and get their life back. This is what they
need more than anything.
Now, one thing the Lyme patient may never understand.....is that it is
also very difficult for ones close to them to go through this. I can't think of
anything worse than watching a close one suffer and be in pain, and feel as
though their life is slipping away from them. Whatever you do, don't push that
blame on them. It is absolutely understandable that you may have a hard
time coping with the effects of this disease yourself, but please do not
take it out on the one that is fighting Lyme.