Friday, August 2, 2013

Isolation

As a (very) amateur blogger, I have figured out how to track where my page views are coming from. The most googled phrases that send people to my page are about Isolation. The searches mostly include Lyme disease, isolation, needing companionship, am I alone?, etc. So I thought I would write a quick post about how Lyme causes isolation as well as ways to fight it.

How Lyme Disease Causes Isolation:

1. Unfortunately, some people will not understand you and some people will not believe you. Lyme is in most cases an invisible illness, so not being able to see that you are sick makes it difficult for some. How many times have you heard, "well, you don't look sick!"? Those who are not supportive and not willing to try and understand may be worth checking off your list of good friends. They are not bad people (in most cases), just not the right type of person to be on your "support team."

2. The disease itself. I cannot tell you how many times I have been lonely and feeling isolated and the phone rings. It is a friend or family member checking on me. But I feel too sick to answer the phone. Or am in too much pain to text back. Or am too overwhelmed to even respond to a facebook message. So, after a while, people stop calling. Or if they ask you to go out, and you say you cannot because you are sick, they might eventually stop asking after hearing so many no's.

Here is a great article on why those with Lyme disease become estranged...just click here.


Ways to Fight It:

1. Do not be embarrassed to have Lyme disease or to be sick. My pride got in the way and I tried to hide my illness, which is the exact opposite thing to do. You do not have to shout it from the rooftops, but it does help to let everyone in your life know. And also, give them some information..do not assume they are going to do copious amounts of research to understand what you are going through. Here is a good link from one of my favorite sites, tiredoflyme.com: So you have a friend or family going through Lyme disease, a guide to their struggle (click the link).
On a side note tiredoflyme.com is an amazing site. It explains Lyme and symptoms in brief, easy to read articles. They use understandable terms and it does a great job covering so many aspects of Lyme disease. I strongly suggest you check it out!

2. Find a support group. I have found facebook to be the best. Just search the word "Lyme" and your city or state. Joining the Alabama Lyme Disease association was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Or just search for Lyme Groups on facebook...there are more than you would ever guess. You can post questions, suggest answers to other Lymie's questions, or just say hello. Pretty soon you will discover an entire new group of Lymie friends. I count some of my closest friends as the Lymies in my support group. I have shared, easily, things with them that I would never be able to tell anyone else. We meet every few months, I can grab tea with someone when I am feeling up to it, and it is an amazing resource. I have learned so much from others who have gone through what I am going through. And since Lyme is so difficult to explain to others, it is much easier to vent to someone who understands exactly how you feel. And there is comfort in knowing you are not alone!

3. Reach out. Recently I was having an anxiety attack so intense that I was ready to go to the ER, knowing that they would then put me in the psych ward. Feeling so horrible took away any since of pride, and I wrote on facebook, "Asking for prayers for peace and healing." I had almost 100 people respond. I felt so overwhelmed with love and compassion, not to mention the power of prayer! Do not be afraid to text your close friends that you are needing prayers or positive thoughts. They most likely want to help you but do not know how, so they will be thrilled to help.

4. Use your good days to be with or talk to friends. You have to be very careful on this one not to over do it, but if you are having a good day reach out and ask a friend to come over and watch a movie. Or grab tea. Or go on a walk. Even if it is not someone you have talked to in a while, a good friend will jump at the opportunity to see you. Or, if you do not feel well enough to have company, just call someone to say hello and have a 15 minute phone conversation.

It is Hard to Help People With Lyme:

Can I pick up dinner for you? Would you like to go grab a drink? Do you want to go sit by the pool?

No, you probably cannot pick up dinner for me because of my strict diet. No, I cannot drink alcohol and do not feel well enough to meet you at a bar and drink water. Vitamin D is good for me, but I am too exhausted to get out of bed to go sit by the pool.

See what I mean? Stay tuned for my next post about how to help people who have Lyme Disease. Click here to read "How to Help A Lymie Out."