tick sign in flower meadow background

Here’s What You Need to Know About This Summer’s Lyme ‘Outbreak’

107
107

As the weather heats up this summer, outdoor activities like hikes and picnics beckon. But before heading out, you’d be wise to heed the advice of scientists and experts, who warn that the risk of getting bit by a tick is particularly worrisome this summer.

A tick bite can transmit several infectious diseases, including Lyme disease and co-infections like babesiosis and bartonella. You may have seen articles published this year claiming a Lyme “outbreak” is imminent. Since there’s so much misinformation that tends to surround Lyme disease, we spoke with three experts to separate fact from fiction and find out what you can do this summer to protect yourself.

First, should we really be concerned about ticks this summer? In short, yes. Of course, people should always be aware of the possibility of tick-borne diseases, cautioned Dorothy Leland, the vice president of LymeDisease.org. But Dr. Marina Makous, who treats patients with tick-borne infections and various complications at her practice in Exton, Pennsylvania, said it is true that there’s an especially high number of ticks out this summer. That’s due partially to a large crop of acorns produced this year, which sustains high populations of rodents that in turn are responsible for spreading ticks.

Climate change, too, has been a factor. “It’s been significantly wetter and ticks thrive in humid, wet conditions. They don’t like dry heat and we’ve had very wet years,” said Makous, who completed a two-year fellowship in Lyme disease and neuroinflammatory disorders at Columbia University Medical Center before opening her practice.

Dr. Mark Soloski, co-director for basic research at the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center agreed that this does seem to be a high-risk year, explaining that investigators who “drag” or sample for ticks are seeing more ticks earlier, especially nymphs, the most aggressive form of the black-legged tick — the most common transmitter of tick-borne diseases.

“Time will tell,” Soloski said, “but at our Center here at Hopkins we’ve seen more cases than usual in May.”

So where exactly should people be concerned about encountering a tick? Certain geographical areas pose a greater risk, including the Eastern seaboard, West Coast and upper Midwest, said Makous. However, she cautioned that Lyme disease has been found in every county in the U.S.

Be careful among wooded areas, long grass, underbrush, and even under wooden picnic tables and benches. The edge of woods that transition to open grassy spaces, such as parks, athletic fields and homes that border wooded areas can also be risky, said Soloski.

How can you protect yourself? First, start with your clothes. Wear long pants tucked into socks, long sleeves and a hat in light colors so you can see any ticks. Check yourself periodically and brush off any ticks on your clothing. Leland also recommended keeping an eye on your pets, who can bring ticks into the house and can contract tick-borne diseases themselves.

Next, consider an insect repellent. Use Deet on your skin, and treat your clothes with permethrin. You can use a permethrin spray, or dilute a permethrin concentrate with one part concentrate to 10 to 15 ounces of water, and soak or spray your clothes and shoes. Makous said this can keep your clothes protected for 40 days or about six washes. “I’ve had patients who have said they saw a tick get on and then off,” Makous said.

After returning home, take a shower to wash away any unattached ticks — though Leland said showering won’t remove any that have already latched on. Showering is also a great opportunity to examine your body carefully.

Run soapy hands over every inch of your body, feeling for bumps that didn’t use to be there. Pay special attention to folds of skin and hidden places — scalp, neckline, underarms, belly button, groin area, behind the knees,” Leland said.

Now, here’s the tricky part — how do you know if you’ve been bitten by a tick? If you actually see a tick on you, get it off as soon as possible. Leland recommended using fine-point tweezers or a tick-removing tool to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull up with a steady, even pressure. “Don’t squeeze, twist or squash it. Don’t burn it with a match or cover it with Vaseline,” she cautioned.

Soloski also recommended swabbing the bite with alcohol or warm water and soap and being aware of your health; if you notice flu-like symptoms in a few days, see a doctor who will likely prescribe a course of doxycycline, an antibiotic that is the standard of care.

However, you may not ever see a tick. You also may not see the standard “bullseye rash” that can accompany a tick bite. In fact, Makous said the classic bullseye rash occurs in the minority of Lyme rashes.

“More commonly it’s a slightly itchy or slightly painful red spot that is not necessarily round — like oval, longer. The hallmark is that it starts to spread and grow,” Makous said. “Sometimes it can have a purplish center, or look like a pimple or a spider bite.”

Keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms within three to 15 or 30 days as well as any sudden onset of fatigue, headaches or neurological symptoms. Kids might become cranky and show personality changes or experience sleep disturbances.

“If you have no upper respiratory symptoms or diarrhea, doesn’t appear to be food poisoning and sinus infections are unusual in the summer, that makes me think Lyme,” Makous said.

If you’re concerned, seek out medical care immediately — early treatment of Lyme is key. You can find a Lyme-literate doctor in your area on the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) website. Lyme tests are not always accurate, so it’s important to find a doctor well-versed in Lyme, who knows how it presents itself.

Having said all that, a fear of ticks doesn’t have to keep you inside all summer. The risks are there, and Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections are serious and not to be taken lightly. However, it is possible to avoid tick bites this season.

Not every tick bite will cause Lyme disease, most often it does not. Studies have shown that transmitting the Lyme bacterium is a complex process and the tick needs to stay attached 24 to 48 hours,” Soloski said. (Though, Leland notes that research indicates it’s possible for tick-borne diseases to be transmitted in a much shorter time, even within minutes, so it’s important for patients not to get a false sense of security and for doctors to not discount the possibility of Lyme if the tick was attached for a shorter amount of time). “Enjoy the beautiful outdoors, dress practically and if you find a tick on you, don’t panic!”

Thinkstock photo by Schlegelfotos

107
107

RELATED VIDEOS

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Accepting My Illness Doesn't Mean I Won't Work on Improving My Health

133
133

Acceptance is never something that is simple, nor something that is easy to do. Accepting a situation is not a moment in which we give in to the situation, but it is a moment in which we realize we must work with what we have in order to get to better and brighter days.

When I was just 16 years old, I had to learn how to accept. It was the most important yet most difficult lesson I have ever learned. My life was thrown some unexpected hardships. Life always throws in some hoops and hurdles, but life isn’t always a heavenly slice of perfection. If it weren’t for these obstacles, we as humans could not grow and flourish.

I had just been diagnosed with Lyme disease and several other infections. The sickness I felt every day was astronomical. Lyme made me feel so sick I couldn’t physically attend school. There was pain all over my body; it felt as if knives were stabbing me in my bones and joints and it felt like I was being beaten with a baseball bat on my head and back. The pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my 16 years of life; however, that wasn’t even the worst part. Due to the Lyme infection attacking my brain, I had neurological symptoms. I could no longer walk normally.

 

My once perfectly functioning legs were slowly deteriorating, and it was extremely frightening. Every time I stood to walk, it was a major effort. I had to prepare myself to sit up and stand, which required much effort from me not only because of the pain, but because of my brain as well. It felt as if my brain didn’t remember how to stand or walk: my knees buckled while I stood and when I walked, it felt like there were concrete blocks attached at my ankles. My legs felt so heavy. Each step was as if I was trying to walk out of quicksand, but the neurological chaos pulled me under in the end.

Each day started out the same: I’d sit up at the side of my bed and would prepare myself to stand and walk. I would get such an adrenaline rush in the hopes this would be the day my walking would be normal once again. I would stand up to the same weakness and proceed to place one foot in front of the other carefully, with unforgiving weakness and unsteadiness. Each day would end the same; I would lie awake in my bed and pray to God that when I woke up the next morning, I would be healthy again and able to walk. I thought maybe if I prayed hard enough, it would happen.

I had to use a walker to get around my house and around in public. I didn’t like using the walker, so I would just crawl around the house. In public, using the walker was awful because people would stare at me with eyes like daggers, like I was an alien. It was hurtful. Having people stare made my dysfunctional walking only more apparent than it already was. I wanted to be able to walk normally again more than anything.

As the weeks went on, my legs grew progressively worse. I went from walking with the walker to dragging myself with the walker. Each day I remained hopeful, trying more and more to get my legs to work like they were supposed to. There would be a moment each day held where I would try to dance. I had been taking dance lessons since I was 3 years old, and I didn’t want to have to quit lessons. Each turn and spin would end with me collapsing on the floor. I tried to attend my dance classes when I was feeling up to it, but it was torture. I had to watch instead of participate.

One morning, I awoke to the same exact hopes I had every other morning: to walk normally again. Only this morning was very different. This morning I could not feel anything. I awoke to only feeling half of my body. If I didn’t know any better, I didn’t have any legs at all. Anxious and frightened, I remember tapping my legs. Nothing. More frightened, I slapped my legs – nothing. I remember crying and punching my legs, slapping them, scratching them and felt absolutely nothing. Hysterical at this point, I moved my legs with my arms and propped myself up to stand. With this, I fell right to the ground and still felt nothing. I sat on the floor, feeling the scariest feeling I had ever felt: nothing.

I was so angry. Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? I could not understand why this was happening to me, or what I did to have this happen to me. There was sadness. I had lost my ability to walk, which meant I had to use a wheelchair and quit dance lessons. Quitting something I had done almost all of my life and practiced religiously was like taking a bullet to my heart. I grieved out of loss and disbelief that my life had changed so much…and not for the better.

I remember the day I got my wheelchair. I sat in it and felt rage boiling under my skin. Denial was setting in. I tried my best to go about my day ignoring the fact that I was paralyzed from the hips down. I had to physically maneuver my legs, but when it came to the wheelchair, I simply would not use it. When I was home, I would drag my body across the floor using my upper body. In order to get from room to room, I would do the army crawl. It was physically exhausting, but I couldn’t accept what had happened to my body.

Slowly, I began to realize I was not helping myself. I was only hurting myself physically and emotionally through not being willing to accept. It was difficult to accept that at 16 I was being tutored instead of physically going to school, that I was no longer able to walk, that I was in a wheelchair, that I was no longer able to continue dance lessons. I couldn’t accept I was so sick.

I slowly began to accept that this is my life for now. One day I will graduate from high school, I will go to college, I will have a career; great things are to come, hopefully including regaining my health. I had a new sense of life and felt renewed when I accepted my hardships. I began fighting hard for my life so I can one day have a better future.

When one is battling an illness, it’s important to have acceptance. To be able to accept that this is the way life is in the present allows you to begin moving ahead to the future. It does not mean you’re quitting. Instead of focusing valuable, divine energy on asking yourself questions like, “Why me?,” focus your energy on healing. Remember, great things are to come in your life. You will find that acceptance is the first step in your journey to wellness.

Let this be your mantra: This is my life for now. I vow to focus my energy on healing and gaining a better future. My journey will have its ups and downs; however, nothing bad in life lasts forever. Acceptance is not a death sentence!

This post originally appeared on Public Health Alert.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via kameshkova.

133
133
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

The Importance of Self-Confidence in My Journey of Healing

5
5

When I was first diagnosed, I could not imagine the changes I would go through while in treatment. As with every Lyme journey, we all have a different experience and no two are alike. I first grew ill in 1994. I had Bell’s palsy and that gave me paralysis on one side of my face. Being in the seventh grade, at an age where appearance started to matter, this was hard on my self-esteem. I hid it well, covering my face with my hands when I smiled, and I patiently waited the six weeks for when the doctor said it may or may not go away. They told me if it did not go away, we would have to try electronic stimulation to my facial nerves. Luckily, it did, but my symptoms grew from then until the time I was in my late 20s and finally got my diagnosis. The time in between that is a very long story, lots of ups and downs and quite a roller coaster ride. Despite all of my medical challenges, I really had an amazing and fulfilling life – I just did not know it could get even better if I had my health.

When I first got diagnosed in 2013, I was living in the Bay Area of California and really happy with my surroundings. After about six months of treatment there, my partner and I drove me home to the east coast to be near family and doctors here. Eventually he met up with me after two years of living apart and being long-distance. We both now live with my parents and have all of our items in storage back in the Bay Area. Those first two years seem like a blur to me. Now at almost four years, I have recently been able to get to a point where I can let go of the rigidity of treatment and allow more and more back in. With letting go of everything materially after my diagnosis, physically I let go of a great deal too.

 

On the Woman & Lyme website, when you request the free e-book, Romilia talks about self-confidence. Going through something like a healing journey can be a time when confidence can be lost and set to the side. For me, I lacked confidence because I was too sick to keep up with friends and for quite some time I lost the ability to even see friends and family. I also lost the ability to take care of myself and do small things like drive a car, walk or be social. With all the medications, doctor appointments and feeling sick, my salon haircuts became haircuts from my Mom or my partner and with all of my sensitivities, makeup was not an option. I made sure to do little things like brush my teeth and comb out my hair, wear clothes that were comfortable and buy some blankets and things for my room that made me feel more in my element. I focused on things that were temporary and realistic I knew I could maintain and do daily that would help me feel good about myself. My long runs as exercise turned into gentle floor stretching for 10 minutes and walking downstairs to do laundry or the dishes. I will admit, I am human and there were times where this frustrated me beyond words, but I tried to keep myself feeling as good as I possible could.

My physical confidence with treatment took a bit of a dive. I had not taken my picture in over three and a half years. The last photo I took was with a friend who came to visit when I first arrived back on the east coast and it was of her and I sitting in my bed. After that, I began my treatment regimens and taking my photo was the last thing on my mind. Recently, more and more, normalcy is flowing back to me. If you stick with treatment, it will come back to you too.

When I was diagnosed, I had been sick for 20 years, so I knew I had a lot of work to do and I had a wonderful team of doctors who told me they could not promise a cure, but they would never give up on me. That gave me confidence too, knowing I was working with people on my side.

This month, I also used that confidence to step out of my comfort zone in numerous ways. My partner and I took our first vacation together in over four years. For those of you with Lyme, or close to someone with Lyme, you know that is a huge milestone. We took along my whole regimen and found a place in an environment conducive to healing. We rented a house in the mountains where all we heard for four days were the sounds of crickets, chickens and the sounds of the rain and wind when small storms passed through. I was literally surrounded by support, beauty and wonderful kind people. It made stepping out of my comfort zone worth it and proved to me, the more I keep going out of my comfort zone, the more I will get better. It was not easy, but I did it.

Two years ago, traveling would have not even been an option, but in the peak of the experience, I always knew one day it would be again and getting out of my comfort zone gave me confidence. My partner wanted to take some photos and was surprised when I let him snap one of me. It is difficult to take photos of myself, exactly as I am right now, with confidence. He asked me to simply go look in the mirror and to look long and hard, and reminded me that the imperfections I see are not what he sees. He reminded me of the strong, persistent and beautiful human I am. When I did look, long and hard, it was like I saw myself very different. I saw myself as he did. The same picture I would have seen the day before suddenly made me feel proud, powerful and beautiful.

The interesting thing with my healing journey is that before treatment, I had been sick since 1994 and therefore I cannot remember what feeling good and healthy feels like. My whole adult life was spent going to doctor appointments trying to solve this mystery of what was ailing me and constantly living around my disease. The further I go with treatment and the more I see what life is supposed to feel like, the more I am amazed at how beautiful life can be.

Waking up next to someone I love every day and taking moments to just be. Sitting in the comfort and stillness of nature and taking the day as it goes. Having moments of deep belly laughs and laughter, spending time with my best friend and her husband, spending this time living with my parents and getting caught up with family. These are all things that come naturally now and the more I gain my health, the more of these things flow to me.

In the e-booklet, it helps you find ways to stay confident throughout treatment. I would have been thrilled to find something like this two years ago. I know on the hard days, taking a photo of yourself or finding the positivity can be hard, but just try it – no one has to see the photo and no one needs to see what you wrote. Make it for you. If it makes you feel less confident, then delete the photo and take a new one another day. Do what makes you feel good.

On my harder days, I would do small things like watching films I loved or journaling. A lot of the things I loved like music and art were not available to me, and now that they are again, taking the break from that area of my life has made me appreciate it that much more. I am also organically confident now. I am so proud of who I am and all of the work I have gone through. This body amazes me. Each of our journeys with Lyme is different. Your story is not the same as mine. Your story is your own achievement, your masterpiece and you should be confident and proud of exactly who you are. Take one step, one tiny step and keep going. This journey begins with one step.

This post originally appeared on Woman & Lyme.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via vikialis.

5
5
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

25 Alternative Lyme Disease Treatments I've Tried

93
93

Editor’s note: The following is based on an individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before going on or off medication or beginning a new treatment plan.

Some of the non-antibiotic Lyme treatments I’ve tried…

1. Herbs
2. RIFE
3. Colonics
4. Diet
5. IV Nutrition therapy
6. Cranial Sacral
7. Chiropractic
8. Infrared sauna
9. Juicing
10. Lymphatic massage
11. THETA healing
12. Meditation
13. Yoga
14. Laughter
15. Sex
16. Exercise
17. Sunshine
18. Cannabis oil
19. Swimming in the ocean
20. Light therapy
21. Bentonite clay
22. Hyperbaric
23. Hyperthermia
24. Stem cell therapy
25. Ozone

With the exception of the last three, I have tried all of the above and can tell you firsthand they worked for me. I have not done hyperbaric, but I am a diver and I have felt infinitely better when I dive; hyperbaric replicates.

 

I did oral, intramuscular and IV antibiotics. They only destroyed my immune system. I believe in a non-antibiotic approach and wish I had figured that out for myself sooner.

Am I healthy? No. I’m slowly getting there. When I’m disciplined and do everything “right” I feel good. But when you’ve been bed-ridden 95 percent of the last three and a half years and lost everything, when you start to feel even the slightest bit better, all you want to do is get out and have a “normal” life.

I’m taking baby steps toward my healing, doing my best and doing treatments as I have it in me. I don’t always have the energy, money or support I need… But each day is a new start.

If you have questions about these treatments, want to know how to make them affordable, how they have helped me, who I have seen, etc., I’m here. If you’re struggling, I’m happy to help in whatever way I can. If you need to vent, have questions, whatever… I am by my computer most of the time. If I don’t have it in me, I will get back to you as soon as I do. I have helped well over a thousand people, always doing my best for those struggling. All I ask is you bear with me as my mind is sort of mush, so sometimes I’m forgetful. We’re in this together!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via kieferpix.

93
93
TOPICS
, Contributor list
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Why I Surround Myself With Positivity as a Woman With Lyme Disease

13
13

A year or so ago, while speaking to someone about being in treatment, they suggested I make a vision board. I let it slip through our talk without further mention and went along catching up with our lives and talking about other mundane topics. After that discussion, I thought about the vision board more. The simple suggestion stuck in my mind like glue and I kept thinking about it over the next few weeks.

Honestly, a lot of this back and forth thought was my own ego. I felt like I was regressing back to my teenage years when I hung photos of bands I liked on my wall and decorated my room with images I loved. Opening my mind a little I figured, why not, and got a cork board, some thumb tacks and began cutting photos up and hanging them on it.

This board has sat in my room now for over two years. When people stop by to visit, I can become a little embarrassed when they ask what it is all about, but as time passes on, I grow rather confident about it. There are pictures of Norway and Europe, a photo of a group of people at a bonfire, a few of people at a concert, a train going through Brooklyn, all things I love and want in my life. Simple things, things I can see flowing back into my life more and more currently.

 

Being in the later stages of treatment for Lyme, recently I have been adding in more and more positive outlets in the Lyme world. Many times during treatment, I thought about why there was not a group specifically for counseling Lyme patients. I often felt unheard and like a lot of doctors and therapists were not hearing me. It would take me a handful of visits with my therapist to explain the complexity of my illness.

Having myself surrounded by people who understood was something crucial for me. I have such great support, but Lyme is a complex and complicated disease. Each patient is different. When we do find that person who understands, sometimes without even words, and when words are used they are simple, it is just as healing as years and months of treatment.

I am a highly independent person and I have a bit of a strong personality. I like doing things myself, learning things on my own and I have a hard time using that simple phrase “I need help.” That is something I have worked hard on over the years and it flows to me much more easily now. I have learned to use my words. I used to think asking for help was a sign of weakness. I felt doing it on my own would leave me with a feeling of accomplishment and success.

The more I go on in life asking for help, the more I have learned it is quite the opposite. Asking for help has many benefits. It has taught me the beauty of including others as an extension of myself, it has taught me to see things from someone else’s point of view and it has taught me to feel strong for admitting I needed help. Sharing what I needed help with is humbling and an open opportunity for others to share that they too need help in return. It helps others to see we all are human and asking for help is OK.

Keeping ourselves surrounded by positive images, friends and family who support us and learning to ask for help is key to having a strong foundation. With that being said, there will be the less-than-good days, and those times are important to share too. The key I have yet to perfect myself is finding that balance, but along the way, searching for that balance, I have learned more than I could have hoped for. Staying positive and surrounding yourself with things that inspire you is a beautiful habit, but asking for help can be just as beautiful too. I keep my feed on my social media like my image board. When I have days where I am not feeling my best, I like to flood my mind with pictures of friends, artwork and things that make me feel good.

When I came upon Woman & Lyme, I was really excited and eager to see what the movement was about and eager to have such a great outlet for many of us living with this disease. It was inspiring to see a sanctuary for many of us who have felt the same as me and it being projected in such a positive light. This left me with a feeling of hope, and I think it will leave many others with the same feeling too.

This post originally appeared on Woman & Lyme.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via MikeLaptev.

13
13
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

4 Tangible Ways to Love Someone With a Chronic Illness

698
698

If you ask someone who has a chronic illness how they’re doing, chances are they will answer with sometimes along the lines of, “I’m fine” or, “I’m OK.” I can tell you with confidence that they may not be be “fine” or “OK.” They don’t want to mislead you, but it can be difficult to be vulnerable about being sick because that answer typically does not change day after day. Many, including myself, feel like they are a burden on those around them, and it is easier to continue to put on that “I’m OK” face when they walk out the door than to admit that life is hard and the pain continues to be too much to handle.

As someone with lyme disease and babesia, I have dealt with many emotions when it comes to telling people how I’m actually doing. Most times I start with only mentioning a few things that hurt, or a few emotions I’m dealing with, to gauge the waters on how receptive the listener is to my pain. I’m always worrying that they are tired of hearing about my disease and just want me to stop sharing, and that definitely contributes to why I tend to not to share as much as I want to. After sharing with people, I have many people tell me over and over, “I wish that I could do something, but I just don’t know what would help you.” Most times I don’t know what to tell them either.

As someone with a chronic illness, my heart wishes so desperately that I did not have to feel like a hindrance on the friendships or relationships I have. I sometimes need others to express love, effort, and patience, in a creative way. It’s no surprise to me that some don’t stick around. As much as I hate it, I can understand that many get tired of hearing of my aches and pains, my struggles with treatments and side effects, and how broke and lonely I are from it all. But for those of you that stay, you are the real deal and the champions of loving me selflessly. You will never know the impact of what it means to those that are deep in the trenches of this fight, but know that you are right in there with them.

Through my own experiences and through listening to those around me who have expressed what would help them in their journey, here are four tangible ways to love those in your life that are affected by a chronic illness.

1. Offer your help before being asked. I know it may be your first instinct to say something like, “Let me know what I can do to help,” but that actually can be a bit hard to answer. When I’m asked that question, many things run through my mind such as: What would they be willing to help with? Are they really just saying that hoping I won’t actually ask them, or would they be willing to do what I need that week, even if it’s inconvenient? You see, it’s easy to offer help, but harder to listen for a need and offer to fill it. If you don’t know what to offer, chances are they could use a meal, because it can be exhausting to cook meal after meal when they are weighed down by pain. (They may have food restrictions, so make sure to be willing to make something to fit those.) Do they need help cleaning their house? Offer to come spend a Saturday afternoon and help them clean and do laundry. If someone offered to help me clean, I would be so relieved, since that is something that typically gets left behind because I don’t have the energy to do it.

2. Learn all you can about their disease/condition. Have you spent time reading about what they go through each day so that you can better understand? Is there a documentary that you can watch with them to help show them that you care and want to be educated on their condition? It goes an incredibly long way when you can work hard to learn the basics and be able to ask informed questions about how they are doing. Maybe even offer to attend their next doctor’s appointment or treatment with them, depending on how comfortable they are with that.

3. Plan an event with them in mind. I know in my daily life, I miss being able to spend time with people that I care about and participate in activities that now would put my pain over the edge. There are many things I am unable to do because of my disease, and many time I feel left out because of it. As a friend or family member of someone with a chronic disease, find out the activities that they can enjoy and make an evening out of it. Whether that’s an evening movie night or a quiet picnic in the park, any sort of planned event that they are able to enjoy will be cherished. And a special note that when asking those with chronic illnesses to an event -please never take it personally when they cancel. They cannot control their pain levels that day, and if they are canceling on something they are looking forward to, then the pain is more than you can imagine.

4. Offer to buy groceries or supplements. When I think about my daily struggle with my disease, finances top the list. Every extra cent that my husband and I have goes directly towards treatment, supplements, and a specific diet catered to my body’s needs. Eating organic and taking over 20 supplements a day adds up quickly, and it has taken a huge burden off my shoulders when someone has offered to take me grocery shopping for a day,or to buy my month of probiotics so that I had one less item on my list. I understand that not everyone has the financial means to give, but if you do, this can be so helpful.

I hope that some of these suggestions give you a guiding point that goes past asking how to help, but by also being able to take that step and love on that person in your life that is hurting. A strong support system is crucial to the healing process, and sometimes being that support can be confusing and difficult, since many times there doesn’t seem like options are out there that will help them. At the end of the day, just the fact that you’re there, you’re listening, and you are loving them through it is enough.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: Pavels Sabelnikovs

698
698
TOPICS
, Listicle
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

7,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.