How to Deal With 'Lyme Haters'
How many times have you heard the following questions and statements:
“Are you sure you have Lyme disease?”
“I spoke to ___ (insert friend, cousin, doctor, friend’s husband’s nephew’s close friend’s wife) and they don’t think you have Lyme.”
“I heard chronic Lyme doesn’t exist.”
“It sounds like you have ___ (insert one of 50 conditions here).”
“Are you sure it’s safe/you should be doing ____ (insert treatment here)?”
I have been asked these questions pretty frequently. Some of these people may have good intentions. But, when we have Lyme disease, or any chronic illness, we already feel miserable and don’t need anyone judging, shaming or making us feel guilty for doing what we believe is right. It’s easy to get caught up in this doubt and question our decisions.
How do you react? Maybe you freeze and get tongue tied. Maybe you get angry and defensive and begin to lecture them on the disease. Maybe you get anxious and worried. I have struggled with all of these emotions.
Eventually I realized we can’t control what other people say, but we can choose how we react. It’s easy to get worked up and defensive when it feels like someone is attacking your choices. I still cringe when someone asks me one of these questions, but now I choose to stay calm and not to get upset. I take a deep breath and respond with statements like:
“Yes, I’m sure I have Lyme.”
“OK, thanks for letting me know.”
“Chronic Lyme does exist. If you are interested, I can send you some articles/links that would be more informative.”
“I definitely have Lyme, but thanks for those suggestions.”
“I’m doing what’s best for me.”
Instead of complaining that others are criticizing us and our choices, we can change our perspective and think, “How can I better deal with these people?”
I decided not to let anyone make me feel small, powerless or insignificant. Instead, I find it helps to think of each situation as a lesson on how to better react.
If someone makes judgmental comments, remember it’s a reflection of them and not you. They lack the knowledge and understanding you have. No one should be judging anyone else on their health choices, but you have the power to not let it stress you out. Honestly, we don’t need any more stress and anxiety in our lives!
Not caring what other people think is hard but extremely necessary when dealing with a chronic illness. Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can, and only you know what you need to be doing. Go home, take an epsom salt bath, meditate or write in a journal. Only you have the power to get better, and don’t let anyone take that away from you!
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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.