Coping With the Emotional Triggers I Experience After 10 Years of Lyme Disease
I have had Lyme disease for the past 10 years. It’s crazy to me that I have been sick this long. There were nights I thought I was legitimately going to die. With all of the doctors that told me I was crazy and that I was “perfectly healthy, just seeking attention” — I started to believe it. How could I — a “perfectly healthy” 18-year-old, possibly have something that would make me feel like this? To give you some background, my main symptoms have been: feeling as though I’m walking in Jell-O, earthquake tremors throughout my body, severe anxiety, extreme fatigue and pain… lots of pain. Clearly a normal life for an 18-year-old. I digress.
I am now 28 years old and living with my boyfriend and two pups. We have a house with a yard (we’re renting because let’s be real… we cannot afford to own a home) and we have lots of deer near us here in New Jersey. The dogs love running around in the backyard but I don’t love finding deer ticks on them. One day I saw a tick on one of the pups and I used my finger to gently take the tick off the top of his fur. Just as I turned to destroy the tiny monster… I lost him. Was he on my body? Was he on the floor? Was he back on the dog? He’s so damn tiny I couldn’t find him anywhere.
Do you remember “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?” When there’s a close up on Ferris and he exclaims, “Here’s where Cameron goes berserk?” Yeah… that was an under-reaction compared to what I did.
I freaked out. After checking every possible place this little jerk could be I came to the inevitable conclusion that he is on me somewhere. I stripped naked in the middle of the room, checking every inch of my body as though I was looking for forensic evidence at a murder scene. I was hysterically crying, panicked that this whole hell-cycle was about to start over again. Every doctor’s appointment, every sleepless night, every major life event I would miss out on, the inconclusive tests and the Earth-shattering realization that this will be my life whether I find the damn thing or not. Luckily enough, I found it. It was a glimpse in the mirror for one last check before jumping in the shower and I saw a tiny hair “moving” on the outskirts of my scalp. When I finally got rid of this sesame-seed-sized devil is when the tears really came out. It was relief, anger and deep sadness all at once. My boyfriend came home to find me in a bathrobe, hysterical and shaking. I did not know what to do with myself. I was broken and helpless. Again.
Is this going to happen every time? Maybe. But at least now I know a potential trigger — which brings me to the entire point of the article… you’re never going to be fully ready for whatever may trigger you when it comes to your illness and that’s OK. At best you can try to think of “worst case scenarios” and strategize ways to get through the event. My advice? Constantly check yourself, spray your yard and clothing for ticks and keep a bathrobe in the kitchen… you know… just in case.
Getty photo by ookawaphoto