The Mighty Logo

10 Everyday Tasks That Can Be Difficult for Those With Lyme Disease

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

If you live with a chronic illness like Lyme disease, then you likely know how difficult performing simple daily tasks can be. From constant fatigue to migratory pain, going about your day with Lyme disease can feel impossible at times.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease that can cause fatigue, headaches, nausea, joint pain and stiffness and more, according to the Global Lyme Alliance. With this wide array of symptoms, those living with Lyme know just how hard it can be to get things done.

As someone who has lived with Lyme over the past seven years, I’ve lost track of how many times I couldn’t perform simple everyday tasks. My sister would have to wash my hair, my mother would have to dress me and even take me to the bathroom at times.

More often than not, when people hear “Lyme disease,” they don’t understand the ways it can impact everyday life. That is why we asked The Mighty’s Lyme community to share which everyday tasks they struggle with. Hopefully, this will shed some light on what living with Lyme disease is really like so others can better understand and support, those who live with the condition.

Here are the tasks our community told us they have a hard time with:

1. Getting Out of Bed

Due to constant painsomnia, many with Lyme disease wake up in pain and feeling more exhausted than when they went to bed.

“Simply getting out of bed. I always describe it as if I ran a marathon and then was hit by a bus overnight. I have no idea what it feels like to get a restful night of sleep/ wake up rested.” – Elisha T.

“Waking up in the morning is always a horrible feeling. It is not uncommon to have a migraine upon waking and my body hurts all over – much like the flu. And as soon as my feet hit the floor, it feels like I am walking barefoot on Legos. It is awful. I count down the minutes until my pain meds kick in. They help take a little edge off of my agony for about two hours.” – Tonya W.

2. Cooking

Lyme can cause tasks that require you to be standing for long periods of time, like cooking, to be more difficult due to constant pain and fatigue.

“I have to have a chair nearby when I cook because I can’t stand in one place for a long amount of time. I had to change jobs because of the same reason. Before I was constantly on my feet and now I have to be sitting for the majority of the day or I feel like my legs will give out on me. Also, the simple act of remembering anything (like brushing teeth, eating, taking meds) is a chore now. I’m so grateful that my husband is so attentive and reminds me of everything I need to do in my life…” – Hailey F.

3. Socializing

Whether you are feeling fatigued or experiencing brain fog, Lyme can make it difficult to be present or want to socialize with others.

“Wanting to socialize, but once I think about going out of the house, or cleaning for a friend to come over, it makes my body feel heavy and I feel every pain or fatigue symptoms become highlighted, and all want to is to stay in bed where no one expects anything from me. It makes me lonely at the same time I feel guilt over others in my life and myself for not doing better. It is the denial I keep hanging on to, so I don’t crash into depression thinking I am worthless.” – Vee D.

“Trying to remember what the conversation I am having is about.” – Bree H.

4. Cleaning

Due to the constant fatigue and pain, doing any sort of activity that will use “extra” energy, like cleaning, can be difficult for those living with Lyme.

“I can’t vacuum anywhere in my house. It makes me tired and shaky even if the vacuum isn’t heavy.” – Katie S.

“The palms and fingers of my hands feel like they’ve been whacked with a meat tenderizer. This makes doing basic things like dishes, laundry, or cleaning a tub, sink or shower excruciating.” – Tonya W.

“Washing dishes and/or folding laundry. The pain in my back gets so intense I have to take a break.” – Laura T.

If you are struggling to keep your home clean, check out these tips recommended by people living with chronic conditions:

5. Keeping Up

Whether you are feeling fatigued or dealing with painful joints, finding the energy to complete tasks in a timely manner can be much more difficult with Lyme.

“Not being able to keep up with my teenager during school vacation.” – Kirstie N.

“Going through high school is Hell. My knees are probably the worst joints I have. Our school is two floors and we only have five minutes between classes. Trying to go up those in a timely manner, keep breathing, and not cry is a battle for sure.” – Sierra N.

6. Finding Balance

Like most chronic illnesses, those who live with Lyme run on less energy than their loved ones who don’t live with a chronic condition. Finding balance is a constant struggle.

“We all know how sick we get and how horrible the pain is. Dealing with all that is always a struggle obviously. But a huge struggle I face is trying to balance the push yourself to keep going but not too much. Finding that balance. I push myself far too hard. I am unable to accept my body is no longer as it was. I keep pushing and pushing to now I’m faced with having to be put on medicine for my adrenals because they are shot. I have to teach myself to let things go and realize I can’t do what I once did and that is so hard for me.” – Cori G.

7. Getting Ready

Due to pain and fatigued joints, mustering up the strength to get ready and perform personal hygiene tasks can be extremely difficult. Some Lymies end up needing assistance to complete these tasks.

“Showering. It’s so much effort. And then afterward, the ‘normal world’ usually wants you to get dressed too!” – Cassidy G.

“I can’t dress myself on my own. My boyfriend has to help me put on sock and shoes because of the damage to my spine, hernia and swelling in my organs, etc. I also do not get to take full baths every day. Sometimes I go over a week because it hurts too much and I can’t get in and out of the bathtub. People take basic things for granted. It has been over a decade of me being sick and since it has progressed I have been stuck unable to do anything other than doctor appointments or hospital visits. I even lost my car because I have been too sick to even move it or park it elsewhere so when they towed it I couldn’t do anything about it. Daily tasks are just not possible for me.” – Lauren L.

“Trying to dry my damn hair is like running a marathon. Start drying. Brush hair. Got to sit. Take a rest. Finish drying. Rest again before attempting makeup.” – Allison K.

8. Tasks Requiring Brain Power

Lyme disease can cause a number of neurological symptoms, like memory loss and trouble focusing, which can make it difficult to read and write.

“I struggle with reading and writing due to brain fog and inflammation. I used to be a huge book worm and won awards for my writing, but now I can’t keep up in English class and have to put so much effort into organizing my thoughts. I’m scared for college because of many factors of my disease, but especially this.” – Katie B.

If brain fog is one of your more challenging symptoms, check out these organizational products people with brain fog recommend.

9. Staying Positive

Whether it’s due to pain, neurological symptoms or a combination of things, many people with Lyme disease struggle to stay positive.

“Staying in the right state of mind.” – Sharon A.

If you have a hard time staying positive, know that you are not alone. Check out the list below to see how members of The Mighty’s Lyme community have coped with their mental health symptoms:

10. Walking

Due to fatigue, pain and, in some cases, neuropathy, Lyme can make even walking a challenge.

“I struggle greatly with the horrific pain, fatigue, and weakness; but my biggest struggle of all is walking… I could barely hold myself up or balance due to the very severe weakness in my legs. Lyme disease has attacked my nervous system and left me with severe neuropathy. It’s been over a year now without the ability to stand or walk, but I’m determined to walk again someday.” – Marissa C.

If you live with Lyme, know that we see you and know how strong you truly are. Connect with a community who understands what it’s like to live with Lyme on The Mighty and share your experience. 

Originally published: May 3, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home