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The Symptoms of Lyme Disease We Don't Talk About Enough

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I follow many Twitter users who post about Lyme disease, trying to gobble up whatever news, tips and support I can find. Most of it is useful to me and incredibly inspiring, but I’ve been noticing a recurring thought plaguing my mind. So many articles are about those in chronic pain and are very empowering, yet they leave me berating myself:

“Wow, I don’t have it nearly as bad as others. I’m a big baby.”

To me, everyone was fighting a dragon, and I was trying to squish a tiny bug.

No, I do not have the same physical pain as others. Although, I do have instances where my hip joints feel like there are knives twisting inside them. Sometimes my often-stiff neck causes nearly unbearable headaches that only go away with a night’s sleep…if I can get to sleep. However, I have never had to stay on the couch all day because of pain, nor have I had to have a chair installed in the bathtub so I can actually clean myself without collapsing. My ailments are mostly of a neurological nature.

Knowing this has made me frustrated with myself at times, and today was no exception as I perused Twitter. I read a Lyme disease life hacks article and found that very few had to do with my type of symptoms. Once again I started beating myself up, feeling that my disease-related ailments paled in comparison and just weren’t important.

The symptoms of neurological Lyme disease are vast. I’m not just talking about the memory loss and brain fog, which I absolutely experience, but I’m also talking about the experiences that are just as debilitating as excruciating pain. The depression and anxiety I have encountered while surviving and treating this illness are unreal. I went from a confident graduate student to someone incapable of remembering her first year of schooling, who can’t participate in discussion without wanting to cry due to anxiety and who is so consumed by depression that she has contemplated suicide numerous times.

No one who shoulders the weight of the world they’re losing is a “baby.” What is important is that I need to remind myself of this. This disease is slowly pulling me away from the future I worked so hard for – if that’s not true pain and agony, I don’t know what is.

I can’t be alone, yet I still feel that way. Many individuals with Lyme disease struggle the same way I do, but in my experience we are sorely underrepresented. This illness is already so misunderstood, and the reality of these symptoms even more so. We need to bring these dark, dark neurological symptoms into the light. This type of pain is as valid as any other.

I am not a “baby.” I’m a warrior like everyone else; my dragon is just a different color.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

This post originally appeared on Girl’s Search for Meaning.

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Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

Originally published: February 24, 2017
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