Health: How to Love People with Lyme Disease

Health_ How to Love People with Lyme Disease

Some of you know that I have been struggling with my health for years now. Others know that I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease about a year ago. This last year especially has been a difficult whirlwind, and I wanted to share with you {4} ways that others have helped us in this time. Please consider helping others with Lyme Disease or other Chronic Illnesses in one of the following ways. It means so much more than you know!

{How to Love People with Lyme Disease}

{1} Believe Them: Everyone who I have talked to who has Lyme Disease (including myself), honestly thought they were going crazy because several doctors just told them they were depressed. It  takes a long time to diagnose Lyme, and in all this time you are feeling horrible, being told you are making it all up, and start to feel bad about yourself. Also, the fact that Lyme can’t really be seen, is hard to diagnose, has inaccurate testing, and has so many seemingly unrelated symptoms, adds to the real controversy, confusion, and lack of support around the disease.

{2} Pray for Them: Lyme affects so many different systems in the body, including your brain. Everything is connected in the body, so there is a very good chance that the person is not just suffering physically, but is suffering mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is a long battle on all these fronts, so keep them in your prayers.

{3} Meals and Groceries: A lot of people who have Lyme end up going on a very strict diet, but are low on energy and money. One super practical way to help is to give them food. This gives them more mental energy, supports their body, makes them feel loved, and takes one more thing off of their to do list. Simple things, like putting together a meal, are really overwhelming when you feel so bad.

{4} Financial help. Obviously, this way of helping is more tricky and is not always necessary, but is something I thought was worth sharing. Lyme is super expensive to treat because the treatment is multi-faceted, takes years to complete, and is not covered by insurance. Also, most of the time the person has to quit work because they are too unhealthy to continue. This leads to financial distress. Prayerfully consider hosting a fundraiser or giving an anonymous gift.

I share all of this to help others who know people who have Lyme Disease. I am not sharing this to ask for help in these ways personally, because we have been so blessed and have already been helped in all these ways by friends and family. Thank you to everyone in my life for your encouragement and support. I still have a long way to go, but I would not be this far along without you

Thoughts: Depression & Anxiety

depression

Has anyone out there experienced depression and anxiety? Or maybe the question should be, who hasn’t experienced depression and anxiety? If you have not, praise the Lord! If you have, you are not alone. But you feel alone, don’t you? I have experienced both of these and let me tell you, it is not fun. Depression and anxiety in and of themselves made me feel alone, but the fact that they are such taboo subjects, made me feel even more alone in these times. As a Christian, I felt that I should not be depressed, and that anxiety was me not doing a good enough job trusting in the Lord. Instead of reaching out for help, I scolded myself for not being good enough or not trying harder (which is the complete opposite of the gospel!). Along with all the disabling affects of depression and anxiety, I added to the pile with feeling shame, embarrassment, and trying to cover it all up. When I thought about the fact that I was depressed, it caused me to become more depressed. I would not dare tell someone, that me, Meghan, a women who has a strong belief and trust in God, was depressed! This could not be. But it was…

Through my journey of depression and anxiety, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have learned a lot of different things, and would love to share them with you.

{1} – Christians are human. As a Christian, I am so blessed to have a God that cares for me. I know that He will not leave my side or give up on me. I know my future is secure in Christ, and because of that, I have hope in every situation. But I don’t always feel that hope. And that is okay. Christians are human too. We experience hardship. Our walk with the Lord goes up and down. Although we have no reason to lose hope, we do when life weighs down on us. And that is okay, because of God’s grace. As followers of Christ, sometimes we need to stop beating up on ourselves, and just accept that it is okay to experience depression and anxiety. Sometimes, God allows life to knock us down, and I mean way down. He has a plan in it all. It is possible and okay to be a Christian and experience depression and anxiety.

{2} – Counseling is a must. Go to counseling? This is what I thought when my husband and my doctor recommended it. Why would I go to counseling when my degree (that I had just finished) was in counseling? That made no sense. I knew everything the counselor would say and had all the resources he would have. Anyway, counseling is for super messed up people. Not people like me who know Jesus and have their act together! Well, I was wrong. Going to counseling was one of the best decisions I made in this difficult journey. It was hard, embarrassing, humbling, and sometimes seemed pointless. But I went. Every week. And I thank God that my doctor and husband pushed me to do so. I may have technically known it all, but when I was struggling so much, I needed someone to take me by the hand and force me to take baby steps. I knew all the truth my counselor brought up in our sessions, but I needed someone to speak it to me directly. I also needed to be humbled. I am so thankful to have gotten a degree in biblical counseling, but that does not mean I know it all. I still need help, just like all those other “super messed up” people.

{3} – Scripture saves. During the hardest times of my journey through depression and anxiety, I didn’t want to read my Bible. For the first time in my life, I was mad at God. But my wonderful husband and counselor pushed me to get into God’s Word. It didn’t seem to affect me at the time. I would only read one or two verses, and would read them over, and over, and over again. And for a long time, it seemed useless and hopeless. God’s Word didn’t feel like it had any affect on me or my life. But,God is faithful. And He will use His Word to strengthen you and pull you out of the darkness. His truth is truth, whether we feel like it is or not. So even though I didn’t feel it right away, I stuck with it. And God graciously pulled me out of this darkness. And one of the ways He did this was through His Word.

{4} – Saying no is necessary. The truth about depression and anxiety, is that it changes you. And this means, that your life needs to change too. I know all of us are in situations in life that can’t be changed, and that means that we do need to suck it up, keep pushing, and keep praying. But we can say no to more than we realize. Especially in times of difficulty, it is so important to pull back, and return to the bare bones of our life. This can actually be a great opportunity to strip our life down to our top priorities. Starting the process of saying no more often was very difficult for me. It was hard for many reasons, but one of the main ones was my pride, and the image that I had of myself. I viewed myself as a hard working, social, and happy person. Well depression and anxiety took this all away from me. I was forced to say no to social outings, as I could not handle them without crying. I was not able to perform as well at work, because I got so tired and stressed out. I was not happy, because, nothing brought me joy anymore. In turn, I had to say no to many outings and I had to lessen my hours at work. But, saying no was a blessing in disguise. It humbled me, as my image of myself was shattered and my weaknesses were on full display to others, and it also helped me slowly dig out of the huge hole of depression that I was in. It reminded me that my identity is in Christ alone, and not in who I thought I was.

{5} – Medication may be necessary, and that’s okay! I was so hesitant when my doctor, husband, and mom suggested that I look into getting on some medication. And rightly so! Just popping some medication as our first and only resort is something I do not suggest. Medication can be helpful, but it can also mess you up and be very harmful. Medication can become addicting and actually sometimes make you more depressed than you are already. Medication alone is not the answer. But sometimes, medication in hand with counseling, pursuing God, support from others, and lots and lots of prayer, is a wonderful idea and tool that we have available to us. I beat myself up for a long time about getting on medication, because I did not want to rely on drugs instead of God to get better. In my situation though, once I found the right medication for me, it evened me out enough so I could better pursue God, accept others’ help, and go to counseling. If you are thinking about taking medication, build in other things to your life so this is not your only resort. And be prepared to work through weeks if not months of trying to find the right dosage. Also, have someone around, in case the medication affects you in a negative way. But don’t beat yourself up if you need medication to start working on help in other ways!