We need to keep in mind that not everyone shares the Holiday spirit and there are some people who find this period of the year extremely difficult. While most of us look forward to reunite with our loved ones, others try to isolate themselves and stay away from the holiday madness which acts as a trigger for their depression.
As a chronic illness sufferer, I know how challenging and daunting it can be to see others parading their good cheer and merriment while you’re all under the blue. It doesn’t make you a Grinch nor a Merkel, but it certainly gets on your nerves to see everyone around you enjoying a life of happiness that you have been deprived off.
This is when the Why me? question reappears and wreaks havoc through your mind, making it more tough to pull yourself together and move forward. You’ve done with it before and thought of having it sorted. Though, somehow it pops out again and puts you on the wrong path again.
Fortunately there are ways to chase away the holidays blue. All you need to do is to be willing to change something and step out from under the black clouds of doom. Here are some ideas that may help you improve your spirit and pack away the Grinch:
Avoid self-isolation as much as possible, join a gathering or a party! Try not to roll alone into your own misery. It will only make things worse. Attend that party at work or cocktail and engage in conversation with someone you never talked to before. You may find it easier to talk to someone new who is not aware of your condition. You can even enjoy having a proper conversation non-relevant to your illness. If you were trying to avoid feeling pity for or having shallow greetings, now it’s your chance to socialize!
Engage in conversation, be honest about how you feel. When asked about your health, be blunt and offer honest answers. This enables you to bring more awareness about your condition and allows you to see who are those really interested in what’s going on with you.
Shop online for your Xmas presents. If you know that crowds tend to get you overwhelmed, why not avoid them? There are plenty of websites where you can buy your gifts! Save your energy for some other activity that you would enjoy more!
Travel to a new destination, if you can afford it and if your health allows it. Go explore your surroundings as much as you can. Nothing beats the excitement of revelling in anonymity while being away from home. Don’t think of it as a way to escape reality, but as a reward, a ticket to pamper yourself.
Create new traditions. Sometimes it is much easier to try something new or step out of your comfort zone instead of doing the same old thing that doesn’t bring you much joy. Who says you need to have a fir tree or thousands of lights shimmering on your house? If you don’t feel like doing it, ditch it and don’t feel guilty about it! Step out of the patterns and celebrate the holidays on your own pace, following your own rules. Even Santa changes the rules once in a way!
Cultivate gratitude for all the positive aspects of your life. Although it might not seem there is not much left for you to be thankful for, you will be surprised to see how many other things you are taking for granted. Try to make a list of the things that are still going okay in your life and focus on those. Happiness doesn’t come in bulk, it’s all made out of little moments of joy that sprinkle our life here and there.
Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful time filled with love and peace!
When you are fighting Chronic Lyme Disease, there is no doubt that your life has seen a dramatic change due to your illness, that your priorities changed. Facing the harsh reality of being diagnosed with a chronically illness unleashes feelings of denial, fear and grief. You feel robbed of your best years. Your sense of identity and purpose, your perceptions and perspectives about the world shift. You see life through a different lens.
It is an unrealistic expectation to keep an optimistic outlook while you are dealing with chronic pain, burning under the skin, flares, fighting anxiety or depression. If that was not challenging enough, things get even harder when you have to hear harmful or annoying remarks regarding your condition. These comments can have a detrimental impact on one’s health or remission, as they can trigger negative relapses.
Here’s a list of the most annoying (if not cruel) things I heard over the years:
“Lyme is not real, it’s a hoax!
“You’re exaggerating or faking your symptoms!”
“Your symptoms are psychosomatic.”
“There are no ticks within the city! You’re paranoid!”
“You don’t look sick enough!”
“You’re not depressed, you’re bored! Depression is only another form of being lazy and avoiding work!”
“You should stop your treatment! You’re cured!”
“You should stop taking antibiotics!”
“You should not read daily about Lyme!”
“You’re being used a Guinea pig by your doctor!”
“Your Lyme doctor treats your bank account, not you!”
“You don’t eat enough! Some sugar or a drink won’t kill you!”
“You need to go out more and make new friends!”
“You’re getting depressed due to self-isolation!”
“You need to connect with more Lymies!”
“You shouldn’t follow doctor’s orders so strictly!”
“You should meet and give Lyme related advice to a friend of a friend suspecting to have Lyme”
“You became arrogant since you turned into a Lymie.”
“You need to get busy and get out of the Lyme bubble!”
You can imagine that any of the above mentioned remarks or suggestions were not helpful. On the contrary! Though, to be honest, the last one had some truth into it, which I discovered only later on. As a matter of fact, it turned out to be the most valuable advice I ever got regarding my condition.
In order to cope with the pain and the burning I had to find ways of preventing my mind of processing the thought of pain. I developed new hobbies and focused on those. I started to draw and paint. I learnt whatever I could find available online about painting and drawing techniques. I experimented with different mediums and fell in love with the acrylic paints.
Thus I discovered that the creative process had the amazing ability of shutting down the sides of my brain responsible for registering the pain. In a few months, I trained myself to ignore the pain. Someone had told me that “pain was in the brain”. That remark did not made much sense the first time I heard it, it turned to be 100 % accurate only a few years later.
When that happened, not only I was almost pain free, but I also came up with some nice artwork. Thanks to that, I was able to turn a hobby in a small source of income. I got commissions from family members and friends, while the rest are being sold online.
As for the writing, spilling ink had always a therapeutical side, even before contracting Lyme disease. During my darkest hours of sickness and pain and not only, poetry was vital for me, as it helped me channel my emotions, clear my mind, voice my deepest fears. It has always been my main tool to express positive and negative experiences.
Whiteless ThoughtsandBurden of loveare two poetry collections that I wrote over the years and finally published last year, each one embarking the reader in a journey of a multitude of emotions. Being able to connect with my readers and getting some “Get well! “ notes from them, had a positive impact. I felt that I was on the good path, that my voice had found an audience, that my efforts of raising awareness about Lyme were being seen and heard. The most touching note I got from one of my readers was from a reader in the states, a Lyme warrior as well, who thanked me for voicing her cause. I never felt more humbled.
I guess I am one of the lucky persons who was able to find the silver linings of this health challenge. If I would not have got infected with Lyme, I would probably had never taken the same path I am now. I wouldn’t have become an author, a ghostwriter or a self-taught artist. I would have not pushed myself to the limit or done tabula rasa. I certainly wouldn’t have discovered my real self and be happy with who I am. I would have continued working in a corporation, without tapping into my creative side. It’s ironic how some of the most wonderful moments of our lives are made possible by an event that we wish it had never happened to us.
What are the positive things that you discovered within your DNA after being diagnosed with Lyme disease?
In the Internet era, we often read or hear sad stories about howchronic illness destroys relationships. It is a painful topic that no one really wants to discuss about, because they will have face the ugly truth straight into the eyes. It takes guts to be candid about the difficulties of caring for a chronically ill spouse.
It also takes a lot of finesse, patience, empathy, compassion and commitment to deal with a chronically ill spouse or significant other. Sometimes one needs magician skills to run through the hoops of a moody, depressed partner.The staggering divorce rate among chronically ill people is crippling.
When both of partners share the burden of an illness, the risk of clashing is touching the roof. It is nearly impossible to prevent the relationship from failing, leaving alone keeping the flame alive. That’s for the regular folks, who have enough time to get bored of each other.
While faced with the cruel reality of a chronic illness, there is little space left for romance. The choices are limited, while its effects can be devastating. Usually when one’s needs (emotional, affectional, personal) are not met, words such as divorce or separation are often mentioned.
Finding the balance, the proper tools to navigate through the illness are key.Juggling with the personal needs and those of the spouse is challenging. It requires far more than love to persistently care for someone who is chronically ill. This dance between the moods, brain fog, physical pain, anxiety crises, episodes of depression, misdirected anger and resentment, poor communication is worth at least one Oscar.
Theproblems arising between the partners are never ending. Both need to have their needs met. Both are entitled to love, care and treatment. But who will get these first? Who will selflessly assume the caretaker role and burden himself with all that it entails? Which one of the two will be treated and cared first?
On what criteria they decide who gets to undergo treatment and for how long? Will they be strong enough to prevent self-pity and guilt crack the foundation of their relationship? What happens when both of the partners are in denial? Or when they relapse in the same time? What if there are children involved?
How can the two support themselves financially or handle the pressure of the daily struggle? This roller coaster ride ain’t getting easier! What about when financial reasons prevent both partners from obtaining the proper treatment and care? We all know that the cost of the Lyme treatment is not covered by the insurers. Thank God that the MS Society got this one covered!
These are only a few of the questions and concerns that the couple is faced with. There is no correct answer, since there is no cure! It’s one thing to be there for your chronically ill partner when you are healthy and a totally different story when you are sick as well.
Becoming a patient and a nurse in the same time is more difficult than you could imagine. In most of the cases, the partner presenting less symptoms, “the healthier one” decides to take on the caregiver role, to become the “helpmate”. Eventually it will wear him out, despite his noble intentions. He will burn out and realize that it is more than he bargained for. It will make him turn bitter, feel alone and drain all his energy, unless he sees some understanding or appreciation.
What it really takes to maintain a relationship going? It is a matter of how much you are willing to let go. Learning to enjoy small sporadic moments of joy and keep them embedded in your mind for the long rainy days. Learning to appreciate what you have instead of focusing of what you don’t or what you would have liked to have. Building a long lasting relationship requires a strong commitment and a combination of the following: love, care, determination, altruism, positive mindset, strong stomach, patience and nevertheless, hope.
The couple dynamics change when the two partners are sick. They surround themselves with the never ending whines and cries of their illness, they fall prey to fear and despair. They forget that life goes on despite all that. Somehow they neglect to acknowledge that they have the power to change something. They can change the attitude towards life and make life more enjoyable.
Here are somepractical and valuable tips on how to keep your relationship going:
Celebrate small victories. If you are into the habit of keeping a symptoms track calendar, then it won’t be difficult for you to notice that a number of “X” weeks passed since you had a certain symptom. Remember life offers lots of lemons. All you have left is to enjoy the lemonade (Lyme & aid, in my case). That being said, put out the glasses and invite one more to the party. Engage your spouse in these small celebrations of life. You are not only sick patients, you are also humans with a living ticking heart!
Identify and eliminate stressors. Make a list of possible stressors and try eliminate them. If you notice a pattern repeating or a habit irritating your spouse, just ditch it! It is not worth another disagreement, your peace of mind is far more valuable.
Be thankful. Show gratitude. Find your own unique way of showing how you feel and how much you appreciate the efforts done by your partner. Try developing a new routine of writing thank you or funny notes and leave them in unexpected places around the house for your spouse to find. These little notes have the power to make one smile, laugh and turn a bad mood into a good one.
Be honest with each other. Keep in mind that being overprotective or leaving your partner in the dark can be easily misinterpreted, even if it is an act of love, done out of the fear of overburdening one’s mind or heart. In order to tackle certain topics such as financial issues, treatment options, or couple’s future, you need to be 100% honest.
Be open to suggestions. When your partner tells you something, or gives you feedback, don’t take it personally. Try to see how you can incorporate that into your daily practice/ routine.
Laugh more. Humour plays a key role in any relationship. It is well known that laughter helps improving the moods. “Till Lyme /MS do us part” does not sound anymore as a morbid joke. Dark jokes are welcomed. Humour has the ability to act as a stress hormone regulator, it enables the body to find a way to calm down. Improved oxygen consumption, slowed heart-rate, lowered heart pressure, and reduced stress are only a few of the benefits of humour.
Plan small.Whatever you are doing, plan small. Don’t overload your schedule trying to solve too many things within one day. Leave something for tomorrow. If you solve one thing per day, that is enough. Why getting yourself exhausted if it is not a life threatening situation? Don’t feel guilty if some days you can’t perform even that one task! Don’t be too harsh on yourself!
Exercise together. Performing a physical activity together, not only has the ability to make you achieve your fitness goal, but it can also improve the efficiency of your exercise. Working out together can increase your emotional bond and boost your romantic life.
Prepare/ plan meals together. Meal preparation can be a great way of spending time with your partner. Showing someone that you care does not mean you have to go out of your way and move mountains. No! It all consists in being kind, present and involved. Deciding what your weekly meals plan will look like can be practical and fun.
For a Lyme warrior, every single day is a struggle. Holidays bring additional stress, as they lost their enjoyable feeling and glory.
The holiday gatheringsturned into a source of misery, a reminder of a distant life that a Lyme sufferer can’t no longer enjoy.
Battling Lyme, chronic fatigue, depression, pain and so on, leaves one drained, with no desire whatsoever to attend a social gathering.
Though it doesn’t mean that things have to stay this way or there is nothing that you can’t do about it. That being said, here are twelvetips on how you can make your friend(s) or family member(s) overcome the pain of isolation at holiday time:
Run errands.Ask if they need any help with his Christmas shopping list. You can either volunteer to take them around or to do the shopping for them. Keep in mind that texting is a less invasive way of communication. Rest assured that your text message is being seen, even if you do not get an instant reply. Take it from a Lymie, it always feels good and it brightens my day to see my friends care about me and how I feel.
Offer to prepare a meal. Prior to cooking, ensure you are aware of the dietary restrictions. There are plenty of healthy recipes online for Lyme. Also delivering it in person once or twice a week, gives you a chance to chat face to face and brighten their day. It does not have to be a long visit.
Volunteer to babysit the kids (if it is the case) for a few hours or take the pets out for a walk. That would offer your friend(s) or loved one(s) a chance to rest or do something for themselves. They would definitely appreciate your offer.
Offer house cleaning services. Offer your services for their Xmas house cleaning or doing /folding the laundry. What it might look like a simple house chore to you, requires a huge amount of effort from a Lymie. Attending to household duties can be exhausting when you are fighting chronic fatigue, pain, etc.
Invite them over for Xmas.Holidays are tough and stressful period for anyone who suffers from a chronic illness. You certainly don’t want your friend(s) to feel alone and depressed on Xmas. Generally Lyme sufferers tend to isolate themselves from the world. They feel left out because they can’t relate to the normality of others.
Accommodate for a special nutritional plan or diet. In most of the cases, Lymies follow a strict diet which does not include any of the dishes you are regularly planning to serve for Xmas. Your friend will certainly appreciate your efforts of preparing some delicious food according to their diet for them. Note that it takes a lot of effort and self-discipline to see others stuffing themselves with all the forbidden goodies, while they are on a very strict diet.
Serve sugar-free beverages and sweets. When you are doing your groceries, buy some green tea, natural juices, non-alcoholic drinks, bottled water because they won’t be having alcohol. Also get some dairy sugar-free ice cream for the Xmas evening feast. Try making a new gluten-free dessert using Stevia!
Provide a resting space. Ensure you have a resting area available, in case they feel overwhelmed or exhausted. Standing, sitting too long or even a long conversation can knock them down for the entire day or even longer. Remember that people with chronic illness have limited energy.
Act normal in their presence. Donot be overly polite or try too hard to make them feel better. Don’t avoid topics related to Lyme, as if you are walking on eggshells. They don’t need pity. That type of attitude might get them annoyed.
Educate your guests. Let your guests know in advance that your Lymie friend(s) will be present and ensure they will not bombard them with questions about Lyme, or mention a comment such as “ You look fine, you don’t look sick!”.
Prepare some take away casseroles for them because they won’t be feeling like cooking. You will save them the pain of spending time cooking in the kitchen.
Be direct about the Xmas gift.Ask bluntly what they need and don’t take no for an answer. Leave politeness and shyness aside. Most of the Lymies speak their mind because they are literally too tired to play games. The gift can be anything, from vitamins, supplements, whatever thats need. It will be more appreciated than another trinket or something that won’t bring any direct benefit. When fighting chronic fatigue, a Lymie doesn’t have a lot of energy left. Address the gift issue directly and go for it!
Lyme treatment and detoxification go hand in hand, as the dead spirochetes release toxins within the body; toxins continue to build up and take a toll on the liver.
If you are reading this post, I am sure that you are familiar by now with the term herx and you know what happens with your body during a Herxheimer or pathogen die-off reaction.
I personally noted that with the help of a portable far infrared sauna, I am capable of flushing a great amount of toxins from my body (neurotoxins and environmental toxins). By spending around 30 minutes each second day in the sauna, I detox my body at a deep level.
Sweating is one of the best ways to detox, as the body exploits the skin. Unlike the regular saunas, steam rooms or working out the gym, the far infrared sauna has the ability to go deep into the tissue. By emitting a deep infrared radiation, it heats up deeper levels of tissue, enabling detoxification at a cellular level.
Through sweat, a higher concentration of toxins is being eliminated, which prevents the liver and my gastrointestinal tract of getting overwhelmed.
Before you jump in, keep in mind that its ability of mobilizing toxins may trigger a bigger Herxmeiher reaction. After the sauna therapy session, you will have a greater amount of toxins circulating around in your bloodstream, which can get you exhausted. Or some symptoms may flare up.