Why Mindset Matters in Healing Lyme Disease
Dr. Ingels and Dr. Moorcroft
I always appreciate talks that help patients rethink this complex illness. I would caution the reader; however, that this is NOT a “mind over matter” disease. This is a serious, serious complex illness that requires much more than positive thinking. It requires a savvy, educated, experienced treatment plan that includes antimicrobials, detoxification methods, supportive elements to replace whatever you are deficient in, things that help with pain, sleep, and very possibly mental health help.
When you become infected with Lyme/MSIDS, you’ve hit the jackpot of diseases that often can affect nearly every system within the body. And, on top of this, every single patient presents differently and has different issues that require attention, and patients respond differently. Talk about a quagmire!
That said, our attitude is important.
I must confess at this juncture that I went through the stages of grief when I became infected and it probably wouldn’t hurt reading about them: https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/
In short they are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Kessler’s written a book on the 6th stage called “finding meaning.” Without reading the book, I can say that sounds reasonable to me.
I will that depression for me went hand in hand with how I felt physically. If I was herxing particularly bad, I was almost always depressed. It’s pretty hard to feel cheery when you feel lousy physically. If you are depressed, try and track everything around it and determine when you are depressed. Also, I felt worse mentally when I was in a lot of pain. Lyme/MSIDS can cause pain unimaginable. The next issue that affects mental status is whether or not you are getting good sleep. Insomnia is a hallmark symptom with Lyme/MSIDS.
Another issue issue is that these pathogens can actually cause the mental health issue. For instance, my husband all of a sudden developed horrible anxiety. This is Bartonella. When he went on effective Bartonella treatment, that anxiety went away. Not too long ago, a report came out about a young boy who developed schizophrenia-like symptoms who was also found to have Bartonella. Lyme can cause depression, post traumatic stress disorder, rage, depersonalization, forgetfulness, and a host of mental health issues. Often, it can be the inflammation these pathogens cause in our brains that can be addressed along with antimicrobials to effectively help patients through those rough patches. For more on psychiatric symptoms: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2015/10/18/psychiatric-lymemsids/
As you can see, patients have very good reasons for having mental health issues!
Another problem is that mainstream medicine doesn’t accept and acknowledge these issues. This isolates patients because family and friends tend to believe mainstream medicine. So now you have a horribly sick person in a corner all alone. It’s quite easy to see why patients suffer mentally.
But, herein lies the answer: continue to fight! Don’t quit! If you have issues affecting your mental outlook, find answers to them. Go to support group, read on your own, ask your doctor and those who have had success and be willing to try things. (Word of warning: you can spend a lot of money trying things. Make sure you do your homework first to determine if it shows good promise. But as our grannies used to say, “Necessity is the mother of invention!”)
In short, learn from the bulldog. Bulldogs fight by latching onto their enemy’s neck and not letting go. This tiny dog wins by literally hanging on! And so, we must develop this bull-dog mentality of not letting go. Don’t get me wrong – there will be days you are completely deflated and broken. Very normal. Just don’t stay there!
I have found many things I never even knew existed before becoming sick that can help all of the issues mentioned in this article. Sharing this information gives me great joy as my goal is to see people improve. If I can be a part of that – well, it probably fits in that 6th stage of grief that Kessler calls “finding meaning.” If I can help others on the pot-holed journey, there is meaning to mine and there is mutual benefit.
Looking back – two things really helped me: 1) Knowing I could get better. I contacted a person who had gotten better. True to form, this person got right back to me and encouraged me that YES, in fact, I could get better. What that means is different for everyone – but I didn’t have to stay where I was. Effective treatment could get me to a place I wanted to live again, and sure enough, that person was spot on. I’m not saying it was easy. I’m not even saying everyone will get back to where they were before they became infected, but I am saying you can achieve a place where you look forward to life again. That was good enough for me. 2) This same person told me, “Don’t be depressed about being depressed.” In other words, accept that you are going to have bad days and don’t feel badly about it. This allowed me to let myself off the hook and accept those dark days of depression where death actually seemed appealing. During these dark times, take particularly good care of yourself. Do things that lift you up and encourage you. Put on music that inspires you or read a book or watch a movie with a particularly inspiring message. Remind yourself of the things you are thankful for. There’s an old song: “Count your blessings name them one by one,” that would remind me that even though I was horribly sick, I still had much to be grateful for. And lastly, get help from a mental health professional if you need it. Don’t feel guilty about this either. This may be just the thing that changes your course. I encourage you; however, to get a referral to a professional who is at least “Lyme friendly,” so they won’t make matters worse by bullying or gas lighting you. Unfortunately, abuse has occurred at the hands of ignorant mental health professionals.