Archive for the ‘Psychological Aspects’ Category

What to Do When a Loved One is in Denial About Needing Help



When someone close to you is struggling it can be incredibly heartbreaking. Not only is it tough, but it can be even harder when that person is in denial. Unfortunately, there is a stigma associated with psychiatric illness. Your friend or loved ones could be worried that people may call them negative words or treat them differently. This prevents them from seeking help.

Treat all Problems Differently

Not all people suffering from being in denial have to do with drugs and alcohol. For instance, Dr. Daniel Amen knew a couple who had marital problems from the beginning of their marriage. The problems consisted of continuous toxic arguments and threatening to leave one another. When counseling was discussed, thoughts of embarrassment and financial excuses came to the surface from the husband. Eventually, the refusal and denial for counseling began affecting the children too.

Steps for Encouragement

Here are some suggestions to help people who are unaware of a problem or unwilling to get the help they need:


Tell the person why their actions are concerning you.


Good information can be very persuasive, especially if it is presented in a life-enhancing way.


Remind them of good information and new articles from time-to-time. This spikes conversation and, when done in a non-abrasive way, can be beneficial.


Work on gaining that person’s trust and they will learn to be more receptive to your thoughts. Talk about life outside of their medical issues.


Many people who are struggling have already tried to get help and it either didn’t work or ended up making them worse. Inform your loved one of new brain technology where new treatment options could be more effective.

Enough is enough

If the person resists, you have to be able to give yourself a break and say enough is enough. If the relationship becomes negative and continuously toxic you should separate yourself. Separating yourself gets you away from the toxicity in the relationship. Also, by removing yourself from the situation, it can motivate people to change. Threatening to leave is not the first approach you should ever take. But eventually, it can definitely turn into the best approach.

Using Force Doesn’t Help

If your loved one doesn’t realize they need to change their habits, then don’t force them into a situation they are constantly resisting. The only time you can force people into treatment is when they are causing harm to themselves, others, or cannot care for themselves.

When is SPECT Brain Imaging the Answer?

At the Amen Clinics we order SPECT brain imaging studies on most of our patients when:

• We are considered someone’s “last hope”.

• We need to look into the details and see if there is something that can be identified that may have been overlooked by another professional.

• Your case is complicated, and you have not gotten better with previous treatments or providers. (In this case, a scan could be life-saving).

Keep in mind, a SPECT brain imaging study alone will not give an accurate diagnosis. However, it helps the clinicians understand the way your brain specifically functions. There are many factors that contribute to a diagnosis with a SPECT brain scan. These are a combination of clinical history, personal interviews, information from families, diagnostic checklists, SPECT studies, and other neuropsychological tests.

If your loved one is struggling and showing signs of being in denial, try planting a seed of information about breakthrough brain imaging. Contact Amen Clinics to schedule a visit, or call our Care Center at 855-474-1347.



Although this article was written with only mental health in mind, many of the suggestions are also helpful for those you suspect are infected with Lyme/MSIDS, which can also have a psychological component to it.

I’m certainly no expert on any of this but I can tell you our experience:

I watched my husband languish for years. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on that would help explain his exhaustion, insomnia, pain, and personality changes. We considered chronic fatigue, diet, and things I can’t even remember. It wasn’t until I complained to a friend that I started to have hope.  After listening to my husband’s symptoms, she said,

“That sounds like a page out of my book. I was just diagnosed with Lyme.”

Then I read everything I could on Lyme and even contacted local support groups, which ended up giving me the facts I needed to proceed.

Unfortunately, my husband would have none of it.

I remember trying to get him to a doctor.  Nope.  Wasn’t happening.

So, while I was convinced my husband had Lyme disease, he looked at me like I’d lost my mind, argued with me, and refused to do a thing.

What it took was falling down the steps.

You see he had secretly been crawling up and down the steps due to severe pain. When the entire family was out he decided to try walking normally down the steps which ended up with him flat on his back staring up at the ceiling trying to figure out if he had broken bones.

He finally accepted the fact he needed help.

I will say that people that get to this level need help from someone who is able to think logically and advocate for them. His mind was impaired, which is common with late-stage Lyme/MSIDS. He would have been fodder for mainstream doctors who are dismissing people left and right as having MUS (medically unexplained symptoms), and handing them an anti-depressant. (Video of Dr. Shapiro urging the medical community to develop ways to prevent “healthcare-seeking behaviors” by parents who believed their children may have Lyme disease.)

On top of this is a very real connection between parasites and mental health:

Each of these articles demonstrates Lyme/MSIDS’s ability to change behavior.

My husband was more aggressive, given to outbursts, couldn’t handle any amount of stress, cried all the time, struggled with insecurity, had hallucinations & nightmares he couldn’t distinguish from reality, and continually worried and accused me of infidelity. At the time I took it all personally as I was uneducated about infectiously-driven psychiatric issues.

We were one of the fortunate ones in that we purposely went to an “out of the box” practitioner with an open mind. She still tested him with the abysmal 2-tiered CDC testing but when that came back negative, did an inflammation marker test which showed severe wide-spread inflammation. I’ll never forget her words:

“The CDC says you don’t have Lyme. I say you do.”

Thankfully, she began treatment on him, which helped him immediately but stopped working after about 10 weeks. I knew we needed to find a different doctor when she asked me to stop sending her Lyme patients. She was afraid of being singled out by the State Medical Board, which is also happening across the globe:

By that point I had learned the horrific details of the way this has been handled by “authorities” and that we needed a practitioner trained by ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society). By that time I had full-blown symptoms as well.

And yes, Martha, I believe I got this from my husband as a STD:

Over 7 years later, we are in remission and so thankful for the help we’ve been given by those who have trod this weary, pot-holed path before us.


One thing’s for sure  – mainstream medicine & psychiatry are truly in the Dark Ages when it comes to tick-borne illness and they need to wake up fast.




Dementia From Illness

Dementia From Illness

Milder, degenerative forms of dementia that are treatable and even reversible, include cases of dementia that develop from a brain infection or immune disorder.

The development of dementia is not limited to the elderly. There are a number of infections that affect the brain, as well as immune disorders that incite reactions in the body leading to complicated forms of cerebral damage.

These damages can have a number of lingering effects, even after the initial infections have been eliminated, including the onset of dementia. Fortunately, this is one of the milder forms of dementia, and in most cases is almost fully reversible.

What Is Dementia From Illness?

Dementia can sometimes develop as a result of your body’s natural reaction to fighting off a traditional infection.

This could be any kind of brain-related infection, such as meningitis, encephalitis, cases of syphilis that have gone untreated, Lyme disease and other conditions that completely compromise an individual’s immune system, like Leukemia.

Some conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, which is incited by the body attacking its own nerve cells, can also be a primary cause of this kind of dementia.

Risk Factors

If you are at risk for developing, or already have any of the following conditions, you may have a greater chance of eventually developing dementia from infections:

  • Meningitis (all varieties)
  • Malaria
  • Brain Abscesses
  • Encephalitis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Syphilis
  • Any bacterial or viral infection that affects the brain

The risk increases with age, and is much more of a danger if any of the infections go untreated.

Signs And Symptoms

As with many other forms of dementia, dementia resulting from illness can cause memory loss as well as difficulty understanding, recalling or transmitting language; difficulty concentrating on simple tasks, inability to coordinate or perform previously easy tasks, changes of personality traits or strange and sometimes inappropriate behavior.

If you have recently had an infection or immune disorder that has affected the brain, and you are currently experiencing symptoms of dementia, there may be a strong correlation. Even if the infection has disappeared or been completely treated, the damage it could have caused to your central nervous system may still be present.


Fortunately, forms of dementia that have originated from an illness or an infection are, for the most part, reversible. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of degenerative dementia that are incapable of reversing, the nature of an illness-borne case of dementia allows for its effects to be eliminated.

The cerebral impact, due in large part to complications from the body’s response to the infection, can be restored to its original state.

Treat Illnesses Promptly To Protect Cognitive Function

If you currently have an infection that affects the brain or any kind of immune disorder that complicates the way your body reacts, you should be aware of the possibility of developing this kind of dementia.

The longer these infections go untreated, the higher the risk of development and the more severe the symptoms could be. Fortunately, even if you do develop dementia from your illness, in most cases of this kind of dementia, it is possible to fully restore cognitive function.



Although this article was written in 2015 it’s a good reminder that dementia can be caused by infections.

The following article is a specific example of how dementia can actually be undiagnosed Lyme disease.

Kris Kristofferson: Diagnosed ‘Dementia’ Was Actually Lyme Disease

Many people deal with at least some degree of memory loss as they age. So when singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, who turned 80 on June 22, began having trouble remembering things, he and his doctors chalked it up to the relentless march of time along with the effects of head injuries he received as a youthful athlete.

In November 2013, The Daily Mail reported that the then-77-year old Kristofferson was able to remember his own songs but not much else, and that other areas of his life were being adversely affected by dementia.

“I wish my memory weren’t so bad. They tell me it’s from all the football and boxing and the concussions that I got. A couple of years ago my memory just started going. I can remember my songs so I can perform, but other than that…”

Around the time that Kristofferson was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2014, doctors told the man who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee” that his memory deficit was indicative of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or could be a form of dementia known as pugilistica. Now we know that Kris Kristofferson has Lyme disease.

On June 6, Rolling Stone magazine revealed that recent test results prove Kristofferson’s so-called ‘dementia’ was in fact caused by Lyme disease. Kristofferson’s wife, Lisa, told Rolling Stone that her husband had been taking prescription drugs to treat Alzheimer’s and depression for a number of years but stopped once Lyme was correctly diagnosed. She said that Kris “suddenly came back” after three weeks of treatment for Lyme disease.

“There are still bad days, but some days he’s perfectly normal and it’s easy to forget that he is even battling anything.”

When Kris Kristofferson presented symptoms of memory loss in his late 70s, it was easy for physicians to believe that he was suffering some sort of dementia. For one thing, Kristofferson has homes in Hawaii and California, where deer ticks are uncommon. Secondly, Kris Kristofferson was a Golden Gloves boxer and also has a history of playing contact sports such as college football.

Lisa Kristofferson stated that she believes her husband was infected by a deer tick whilst filming the 2006 movie Disappearances on location in Vermont. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that 96 percent of Lyme disease cases reported in 2014 originated from tick bites in Vermont and 13 other northeast and upper Midwest states. The CDC notes that although Lyme disease affects 30,000 people annually and is the fifth most common Nationally Notable disease, it does not occur nationwide.

In the United States, Lyme is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii bacteria that is transmitted to humans and other mammals by the bite of the black-legged deer tick. The tick is most commonly hosted by deer, although squirrels, raccoons and opossums may carry the disease vector, too.

Mayo Clinic describes the first sign of early onset Lyme as a bulls-eye shaped rash at the bite site. Called erythema migrans, the rash generally appears three to 30 days after an infected tick bite. The rash, which is neither painful nor itchy, may spread to other parts of the body. Additional early signs of Lyme disease include fever, chills, body aches, joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, and other flu-like symptoms. Mayo Clinic notes that not all persons infected with Lyme develop the rash, and that the disease can be difficult to diagnose.

Columbia University Medical Center states that a number of diagnostic tests may be used to determine whether or not a patient is infected with Lyme disease, and that it is not uncommon for an infected person to test negative even though they have the disease. When a patient does test positive for Lyme, early intervention with strong antibiotics may prevent the disease from becoming chronic and unmanageable.

Kristofferson looked back on his long musical career at his personal website.

“I always try to be as honest as I can in the songwriting, otherwise there’s no point in doing it. I might as well be doing an advertising job or something. And what I’m finding, to my pleasant surprise at this age, is that I’m more inclined to laughter than tears. I hope I’ll feel this creative and this grateful until they throw dirt over me.”

Of the future, Kris Kristofferson told Rolling Stone the following.

“I really have no anxiety about controlling my own life. Somehow I just slipped into it and it’s worked. It’s not up to me – or you. I feel very lucky that my life has lasted so long, because I’ve done so many things that could have knocked me out of it. But somehow I just always have the feeling that He knows what He’s doing. It’s been good so far, and it’ll probably continue to be.”



Please remember, getting the EM rash is highly variable and certainly not a sure thing:

GLA: 1st Peer to Peer Mentor Program to Offer Much Needed Support For the Growing Number of People Suffering From Lyme and Other Tick-Borne Illnesses


STAMFORD, CONN (June 19, 2019)— Global Lyme Alliance (GLA) today announced the launch of “Lyme Link,” its new—and the Lyme disease community’s first—peer-to-peer mentor program. Lyme Link is a free resource that matches those affected by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases with volunteers who provide emotional support and hope.

Our new program,” said Sara Tyghter, GLA’s Director of Education and Outreach, “will connect Lyme patients, caregivers or family members with knowledgeable and empathetic individuals who have already experienced the many challenges of living with Lyme, and who can provide effective support.”

Tyghter added, “Connecting to others like themselves allows for those affected to share their emotions—fear, stress, confusion, frustrations, guilt—while helping patients find new ways to lighten their load.”

Peer support is different from other forms of social support. In it an individual is connected to a specific individual who has knowledge from their own experiences with tick-borne illnesses. Studies show that peer support is effective for patients suffering from a variety of diseases including cancer, brain injury, multiple sclerosis and numerous other health conditions. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on the effects of peer mentoring on diabetes patients, those with peer mentors showed significant improvements in blood sugar control after six months. Lyme patients will particularly benefit from mentoring due to the often isolating and misunderstood nature of the disease.

Those who want to become a GLA mentor or mentee need to complete an online matching survey at A GLA peer mentee is paired with a mentor who has faced similar challenges themselves. The individual is then matched with a person with a similar profile, including age, gender, stage of the disease, how long it took to get diagnosed, and experiences with treatments. Peer mentors are available to communicate by phone, email or video chat.

“We are thrilled about this new program because it reflects GLA’s ongoing commitment to improving the lives of all those affected by Lyme disease,” said Scott Santarella, GLA’s CEO. “This program will make sure that any individual affected by Lyme or other tick-borne diseases is supported through their often difficult Lyme journey.”

GLA’s new peer program is one of the organization’s many initiatives to provide support to those impacted by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. GLA’s Physician Network, for example, has helped thousands to access Lyme specialists worldwide. Moreover, GLA volunteers answer questions from patients around the globe and provide information about those physicians in a patient’s geographic area knowledgeable about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. GLA also offers access to support groups; this is a great opportunity for patients, family members and caregivers to talk and meet with others who share their experiences.

“Each person experiences Lyme in a singular way,” said Santarella. “That makes it essential for us to help patients in any way we can to improve their quality of life.”


About Global Lyme Alliance
Global Lyme Alliance is the leading 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases through research, education and awareness. GLA has gained national prominence for funding some of the most urgent and promising research in the field, while expanding education and awareness programs for the general public and physicians. We support those around the globe in need of information about tick-borne diseases. Learn more at

Decoding NeuroLyme: Live Webinar With Dr. Rawls – June 19, 2019

Decoding NeuroLyme: Live Webinar with Dr. Bill Rawls

Wednesday 6/19, 8pm EDT

Lyme disease can manifest in seemingly endless ways. But neurological symptoms such as brain fog, limb pain, muscle weakness, anxiety, and more can feel especially debilitating and difficult to diagnose, manage, and overcome.

So why are some people more likely to experience neurological Lyme disease — and what can you do to feel better? 

Join a live webinar with Dr. Bill Rawls, best-selling author of Unlocking Lyme, who knows firsthand what it’s like to live with chronic Lyme disease, as he demystifies neurological Lyme and offers an alternative view of causes and solutions.

You’ll learn how to take control of your health, and the essential steps for empowering your body’s natural defenses. 

PLUS: Don’t miss an exclusive gift for webinar attendees, and have your questions ready for a LIVE Q&A on neurological Lyme disease with Dr. Rawls.

“Dr. Rawls is such a genuine resource in this bewildering Lyme maze. I appreciate you making his insights readily available.” – David

Understanding and Overcoming Neurological Lyme Disease

Live Webinar with Dr. Bill Rawls


“Super helpful and informative. It was great to hear someone talk about this in a knowledgeable manner given that it seems like a mystery to so many others in the medical community. Thank you!” – Christian

In this webinar, Dr. Rawls will also discuss:

  • Why neurological symptoms such as cognitive impairment, nerve and limb pain, mood disruption, and more are so prevalent among Lyme sufferers
  • What causes these symptoms to become so overpowering in some people
  • Connections between neurological Lyme and other infections and chronic illnesses
  • Why conventional methods of diagnosis and treatment are limited and controversial
  • His holistic, restorative approach to overcoming neurological Lyme

“Neurological symptoms are the most exasperating of all Lyme symptoms, because they disconnect you from the world at large. There is a path to recovery.”  — Dr. Bill Rawls


Lyme Disease Can Spell Divorce on Unsupportive Marriages

Lyme Disease Can Spell Divorce on Unsupportive Marriages

In essence, due to the severity of symptoms which can cause a person to miss work or have to quit altogether, the cost of treatment, the abuse from mainstream medicine telling you “It’s all in your head,” the psychological & cognitive symptoms which can cause rage, anxiety, the inability to process information or even words and other unbelievable symptoms, Lyme/MSIDS can put a strain on the best marriages.  It has also led to custody battles. The author states that one parent can paint the other parent as neurotic when they are driven to get their child help, when mainstream medicine, due to poor diagnostic testing, casts doubts on a Lyme diagnosis.  


The best statement in the article is:

“The symptoms of the disease have been known to overwhelm those who have it.” Dan Pearce

If ever there was a statement to describe Lyme/MSIDS, that’s it.

Due to how it reaches tentacles into every facet of your life, overwhelming is an appropriate word. Also, the more pre-existing issues there are in a marriage, the harder it will be.  Patients are forced to address past trauma, and any other psychological issues troubling them since this is a brain infection.

He also points out that parents AND children can all be infected.  There are many families in Wisconsin struggling with just this reality.

A few points:

  1. The Black legged tick is not the sole perp:
  2. The EM rash criteria is highly overstated with anywhere from 25-80% getting it:  Please read comment after article.
  3. Because this can be sexually and congenitally transmitted, it’s not uncommon for blame to be cast around until patients come to acceptance.  In some ways it can follow the same steps as the grieving process.
  4. Because of the polarization in the medical community, it can pit one spouse against the other due to the lack of agreement on everything from how it’s transmitted, tested, treated, and the severe and unbelievable symptoms it can cause.  If you follow the 3 minute sound bite created by the CDC, your spouse will look crazy to you when they start talking about all the differences there are. This is one case where mainstream medicine is completely and hopelessly in the dark.
  5. The stress of this is unimaginable. Due to this same polarization, insurance will not cover long-term treatment that is now estimated to be 60% of us:  This financial pressure is palpable. The disease(s) can leave you in a fetal position in bed, completely incapable of working to defray out of pocket costs.
  6. Adding children to this picture complicates it exponentially.  If the children are ALSO infected, the stress increases yet again. Children need parents and it’s a challenge parenting from a fetal position.  Add in an overworked, stressed parent that’s becoming frustrated & feeling as if they are going it alone, and you’ve put gasoline on a fire.  Blame and accusation can fly like the wind leaving everyone hurt and destroyed.
  7. Many have to travel considerable distance to even get proper care.  This costs money, takes time, and is exhausting to sick people.  The infected often lean heavily on the well, and if the well person isn’t careful, they can feel taken advantage of. To the outsider, the infected look lazy and to add insult to injury, ignorant and uneducated medical professionals state this – making it seem true to the uninfected spouse.  After all, they ARE the professional!
  8. What many aren’t even factoring into this Steven King thriller is when BOTH spouses are infected.  Now that’s a hum-dinger. Having walked that road, all I can say is it will test you like nothing else.  Money flies out the door like a bird in Spring, you can both struggle with stress, irritability, memory loss, unimaginable pain, rage, and even nightmares and hallucinations.  I can’t imagine what adding infected children into this picture would look like – but it happens and will continue to happen.
  9. Custody battles are ugly, but with Lyme/MSIDS, they take on an added horror. Again, due to the polarization in the medical community, one side (usually uninfected) feels substantiated by professionals from Yale, Harvard, and other Ivy League institutions which often cast a veil of quackery upon Lyme literate doctors. Even if the child is improving under the direction of a Lyme literate doctor, one spouse can blindly believe the opposite, and drag the other spouse (often infected) through a lengthy, costly, and emotionally draining custody battle over treatment.
  10. My husband isolated himself just as this article points out. He started hiding hard liquor that he used at night in a feeble attempt to sleep due to severe insomnia.  This liquor was found and debate ensued. We argued a lot. Seeing all his symptoms and this new secrecy with liquor, I desperately wanted him to get to a doctor but it wasn’t until he fell down the steps he agreed.  The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” certainly held true for us.  Sometimes things have to get really bad for people to get help.
  11. The article recommends getting support, but please be careful where you turn. Some mental health professionals have actually abused patients by telling them it’s all in their heads and handing out anti-depressants. Your local Lyme support group is a great place to start as you will be around others in the same boat.  You can share resources and finally be real about what you are going through.  They will often know of professionals who are trained and trustworthy, saving you considerable money and heart-ache.
  12. The issue of impatience for recovery is something the infected and uninfected struggle with alike. Unfortunately, this sucker has its own time-table and you are just along for the ride. Blame can be placed on the infected for not “doing enough,” or that somehow they are to blame for it happening in the first place.  Trust me when I say, YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME. Refuse that weight on your shoulders.
  13. Lastly, I can’t even begin to express the power of affirmation.  When I was my sickest, my son’s martial arts teacher saw us struggle and while I looked fine on the outside, he could sense the very real struggle we had.  He told me, “Alicia, you have an indomitable spirit. This disease has nothing on you.” I feebly listened, but mulled that statement over for literally YEARS and while I didn’t feel it at the time, I repeated it to myself knowing I play a part in my healing. I grew into that statement and am so thankful he gave it to me when I was too weak to think it myself. Your words are more powerful than you know. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21). If possible, surround yourself with those who affirm you & avoid those who tear you down. We are extremely vulnerable in this journey and need support.



The Psychological Implications of Lyme Disease

The Psychological Implications of Lyme Disease

Are your symptoms because you have Lyme, or are they caused by Lyme itself?

By Joseph Trunzo, Ph.D

Posted Jun 08, 2019

May is Lyme disease awareness month. Over the years, as an active clinician who regularly sees people who are suffering from Lyme disease, I read with interest the news items that find their way into popular and mainstream media outlets regarding the condition. Most focus on prevention efforts – wear white clothing, tuck your pants inside your socks if going into the woods, wear tick repellent spray, check yourself after coming indoors, mind your pets, etc. Some focus on the medical signs, symptoms, and implications of Lyme – the classic bullseye rash, stiff joints, fatigue, headaches, and so on. Fewer will focus on the enduring medical, legal, and political controversy surrounding this illness. Is chronic Lyme disease real? Should people be treated with long-term antibiotics? Is the testing accurate? Are the current treatment guidelines appropriate and adequate to address all facets of the illness? These are all worthy and important topics to highlight. However, I see few items about the potential psychological and psychiatric implication of Lyme and other tick-borne infectious diseases. This is a major factor that has tremendous impact on the lives of those suffering from this illness.

Most people know that Lyme disease is contracted by a bite from the common deer tick, which is endemic to the northeastern United States. However, there are documented cases of Lyme disease in every state and in over 80 countries, so it is not just a regional problem. Lyme is a particularly stubborn type of bacteria (Borrelia Burgdorferi) know as a spirochete, which means it has a corkscrew-like shape. The bacteria essentially bore into healthy cells and disrupts their functioning.

Lyme is not picky – it can invade any type of cell in the body. The classic symptoms, as outlined above, are the most common, but the spirochete can also invade the cells of the nervous system, wreaking untold havoc on cognitive, emotional, and physiological functioning. This is a condition known as Neuroborreliosis, and it is considerably less well known. It can cause nerve palsy, encephalitis, oculomotor problems, rapid and extreme mood swings, obsessive thoughts, cognitive decline, memory difficulties, rageful outbursts, intense anxiety, depression, and a host of other symptoms traditionally thought of as psychiatric or psychologically driven. Many people may balk at the idea of an infectious disease causing such a panoply of mental health symptoms, but I would point you to other well-known infectious diseases that cause or contribute to psychiatric symptoms, such as syphilis and streptococcus/PANDAS.

Why is this important? Well, as a non-medical practitioner (or a medical one, I imagine), it can be exceedingly difficult to untangle the medical and psychological causes of behavioral health symptoms. While it is obvious that someone suffering from a debilitating disease may be depressed or anxiousas a reaction to being ill, it is also important to consider that the debilitating disease might be biologically driving the psychological symptoms. In the arena of Lyme, this is even more difficult given the contentious divide among medical practitioners regarding the very basic aspects of diagnosing and treating the disease. It leaves non-medical practitioners and laypeople very confused.

As difficult as it might be for a health professional, it is even more difficult for the person who is extremely sick, who has no scientific training, who is potentially cognitively and emotionally compromised, and who feels lost, scared, and hopeless regarding their condition. Awareness of all possible causes of symptom presentation is important in moving toward proper treatment and symptom alleviation. Inquiring about the possibility of infectious processes contributing to psychological symptoms is a worthwhile inquiry, especially in tick endemic areas.

To be clear, I am not at all suggesting that all or most mental illness is caused by Lyme disease or other infectious processes. I am also aware that certain psychiatric diagnoses lend themselves to excessive focus on medical symptoms. It is not my intent or desire to add fuel to that fire. It is my intent to increase awareness that some infectious processes can cause these symptoms and that it is incumbent upon us to be aware of this. I also want to encourage patients and practitioners alike to take a balanced, educated approach to these issues, to be aware of the controversies surrounding Lyme and other infectious disease processes, and to seek medical and mental health treatment that is collaborative, open minded, and as evidence based as possible. The incidence of Lyme is on the rise and these problems may become more common than any of us would like to see. Building awareness is our best bet for helping ourselves and others now and moving forward.


About the Author

Riding Out The Storm of Lyme

Riding Out the Storm of Lyme: The Healing Lifestyle that Carried Jeff Tkach to Recovery

Riding Out the Storm of Lyme: The Healing Lifestyle that Carried Jeff Tkach to Recovery

By Jeff Tkach
Posted 5/22/19

Throughout my adult life, I’ve always been a proactively healthy and fit person. I’ve been known to ride my bike more than 100 miles in a given day, have been committed to eating a mostly organic diet for the last 15-plus years, and I take great solace in sleepand in managing my stress through yoga and meditation. But all of this was challenged in 2016, when I hit a point in my career that exposed me to prolonged and intense periods of stress.

That October, after pushing relentlessly beyond my limits (jumping on and off airplanes, flying back and forth across the country for business meetings), I was struck with flu-like symptoms that kept me sidelined for more than two weeks. I went to and from my family doctor several times, who ran a battery of tests and bloodwork, only to find no positive results for anything I was tested for. He even administered a Western Blot Lyme test that was negative.

Over the next few months, I would get well enough to go back to work for a few weeks only to crash again, each time a little bit harder. I kept returning to that same doctor, determined to get answers, and he kept referring me to one specialist after another, none of whom provided answers.

At one point, my doctor put me on a 30-day course of Ciprofloxacin, a very potent, broad-spectrum antibiotic, that left me feeling decimated. He convinced me that this was the best course of action for one of my symptoms. But the antibiotic gave me no relief, and my energy levels plummeted by the end of the 30 days.

“ I realized that if I were going to get better, I was going to have to become my own health advocate.”

By the time Christmas rolled around, I was completely bedridden and forced to go on medical leave in early January. The same family doctor whom I had been seeing for the past three months finally diagnosed me with “depression and anxiety.” He put me on an antidepressant and told me that there was nothing more that he could do for me.

Completely depleted and unable to work, I felt hopeless beyond despair. I suffered from chronic gastrointestinal distress, fevers, night sweats, hallucinations, intense body aches, and panic attacks. I felt like I was losing my mind, and I was terrified because no one could give me a reason for my health collapse.

Jeff Tkach meditating, black and white photo

At that point, I realized that if I were going to get better, I was going to have to become my own health advocate. And thus, the journey to wholeness began. I was referred to a Functional Medicine doctor, whom I got into see during the last week of February, 2017.

To this day, I do not know where I would be without Dr. Kracht. Not only did he provide me with a sense of assurance, but he became my advocate. He immediately treated me for fluoroquinolone toxicity, a condition that is often caused by antibiotics from the Fluoroquinolone family (Cipro). He treated me using IV therapy, detoxification protocols, and supplements like glutathione.

I started to feel a little better over the next few weeks, and miraculously got back to work by mid-March. A few months into this treatment regimen, I started having headaches and neck aches again, so my doctor decided to run a more elaborate Lyme test (iSpot). Sure enough, I tested positive for Lyme (my numbers were off the charts) even though I never found a tick or bulls-eye rash.

I started a combination of antibiotics and herbs, but after a week or so I was unable to tolerate the antibiotics, due to gastrointestinal distress. Now that I knew Lyme was the culprit behind my health collapse, I began my own research that set me on the path that I am still on today.

“Healing became multi-layered and encompassed so much more than healing from the physical symptoms: It was spiritual and emotional, too.”

I continued to add modalities to my protocol, such as infrared sauna treatments and IV therapy (Meyers cocktails), as well as supplements and herbs to aid detoxification and ease inflammation. Yoga and meditation became daily disciplines. At first, I could only do 5 or 10 minutes at a time, but I stuck with both practices, which helped to ease the panic and anxiety symptoms and deepen my sleep. I also began weekly acupuncture which helped to reset my parasympathetic nervous system; those weekly visits to Dr. Jenn became foundational to my healing. I was making progress, albeit slowly.

I began to read every book available on the topics of Lyme and chronic illness, and my healing became a “trial and error” process. Or, to put it another way, it was like peeling back the layers of an onion. Healing became multi-layered and encompassed so much more than healing from the physical symptoms: It was spiritual and emotional, too.

From the very beginning of my health collapse, I was fortunate enough to have a caring and compassionate therapist in my life. Our weekly visits during my darkest times helped to shed light on emotional trauma that I had been harboring for years, if not decades. This trauma was holding me back from healing. The more that I unpacked it and “befriended” my grief and suffering, the more I began to slowly and incrementally heal. It was then that I finally came to grips with the fact that if I were going to fully recover, it was going to take time, patience, and focused effort.

My journey eventually led me to more and more reading and studying, and I came upon Dr. Bill Rawls’ book, Unlocking Lyme. After reading his book, I was fortunate to have a one-hour session with him over the phone, and he opened my eyes to the complexities and intricacies of Lyme. Dr. Rawls explained the analogy of “the pot boiling over” and helped me to understand how the body operates as an ecosystem, and that my job was to bring the ecosystem back into balance.

I began to use his herbal protocol, and embraced the restorative diet that Dr. Rawls outlines in the book. At this point, I was still experiencing intense gastrointestinal distress (likely from the Cipro and other antibiotic use). I had lost more than 20 pounds and was not able to properly digest food.

What Dr. Rawls helped me to see and understand is that overcoming Lyme, or any chronic illness, had to become a lifestyle. The idea of “healing as a lifestyle” made total sense to me, and so I began to treat each decision each day as an incremental step towards full health.

From that point on, I made my healing journey a lifestyle, and I accepted the fact that there was no quick fix. My healing became a daily rhythm: morning meditation, journaling, prayer, yoga, healthy movement, sauna therapy, proper sleep, mid-day walks, and deep breathing. I focused on making nourishing meals that healed my gut and restored my energy. I used infrared sauna therapy, acupuncture, massage, polarity therapy, and qigong.

“The idea of “healing as a lifestyle” made total sense to me, and so I began to treat each decision each day as an incremental step towards full health.”

Every decision and every modality slowly peeled back, layer upon layer, the illness. It was three steps forward, one step backward. Trial and error, not without its frustrations. But I continued to live the lifestyle, and little by little I got my life back. In fact, I received the gift of a much deeper, more present, and more meaningful life.

To this day, two and a half years into the journey, I continue to see improvements from Dr. Rawls’ herbal protocol and from living the lifestyle he recommends, including eating whole, organic foods (most plants, healthy fats, and chicken and fish). Over the last few months, I have been amazed by the dramatic improvements in my physical endurance and strength. I am back to cycling up to 30 miles a few times per week, running 4 to 6 miles, swimming, and have recently taken up surfing (my new passion!).

Jeff Tkach sitting happy, recovered from Lyme disease

I want to personally thank Dr. Rawls and everyone on his team for providing us with such great resources to help us on this healing journey. Thank you also to Dr. Kracht, Dr. Jenn, and Dr. Hoffman for all of your support. And most of all, thank you to my amazing wife and partner, Jackie, for your love, patience, and support through the most difficult journey of my life. You are my rock and my light.

During my darkest days, I took great solace in poetry. It was a healer and companion that gave me a ray of hope and meaning during the most difficult times. I would like to share one poem in particular with all of you, my fellow healers. I hear your grief cry. You are not alone, we are in this together, and we will reclaim our vitality and wholeness.

Pushing Through
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
and no space: everything is close to my face,
and everything close to my face is stone.
I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief
so this massive darkness makes me small.
You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in:
then your great transforming will happen to me,
and my great grief cry will happen to you.

Rainer Maria Rilke
(Translated by Robert Bly)

Welcome to the #MeAgain Story Series. Our aim is to share stories from people who have recovered, or are recovering, from chronic disease in order to give you hope that healing is within your reach. This series will highlight their struggles and triumphs to inspire you to take action and reclaim your life. Enjoy!

Hank’s Story | Shawn’s Story | Julie’s Story | Ron’s Story | Stephanie’s Story
Donna’s Story | Brad’s Story | Mira’s Story | Jeff’s Story



I love stories with people getting better.  Please remember that what works for one may not for another.  Also, there’s a tendency with some patients to give “natural” things all the credit when they did extensive antibiotics which killed pathogens before.

There is nothing “holy” or better about natural products.  They are strong medicine too and some people can’t tolerate them either.

The reason I write this is that throughout my journey I’ve had well meaning people essentially blame me for being ill as well as discredit and label pharmaceutical treatment  of any kind “The bad guy.”  While Big Pharma has done some pretty rotten things, I don’t believe the medicines they’ve made are to be blamed for their unethical behavior. I didn’t enjoy taking antibiotics as they made me feel worse at the time (herxheimer reaction) but the results are undeniable.  I have my life back.

Whatever makes you improve, USE IT, but don’t diss others who use something different.  The end goal is to get better.

BTW:  The Ciprofloxin that didn’t help him, helped me dramatically. Throughout treatment you will have to weigh the risk with the benefit. Also, Bartonella is known to cause GI issues. The intolerance to antibiotics due to GI upset could very well be the killing of Bartonella or other pathogens – in essence a herx reaction.  This too needs to be weighed and balanced. All adverse reactions should be discussed with your practitioner but there were many times I wanted to quit treatment due to discomfort of one type or another.  Treatment is hard and long. Sometimes we just need to tough it out, and other times we truly need to switch things around and even discontinue some things.  Also, the things we discontinue at one point might work at another point.

This will test you like nothing else.  Strap yourself in for a wild ride.  Patience required.