As my body emerges from the warmth and safety of the cocoon, I am greeted to the tune of Sonny and Cher’s 1965 classic, “I Got You Babe,” reminiscent of the movie Groundhog Day, in which Phil (Bill Murray) is doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right. This land of déjà vu is quite familiar to the chronically ill, but remains a mystery to the outside world.
We must cultivate an awakening from the cocoon of isolation.
Family and friends ask: “What is Lyme? What are your symptoms? Where are you on the East Coast? Where were you bitten? Why aren’t you better? When will you get better?” As questions are answered, the visible regret for asking emerges on their faces. Inquisitive expressions with a hint of concern and skepticism now alter into blank stares. It’s as though I am writing quantum physics algorithms on a white board. Wide-eyed stares have now morphed into fear. Yes. It’s official. They imagine that I’ve just sprouted an extra head–a Medusa head no less.
I walk away emoting my sadness and disappointment. Feeling unsupported and exhausted from explaining the ABCs of chronic Lyme, I crawl back into the cocoon of isolation. I guess my audience couldn’t see my SOS signal and left me with SOL.
We must create hope by identifying our needs.
As time marches on, this Lyme enigma consisting of a petri dish of bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi continue to wage internal war as I ingest harsh, rotating protocols. This impatient “patient” sees many specialists with many diagnoses charted. Family and friends fade into distant memory as I try to battle on and maintain some quality of life. If asked, I utter, “I’m good,” instead of saying, “The lights and sounds feel like lightning and thunder. Body and joint aches radiate like I fell down a flight of stairs. Actually, perhaps I did fall today due to vertigo, low blood pressure, or tachycardia. Nausea is setting in from the bowlful of breakfast meds and diet restrictions. Showering and dressing is considered exercise. I wear my activewear everywhere. A fever just spiked from the energy I expended having this conversation. I’m sweating.”
We must cultivate an awakening from the cocoon of isolation. We must create hope by identifying our needs. These active mental, emotional, and spiritual changes will aid in our physical healing process.
Seek. The emotional rut of sadness, worry, anxiety, and fear further roots us in isolation. Nurture this brokenness by seeking support from Lyme groups, church, counseling, or a new outlet like art.
Replace. There is an ongoing narrative in the mind that may be negative. This is damaging. These untrue negative thoughts must be replaced with positive truths. For example, “No one cares about me” and “No one understands my struggle” versus “I am valued and loved” and “Many people are suffering just like I am. This is only temporary. I will heal.”
Give thanks. There is at least one thing to be grateful for daily. Try to think of as many as possible. You lived another day, right? Where are your immediate needs met? Reminders such as, “I am grateful for clean clothes, running water, fresh food, a warm blanket, restful sleep, and sunshine.” A grateful heart keeps the focus on the positive instead of dwelling on each unwanted moment we encountered.
Love. Humanity was created for relationships–to love and be loved. When we don’t allow others into our hearts, for fear of rejection and judgment, we miss out on our fundamental need for survival. God is the ultimate source of love. Immerse yourself in His divine love with music, meditation, devotions and prayer. His love will envelop you and shine through you. As it touches you, more and more, reaching into every crevice of your heart, you will touch others and emerge wholly and freely from the cocoon of isolation.
As the tune goes, “then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb, babe. I got you babe.”