Do you know someone with chronic Lyme Disease? If so, perhaps you have spent a bit of time trying to come up with ways to help them out. Maybe you are still trying to figure out what is going on with your loved one. Don’t feel bad. They might still be trying to figure it out themselves. It’s a complicated disease, with many unanswered questions for patients, let alone their family and friends.
I’m not going to bore you with how it’s contracted, what the symptoms are, or even the treatments. If you are looking for ways to help them, you probably already have some of that information.
So, let’s get right down to it. Here are 7 ways you can help someone you care about who is living with chronic Lyme Disease…
The more information you have, the more likely you can give sage advice, or come up with ideas of your own on how to help, that I didn’t think of yet. I had a friend – an acquaintance actually, go home and google Lyme the night I told him that I had it. The next day he came to me and said “I didn’t realize how complicated Lyme Disease is!” It was a breath of fresh air to have someone in my life actually research Lyme Disease. I’m pretty sure my closest friends haven’t even Wikipedia the summary of it.
Another thing you can do is watch some free lectures at the annual Lyme Summit, which is starting up again in June. There is a plethora of real, up-to-date information on this internet platform that you can have access to IF you register.
#2 Be Patient and Humble
Please be patient when you go to your friend or family member with a new idea for treatment or suggest getting away for a break, and they appear to be disinterested. It might not be the case at all. It’s possible they have already heard about it, or just changed direction in their treatment recently and need to give that a try before moving on, again. Or, maybe they just want to be alone…that day. I know. I just told you to learn everything about chronic Lyme Disease, and now it seems I’m telling you to pretend you don’t know everything about it. It’s really not pretending though, because I’m pretty sure nobody knows everything about it. And, it might not go over well when someone who just spent an hour looking through a book comes across as knowing more than they do, when they’ve been living it for months, or years. It’s all in the delivery and approach. Again, patient and humble.
#3 Be Understanding
Chronic illness can be very unpredictable, including when it comes to emotions. When a person is living with a wide range of debilitating symptoms, and it goes on for what seems like forever, their emotions could be all over the place. Imagine having a cold for two weeks…two months…more, and wondering what the heck is going on in your body.
#4 Believe Them
Some of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are invisible. Just because a person looks healthy and you can’t see obvious signs of the disease, doesn’t mean they are not suffering with any given symptom on any given day. If they say they can’t do something or have the energy to walk into the kitchen for a glass of water, believe them. And, it’s confusing, because the symptoms change… and come and go as often as the sun rises, or more. It’s bad enough that strangers, co-workers, and even some from the medical field are doubting them. If someone they want to lean on shows any doubt, it could lead them to stop reaching out to anyone.
#5 Offer Advice for What You Know
But, don’t be offended if they are not in the mood, have already tried it, or have doubts. People living with chronic illness quite often have researched until the pages have faded, the keys have worn out, and the library card has long been expired. Whatever it is that you can’t wait to tell them, they might have already heard it. There’s also a chance they haven’t. So, you’re being asked to not give up…don’t be afraid to share news or advice. Just don’t take it personal if it’s not particularly helpful at that moment. The fact that you tried will be helpful all on its own.
#6 So Many Little Things Can Help
There are various ways to help that might not have entered your mind, because they seem insignificant. If you have been trying to find substantial ways to help, sometimes it’s the unnoticeable and less weighty ways that could be even more beneficial to a friend or family member with Lyme Disease, such as:
- Give them a ride somewhere
- Get the remote from across the room
- Be someone they can talk to, about anything
- Make a meal
- Watch a movie together that has nothing to do with illness
- Make them laugh. This one is really the only one I find essential in friends, but to someone else, they might appreciate more “action” oriented generosities.
These might seem insignificant to you. But, to a person who fights disease every day, it could be monumental. The fact that you are reading this, indicates you care. Let them know you are considering ways to help, and ask if they can come up with some ideas. Just knowing you care enough to look into it, gives them hope.
#7 Remember They are More Than Just a Disease
Make sure to not let Lyme Disease define your friend or family member. They are so much more than a lump of symptoms. They are still the person you have always known, and they are not breakable, just because they might need a break. Don’t treat them as though they are a disability to you, or to themselves. They want nothing more to be normal.
Hopefully this is enough to get you started in helping, or trigger some ideas of your own. It’s great that you are willing to help, as well as search for ideas. So many people with chronic illness would appreciate it!
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