The Good and Bad of Support Groups for Chronic Illnesses

The Good and Bad of Support Groups for Chronic Illnesses

When I was first diagnosed with several chronic conditions, I felt lost and alone. It felt like nobody in my life understood what I was going through.

They tried.

I had a lot of well-meaning friends, but at the end of the day they just didn’t have the background to understand the magnitude of what I was experiencing.

So, to feel a little less alone, I turned to online support groups.

<<< If you’re looking for a support group to join, I recently started Christian Chronic Illness Support >>>

On Facebook, there are hundreds of groups for those suffering from chronic illnesses. I joined the groups and started reading about others’ experiences. Members of these groups got me. They could relate to what I was going through. While our symptoms may have been different, our experiences often looked similar. We each were facing some level of debilitation. Chronic illness was changing our lives.

After a while, though, being part of Facebook support groups began to grow draining. I’d see posts pop up in my newsfeed when I was just trying to think about other things. Sometimes, the discussions would bring down my mood. What, at first, was a place of support seemed to turn into a place that drug me down.

I thought about leaving all of the groups. I thought about not talking about illness anymore and just avoiding the subject altogether. But, still, I felt this sense of calling from God to connect with others who are suffering to help bring a little hope. It didn’t make sense for me to completely leave the groups when I desired to help encourage others. It was also good for me to keep learning about what others do for treatment so I can make educated decisions when talking with my doctor.

Read more

What To Do If You Think You Have Lyme Disease

What to Do if You Think You Have Lyme Disease

If your health is in a place where you think it’s possible you have Lyme Disease, I am really sorry. This disease can be incredibly difficult to endure, and I wish you weren’t experiencing symptoms. Please know that you are not alone in this.

(I want to preface this post by explaining that I am not a doctor and am not able to diagnose, prescribe a treatment plan, or give medical advice. The purpose of this post is to share insight gained from my own experiences.)

When I first realized that the symptoms I was experiencing could be Lyme Disease, I did a lot of research to determine the best course of action to take, but it wasn’t easy to find accurate information. There were conflicting opinions everywhere.

Often times, even if symptoms would suggest Lyme as a possible culprit, doctors don’t seem to recommend testing. I’ve seen stories of hundreds of people in Lyme Disease support groups who went to their doctors with a whole list of symptoms, but never did their doctors mention Lyme as a possible culprit.

At least once a week I get an email from someone who has stumbled upon the blog and thinks they may have Chronic Lyme Disease. They aren’t sure what to do for testing or treatment. Their doctors either have treated them with two weeks of antibiotics and said they were cured, or they were never even checked for Lyme in the first place. Now these people are at a place of being debilitatingly ill and unsure of what to do next.

Read more

What to Do When Others Don’t Understand Your Chronic Illness

What to Do When Others Don't Understand Your Chronic Illness

Dealing with a chronic illness that most people don’t understand can be isolating. It is discouraging when we can no longer live “normal” lives but everyone else we

know seems to be living life as usual.

It gets even more sad when the people who should be closest to us, like family, seem to disregard the pain we’re experiencing.

For me, living with Lyme Disease is complicated because of the misinformation out there about the disease. There’s a big difference between early diagnosed and chronic infections. Like others with different chronic illnesses, Lyme Disease patients often need to try many different treatment protocols before they find something that works. Symptoms come and go, and pain migrates. It’s hard to explain how you’re doing when things can change drastically in a short period of time.

Read more

Making the Most of Life with a Chronic Illness

Making the Most of LIfe with a Chronic Illness

Life with a chronic illness can be incredibly hard. Most of us who face chronic health issues have one thing in common: our lives do not look the way they did before we got sick. No matter the level of debilitation, the symptoms we face change the way we function.

Changes may be big or small depending on the severity of symptoms at the particular time. For some, it’s a roller coaster of symptoms that get better or worse (or both) each day.

Some people are able to be functioning members of society, while others are confined to their homes, unable to get out into the world to do things as “normal” as grocery shopping.

I’ve been in both camps. I know what it’s like to try to manage a full-time job while very ill. I also know the challenges of being unable to get out of bed for long periods of time. In both situations, my life was vastly different than it was when I was healthy. Accommodations had to be made to conserve energy and meet my needs. I was often discouraged.

So, how do we make the most of our situations?

Read more

5 Ways To Pray When Lyme Symptoms Flare

5 Ways to Pray When Lyme Symptoms Flare

Some days on the journey with Lyme Disease are harder than others. It’s all up and down, which makes feeling stable something to be desired, but not grasped.

It’s interesting how different our experiences with Lyme Disease may be. For some, just leaving the house to go to the grocery store is a major victory (that’s been me!). For others, they homeschool 4 kids and remain active in church. Others may work part-time but spend every minute outside of work resting. Chronic Lyme Disease can be a debilitating illness that affects each of us differently.

But, one thing we all seem to have in common is that symptoms come and go. They increase and decrease. The pain migrates to various parts of our bodies. There are flares and Herxheimer Reactions.

While in the midst of difficult symptoms, I am aware of what is happening with my body. I know the pain is bad and I begin to get used to it. It’s somehow expected as I wake up each day.

However, if I have a few “good days” in a row (good is all relative…), I begin to be shocked or discouraged when symptoms increase, either by flare or Herx. I may have started out content on the difficult days, but when good days come, they bring a glimmer of hope for more better days. Then, when a good day is followed by a bad day, I grow more depressed about my current situation.

That’s why prayer must be the first thing I do when symptoms come on stronger. I have seek God in it before I allow my sinful nature to take over. My tendency is to grow bitter and become angry, but I know that letting my mind engage in that kind of thinking is never helpful!

Read more

Trusting God When Healing is Slow

Trusting God When Healing is Slow

The process of healing from chronic illness (or at least getting to a place of stability) has gone nothing like I thought it would.

About fourteen months ago, I was officially given names for the host of symptoms that gradually led to the debilitation of my body. I saw various symptoms come and go over a period of five years, but it wasn’t until February 2016 that my health began to decline to the point where I needed serious help to get better. By the time of diagnosis, I was exhausted, in constant pain, unable to function at work, and deeply depressed.

Many days of research, blood work, and doctors appointments led to the discovery that I had Chronic Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, several co-infections, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and more.

For some, receiving test results that pointed to multiple conditions and food sensitivities would be devastating. But for me, it provided a glimmer of hope. I finally knew what I needed to treat so I could move forward toward better health. I had a plan for healing, and I love plans!

In my typical Type A fashion, I followed my doctor’s treatment protocol to a T. This meant giving up all my favorite foods and focusing only on the things I needed to get better. I had to quit my serious Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup addiction and instead fill up on Vegan Chocolate Shakeology (email me if you want more info on this…) and a (mostly) Paleo diet.

My health protocol was overwhelming, sometimes consisting of 60+ pills a day. My weeks were filled with detoxing, sleeping, lying on the couch while listening to podcasts, and working as much as possible to maintain some sense of normalcy in the office and get a paycheck (gotta pay for all those supplements and meds!).

I was doing everything “right” in my journey of healing, but instead of finding stability, any step forward was met with two steps back.

Read more