Anyone who has Lyme disease and/or other related tickborne illnesses like Morgellon’s (which is really Lyme with a twist) has been there and done this at least once. You know, the place where our moods go when the hormones crash, the barometer drops, the brain inflammation kicks in, your mother/father-in-law or significant other looks at you the wrong way, or the chocolate candies run out…yup I’m talking about Pitsville. No, not splitsville, although it can certainly be every bit as depressing; but Pitsville, as in down in the pits of Hell-o friends although in Pitsville you don’t feel like you have any.
Pitsville is a place where it is always the blackest of night. It is a place where your emotions have gone way beyond complete meltdown and you are left with a flat-lined apathy of a sort that would not care if the laundry stack reached the ceiling (you could simply make another stack).
It is a place in your mind where you go not out of choice, but because somewhere along the way one of the brain synapses shorted out after a visit down memory lane or dream street. You awaken with the sudden realization that you have arrived at Pitsville and it feels as if it is a one-way ticket.
Brain inflammation is a product of our internal environment. There are lots of reasons for same, however the main reason in the tickborne illness circuit is that tiny spirochetes or twisty rotini-like critters are happily munching away on our microglia (that’s brain and spinal cord nerve cells for the lyme-less folks). Of course there could be endotoxins or chemical poisons (basically bug poop) that assist in the inflammatory process, which is contributed to by our bodies efforts to use its own chemical messengers to rid us of these space invaders.
Well brain inflammation and the resulting serious “blues” which come from same, are nothing to sniff about. Some doctors simply prescribe anti-depressants as a temporary (or long-term) band-aid to mask the problem, and for some patients these medications are literal life-savers. But I have never been a proponent of anti-depressants for any reason, and that is my choice. Instead I have found when battling these horrible little episodes, that focusing on OTHER PEOPLE and not the ugly or self-depricating thoughts which might find their way into our brains is the best medicine. (I could go into a whole spiritual attack sermon at this time but I will decline to do so and keep this topic strictly secular).
I found that even when I feel like I have no friends, no family, that no one understands what I am going through (“Are you STILL sick” is a frequent question from random public persons and the answer is “um yeah”); it is best to guard our thoughts and eject those which will tend to feed into the blackness that is Pitsville. I mean just this past weekend a realtor said to me “you look quite healthy to me” when I told her that I have a physical disability that does not allow me to horseback ride alone. Yeah we look “fine” I know. Just ducky – mud ducky.
So I make sure when I feel really horrible mood-wise to first warn those around me not to trifle with me until the weather improves; and then I focus on taking care of myself. If that means I need to put on my comfy clothes and let my nearly no longer there because Lyme made it all fall out hair into a remnant of a pony tail, then so be it. You will have to look at my badly dressed, perhaps unwashed body until I weather the storm. If I smell tough tiddley-winks (for us older folks), here’s a clothes pin.
If you have an unsupportive spouse or family member, it is perhaps best to send them out of the house on an errand—in Egypt or farther depending on how long you think your mood episode will last.
If you have not gotten enough sleep, it is perhaps better to stay in bed—even if it means all day. Sleep is a wonderful helpful tool even in Pitsville. Then of course there is chocolate although I have to be very careful because the caffeine irritates my heart rhythm so I typically eat only organic fruits, veggies and meat and none of the “fun” stuff. Boring but very good for my health.
Anyway then I work on finding something to do that I like to do. We don’t exactly have any energy when we are stuck in Pitsville. It reminds me of the time I went wading through mud that was up to my horses’ kneecaps, and I stepped in the mud in a hopeful attempt to retrieve one of my horses for a ride…but there went the first boot which quickly got sucked off my foot and filled with the mud and muck of a recent flash flood. There I stood balancing on one foot trying to figure out how to retrieve my sunken boot without getting my sock dirty. I was on the only island of solid mud left in the paddock and I vocally called to my horses which refused to budge but whom looked at me as if to say “Seriously? There is NO WAY we’re stepping out of this shelter into that crap!” Okay I had to get my foot really dirty to get out of there. I did not go riding that day. I did walk in a squishy mud bath inside of my left boot. I tried not to think about the poop and other industrial strength germs like MRSA/staph that were probably merrily swimming between my toes with every step.
Anyway, when I feel dark and dismal inside, I focus my attention not on my “issues” (I refuse to say I “have” Lyme disease or that I am “disabled”); but I focus instead on the positive side of living with well, issues. I must warn you that THIS TAKES AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF PRACTICE when you first begin to change your outlook while under the weight of spiritual oppression. (OK I promised not to get all preachy but this is the best word for it.) Depression is not what we are experiencing. A depression is really just a small blip in a hillside compared to the grand cavern that is the oppression of Pitsville.
BUT I have learned over time that when we focus on others, even when we are suffering, that it lessens the suffering that we experience. When we grovel in our pain, it makes things worse. (Note: I am not talking about physical pain which is hard to deal with sometimes; I am referring to emotional “mood” pain). We can and we must lift our heads, hands, and hearts to one another. If that means only to find one thing that we can be “happy” about then we must do that. “I am happy that I am not dead yet” is one example of something that I found to be happy about when I was visiting Pitsville. You can be as creative as you wish, whatever it takes to get your boots unstuck from the mud of the pit.
We support one another through social media and blog posts and other means. The support is SO NECESSARY because often times our own families have no concept of what “I don’t feel well” really looks like. When we are on the inside looking out, it is difficult if not impossible to verbalize how badly we are feeling emotionally. I have become very good at catching myself before I get to Pitsville, and turning my attentions to positive things. If you are spiritually connected to God (as I am), it is easy to lean on Him for strength. If you are not, then it is admittedly much harder. But we can all benefit from doing for others, even when we are feeling lousy and as if there is no one in the world who understands us. So keep on supporting one another. Keep posting things that make us laugh. Do not drown yourself in pity or allow yourself to get angry that you have “issues.” We all have them. We will always have something with which to deal. But we do not have to fall into the Pit in the process.
Yes Lyme is real. Yes oppression is real. Yes it is difficult. But it can be avoided and/or shortened by our attitudes. For everything else there is chocolate.
Hugs to those in Pitsville. While your boots may fill with mud, it helps to walk away with a smile on your face and remember that things could be so much worse than they are; and I am speaking from the position of a long-time Lyme issue-ee who is basically home bound. There is always something good that we can find in our situations. And there is always someone else who could really use the support or a kind word or deed from us.
As for me, I don’t spend time worrying about gas prices because I don’t go anywhere.