Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of chronic Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other neurological conditions, are the debilitating emotional and mental symptoms that they cause. Indeed, depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, slowness of mental processing and speed, among other mental-emotional issues, are common among the afflicted.
Chronic Lyme Disease and The Mental-Emotional Connection
Throughout my recovery from Lyme disease and environmental illness, I battled all of these symptoms, and more. Some days, I would arise and be in tears before I could even make it to the coffee maker. I’d spend hours lying on the floor, toilet roll in hand as tears flowed from my eyes, as I struggled to find the will do get up and sit at my computer, or do whatever needed to be done that day. My decision-making capability, desire to carry out basic daily tasks, and ability to think, socialize and were greatly affected by illness. The isolation, financial struggles, and other circumstantial difficulties of chronic illness exacerbated the depression, anxiety and cognitive problems even further.
Even worse, the challenges of my recovery were compounded by the fact that I felt inadequately supported by well-meaning loved ones and people in my church, who seemed to struggle to understand why I just couldn’t “pull myself up by my bootstraps.” My doctor prescribed antidepressants; my friends told me to “just trust God” or pray more, while others admonished me to get counseling or exercise. All of these things were useful, but none addressed me as a whole person or the roots of disease, which weren’t just infections.
In any case, over time, I realized that while Lyme disease and illness were largely responsible for the mental and emotional symptoms I battled, they weren’t the only cause. The root of disease had actually started in my early childhood, and it was there that I had to begin my healing journey. By addressing the pain in my soul, and the early life traumas that set the stage for illness to take hold in my body, I was able to achieve a more complete recovery.
Depression, anxiety, and other mental-emotional conditions caused by Lyme and neurological disease are not easily resolved, because the root causes are often multiple. Even if a major part of the solution is to eliminate the infections, or take supplements to help balance the body’s chemistry, I have personally not found these things to be enough for many people.
Further, healthcare practitioners focus on healing different aspects of the person. Some will advocate medication or supplements to correct a chemical imbalance in the body, while others focus on cognitive and behavioral tools to address harmful beliefs and behaviors. Still, others focus on the spiritual side of things and developing a relationship with God to strengthen the spirit.
Yet my more than a decade-long battle with a severe neurological disease, fourteen years of medical research, and ministry to many dozens of others with chronic illness, especially Lyme disease, have taught me that depression, anxiety and other mental-emotional symptoms are caused by a combination of spirit-soul-body factors. In addition, since our spirit, soul and body are interconnected, what happens to one part of us often affects the other two, so it’s often necessary to address healing on all three levels.
Fortunately, over the years, God and the many wonderful doctors and other practitioners that I have worked with, have helped me to largely overcome depression, anxiety, and the cognitive issues caused by Lyme disease, trauma, and the other factors that set me up for a lifetime of illness. I have gone from crying daily and taking antidepressants and sedative drugs for over a decade, to now living most days with optimism, emotional stability and strength, peace and mental clarity. I no longer take medications (although I don’t judge anyone who does, as sometimes you just do what you need to do to survive!)—and I have largely resolved the underlying traumas, biochemical imbalances and infections that contributed to my emotional and mental challenges. So if you battle depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, or other mental-emotional issues, be encouraged-there is hope for healing from these devastating, debilitating symptoms.
I wish I had known what I know today, fourteen years ago when I first became ill. I believe my recovery would have been much faster, but my hope is to now spare others from the same tremendous suffering that I endured by sharing all that I’ve learned over the years.
To that end, my newest book is called Healthy, Happy and Free: Spirit-Soul-Body Solutions for Healing from Depression.
While the book is focused on depression, the principles and tools I share in it apply to other mental-emotional symptoms common in people with Lyme, CFS, fibromyalgia, mold illness and other manifestations of environmental illness. This book contains everything that I’ve learned over the past decade and a half about how to heal from depression and anxiety, and it is unique because it doesn’t just focus on providing solutions for the biochemical causes of depression, but the emotional and spiritual ones, too.
It’s also unique because it addresses the root causes of disease, so that you can be healed from the ground up, rather than simply giving you information on pharmaceutical medications and other treatments that only mask or manage symptoms. I also pepper the book with anecdotes of my own story and battle with depression, to encourage readers throughout.
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Because of my experience and research, I believe that Healthy, Happy and Free provides hope and practical help to those who have not found it through the means that have been made available to them.
If you or a loved one battles depression, anxiety or other mental-emotional symptoms caused by neurological disease, I encourage you to check out Healthy, Happy and Free: Spirit-Soul-Body Solutions for Healing from Depression. I believe you’ll find new answers here that will help you to recover, on all three levels of your person: spirit, soul, and body.
In the meantime, if you are looking for some nutritional supplements to help support your mood, mental function and chemistry, I encourage you to check out the following article, in which I share some of the supplements that have helped me and others I know, to either manage or recover from depression, anxiety, and cognitive issues caused by Lyme and neurological disease.
May you be richly blessed in your healing journey!
This article was first published on ProHealth.com on January 24, 2019 and was updated on October 13, 2020.
Connie Strasheim is the author of multiple wellness books, including three on Lyme disease. She is also a medical copywriter, editor and healing prayer minister. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: ConnieStrasheim.