Humanity's most basic need is to be loved, so when we don’t receive love from friends or family, or we feel that God doesn't love us, our soul suffers, our spirit withers, and disease and depression can set in. Studies have shown that babies who aren’t held, or children who aren’t hugged, loved or affirmed in their infancy, have much higher rates of disease later on in life.
Perhaps one of the saddest realities of chronic Lyme disease- or any other major chronic illness for that matter –is that people with Lyme are often abandoned or not adequately supported by their friends and family, who don’t understand what they are going through, don’t want to be involved in their struggles, or simply don’t have the emotional capacity to care for them. Just when love and support are most needed, many people with Lyme disease find themselves fighting the most tremendous and difficult battle of their lives, all alone, or with minimal support.
If this is you, my heart goes out to you. I have been there, and experienced a loss of love and support at times throughout my battle with chronic illness. My loved ones did the best they could, but at times, I felt alone, with nobody to talk to, and nobody to support and encourage me. During those times, it was difficult to not cave into despair.
Earlier this year, I experienced some of those feelings again, when my sweetheart Bill was hospitalized multiple times for congestive heart failure and a stroke, and I had to drive to the hospital, day after day for weeks, while battling dizziness, profound fatigue and neurological symptoms from mold toxicity- while also still trying to work. After having experienced significant healing from Lyme, I relapsed after a major mold exposure last year, and there have been times when I have wondered whether I would make it through myself—and this time period was one of them.
Having no close friends or family in Dallas where I now live, I felt alone and angry that nobody was around to help me, or that none of my loved ones would volunteer to come to Texas to support me—even for a week. I would think, If they only knew that I’m fighting the biggest battle of my life here. In my frustration, I once said to God, "Why won't You send someone to HELP me? What will I do if something happens to both of us? Who will help me? Who will take care of us?"
The battle was fierce and long. In the meantime, I developed such pain in my back and right leg that I could barely stand or walk. God heard my cries and two months later, opened a door to a gifted Messianic chiropractor and minister, who, when I stepped into his office, promptly looked me in the eyes and said, "This (your pain) is fear!"
Interestingly, fear is the opposite of love. I felt that I wasn’t experiencing the love that I needed; from others, or from God.
When I then shared my struggles with the chiropractor, He said in a gentle, kind tone: "If you only knew about the help that you have in the Heavenly realm! If you only knew the great cloud of witnesses that are interceding for you in Heaven, and the angels and the Heavenly hosts that are there, willing and able to help you…you would be able to handle 100 times what you have going on right now!"
His words struck a chord in my spirit. The presence of God in my life should have been enough for me to feel at ease, but somehow, I needed to know this, and I left his office, feeling more empowered, at peace and thankful than I had been in a long time. Of course there was help, and this help was even more powerful and bountiful than that which any human could provide! I was not alone.
Regardless of your beliefs, you need to know that you don’t have to be alone, either. There are times in life when things can get so hard that many of your friends and family will flee, or you'll simply have no human around who can lend you a hand, a shoulder or an ear. I know that many of you who battle Lyme disease have experienced this at times.
Yet I believe that the Creator of the Universe deeply loves and cares for all of us, and will love and provide for us when we can’t provide for ourselves. We just have to have faith and choose to trust that our needs for love and support will be met. In addition, there are people out there who will understand what you are going through and who will support you, no matter the storm. Such people have often been through similar trials themselves, or are simply are one of those unique souls that has an enlarged capacity for goodness and giving. It has often been said that when you get sick, those that you expect to be there for you, sometimes won’t be, but those that you don’t expect, will. It just may take some time to find them.
When I was going through the incredible battle that I just described, once I finally decided to trust God to take care of us, shortly thereafter, a couple of beautiful women showed up to support us and offer us some practical help around the home- women who did not know us but whom we had "met" on Facebook. I am so grateful for these women!
At times, you’ll have to reach out for the support that you need. You may not find it within your own family or circle of friends, but I encourage you to join a church, support group or community fellowship organization, or another organization that has as one of its goals to help others in need. If at first you don’t find the help that you need, don’t give up! It’s a big world out there.
At the same time, I encourage you, as you’re able, to help others in need, by taking an interest in their lives and asking them if they need someone to talk to, or if there’s anything that you can do for them. Often, when we’re sick, we become inward-focused and believe that we can’t do much to be a blessing to others, because our time and energy are so limited. While I believe this can be true, I’ve also found that when I’ve stretched myself a little and gave to others out of my perceived lack, I ended up being fulfilled and even receiving love back. I don’t advocate “giving to get” but I believe that one of the spiritual laws of the universe is that when we give love to others, love comes back to us in some form or fashion.
For me, that has meant loving others, and believing God to send people into my life who will love and support me when I really need it. We were all created for love and companionship, and when you battle Lyme, being able to give and receive love is essential for healing. And don't assume that because you may have significant challenges, that you aren’t worthy of love or that nobody will want to bother being your friend. The shallow people in your life will fall away, but true love endures whatever storms life throws at you. There may yet be times when you will be alone in your healing journey; when and if that happens, I encourage you to believe that there is still a God out there who is looking after and caring for you. I know that my faith has helped me to weather many incredible storms, anyway. May you be blessed with love and friendship, even in unexpected places!
Connie Strasheim is the author or co-author of 11 wellness books, including the recently released New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work. (October, 2016) and Beyond a Glass of Milk and a Hot Bath: Advanced Sleep Solutions for People with Chronic Insomnia.