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Emotional

Laughter, the best medicine

Do you journal your experience of Lyme? I did, and though it's painful to read now, I am glad I captured something of the emotional and psychological dimension while it was occurring. I wouldn't have remembered how I scraped the bottom, especially in comparison to the healthy high that is my new normal.

Shortly after diagnosis, I was put on a cocktail of antibiotics that nearly killed me. Every day was a challenge. No, every breath was a challenge. I never knew that severe pain could be a 24/7 ordeal. The physical pain was torture, but it was the accompanying emotional pain that pushed me over the edge into despair. And then, miraculously, and none too soon, pushed me out again.

From my journal: Lately, I feel emotionally raw, and a bit overwhelmed by a radical compassion for the suffering in this world. I am tremendously grateful for my friends and family. If not for them, I would be dead. My heart breaks for anybody who doesn’t have people to lean on in times of crisis.

I was falling apart—in mind and body. Lyme was bitch-slapping me right out of the stratosphere. The illness had triggered some mysterious process that was stripping me of everything that wasn't absolutely necessary for my immediate survival—from certain foods and drinks, to relationships, to habits, to clothes that I couldn't wear (too itchy, too big, too small), to possessions, desires, and even including my lifelong dreams. I was a musician who couldn't practice, a writer who couldn't string a sentence together. I wasn't left with much that I could recognize of my old self. I was being peeled to the core of whatever ragtag collection of trinkets might be left of my inner self. And inside, things were no bed of roses. In there, I discovered I was capable of really feeling my own pain, and other people’s, deeply, probably for the very first time.

But I could laugh—and that's why God made comedy.

Each day, Evan went in mad pursuit of a (hopefully) hilarious movie that we hadn’t yet seen. We'd start it up before bedtime, and cross our fingers it would work its magic.

While I was laughing, I wasn't thinking about my pain. Pain did not exist! Those precious moments were my aim, my sacred chalice. For a few brief seconds, I wasn't trapped inside my misery. I was free. And like cracking a window for fresh air, I believe healing can take hold in those small openings. Episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 were manna from heaven.

But you can’t fake it. That’s the trick. Your funny bone has got to be genuinely tickled. You must actually be laughing, not just ha, ha, faking it. Bowled over, tummy-clenching humor--miracle of miracles. I felt like I’d discovered the Rosetta Stone.

Most people suffering with longterm Lyme symptoms realize that addressing the psychological component of the disease is equally as important as treating the physical one. The two cannot be separated.

Homework assignment: Watch a comedy tonight.


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