I have Lyme disease and several other infections related to Lyme. I am a 58-year-old woman and I live alone. I have no family to speak of, no friends, and it’s perfectly clear that nobody wants to date me because I’m so ill. Thank goodness I have my little dog. She is the joy of my life, but a dog is just not enough. My depression is so deep and so dark that is very difficult for me to climb up and out to get to the other side. I have no support systems. I am under very good treatment with a specialty Lyme doctor, but nothing seems to be working. There are no support groups in my area, and I just don’t see any answers for me.
Sick and Sad
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Dear Sick and Sad,
The word that springs to mind when I read your letter is “Hope”. You are feeling hopeless, and you need to connect to something, or receive some kind of support, to feel hope.
This is a heartbreaking situation, and I am so sorry that you’re going through it. It sounds like you’ve lived a stoic and independent life, and that has worked well for you up until now. However, few of us are designed to be hermit-monks. We need social interaction!
You should be aware, though, that illness can trigger clinical depression. So, before you start focusing on making new friends, you need to make sure that your feelings are something you can deal with yourself. Your letter indicates that you trust your physician, so please take a moment to ask him or her to refer you to a good therapist. A therapist can help you determine if your feelings are normal or a symptom of something more than ordinary sadness and loneliness. If your depression is clinical, working with a therapist is the best way to handle it.
Dealing with your depression is an important part of taking care of yourself. To me that sounds like it’s the step you need to take, whether it’s through a support group, by way of medication, or natural remedies. As Jennifer said, counseling can help, and the right medication may offer a short term solution for getting you out of the hole. For medication you would need the help of a psychiatrist, and your medical doctor can refer you to one.
If you are able do some walking, even just a bit at a time, begin it now and stay with it. Exercise is proven to have a positive effect on depression.
There is also another resource you might consider. Bach Flower Essences offers several remedies for depression. They are natural, and can be very effective if you have the right match. You can find them at most natural food stores. Whatever steps you take, don’t stop if one doesn’t work. Stay under your doctor’s supervision, and keep at it until you find what works best for you.
Your letter also says that you have no family “to speak of,” I take that to indicate that you do have some family, somewhere, who cares about you, even if you’re estranged. In your current situation, your family is probably the best place to start looking for support. Begin a dialog and tell them that you’re going through a hard time. There are few people who will ignore an honest plea for help. If you live far away, consider moving closer. I think you’ll find family to be your most dependable ally, no matter what has happened in the past.
Regardless of what you decide to do about your family, you also need to learn how to meet and make friends. The only way to do that is to get out of your comfort zone. Being sick is very isolating, but to make new friends, you have to get out of the habit of being alone. Start branching out. Take time to meet all your neighbors. My husband is in the military and we move around a lot. The first thing I do after moving in, is bake a big batch of cookies and bring them around to all my neighbors. This works for me every time. You may not become best friends with every neighbor, but you’ll all at least know one another and, if nothing else, you’re building a better, stronger community.
The internet is also a great way to meet people! You’ve already reached out to us here at the Healing Waterfall, so take a moment to join our Facebook group and keep in touch with us there, and consider all the other amazing sites dedicated to bringing people together. SocialJane is a site just for women who need new friends; but don’t forget about Meetup or the plethora of dating sites out there! I know how much you love your sweet dog, so use these resources to find a puppy-play group or dog-walking partner.
One other resource you may not have considered is a church group. If you’re not religious or if you’ve been hurt by a church group before, this may seem uncomfortable, but churches are a good place to meet people. Remember that most people going to church are at least trying to do better. Many churches also offer support groups that you may not have considered before.
You have a lot of options available. Please don’t let your illness and isolation keep you from leading a loving and fulfilling life.