1. Did you see a tick? Did a tick bite you?

Many people who contract Lyme never saw a tick. The rash that one gets from a lyme-infected tick bite, called erythema migrans (EM), only shows up in about 70% of people infected. So yes, it was probably a tick, but a tick can be the size of a poppy seed! Can you spot a poppy seed-sized bug crawling up your pant leg, or on the small of your back, or in your belly button, or in your butt crack? Bet you can’t.

2. Don’t you just take a few weeks of antibiotics for that?

No. No. No. But also yes. It’s complicated, ok?

If you are bitten by a tick and start a 3-week course of antibiotics within a few days, then you will be fine. That’s the best-case scenario. If you’ve been sick for some time and all the doctors you’ve seen can’t figure out what’s wrong with you, then it gets messy. You might get lucky and just be on antibiotics for a few months. It might take a year or two of a few different antibiotics. In some cases, patients need a PICC lineand are on intravenous (IV) antibiotics for years. That’s a hardware installation IN YOUR BODY.

3. But you look so healthy! You can’t possibly be ill!

Being painfully pretty is part of the problem. “Lymies” look totally healthy on the outside, but on the inside they’re a shitty mess. Want to know some of the symptoms hiding underneath that shiny, glowing exterior? Try joint pain, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, depression, headaches, stiff neck, memory loss, meningitis, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, tingling sensations, chills, insomnia…the list goes on. Yes, they look fine. But they’re not.

4. Isn’t that joint pain just arthritis/bursitis/a sports injury?

If you have a pre-existing condition when you contract Lyme, the Lyme borreliosis bacteria will target that condition and make it worse. The way a pack of hungry lions hunts the weakling in the herd of penguins, or whatever it is. So if you go for a run and strain your knee just a wee bit, those little Lyme bacteria are going to target that hurt knee and that shit is going to blow up like a balloon. Hello ibuprofen!

5. Sounds like maybe you’re just depressed?

Alright. Let me teach you something about Lyme disease. The borrelia is a spiral-shaped bacteria, also known as a spirochete, so it is capable of “drilling” its way into your brain and can affect how you think, feel, and perceive the world. You know how sometimes when you’re sick you feel a little down? It’s like that, but way, way worse. It’s Lyme-induced depression. So yes, it’s IN my head. No, really, the bacteria is INSIDE OF MY HEAD.

Lyme disease does take lives, by the way. People who are extremely sick feel so depressed and helpless that they end their lives. If that doesn’t freak you out, then you’re probably a sociopath.

6. Sounds like some kind of neurological disorder/the crazies. Maybe you need a therapist?

Because it gets into your brain, Lyme can cause a whole range of neurological symptoms. Some examples are Bell’s palsy, anxiety/panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mood disorders, depersonalization/derealization, and severe social anxiety. Many Lymies end up in therapy because they don’t know they have Lyme disease, and they think they’re losing their marbles. Some hide out from the world because it takes too much energy to socialize. Please try to understand, andlove your Lymies.

7. Haven’t you been treating that for months now? Aren’t you better yet?

Yes. It takes months, often years, to completely heal from Lyme disease. The longer you’ve had it, the longer your therapy is going to be. Some say you aren’t in the clear until you’ve been symptom-free for 2 years. That’s a long time to wait to know you are going to be reliably, and reasonably healthy again.

8. All those kooky, new-agey therapies you’re using aren’t going to work!

Listen, jerkface. If you had a terrible, life-consuming, chronic illness, you too would hook yourself up to a machine that delivers electromagnetic pulses, drink your green seaweed sludge, take magical healing plants during the full moon, meditate with crystals, and get regular ozone injections too.

The truth is, Lyme disease isn’t completely understood by modern medicine, and they refuse to admit it, so there is no one way to treat it. Some people can’t tolerate antibiotics. So they look to other options. There are many paths to wellness, so stop being a close-minded nerf herder.

9. Those drugs you’re on are just making you feel worse! Cut it out!

It’s called the Jarrisch-Herxheimer reaction, and it means that the healing has begun. Lymies refer to it as “herxing”, and it’s one of the terrible things about treating Lyme. No treatment=sick. Treatment=sick. They can’t win! Luckily, the herxheimer reaction passes and they feel better in the long run. No pain, no gain. And a few lucky souls don’t herx.

10. You don’t have Lyme disease! It’s all in your head!

Wanna know what’s in my head? Lyme disease. Also, me plotting your murder.

This is, unfortunately, a very common thing heard among people with Lyme. It’s so sad that I have no words.

So, healthy people, think twice before you say something ignorant and uninformed to someone who is suffering with Lyme disease. It’s a big deal, and it’s probably consuming most, if not all, of that person’s energy to heal and feel some sense of normalcy again. Lymies need love and support, so give it up!