Contributors

Rebecca Brinkmann, PhD, CHC

Rebecca Brinkmann, PhD, CHC

Dr. Rebecca Brinkmann became interested in nutrition, fitness & health after battling Lyme disease for several years.  During her treatment, she went on a quest to repair her own immune system. As a researcher, she became increasingly aware that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, one must take charge of their own health.  She believes this is accomplished by working with one's physician rather than being a passive consumer of health care. Rebecca earned her doctorate in communication studies and has taught in higher education for over 12 years. She earned her health consulting certification from the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. Her interest in health includes the mind, body and spirit connection.  She became deeply interested in the spiritual aspect of one's life while she obtained her ministry certification from Catch the Fire School of Ministry in 1996.

Emotionally Numb: Lyme Depersonalization & Anxiety

“When I would look at myself in a mirror, I could not recognize the person staring back at me. When I would smile, it looked fake, as if someone took my very soul from my body.”

 

What is depersonalization?

Depersonalization is when you feel completely detached from the world emotionally. 

What depersonalization feels like

The intensity of Lyme disease hit me like a tidal wave. I became severely ill and continued on a downward slope at a rapid pace. In addition to the plethora of physiological symptoms, the psychological symptoms that accompanied Lyme disease could be summed up with one word - HELL.

I have come to the conclusion that “fear” is not an emotion, but it’s the total lack of emotion. It’s the minus of everything good and lovely about who we are.

I have three beautiful children who I love more than anything, but a few weeks into my illness (pre-diagnosis), I was in full "fight or flight" mode. I had an overwhelming anxiety and unfounded fear that stayed with me 24/7. In addition, I was sinking into an abyss of non-feeling. I have come to the conclusion that "fear" is not an emotion, but it's the total lack of emotion. It's the minus of everything good and lovely about who we are.

This was not me. I loved life, people, and especially my family. I was adventurous. I loved biking, hiking and rock climbing. I was a world traveler and never turned down the opportunity to go somewhere new and exciting!  All of this changed with Lyme.

Depersonalization gets better with treatment

Suddenly, I felt like a stranger in my own body.  I felt like the walking-dead, a body without a soul, feeling nothing for those who I supposedly loved the most. I tried to conjure up those emotions, but I couldn't make myself "feel" anything. Instead, I had to fake it for many months until my emotions began to return slowly. The first time, was late one night, when everyone was sleeping. That evening, I quietly slipped into my children's bedrooms to check on them. As I stared down at their little sleeping, angel faces, the emotion of love filled my heart. I was so shocked that I began weeping––they were tears of joy. The next morning, the feeling was gone. So, each night, I would repeat my rounds through their rooms so that I could feel the love that I knew was in my heart for my beloved children. As time went on, the feeling began to linger––lasting longer each day. Within a month of this late-night routine, all of my feelings returned to normal.

There is hope

Not only are you stripped of your physical abilities, you are robbed of the most precious part of who you are– the ability to love and be loved.

Going through the emotion numbing symptoms of Lyme is the worst part of this disease. Not only are you stripped of your physical abilities, you are robbed of the most precious part of who you are– the ability to love and be loved. I am still amazed by the fact that a bacteria, attacking your brain, can have this impact on your emotions, but it does and it is real.

There is hope. I cannot say that I completely understand the attack of the emotions from Lyme, but I can say that depersonalization and anxiety go away with treatment. So, don't give up. If you are feeling lost, anxious, and fearful, hold on to hope. It will get better!

 

Becca Brinkmann, PhD, writes about her experiences with Lyme disease and how she found hope through the storm of illness. She created hopetohealth.com to provide resources and information on Lyme treatment and support. She recently published a book for her son with congenital Lyme, called My Wish. She lives with her family in Western Pennsylvania. Visit hopetohealth for more information. Subscribe to the blog below!


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