Teenager branded 'attention-seeking and depressed' for five years is shocked to discover she was actually battling Lyme disease

They repeatedly dismissed the then teenager's concerns, believing she was just desperate for attention.

But after years of being plagued by rashes, severe migraines, aching joints, fatigue and neurological problems including bouts of depression, a specialist uncovered the truth.

Mikayla was suffering Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick.

The now 23-year-old from Rhode Island, New England, said despite being told by medics it was "all in her head", she knew something was seriously wrong.

A neurologist tried to solve the teenager's mystery condition with drugs, including anxiety and migraine relief.


Brain scans showed no signs of anything sinister.

And doctors referred her to see a therapist, fearing she was depressed but wasn't admitting it.

It was only years later, when she was 18, that tests revealed Mikayla had Lyme disease – a condition that plagues stars Bella Hadid, Kelly Osborne, Shania Twain and Matt Dawson.

If left untreated, the disease can lead to a loss of motor and sensory function – a form of paralysis.


Her relief at finally having an answer soon gave way to facing her new reality and struggling to accept it.

"At first I was so relieved to be able to show all those who didn't believe that I was sick, that I was right," she said.

At first I was so relieved to be able to show all those who didn’t believe that I was sick, that I was right

"I'm a very strong person, but when you have so many people – many you loved – ignoring you and putting you down, of course you start to believe it.

"You lose yourself and any self-esteem you may have had.

"It's abuse, point blank, and it's wrong."

Since her diagnosis five years ago, Mikayla's life has been turned upside down.

Her chronic disability means she struggles physically and can no longer play the sports she once loved.

But it has opened her eyes and helped her develop a more positive mental outlook.

"With my diagnosis came a huge amount of grief and loss," Mikayla recalled.

"The loss of friends, family, school, sports, dreams, which were all a big part of 'me'.


“I always knew I was meant to be a mum but also I wanted to make it through nursing school and find my fairy-tale life like anyone else – but I’m now about to be 24 and none of that is close to reality.

“I needed to ‘mourn’ the loss of my very high expectations but I’m thankful for the life Lyme disease has brought me and for the struggles because I have been able to rediscover myself.

What is Lyme disease?

 

CELEBS including supermodel Bella Hadid and Kelly Osbourne have spoken of their battles with Lyme disease.

It's a bacterial infection spread by ticks.

As with many chronic conditions, the earlier it is caught the better, making it easier to treat and manage.

It can be hard to diagnose, but signs include:

  • a telltale rash – a circular rash around a tick bite, that appears up to three months after being bitten and lasts for several weeks. Most rashes appear within four weeks
  • not everyone gets the rash
  • many develop flu-like symptoms
  • a high temerature
  • headaches
  • muscle and joint pain
  • tiredness and a loss of energy

Most tick bites are harmless, but it's important to be aware and know how to safely remove the insects.

Ticks that cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, but high risk areas include grassy and wooded areas in Southern England and the Scottish Highlands.

 

“I had to go through a lot of self-recognition and accept this new life I was about to lead."

She said Lyme disease has given her a new appreciation for life, and reminds her to "never take a second for granted".

"I've learned to slow down and really enjoy all of life's little moments," she added.

"I knew I would never let my illness control my life, but I did have to understand that there were always going to be set backs, having a chronic illness."

Mikayla said she's now realised the importance of being kind to people.

"You never know what someone is hiding behind his or her smile," she said.

"I wish people would recongise how far a little act of support or kindness really goes.

"No one should have to go through an illness alone, and I was one of those people at times.


"I want to be there for someone else going through that rough patch."

Mikayla is now able to inspire others with her positive outlook on chronic illness and Lyme disease and she urges others to remain as strong as she was forced to be when doctors refused to listen to her.

“I was given this crazy life for a reason and Lyme disease has given me a purpose to spread awareness and make a difference.

“Always advocate for yourself and make sure your voice is heard.
"Only YOU know your body, your needs, and what’s best for you.

“Listen to your gut and be confident in yourself and your choices.

“Falling ill taught me that life isn’t about your accomplishments or failures; it’s about living. I’m thankful for my illness because it’s taught me to live my life and take everything as it comes.”



 

Source: Read Full Article