The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

The Assumptive Worlds of Psychopathy VIII: Embracing Shame and Guilt—Unraveling the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

Kendell’s Narrative

Unfortunately, the guilt, shame, and stigma surrounding Mental and Chronic illnesses are oftentimes more debilitating to the person than the diseases themselves. One of us, Kendell, suffers from a misunderstood condition called Lyme disease or Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is not only a chronic physical illness—Lyme disease can present as a mental illness when it enters a person’s brain. This is called Neurological Lyme disease. Symptomatically, Lyme can be all over the map. It has often been called the “great masquerader,” because it does not present with a specific set of symptoms. Kendell has suffered from Chronic Neurological Lyme disease for the past 13 years; however, the doctors believe it was latent and undetected for many years before that. She also suffered from several other tick-borne diseases such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Bartonella. They all present somewhat similarly—hence it is almost impossible to tease out which disease was causing each symptom. For ease, we will use the word Lyme as the catchall word to represent all these diseases.

When Kendell was first diagnosed, she knew little about the disease, and mistakenly thought it would be an easy fix. Thirteen years later, she has come to realize the extent to which this disease is misrepresented and misunderstood. Many doctors will not admit that “Chronic” Lyme exists. Insurance companies won’t cover it, because they would be out billions if they admitted to its existence. Typically, physicians will only treat the disease with a course of antibiotics for one month—which is all the CDC’s guidelines require. After that, patients with Lyme disease often find themselves on their own financially and often times they also medically on their own as well. Guilt and shame are almost always associated with this disease—since it purportedly does not exist and doesn’t warrant any kind of real attention or even much compassion.

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About the Author

Lewis And MunzerChristy Lewis holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has counseled for a combined 17 years in several clinical and medical settings and has offered career/life coaching for an additional 10 years. Christy is also Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback through BCIA, the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance organization. Prior to working in private practice settings, Christy worked in Psychiatric and Rehabilitation hospital settings. Additionally, she worked in career transition/outplacement settings helping clients with their career transition needs. Christy Lewis currently works and is the director at her own private practice setting, The Biofeedback, Education, & Training Center, PLLC, where she combines counseling with a variety of training modalities to individuals of all ages who need help with issues ranging from severe emotional turmoil to people who are working on taking their personal growth to a higher level. Specifically, she has extensive experience working with kids, teens, & adults who have anxiety, depression, ADHD, frustration/anger issues, behavioral issues, and pain management. Kendell Munzer was born in Peekskill NY in 1973. In 1997 she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice from Curry College. In 2002 she earned her M.A in Counseling from Mercy College. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral Degree in Psychology at The Professional School of Psychology. Kendell works as a part time substitute teacher for the Charleston County School District. The majority of this work is spent working with behaviorally challenged students. She also works part time growing a local Kitchen and Bath business she and her husband have recently opened. Kendell has an extensive background as a Behavioral Specialist and has conducted many staff trainings and seminars. Presently she resides in Mt. Pleasant SC with her husband and two children. When Kendell isn’t at work she enjoys, photography, travelling, skiing, and spending quality time with her family.

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