6 Musicians Who Have Struggled Openly With Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a hard-to-diagnose, potentially very dangerous illness that is often carried by little insects known as ticks that are found in open spaces, tall grass, and the woods.

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According to the Oxford Dictionary, Lyme is “an inflammatory disease characterized at first by a rash, headache, fever, and chills, and later by possible arthritis and neurological and cardiac disorders, caused by bacteria that is transmitted by ticks.”

While the disease has been underplayed for years, more recently a number of celebrities who have contracted it have spoken out about its harmful effects and the difficulties they’ve had even discovering they had the disease.

Here below we wanted to spread the word on what Lyme disease is and those musical heroes who have endured the pain and struggle associated with Lyme. From Kathleen Hanna to Justin Bieber, Lyme is often a silent villain.

Let’s dive into their stories below.

1. Kathleen Hanna

In some ways, the riot grrrl icon, Kathleen Hanna, has become the poster child for musicians who struggle with Lyme. For years, she was sick and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. Finally, though, she got the diagnosis and has been helping spread the word about Lyme to others ever since. As of 2015, though, she was officially “Lyme free,” wrote Pitchfork. But it’s thanks to her talking about her struggle that so many more people know about the illness. “I started to forget who I was aside from being sick,” said Hanna about the low points in her life. “But when I’m performing [now] it’s like I’m myself again.”

2. Daryl Hall

Hall talked about his struggle with Lyme disease in 2017, saying he got it like everyone gets it, from a tick while living in the country. “One day I got a really high fever, my neck stiffened up, I had all kinds of aches and pains and I got really bad tremors,” said Hall. I didn’t know what it was, so I went in for tests, and Ehrlichia – which is a tick disease – came up in that initial test result.  About a week after that, I learned that I had six or seven tick-borne diseases.”

Hall has learned to cope with Lyme but it hasn’t been easy. Today, he hates the sight of deer, which often carry ticks, saying, ” I don’t hate the poor deer!  I feel sorry for the poor deer!  I just hate it when they get close to me!”

3. Avril Lavigne

The Canadian-born “Sk8er Boi” singer had a bad case of Lyme disease. She was bedridden for two years from the disease. Lavigne talked about the “worst years” of her life, saying, “I was able to turn that fight [with Lyme disease] into music I’m really proud of…Words and lyrics that were so true to my experience came pouring out of me effortlessly.” Lavigne first thought she might have Lyme after watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, seeing Yolanda Hadid struggling with the illness and wondering if she too might have it. Since then, Lavigne has founded the Avril Lavigne Foundation to raise awareness about Lyme and tick-borne illnesses.

4. Justin Bieber

The “Love Yourself” singer has not had the best of luck when it comes to body health as of late. Along with suffering from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome and enduring paralysis of the face, Bieber also suffers from Lyme disease. In 2019, Bieber suffered from both Lyme and mono. He wrote on Instagram that his critics at that time “failed to realize I’ve been recently diagnosed with Lyme disease.” The illness, he said, had a big and bad impact on his “skin, brain function, energy, and overall health.” He also talked about all this in his YouTube documentary.

5. Shania Twain

The most successful female country star of all time, Twain suffered from Lyme disease for some 20 years. It even threatened to kill her career. Twain first contracted the disease from a tick bite while doing what she loved: horseback riding. It brought on blackouts, dizziness, and more. It even threatened her singing voice, attacking her vocal cords. Said the artist in her documentary, Shania Twain: Not Just a Girl, “My voice was never the same again. I thought I’d lost my voice forever.” While it took a long time for her to get her diagnosis, eventually she found the right one and today she has a “grip” on the situation.

6. Debbie Gibson

The “Only in My Dreams” pop star went undiagnosed for a long time when she first contracted the illness. To wit, she took Xanax to help get her to sleep, but it didn’t work. Gibson told People that the pills “started wigging my body out and was triggering something to do with the Lyme.” After a year of searching, she got the right diagnosis. Today, she suffers from pain and insomnia. Her way to combat it is living “zen and open.”

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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