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Thursday December 5th 2019


Flying With Broken Wings: Butterflies and Phoenixes

Post Published: 17 April 2010
Category: Column, Flying With Broken Wings, Thyroid Symptoms and Effects Column
This post currently has 25 responses. Leave a comment

I first stumbled across Dear Thyroid on New Year’s Eve of 2009 when I was reading Mary Shomon’s www.thyroid.about.com website and this website has undoubtedly been the dawn of a new era for me. For months, I had been searching for a support network where I felt able to be myself. I have found this in Dear Thyroid and the experience has truly changed my life. From the outset, I felt the desire to write my own column, but wouldn’t have had the audacity to suggest this – I have frequently had doubts about my own writing abilities and how my writing would be received by others. However, when Katie offered me my own column as Editor Research and Awareness, I was over the moon and I am very thankful to be given this opportunity.

I have always felt the inherent need to help and support others. I believe that this stems for my teenage years when I was bullied for being different. In England, there is in some ways a North-South divide. We lived up North (in Sheffield) and yet I had a southern accent because my parents are from down South. I never really fit in and I’m not sure I truly wanted to. My second problem was that back then I was picked on for being top of the class in a lot of subjects. A lot of subjects came effortlessly to me, partly because I pretty much had a photographic memory, but if somebody got top marks at our rough inner-city school, they were automatically branded a “swot” (from the British English verb “to swot up”, meaning to diligently study). The class twins Sarah and Lisa Rawson used to hold parties and invite everyone in the class – everyone that is except me. I will never forget what it was like to sit alone when everyone else sat in pairs in our classes. I used to dread that because I stuck out like a sore thumb. In addition, I was always the last person to be picked for a team in P.E. My heart sunk when it came to the selection process. I felt like such a reject. As a result, I know only too well what it is like to be an outcast and I feel that many people with chronic illness, such as thyroid disease, can identify with this as they are often ashamed of their condition. Evidently, illness is a taboo and we are frequently blamed by society in general for bringing it on ourselves.

When I went to university, I felt more accepted and appreciated for who I was. I was no longer ashamed to be good at my courses (I had a natural aptitude for languages and studied French and German) and was more than happy to help my fellow students. It was great to be needed and not despised for being good at something. Since this time, I have felt able to identify with others and experienced the desire to help and support them. It pains me to see others suffer and feel alone.

My column is about sharing my experiences and those of others. Nobody should ever feel alone. Nobody should ever feel misunderstood. Suffering gives us the ability to empathize with others and we have all had our fair share of it. My column has enabled me to blossom in many ways. On the one hand, it is extremely cathartic – I have written about so many past experiences that I have been bitter about for so very long. In a way, my column is better than psychotherapy for me personally. It enables me to write things down in a way that makes me feel capable of moving on and looking to the future. In fact, there have even been studies that state that writing is beneficial in the healing process, which is of course a large part of what Dear Thyroid represents.

In the past, I have felt unfulfilled. I wanted to do more to help others, but had not yet found my niche. I truly feel as if I have found it in Dear Thyroid and have been deeply touched by the responses and support I received for my articles. I am a people person – I enjoy being around people and feel able to empathize with them. As a result, it is very satisfying and fulfilling that I can now use my particular talent to help others. When I was first diagnosed, I would trawl the Internet for new and useful information on thyroid disease. I was surprised how much there was and whenever I did find something useful, I would send it to my sister-in-law H or Corey’s cousin L. H’s hubby S has Hashimoto’s and we suspect that H may have it too. L also has Hashimoto’s. It seems my information helped them. L has since been doing a lot better on her treatment and H may finally get diagnosed by a doctor we found for her together. Since I joined Dear Thyroid, I have persuaded H and L to join too and I can see that it has helped them both immensely – they now no longer feel alone and helpless and all three of us have become much more positive people as a result of this. There truly is power in numbers and we are all in the same boat, rowing along through a sometimes choppy sea.

My column Flying with Broken Wings is inspired by the 1985 song “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister. The thyroid resembles a butterfly. The thyroid of a thyroid disease sufferer looks like a broken butterfly, hence the name Flying with Broken Wings. On diagnosis, our lives are turned upside down and inside out and we have to learn to fly again. I hope that my column will help us all do precisely that.

Finally, this installment of FWBW is to say thank you – to Katie Schwartz for having me on board and welcoming me as part of her wonderful thyamily and to each of you for participating so avidly in Dear Thyroid, for supporting each other and for reading my column. I am ecstatic if it helps you. I have made so many new friends since joining Dear Thyroid and I treasure each and every one of you.

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25 Responses to “Flying With Broken Wings: Butterflies and Phoenixes

  1. Christina says:

    Thank you Sarah.
    What a great article.
    I can totally relate to everything you, ´ve said.
    When I was first diagnosed with Hashimotos I started searching for answers on the internet.My first stops were Mary Shomons website and Dear Thyroid.
    I am thankful every day that I found this great community and that I get to be a part of it and help people find their way through all of this.
    To me being able to share my experiences and show others that they are not alone in this is a like gift.
    No one should feel left alone.
    And to me this is exactly what Dear Thyroid is about.Sharing our experiences in those unique letters to our thyroids to show every other thyroid patient that they are not alone with their fears and frustration and using those letters as a catharsis to redefine ourselves and deal with all of our fear and anger.

  2. Hey Christina, thanks for your comments. Great to hear you can relate and are also enjoying your work for Dear Thyroid.

  3. Dear Thyroid says:

    Sarah, thank you for writing such a beautiful and inspiring column. And, thank you for sharing more about your history and feeling like an outcast. I’m so glad that when you got to college, you were finally appreciated.

    We appreciate you sooooo much!!!


  4. Thanks for your kind words, Katie. It is so nice to feel wanted and needed, isn’t it? I wanted to share these particular experiences this week because I know how often many of us feel alone, misunderstood and left-out, particularly when it seems like the rest of the world is the picture of health and doesn’t always understand this frequently misunderstood and underestimated disease.

  5. lori says:

    Sarah, thank you for sharing more of you! I know how hard it can be but it is empowering, don’t you think? The more we share ourselves, we not only help others but we heal ourselves in the process. It’s a WIN-WIN! Dear Thyroid is a very unique and special place, and your column has added to that immensely.

    “On diagnosis, our lives are turned upside down and inside out and we have to learn to fly again. I hope that my column will help us all do precisely that.” –Your column is helping to do just that and we are indeed learning to fly again. I had always loved the butterfly because I have a lot of “butterfly memories” from childhood. I would catch at least one everyday, then bring them inside and then let them go again. I was mesmerized by them. When I was first dx’d I hated them but now I am glad the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly, because it does represent what we must go through in our recovery from this disease.

    I used to have much bitterness, anger and hurt about all the wrongs I was dealt, lost years and missed opportunities, etc. in addition to the symptoms the disease itself causes. Those feeling are real and deep, and need to be acknowledged. We can’t repress what happens to us or it will keep us from healing to some extent, I think. It has stolen so much from us already!

    I would also like to thank Katie Schwartz for this wonderful community and allowing me to be validated.

    Sarah, I am very happy that this has been satisfying and fulfilling for you, and look forward to reading more of your well-written columns.

  6. Christine says:

    Beautiful writing, such heart and compassion, understanding and hope. Thank you!

    Katie- my world is better because of you too. You were a gift at the exact moment I needed one. What you and the others have created here is priceless, you have saved us all in one way or another.

  7. Thanks for your kind words, Lori. I really appreciate your support and am very glad that my column appears to be fulfilling its aim. I once heard someone – actually it was our mutual friend H – who compared the thyroid to a moth. Butterflies are so pretty, you see! I totally hear you about repressed feelings. I really do believe in talking about stuff, accepting it and getting it out in the open. For me it’s in my writing, for others therapy works really well and everyone seems to have their own particular tactic for dealing with stuff. Some people bottle stuff up though and that’s not really healthy in my opinion. It can be painful to talk about stuff, but even more painful when you let it fester inside you. I still hate those bullies who made my childhood years a misery, but I am determined not to let them get the better of me.

  8. Christine – Thank you very much. Your kind words really touched me. It was easy to write this column as it is something that is close to my heart. For years, I have felt very ashamed to admit that I was bullied and an outcast at school, but really it is about the here and now and what we make of it, isn’t it? Even with a chronic illness, we can do our best to live life to the fullest and do stuff that we find satisfying and fulfilling.

  9. Lolly says:

    Sarah, or should I call you Daran:-)

    I am so inspired by your columns and enjoy reading and replying to them.
    Sorry that you were bullied, it’s not very nice I was the sort of person who couldn’t stand bullies in the classroom and used to stick up for the ones being bullied because it wasn’t nice to see.
    I’m also one of those that beleive that things in life happen for a reason, being bullied made you a better person then those bullies and a caring person willing to share your experience of life and helping others too boot.

    Even getting a thyroid disease we think it’s the end of our world but it truly can make you a stronger person fighting for others or for yourself just living from day to day is a task in itself, just making it through each and everyday being able to watch those butterflies one of my favourite things, I have plenty in my garden it attracts all manner of things. How I wish I could be that butterfly or bird and fly off looking over the world.

    My dear departed mother always said to me “A problem shared is a problem halved” great words of wisdom and my dear old grandmother used to say the worse tasting medicines are the best medicines and that cod liver oil sure tasted foul.

    I am so glad to have found this place and the friendships and thyummunity that comes with it.

    So glad to have you onboard writing your columns.

    Look forward to your next installment.

    and Katie you know how I feel I tell you enough. Luvs ya girl and what you have done here and not excluding Liz either and all you thyrella’s and thyfellas you all rock!!!


  10. Thanks for your kind words of support, Lolly. I hated seeing others bullied too and even though I was constantly bullied myself I sometimes stuck up for others who were bullied because I knew how terrible it felt. I also believe that things happen for a reason. In fact, a lot of bad things in my life have really turned into very good things. At the time, it was tough and it didn’t always feel that way, but it is also about what we make of things. Sometimes bad experiences can actually be opportunities – we just have to see them as such. It certainly sounds like your gran had some really good advice up her sleeve.

  11. susan says:

    This is the year I decided to make a turn around with my mind and body. Reading what you provide for us is what has kept me motivted. I can never thank you adequately for the support, except to offer mine to others. Thank you Sarah. x

  12. Susan – Thank you very much. That is so sweet and offering support to others is truly the best thanks you could give me! I am glad that I have kept you motivated. I’m cheering you on with your endeavours to turn things around for yourself and others!

  13. Joanna H says:

    Dear Sarah,

    Thank you for writing this column, it’s truly beautiful! I’m inspired that you are able to just pour your heart out in writing as well as you do and that you describe things in such detail. I love the information you add to each column too. It gives me details on what to look for and what I should be asking my doctors as I am still waiting for a diagnoses. I can completely relate to everything you’ve said about being isolated too. It’s the most uncomfortable and heart wrenching feeling there is. I admire your spirit!


  14. HD inOregon says:

    Dear Sarah,

    What a great column. I liked the “cathartic” bit about the healing qualities of expressing things in writing, so very true. I too did write it off my chest.

    Thanks for being such a great supporter and friend here on “Dear Thyroid”.

    {{{{ Hugs }}}}

    HD in Oregon

  15. HD inOregon says:

    P.S. to Dear Thyroid,

    Thank you to dear Katie (or whoever the webmaster is here) for getting rid of those ghastly monster icons. Though I know that any thyroid disease is indeed a vicious monster, my well meaning comment though, shouldn’t be viewed as monstrous. … I prefer the new pretty patterns.



  16. Heide says:

    Thank You Sarah, you always write from your heart and it is deeply appreciated. As A young girl I also felt the outcast, boys called me “moose” due to being the tallest kid in the school. Funny part is I am now considered short, I had just reached my full hight by about 11 and fully developed, and overweight as well to confuse me more. So as a fellow outcast, I can certainly appreciate the torment you faced. I like to think it helped to form us into the people we are today. You obviously learned to be compassionate and giving, although others learn it in different ways, your path led you here. And for your talent to be shared with us is our blessing. I always look forward to your next supportive, and loving words. Thank you for all the hard work you do to make us feel more alike than different.

  17. caroline lamont says:

    Sarah, you are the kind of person I wished I had as a friend in school, because I know for sure you would have watched my back and you know what I would have watched yours.!! I love people too, and care probably more than I should, but that’s my nature, I should have been a doctor(thyroid doc). I just wanted to let you know I love your articles, they are so in depth and so informative, I don’t always have time to comment, but I love this sight. I did go through an extremely hard year when I was finally diagnosed, but I feel blessed that I havn’t had to deal with cancer and a lot of the things that some of Dear Thyroid’s members have had to endure. I learn from everyone, I still have some really bad days, but when I cut back on Glueten I feel so much better!! Keep doing what you are doing, you are an amazing writer Sarah.11 I hope the skies over your head tonight are not to dark and the volcanic haze has lifted.

  18. Joanna H – So glad you liked my column. I always enjoy writing it and I like to include useful information so that others can benefit from it. Often, I also learn new things myself. I hope you will get the right diagnosis soon. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Hugs, Sarah

  19. HD, I like the cathartic bit too, as it’s a healthy exercise for everyone. I am glad that writing helps you too. Hugs back, Sarah

  20. Hey H, I am sorry you got called “moose”. Kids can be so unbelievably cruel and they tend to follow each other like sheep, so if one is cruel to you the others often are too. You are supportive and loving, too. Love you H! Together we will get you the right diagnosis.

  21. Caroline – So glad you like my articles and that they are helpful. I am glad that you have found something that works well for you (gluten-free). I too feel that things could be a lot worse, but at times symptoms can be tough to deal with for every thyroid patient. I feel blessed to have good doctors right now, but sometimes I still feel impatient to get better faster.

  22. Miriam says:

    Thanks Sarah, so enjoy reading your articles.

    I do so agree with you Lolly regarding your comments. Your articles inspire me, to go on and look forward and not letting this wretched Thyroid condition which can be so debilitating at times, to try and not let it get me down.

    Its not easy school years, and Sarah, I remember it well, you are now having the last laugh and getting on with your life and with Corey, your life will go on to be contented, I’m sure of that. I wonder how many of your class mates can say that?

    You can be sure all your thyrellas and thyfellas on this site are right behind you, and if ever you feel down, just contact one of us and you won’t be down for long.

    I also discovered Dear Thyroid from the link from Mary Shoman on about.com, I am so happy I did as since discovering Dear Thyroid, I feel more at ease knowing there so many suffering the same as myself. Its actually a great comfort to know that others like yourself, Sarah, are feeling the same, and if I have a down day, I know you, Sarah and others will know how I feel and so in turn makes me not so alone with this condition.

    Also thank you Katie for setting up Dear Thyroid in the first place, we needed a site just for sufferers to rant and rave and share symptoms and therapies as well as being informative. You have helped so many of us round the world by us being able to share our symptoms and getting advice from others experiencing the same symptoms.

    So Sarah, please keep those wonderful weekly columns going. I don’t always get a chance to read every blog every day, but I do try and read as many articles on the site as I can, even if I don’t always comment, but I do make sure I read yours every Saturday and comment. You tell it like it is, and don’t patronise us, and make us realise that we can cope with the disease and not to feel alone with our symptoms.

    Keep up the good work, you have many followers out there in thyrella land 🙂

    Miriam xx

  23. Miriam – Sorry for the delay. I’ve been feeling ill all day. I am very glad that my articles inspire you not to give up. I know how very long you have been suffering, but I also know that you are an amazingly strong woman.

    Who knows what became of many of my class mates? I try not to think about them too much, but to focus on the fact that I am now happy. It is great to know that I have so much support from all my friends here at Dear Thyroid.

    I really appreciate it that you read my column every week. That touches me deeply. It is precisely my aim for us to feel less alone.



  24. Cynthia says:

    Oh Sarah.. this is so you.. you are such a sweetheart and you can totally tell in this article! You are an amazing person! I know since we have “met” you’ve helped me so so much and continue doing so with your articles!


  25. Cynthia – what a sweet thing to say! You’ve been a good friend to me too and I am more than happy to have helped you:-). Hugs!

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