Thyroid Retrofit, with Apologies to Joseph Campbell
One of the books I’d like to write is about feminizing Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero, but in my story it would involve a heroine with a thyroid that gives her trouble. Lotsa, lotsa trouble. Sluggish, temperamental, irreverent, polarized – sometimes hyper, sometimes hypo. In short: crazy-making.
When you’re in the throes of hyperthyroidism or staring down your bathroom scale as you wrestle with weight gain from hypothyroidism, you usually don’t care too much about Joseph Campbell and how his Heroic Journey may be relevant to your path. But bear with me for a moment, and let’s together nurture the question: “Is there some wisdom, some important message, that my body is trying to send me?”
Why bother, you may ask. My TSH is now fine. Bother because our beliefs determine our health. As Christiane Northrup stated so pioneeringly, “Belief becomes biology.” She goes on: “If we don’t work through self-destructive thoughts, our thoughts set ourselves up for physical distress because of the biochemical effect that emotions have one our immune and endocrine systems.”
Plumbing the deeper messages of our thyroid (or endocrine gland of your preference) allows us access to greater resilience. It’s all about resilience when it comes to our endocrine and immune troubles. Most of my lovely patients (myself included) who are hypothyroid or cancer survivors or battle their autoimmune thyroiditis perceive their lives to be Stress City, and as a result, have adrenal dysregulation. From Chris: “It is not the stress itself that creates problems. It is, rather, the perception that stress is inescapable…. Perception can be changed.”
The first step in looking at your condition in this way, and changing perception, is to discern what Joe calls, “The Call.” This is your initiation – when you first became conscious that a big change is/was happening. Initiations are difficult, right? Initiations strip away what you don’t need, what you’re attached to but may be causing suffering.
What form is your initiation? A diagnosis of thyroid cancer? Hair loss? Fatigue so deep, it seemed to emanate from your bones? Initiation is a lot like birth, which I can say from having gone through it 5 and 10 years ago. Birth is painful and glorious. It involves contractions. Painful contractions make birth possible, and lead to tremendous openings in awareness and perception, expansions into a new state of being.
OK, enough – let’s get to the heart of the matter. Here is Joe’s seven-stage trip of the hero, femme’ed out for our purposes. It is largely paraphrased from Joe Campbell (who discerned these steps from scriptures and myths) and Jim Gordon, MD, who wrote about the Hero’s Journey as it relates to depression in Unstuck.
- The Call: Awareness that we need to change, not in a small way but a gigantic way. We realize we’re 20 pounds overweight. We get diagnosed with cancer. We tired of being chronically overwhelmed and overbusy. We can’t take another day of PMS. Some type of journey is ahead. Often we refuse the call, we try to charge onward. But the call is persistent.
- Guides: Finding and selecting those who can help, can augment our recovery; those people that provide synergy to the development of our own intuition and inner wisdom. People like Mary Shomon, Katie Schwartz.
- Surrender to Change: Figuring out what we need to let go more fully, how to take off the shoes that are too tight and get a pair that actually serve you. This is where letting go of attachments comes in (“Really? Don’t take that! Can’t I take the Journey with my Jimmy Choos?”)
- Demon Facing: How do we identify the challenges – the reasons we overeat, the reasons we keep overschedule, the reasons we don’t nurture ourselves. Perfectionism, being ruled by the inner authoritarian, the erosive effects of resentment. Identifying through this process “the unique daimon, the source of our own meaning, purpose and direction,” according to Jim Gordon, MD.
- The Dark Night of the Soul: the only way to heal the pain is to go straight through it – as Jim writes, “Allowing and inviting the deepest life-giving freedom to emerge as we move through the despair that may come to any of us.”
- Spirituality: The Blessing – this is the realization that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity and transform our lives. Can be a belief in Unity, Peace, Higher Self, or whatever your conception of a higher power is.
- The Return: Re-learning how to live abundantly, joyously, drunkenly alive once again, consciously connected to ourselves and others.
So, my friend, I must ask: What is your Call to Action? How does that fit into your own arc of the Hero/Heroine-Myth?
Written by Dr. Sara Gottfried
Tags: body awareness, endocrine guides Mary Shomon, facing health demons, hyperthyroid tempermental irreverent and polarized, hyperthyroid weight loss, hypothyroid sluggish, hypothyroid weight gain, physical distress biochemical effect that emotions have on our immune and endocrine systems, re-learning how to live abundantly, surrendering to change, Thyroid Retrofit, thyroids are crazy making, tips for thyroid dysfunction, what is your thyroid call to action, with Apologies to Joseph Campbell written by Sara Gottfried MD