Thy-What?!: The Scapegoat In My Neck
For nearly 20 years, I all but ignored my little thyroid issue, figuring the little magic pill would do all the heavy lifting and all I had to do was remember to take it every morning and refill it once a month.
I’d go to medical appointments and almost forget about that whole pesky thyroid thing.
Them: “Any medications or supplements?”
Me: “Just a multi-vitamin.”
Them: “Any surgeries or hospitalizations?”
Me: “Oh wait, I take Synthroid. For hypothyroid, but you know, it’s no big deal. Millions of other take it too.” I always felt the irrational need to make sure the nurse knew that I was healthy and this silly pill and that pesky thyroid were just little side things. I “had” them but they weren’t really me.
I continued to go through life always tired. With unexplainable mood swings. And weird weight fluctuations that in no way matched my food intake or exercise habits. Watching my skin turn white or blue in a strongly air-conditioned environment. Sometimes weird hair things or fingernail things. Skin stuff.
Never enough to cause a crisis or derail me, but always there and part of me.
I tried not to be a blamer. I really hated blamers. You know, the people who had an excuse for everything. That wasn’t me. I was more the blame-myself-and-then-suck-it-up-and-keep-going kind of person.
I didn’t want to take the easy way out and blame my thyroid. I was a trooper, I was stronger than anyone or anything. Maybe I was just destined to be a tired, moody, bitchy, sometimes-fat, sometimes-skinny blue person. Maybe I needed to work on accepting me and not pin this mess on some tiny gland in my neck.
Plus, I of course had total faith in whatever endocrinologist I was seeing at the time. After all, they knew more about all that stuff than I did, right? And if they told me my blood tests were ok, then I should feel fine, right? It was clear I wasn’t to tell them how tired and bitchy and foggy I was – they’d probably try to get me an anti-depressant or a therapist for all that.
The one time I mentioned that my symptoms had worsened, I felt proud of myself for speaking up. The result? The doctor lowered my dose. Gave me less of the medication that was supposedly helping me. Clearly this was all in my head, not the reality of how I felt or representative of anything bigger. (If there were a font for sarcasm, that last sentence would have used it. Catch my drift?!)
My non-blaming, keep forging ahead approach “worked” for a while. Or at least band-aided the reality enough. But then as I neared 40, things got a little worse. Maybe it was stress. Maybe it was the emergency appendectomy. Or the divorce. Or my beloved grandmother dying. Or being swindled by a business partner. Or my genetics waking up. Or maybe I’d had one too many massive bowls of pasta or jumbo bags of Twizzlers. Or maybe it was for no reason at all.
All I know is things changed. I couldn’t keep up with the load I was carrying anymore. The awful diet, the ever-dwindling energy, the brain focus I didn’t seem to have anymore, the inability to keep up the self-imposed 12- or 14-hour workdays, the way I would snap at (that’s putting it lightly) the people who most cared about me…it wasn’t a way to live.
I wasn’t, I had to admit, super-human.
And, yes, my thyroid was partially to blame.
So a few months ago, shortly before that big birthday, I stopped hiding and pretending and ignoring that butterfly-shaped thing in my neck. I acknowledged something wasn’t working. I vowed to use the blame to do something about it. It was up to me to be my own best advocate and information-gatherer and intuitive and dietician and therapist and healer. No, I didn’t have all of the resources or answers but I sure as hell had the responsibility – to myself, to my loved ones, to my clients, to the world, for that matter – to figure all of this out.
And you know what I have learned? Turns out it wasn’t blaming after all. It was about taking charge of my health and my life. About no longer accepting 50 or 60% as an acceptable way to live. I want 100%. I deserve 100%. You deserve 100%.
I’m not at 100% yet, but I am at 80-85-ish on most days. That is a massive improvement in a short time. For me, the biggest change in my day-to-day life has been in my diet. Of course, that doesn’t mean your biggest change or improvement would come from that, too.
I don’t know your situation, but I do know that no one knows your body like you do. Listen to it. Turn down the noise. Get quiet and allow yourself to actually feel, even if the feelings aren’t always great. Don’t assume someone else – even if that someone else has some fancy diplomas on his or her wall – knows you or your health better than you do. Don’t give up. Know that you can feel better. Know that you should feel better.
Yes, your thyroid may suck. No, it is not fair. Blame it all you want, but then also do something about it.
And of course let me know about it…
Written by, Allison
Tags: Allison Nazarian, health advocate, health and well being, hypothyroid, hypothyroid advocacy, hypothyroid articles, hypothyroidism support, learning how to advocate for yourself, learning how to listen to your body, learning how to speak up, learning when to advocate for yourself, patient advocacy, synthroid, thyroid symptoms, tired