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Swimming in Guts

Post Published: 14 April 2013
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Guts

Here at Dear Thyroid™, patients with thyroid autoimmune diseases and cancers write love and hate letters to their thyroids. Families and friends write equally heartfelt, funny and angry letters to their loved one’s thyroids.

With courage, you spill your guts by sharing your experience of invisible illness; from misdiagnoses, to a doctor’s inability to see beyond your numbers and everything in between.

We learn from each other – feel less alone – and find our way back to ourselves on our terms, in our own way; all the while knowing that we have each other to share our discoveries with. To me, that means something. We wear our “Invisible No More” bracelets, among other ribbons and clothes as symbols of survival and togetherness.

After reading “Guts” three times, Kristen Johnston’s memoir, I had to share it because I couldn’t believe how relatable her battle with alcohol and drug addiction was. Yes, our battles were different, but they were and remain unforgivably challenging, wrought with ongoing idiosyncratic struggles.

Much like the invisibility of thyroid disease and how grossly misunderstood and marginalized it is, so is addiction, in my opinion. Of course, this outspoken, wonderful community will share your own opinions. Kristen’s candor and experiences profoundly impacted me. I couldn’t help but find threads woven into the fabric of my own thyroid yarn.

guts by kristen johnston

“Guts” had me in tears, laughing my ass off and rooting for Kristen every step of the way. Aside from the magnificence of brutal honesty in Kristen’s memoir, the ability to relate to her as a patient and as someone with an invisible illness took my wig off (and I don’t wear a wig).

Several things from her book stood out. One thing I can’t shake in Kristen’s memoir, is that someone asked her not to talk about her addiction (I’m paraphrasing), stating that it was an unnecessary point of discussion that should be kept to herself. How many times have we all heard that?! Or felt similarly, like we were an island drifting amidst a sea of “normals,” ordered to shut-up and put up.

Akin to thyroid cancers and autoimmune diseases, addiction’s impact on family members is just as grueling. We fight for normalcy, so do addicts. We don’t want to hurt our loved ones, neither do addicts. Our hearts break, knowing the irrevocable damage we’ve caused to those closest to us, so do addicts.

We didn’t choose thyroid disease; it chose us. Addicts didn’t choose addiction, it chose them.

I encourage all of you to please check out “Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster.” Watch this video about SLAM, the first sober high school founded by, Kristen Johnston.

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