Thyroid, You Killed My Teen Years
I guess this is the first time I’ve really spoken to you, but, then again, today was the first day I realized I have a voice. Ever since high school, I’ve been silently suffering, just as you have been. Silently tired, helpless, and slowly dying away, we’ve both been at the mercy of circumstance, genetics, luck, or who knows what. Silently silently we’ve been fading away with no one to talk to, no one who could understand.
Thyroid, our journey together has been down a long, slowly slanting, but always downhill road. When we started out, it was hard feeling like something was happening to me that was out of my control. But at least I could compensate. I thought I could sleep more, eat healthier, exercise longer, and then I would feel well. And I did, for a while.
But the longer we’ve traveled together, the more speed we have picked up, faster and faster down this road, and I can’t slow us down anymore.
Except for just once in my life, I have never been close to being considered medically overweight. Senior year of high school, the year I finally convinced a doctor to test my thyroid, I had reached an all time high weight of 170lbs, a terrifying number for a girl surrounded by high school girls who hardly weighed more than 100lbs. After I started taking the medication and found the energy to exercise again, I found my way back to 155lbs.
But thyroid, do you know that I have never felt like the joy of “my youth?” I never had the adolescent metabolism that so many adults covet. While my friends ate pizza and drank and beers because “they’re young and they can get away with it,” I ate carrots and drank water, because my thyroid can’t keep up with a teenager’s diet. How is that fair?? I have always been described as healthy and fit, but, thyroid, do you have any idea at what cost???
I have always been so diligent with my health habits. I exercise every day — even multiple times every day! I run half-marathons, I lift heavy weights, I do yoga, I rock-climb, I stretch… and do you know how much progress I make? I may run a bit faster, I get more flexible, I may even get stronger, but every morning, when I look in the mirror, hoping that maybe today is the day that I will look different, that same frumpy, average looking body is there. My roommates who work out twice a semester if they’re lucky are so much skinner. How is that fair, thyroid??
Well, thyroid, I know you’re wondering, “do you eat well?” And to that I say, “are you kidding me??” In 8th grade, I started keeping track of everything I eat. I know every calorie and gram of fat, carbs, sugars, fiber, and protein that enters my body. I ensure that I receive adequate nutrients every day, but do not eat in excess. I fuel my body with fresh foods… I can’t even remember the last time I ate Easy Mac or Ramen or fast food or pizza or ice cream for God’s sake. Thyroid, do you know how remarkable that is for a college student??
Every morning, I wake up and carefully measure one half cup of oats into a bowl, pour in a cup of water, and begin microwaving my breakfast. Meanwhile, my roommates slice open bagels, muffins, and pieces of toast. The smell of toasting bread in the oven torments me, as I wait for my oatmeal to finish cooking. As I sprinkle in some cinnamon to make my meal more palatable, they slather on butter, cream cheese, peanut butter, and jelly. Thyroid, I want so bad to eat a goddam bagel, but I can’t!! My body just can’t handle carbs, so pasta, bread, bagels, crackers, chips, corn, and all other tasty carbs are simply off limits.
So, to answer your question, thyroid, yes, I do eat well. I eat SO well. And do you know what I have to show for it? A body that looks like it belongs to a girl who can’t control her cravings, who can’t make it to the gym, who really can’t pull off any of the stylish clothes that look so cute on skinny girls.
Thyroid, I know you’re on the inside, and you’re doing the best you can, and I love that you work as hard as you do, but do you know that when I look in the mirror, I hate what I see? I can not remember a time that I looked in the mirror and was happy with how I looked, that seeing a picture of myself did not make me cringe, that I enjoyed getting dressed in the morning, that I felt pretty, or beautiful, or sexy, or worth any kind of attention.
And, thyroid, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of my doctor telling me she can’t increase my medication because my bloodwork is “normal” and she doesn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. I’m tired of telling my boyfriend, “I don’t want you to touch me like that,” because I feel so self conscious about my body. I’m tired of feeling like the fat girl. I’m tired of having to explain why I can’t eat this or that, and that I can’t hang out because I need to go to the gym. Thyroid, I know it’s not your fault, but I’m bitter that I never got to be a normal teenager, or even a normal college student.
And look, I’m sorry that our first conversation has been such a rant on my part, and honestly, thyroid, I don’t really have any solutions … but mostly, I’m glad we talked, and I hope we can do this again soon.
BIO: I am 21 years old, a junior in college, and have been taking levothyroxine as treatment for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s for 4 years. I’m an avid outdoorswoman, and I love to move outside — hike, run, swim, climb, etc. Finding this online community has been so uplifting!!