Dear friends, family, colleagues…
From the outside I don’t look sick. I don’t have any broken bones, am not throwing up and certainly don’t have a visible disability. What you don’t see is the daily struggle I go through and all because a small gland in my neck doesn’t function the way it should.
Don’t get me wrong, some days I feel fine. These days are rare and cherished!
But most days I have varying degrees of low energy. On the light side I’m tired, finding it hard to concentrate and just need to have that mid-afternoon, nana nap. But on the dark side I’m exhausted as soon as I get up, just brushing my hair is a drain and the whole day my brain is fogged up. Everything in between is just normal life.
On a weekend I generally have to choose just a couple of light activities (shopping and lunch or an art gallery and drinks) because after that I’m exhausted and start to feel dizzy. I don’t have the luxury of spending the whole day clear-headed and full of life.
At work I have to take concentration breaks, some days it can take me three times longer to do a task than normal purely because I’m having a bad day. How can I expect colleagues to understand this? There’s nothing physically wrong. But inside it’s like a cloud covering my brain, slowing it down – the knowledge is there but it takes a little longer than it would for most people to peak through.
An amazing explanation of this is ‘The Spoon Theory’ (Google it).
And that is just the energy levels! The thyroid gland runs everything in my body. From my throat swelling up as soon as I get a little stressed or run down. My mood – waves of depression, constant anxiety. And then of course, weight gain…
It’s like I look at chocolate and put on weight. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m a comfort eater so when I’m tired (90% of the time) or down (more often than you may think) I reach for the biggest bucket of chocolate and devour it all. Only after this when I get on the scales do I punish myself. See, it’ll take me about a month of eating like a rabbit to lose those 3lbs I’ve gained from the binge and keep it off. As if that happens!
This is made even harder by the fact I have such little energy to exercise so can’t (yes “can’t” not “won’t”) as regularly as I’d like. Trying to encourage me to exercise is not always helpful, saying “you’re always tired” is slightly annoying (yes I am always tired!!) – I know you’re trying to help and care but if you spent a day in my shoes you’d realise it’s not that simple.
To top this off, I have autoimmune hypothyroidism so my immune system isn’t the best. I’m always sick with something (I get sinusitis several times a year), especially when I get run down, and it takes longer for me to get rid of whatever I’ve caught. With this in mind, I don’t like taking time off work or missing out on seeing friends because I’d never be at work and never see friends – and I’m also stubborn so don’t want this condition ruling my life! Probably not helping myself getting better, but what else am I supposed to do?
Sorry for the long, rambling rant. I hope this gives you a little insight into the life of someone with hypothyroidism and other invisible conditions. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean they’re not suffering.
Thanks for reading.