Today, I woke up thankful.
Those who are closest to me know that I struggle with hypothyroidism. A few days ago, I found out that my thyroid hormone levels are “normal” for the first time in two years! However, those who are closest to me weren’t always privy to the extent that it effected my day-to-day life. So, this post is dedicated to all those out there suffering with thyroid issues who have to “hide their crazy” to live normally.
Almost exactly two years ago, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. However, the story isn’t as simple as that. Hypothyroidism manifests itself in many ways, some people feel cold all of the time, gain a ton of weight, get constipated more often, get depressed, have anxiety, or just generally feel tired and sluggish all of the time (check out the Mayo Clinic page for more info.) I had all of those, but wrote them off as “body quirks,” or “coming from a heavy family.”
My biggest symptom was depression. Many people feel depression at some point in their lives, like when a relative dies, or when the stress of life becomes too hard to handle. Yes, I became depressed at those moments, but also at random. Even happy moments, like being at camp, leading a bible study, and studying abroad in Thailand were overshadowed with “oh crap, here it comes again” moments.
Though I had felt this way since high school, it was in Thailand when it started to get worse. I hardly wanted to get out and sight-see, I limited myself to a very small core of friends, and had thoughts of throwing myself off the ferry that crossed the river to my university on more than one occasion. Honestly, I know that it was my faith that pulled me through at those moments, but it was also my faith that was highly in question at those times, as well.
When I got back from Thailand, I noticed more strange behaviors manifesting. I would take long naps in the middle of the day, or exercise like a mad woman to get that “exercise high.” One ah-hah moment that I can look back upon is a day when I was on my way to class. It was cold outside, and I could not drag myself out of my depression. I had already skipped class as many times as my syllabus would allow, so I decided to suck-it-up and get coffee. It just so happened that one of my friends was the barista that day at our campus coffee shop, and handed me a coffee for free. It made my day, and it was the first time that I noticed that the depression would go away for an hour or so when I drank coffee.
I didn’t know it then, but thyroid function is like the battery for your body. When it is running slowly, your who body runs slowly. Though it doesn’t do it justice, my thyroid-induced depression was kind of like that hopeless feeling you get when you are REALLY tired (we’re talking an all-nighter,) and the world feels slow. Take that feeling and put it in a fully awake body, and let it strike whenever it likes. A couple times a week, all week, months. You never know when you’ll have a “good day” or a “bad day.” And you don’t know what to blame it on.
Now, put that feeling into a generally nice, and up beat person, like myself (my humility astounds me, sometimes.) I hid it very well. Only my mom, my sister, and some close friends knew about it. Not even my boyfriend at the time knew. My mom chalked it up to “seasonal depression,” and a youth pastor even told me that it was “because you’re a teenager.”
It wasn’t until one crazy week in the Spring, two years ago, that this story began to work itself out. That (crazy-awesome-cool) story will be saved for the next post ;).
Here’s a picture of a thyroid if you have no clue (it kind of looks like a butterfly!)