Since January is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month, I’m posting photos in this story to raise awareness about the different sides of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, especially the autoimmune kind, can be an up and down journey. It can be difficult to diagnose, difficult to get the correct medication for it and difficult to keep under control. Certain things can flare the condition up, and, contrary to popular belief, it’s often not easy to treat or live with.
The thyroid gland, located in your neck, produces hormones that are needed for every function and cell in your body. When you’re not making enough of these, it’s called hypothyroidism. Producing too much is known as hyperthyroidism. Both are unpleasant conditions that have dangerous risks associated if not properly managed.
Hypothyroidism is not just an excuse for being overweight, and hyperthyroidism is not an “easy way” to lose weight.
Both wreak havoc on thousands of people’s lives every single day. Both can leave you not just unable to work, but unable to get out of bed, unable to have a family (infertility) and even unable to think clearly, since thyroid hormones are important for brain function, mental health, heart health, as well as metabolism, energy and body warmth.
Photos of me looking at my best on social media often disguise the truth behind what thyroid disease can really do to someone. I have good and bad days where I might look like the top two photos on the worst days, which were taken before I was diagnosed. The lower left image is me on an “OK” day, and the lower right one is me on a great day.
Living with thyroid disease means living with a limited amount of energy (referred to as “spoons”) every day and learning how to use it efficiently, so I can function like the next person. Some days I can spend most of the day in bed, paying for doing things average people do without a second thought like going to a social event. Other days, I have the energy to make myself look presentable.
It’s important to know that although thyroid disease isn’t well known generally, and you may think you don’t know anyone with it that:
• The World Health Organization estimates that 750 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease.
• One in 20 people in the UK have thyroid disease, according to the British Thyroid Foundation.
If you believe it’s possible you have a thyroid issue, please make an appointment with your doctor and have them run a full thyroid panel.
For those of us already diagnosed, we can gain awareness this month about how to check our thyroid glands regularly for any abnormalities, what vitamins may help us and what tests we need. We should also be aware of what results we are looking for. And we should share any resources we’ve found helpful. For example, I would suggest all hypothyroid patients to follow the organizations recommended under “Organizations I Support” on my blog.
And finally, if you know someone with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, please take the time this Thyroid Disease Awareness Month to learn a bit more about their condition and don’t be afraid to ask us questions! It’s nice to know you care.
Follow this journey on The Invisible Hypothyroidism.
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