The Reality of Living With Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
At a recent visit with my acupuncturist, she asked me how I was doing before we began treatment. My automatic and somewhat sarcastic response was, “Cold, crass and constipated!” Instantly, she understood I was experiencing serious symptoms of my Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism disease.
You see, when your thyroid doesn’t work properly (or in my case when you no longer have a thyroid but continue to have the disease), it affects many systems in the body. For me that day, the Hashimoto’s was targeting my circulatory and digestive systems and really affecting my mood.
Even though Hashimoto’s is one of the most common autoimmune diseases among women in the United States, the illness affects each individual in a manifold of ways. Also, symptoms are likely to change day to day.
Some days, I’m exhausted to the point of tears…after I wake up from sleeping for eight to 10 hours the night before. Other days, my energy levels are giving, but my hands and feet are so cold from poor circulation that I can hardly focus on anything but trying to get warm. See, Hashimoto’s is more than just getting cold easily; it is a straight-up intolerance to being cold. I have actually had tears in my eyes walking through the freezer section at the grocery store on days when my cold intolerance symptoms were severe…in the summertime.
Then, of course, many of us Hashi warriors experience anxiety and depression related to living with this illness. Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism truly affects each and every aspect of my life. It can be quite challenging for me to concentrate on my schoolwork and it can also make it extremely difficult to arrive on time to work in the morning.
Hashimoto’s has also greatly affected my social life; it is impossible for me to describe how lonely and isolating living with this condition can be. Those who live with this illness can understand. Taking care of our bodies is a full-time job, and it often requires significant sacrifices.
So please, if you are a Hashi warrior, take it easy on yourself. We are all on a difficult path and the last thing we need is to add self-deprecation to this already challenging illness. And to the friends and family of someone with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, please be patient with them. Living with this illness can be a heavy burden to carry, so please, carry it with us.
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Thinkstock image via Marjan_Apostolovic.