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8 Positive Things I Learned Because of My Hypothyroidism

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Trying to look at hypothyroidism in a more positive light can be difficult, but I try to look at it that way when I feel it’s all doom and gloom. This is usually when I hit a brick wall, like when my doctor won’t listen to me or something didn’t quite go as planned. However, going through a health condition that is so tough can teach us things and shape us into a better person. 

Here are eight positive things I learned because of my hypothyroidism:

1. A difficult, lifelong condition has taught me to be a stronger person.

As soon as I had the symptoms for hypothyroidism, I researched it and learned that it was a chronic, lifelong disease, which was devastating. My health meant so much to me. I ate well, was very active, walked 20 miles a week, went to the gym four times a week, ran one or two times a week and played badminton on the weekends. I had to accept I was in this for the long run, and so I was going to give it my best shot.

When I felt at my absolute worst, I had a few months of despair when I wasn’t able to accept the fact that I would feel this way forever. And then something clicked. I realized I didn’t have to.

I decided I would make sure I didn’t have to live such a dreadful quality of life forever. I found the strength to push for answers, to not accept “no” and to keep on going. Every brick wall I hit, I eventually smashed on through. I found the strength to take control because it was my health. And because the alternative — to live a rubbish quality of life — just isn’t an option.

2. I learned to watch over my health even more than I already had been doing.

Yes, I was already active and had a healthy diet, but I learned I could do too much and actually cause more harm than good. I was expecting a lot from my body and needed to slow down and listen to it. I’ve learned that things like gluten can be bad for thyroid patients, which I didn’t know before. I’ve learned that a lot of other conditions I had prior to diagnosis were actually all linked to my failing thyroid and not separate conditions.

3. I learned to ask for help and admit that I’m not a superwoman. 

I used to have high expectations — unrealistic expectations — for myself that I would never drift from. I expected a lot from myself and was a perfectionist in every way possible. Now I understand it’s OK to not get everything done during the day liked I planned because I am only human. I’m human with a health condition that can get in the way at times. I now know when to ask for help and get other people to pull their weight, too. I’ve learned how to strike a balance.

4. It’s taught me to be more independent and confident.

I have taken my health back into my own hands, pushing for a change in medication, exploring other problems, arranging testing and monitoring my own thyroid levels. I taught myself how to interpret test results and what I should be looking for so I feel a sense of control over my health again. I set up my own Facebook support group and my own blog. I grew more independent, I followed my gut and I followed my heart.

5. I learned that sometimes we have to take our health back into our own hands to feel well again, and that we can do it.

We can empower ourselves with books, resources, other patients’ experiences and gain invaluable knowledge. Because of this, I’ve become more knowledgeable, not just about thyroid and endocrine problems and functions, but also about doctors, the healthcare system and reading lab work in general. I’ve become more mature and wise.

6. I learned how to create a sense of community.

Having thyroid disease has given me strength to create an online support group and my blog and to help others with hypothyroidism and related issues.

7. It’s reignited my love for books, which waned sometime around my teen years.

From a young age, I always loved curling up with a book, but it died off over the years. However, once I was on a mission to learn more about my new diagnosis, I invested in many thyroid books and loved reading them in the evening in front of the fire with a cup of tea.

But it’s not fiction I’m reading anymore. It’s something real, which makes it even more exciting and intriguing. Every sentence I read gets me closer to another person I can help or another issue of mine I can resolve.

Books have obviously also taught me a lot of about the endocrine system, and so I am more educated and knowledgeable in that way, too.

8. I have met many new people and made many friends through my hypothyroidism.

I’ve made friends through my online support group and through other forums I use. They’re often the only people who truly understand some of my problems and worries I go through. We help each other but also like to just have a rant sometimes! It’s healthy to have a good moan about the frustration that is hypothyroidism, too.

Other relationships have grown stronger too, strangely enough, because we have shared a really tough time of my life and gone through it together. Friends have helped me through it, making our friendship stronger.

And some people already in my life had it, but I didn’t even know until I shared my diagnosis with them!

Through all the devastation and ruin that this condition can cause, I like to remember the positive things it has done for me. I do wonder what my life would have been like had I never developed this condition or developed it later on in life (20 is pretty young to develop the condition), but I don’t think I would be as good a version of myself that I am today if I hadn’t. I am stronger, wiser, more compassionate and I have a passion to get to the bottom of it and help others. It has given me a drive to keep on going and pushing for change for a better diagnosis process and treatment for others with the condition.

Follow this journey on The Invisible Hypothyroidism.

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Originally published: December 1, 2016
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