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10 Things You Should Say to Someone With an Underactive Thyroid

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I wrote another story titled “10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone With an Underactive Thyroid,” so I decided to write a more positive version about things we would like to hear!

This post could apply to not only those with hypothyroidism, but also other chronic health conditions or even mental health conditions. 

1. “How are you doing?”

This simple question shows you care about us and how we’re doing, and you understand we may have a bit of a battle with getting well again. It’s nice to know someone cares and we often like to talk about it with others so we don’t feel alone. Let us moan a bit, too. It’s healthy to get things off our chest! This can be a difficult condition to live with after all. Don’t assume that just because we have medication for our health condition now that we’re doing all right. It’s far from the truth for most people.

2. “Can I do anything to help?”

Most commonly, not an awful lot. There’s not a great deal our friends, family and work colleagues can do other than to be understanding of our condition and be open-minded. You could offer to run us a bath, ask if we need any help with housework or our children or even ask if we want a cup of tea. Little things mean a lot to us when we’re struggling. We’re really grateful for the little things.

3. “What has worked for you?”

Treating hypothyroidism is often not as simple as you’d think, so we tend to have to try a few things until we find what works for us. This means reading lots of books, internet searching and maybe even numerous visits to different doctors and health practitioners. It can be stressful, upsetting and really testing at times, so we’d love to share with you what we’ve learned and what we’re going through. It’s comforting to know you understand that it isn’t a simple one-cure-fits-all disease.

4. “I respect your opinions/I support your choices.”

We know our own body better than anyone else, so don’t dismiss us when we say that we know something isn’t right or that a treatment isn’t working for us. Respect us for doing our own research, and respect our opinions. Let us share our findings with you. Explore with us our ideas and acknowledge that we’re entitled to our own thoughts, too. Support our choices to make changes to our health regime if we feel it’s the best thing for us. Just understand. This one is most important for partners and doctors of thyroid patients.

5. “So what is an underactive thyroid/hypothyroidism/thyroid disease?”

It’s nice to know you’re interested, and if you don’t know, then we don’t mind telling you all about what its like living with it. If anything, it’s nice for more people to become aware about it, so we have a better chance of getting the treatment we deserve and acknowledgement about how seriously it affects lives. 

6. “You’re looking well!”

If we’re looking better, brighter, happier and healthier, then let us know! It’s reassuring to know that our hard work at getting ourselves better is paying off. We often lack motivation and may also be coping with mental health conditions that make it difficult to stay positive. Some praise every now and then and reminders that we’re making progress can go a long way to give us the boost we need to carry on fighting to feel better.

7. “You’re so brave/strong/determined.”

Battling hypothyroidism and all its complications and symptoms is tiring. Every single one of us gets fed up with it from time to time. Anyone who has this condition is brave and strong. Encouragement like the examples above remind us to keep on going, that we can do it and we’re strong enough to come through the other side, especially when we feel like there’s no end to the fight.

8. “How is that book you’re reading?”

See us reading a thyroid book? Another health book? Magazine? A blog? Stories online? Ask us what it’s about and if it’s any good and if we’ve learned anything from it. It’s nice to see some interest from those around us. We’d like to share what we read with you!

9. “You need to try another doctor.”

If we’re going back again and again to the same doctor and getting nowhere with feeling better, you may need to encourage us to seek out another. And another. And another. Until we find one who will listen to us and work with us. We can feel intimidated or worried to make the change, but it’s important for our health that we do so.

10. “Keep on going. You will feel well again.”

When this condition and all its related problems get too much for us, we need to be reminded that we must keep on going. Often, facing the idea of spending the rest of our lives feeling so unbelievably ill can be enough to make someone very depressed and/or anxious. 

Hypothyroid patients can get better, and although it’s not always easy, it is possible. It absolutely is. They just need gentle nudges and direction on where to go at times. Help them to help themselves.

Follow this journey on The Invisible Hypothyroidism.

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Originally published: October 27, 2016
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