When I was 17 years old, I thought I was losing my mind.
And not in that angsty-teenage-dramatic kind of way.
It literally felt as if my whole body was shutting down, and taking my sanity along with it. My heart raced at all hours of the day - reaching 150 bps at rest - beating so hard that others could feel it clearly if they sat next to me on the same sofa. Long brunette hair was coming out in fist-sized clumps in the shower every morning. At 5’6”, I was already naturally thin, but that year my weight plummeted to an über-scary 95-100 lbs - despite snacks/meals eaten every 2 hours. My moods flipped multiple times throughout the day, running the gamut from numbness to rage to depression to manic happiness…
Hormones are one thing for a teenage girl, but this was entirely something else. People wondered if I was on drugs - I was your stereotypical goody-good student: straight A’s, never in trouble, involved in my local church, and would break down in tears if a teacher/parent looked at me the wrong way, so let me assure you that drugs was NOT the issue here.
The issue was my thyroid.
Ten months later - after several consultations, doctor visits, blood tests, and a radioactive iodine uptake test - I was diagnosed with Graves disease, a form of auto-immune hyperthyroidism.
Some people have no idea the scope of damage the thyroid can cause when it’s malfunctioning. Most know that thyroid cancer is the best form of cancer to have - if there is such a thing as a "good" kind of cancer - as it boasts the highest survival statistics amongst all cancer patients, but that doesn’t really cover what thyroid patients have to go through.
Your thyroid affects EVERYTHING. It’s part of your endocrine system, which is responsible for your hormones, metabolism, regulating your heart rate, hair and skin, tissue growth, sleep function, sexual functions, moods…
So let me ask you:
- If you suddenly changed sleep cycles and your sexual libido changed, you’d notice, right?
- If you suddenly gained 40 lbs and felt fatigued and sluggish every day, you’d notice, right?
- If you suddenly got hot flashes every few hours and felt like crying 24/7, YOU’D NOTICE, RIGHT?
You’re not depressed. You’re not fat. You’re not lazy. You, along with 20 million other Americans, have a thyroid disorder
The reason I’m writing about this today is because I want people to be educated on the signs and symptoms. So many Americans go undiagnosed because it can be difficult to separate the tell-tale signs with other mental/physical disorders. Most think they just have a little depression or anxiety or even early menopause (those hot flashes are the WORST).
Check out this blurb from the American Thyroid Association:
So how do you get checked out? All it takes is simple blood test from your normal family doctor!
Ask your doctor for a TSH and T4/T3 blood test to check your thyroid levels, and that can tell them enough to get you to a specialist if something shows up. If you do have a thyroid disorder, you take a pill (or two) every day and have your levels checked every 3 months for necessary adjustments to your medications.
It’s that easy. Well... sort of... *wink*
As I write this, I recently was diagnosed with my second bout of sub-acute thyroiditis and a toxic thyroid nodule. My Graves disease has been in remission for two years now, but my pesky little thyroid is still an attention-seeking narcissist. Every day is a new struggle. Every day I deal with a different symptom, sometimes physical, sometimes mental. But sharing my story and passing along what little information I’ve found out from my own experience helps make it all easier.
Having a solid support group of family and friends is essential! Now if I have a bad day, instead of stuffing it down and forcing myself to make it through the day with a smile, I’m upfront and honest with people. And a little humor never hurt anything either: