Hypothyroidism. What the hell is that?! To be honest, I had never heard of Hypothyroidism, I barely even knew what the thyroid even was! Today, it is something that defines my every day life.
Hypothyroidism is an invisible disease. Yes, I said disease. It can also be referred to as under-active thyroid disease. To put it in terms that are easy to understand, Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone. I refer to it as an “invisible disease” because most of the type people go about their lives not knowing they have it. I did. A lot of the symptoms can be disregarded or explained by something else when in reality, your thyroid is to blame. Even my doctor blamed all my symptoms on other things & never addressed the issue!
According to the American Thyroid Association, “an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60% of those with thyroid disease go unaware of their condition.”
Your thyroid is a gland located on the lower front part of your neck. Fun fact, it is kind of shaped like a butterfly. This gland produces hormones that affect SO MANY PARTS OF YOUR BODY! It affects your heart, your skin, your brain, your muscles & much more. The biggest thing it can affect is your metabolism & how you use energy from food. This little butterfly inside you can cause a huge mess if it not working properly. That is exactly what mine is doing right now. Here are some common symptoms that people experience when they have Hypothyroidism (special thanks to WebMd):
- Changes in menstrual cycle, perhaps heavier than normal or irregular periods
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Dry skin
- Dry hair or hair loss/thinning
- Slow heart rate
- Swelling of thyroid gland (also called a goiter)
- Greater sensitivity to cold
- Brain Fog / Forgetfulness
As you can see, these symptoms are really vague. They could be explained by so many other things. Right now, so many people go undiagnosed for Hypothyroidism. Many doctors don’t even do the right tests to find out if you have Hypothyroidism!
These symptoms can play huge negative roles in my day-to-day life. The effects can differ between people, some more extreme than others. The biggest things that affect me today are:
- I am tired… ALL. THE. TIME. I have trouble waking up in the morning & getting out of bed. I also have low energy after & during work which makes it difficult to work out or just do basic things like cook or clean. I try to go out with friends, but I end up staying in bed.
- My mother recently passed away from cancer. Of course I am depressed. But, it doesn’t help that my body is putting even extra depression (is that a thing?) on me.
- Unexplained weight gain & difficulty losing weight
- I have gained about 40 pounds since I started experiencing extreme symptoms of Hypothyroidism. I have trouble losing it even though I am eating healthy & working out. My body is working against me to lose weight no matter how hard I am trying.
- Brain Fog / Forgetfulness
- This one hits me hard. I forget everything. It is even affecting my work. Sometimes I forget to call or text back a coworker or student. Sometimes I forget I made plans. Sometimes I am sitting here trying to think of something I was supposed to do & my brain is just not working.
If you are someone experiencing Hypothyroidism & all the sucky symptoms, I feel you.
If you are one of my friends, family, or colleagues, thanks for reading this & understanding a little better about what I am going through.
If you are someone who reads this & is like damn… I think I have Hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor! I will get into how to advocate for yourself in a future blog post, but if you REALLY think you have this, I advise you to always seek a second opinion. From my experience of going to 3 different doctors before finally getting diagnosed & prescribed medication, I am telling you.. always get a second opinion. You know your body better than anyone. If you think your body is not working the way it should, advocate for yourself.
Thanks ya’ll for reading more about my invisible disease. Stay tuned for more posts of how I found out I had Hypothyroidism & how to advocate for yourself at the doctor’s office!