Before my diagnosis, I didn't even know the thyroid was a thing. All I'd heard of it was as the butt of a joke usually at the expense of overweight women. One of the pharmacists I worked with didn't even believe it was a real thing. So that was all I knew about it from others – people used it as an “excuse” for being overweight and it might not even exist. And boy did the world knock that attitude out of me.
I struggled with binge eating disorder for a while. So when the weight started piling on ridiculously fast, I just put it down to that. It was only after I did a U-turn that I noticed things weren't right. I was working out for 30-90 minutes daily, I was walking around 15k steps. I was eating flawlessly. Despite everything, the number on the scales just kept going up. What was going on? I love working out, especially weight lifting. I'll never forget the first time I used a barre, because I fell in love. Cardio was ok, I completed the Insanity program and I loved that, and nothing beats a good run. So when I was caught yawning in the gym while doing high knees, the instructor laughed at me. But something about the way I was holding my plank must have worried her, because she came over and asked me if I was ok. I wasn't ok, I was exhausted. I ended up leaving that class early to go to the doctors.
Sitting in the doctors after he said hypothyroidism, I was so confused. Was that actually a thing? That I now have? How do I get rid of it? I've never been this big in my life, could my thyroid be to blame? I didn't believe the doctor, and I started to say I'd got this diagnosis before and it was probably just because I was run down and I’d be fine next month, but he just handed me my blood results and that shut me right up. My thyroid levels were way off. Dumbfounded I asked what the plan of action is. He sent me on my way with a prescription for some new tablets with loads of side effects he failed to mention.
Everyone I told about my thyroid seemed happy for me. "That's great! At least now you know why you've been gaining weight, you can sort this out and you'll be back to yourself again!" Something told me it wasn't going to be that straightforward. After a lot of googling I found out that this is something I'm going to be stuck with for life, forever taking meds for this hormone gland that I didn't even know was important. My eating habits would have to change, there were certain things I now had to avoid, there were more things I needed to get checked. I went from a 21 year old to an 81 year old real quick.
I had to get blood tests every month and see my doctor every month. My dose was increased gradually which meant I had to alternate tablets daily, because I had such a bad reaction to them. Eventually after months of research on thyroid, trips to the doctors, loads of blood tests, and a ridiculous amount of frustration, my thyroid levels were stabilised. So… Why didn't I feel better? After a trip to an endocrinologist, it turns out I've quite a few other problems. A lot of deficiencies and another endocrine problem, PCOS, which goes hand in hand with thyroid disorders.
But back to the thyroid- it's fixed, so to speak. If I miss my tablets then I can hardly move the next day, I'm so tired. The swelling in my thyroid has gone down, the muscle fatigue has eased, the hundred other symptoms I had have all chilled out. Hopefully I can continue to progress and eventually get back to my old healthy self, because right now I kind of feel stuck in a body that isn't mine.
For such a tiny gland, the thyroid can have profound effects on your body, your mind and your lifestyle. If it goes in any way wrong you can end up with a disorder or sub-clinical disorder that requires immediate treatment in order to feel better. If you think something isn't right then don't be afraid to say it to your doctor, even when my thyroid levels were right I knew I was still unwell. Thyroid disorders are common and often misdiagnosed. If you've been diagnosed with depression or anxiety then make sure to request a full blood workup, as often different things can be hiding in there. The thyroid totally turned my life upside down but it's made me a lot more health conscious.