This post is quite personal, and not related to food at all. If you are close to me, this will explain a lot about me for the past six months. If you are just an avid reader, this will explain why I haven’t been posting as much. It’s a long post with a lot in it, but I feel it’s important to share.
I, like I think many others in this world, grew up witnessing unfair things happening to people in my life. Whether they were with their bodies, their minds, or their relationships. And I always thought, “These circumstances are completely unfair for this person/these people.” And I’d look on with a certain sadness. And sometimes they affected me personally. But never physically. I never dealt with any physical ailments or chronic diseases like many people I know in my life.
And to be honest, I always gave a sigh of relief. I always said to myself, “I’m so lucky. I’m so grateful. This could have been me.” And I’d sometimes squeeze my hands together and say to whoever was listening, “Please grant me this good fortune for all of my life.”
At the same time, I feared the unknown. I feared the future. I worried once in a while and thought, “Will some physical ailment develop? What emotional anguishes are waiting for me down my path?” And when these thoughts creeped in my mind I’d try to push them away and say, “There’s nothing you can do. Live life now. Live in the moment. Enjoy everything now. Because the future is so uncertain.”
And for a while, my optimism was a shining characteristic of mine that I wore proudly. Friends often came to me for advice on relationships, life decisions, or just little annoyances. I felt wonderful and helpful. I loved seeing all of the people in my life, going to events, doing things, being active. Even with my knee injury last year, I’d say to myself and everyone who questioned me about it, “It’ll get better! These things happen!” And limp along, because that’s what it was, and there wasn’t much else I could do about it. It was out of my control.
But then, slowly, my views changed. Slowly, I lost interest in the things I could control. Slowly, the things I enjoyed doing lost their appeal. Slowly, I retracted into my cave and stopped seeing the people I loved. I felt tired. I felt uninterested. Going out at night became more of a task than something I did for fun. Cooking became a burden, and I always said I never had enough time to cook anymore, even though nothing in my schedule had changed. I lost interest in the taste of food and the enjoyment I once had in eating it. I fought with people (mostly my husband), over ridiculously tiny things that didn’t bother me before. I felt exhausted at work, and slinked through the halls trying to avoid conversation with people.
I knew I was being irrational, but I couldn’t shake it. I would force myself upon activities and going out, but I did it bitterly. I felt trapped. I knew I was supposed to be happy, but had a hard time feeling it. I could see the sun, and knew the Autumn leaves were absolutely gorgeous and stunning, but I just couldn’t see them shine.
I wrote a post a few months back about my dark days, and at the time I thought it was a passing, PMS-y moment. At the time, I told myself, “This too shall pass. Be patient. Things will get back to normal again.” But deep down I feared the worst. And as the weeks ticked on, my mood became worse…and worse….until eventually people started speaking up about it. First, my husband. Then, my closest friends. Then one day I was at my mother’s doing laundry and she said, “Are you OK? You seem gloomy lately.” And at that moment, the reality finally hit me.
And I knew that when other people saw my inner torment on the outside, I had to stop denying that something was actually wrong with me. After an untimely outburst, my friend sternly said to me, “Do you really want to live like this?”
No, I thought. No I didn’t.
It took me another few weeks, though, to even get the courage to call my doctor. I felt immense shame about the whole situation. I hated myself for not being myself. “I know I’m being crazy,” I’d say. “So why won’t these feelings go away?” I’d say, “I’ll give it a few more days. Just a few more days and I’ll feel back to normal. I’m sure of it.”
And as I sat in the doctor’s office, nervously listing out my symptoms, I thought for sure she’d say, “Yup. You’re depressed and suffer from anxiety. Here’s the psychiatrist I recommend to my patients. And oh, here’s a prescription for an antidepressant, too.” But what actually came out of her mouth was, “Hmm. Sounds like a thyroid issue. Let’s check that right now.”
Thyroid? Wait? What? Really? Is this a common thing?
And sure enough, when the test came back, my thyroid levels were off. She diagnosed me with hypothyroidism — which explained all of the symptoms I was experiencing — depression, lack of interest, weight gain, nervousness, anxiety, and more.
The amount of emotions that surged through my body that day are hard to describe. All at the same time I was relieved, confused, mad, scared, hopeful, and grateful. Relieved because I finally, finally, finally, knew what was wrong with me. Confused because I’m still fairly uneducated about thyroid issues. Mad because “How the hell could this happen to me?” Scared, because will it get worse? Could it get worse? The fear of the unknown slipped in again.
But hope was in there, too. Hope because there is a pill that exists that will allow me to be my normal self once again. And I was grateful. I could have been diagnosed with a lot worse.
And a month after being diagnosed and beginning treatment, I’m doing a lot better. Though this isn’t really a curable disease, and I have to deal with it for the rest of my life, taking a pill is a lot less of a nuisance than feeling the way I was before. I was having a hard time counting my blessings before, and now I can list them out for pages and pages to come.
So, my dear readers, if there’s one thing you should take away from this post, it’s this: Listen to your body. Your body will always tell you when things are off. Don’t ignore that odd pain. Don’t ignore the sadness that won’t go away. I know that it’s incredibly, incredibly, incredibly difficult to go to the doctor’s to ask for help — mainly for the fear of the unknown (what if it’s more serious than I think it is?) — and because of pride (at least for me, thinking I could help myself — but sometimes you simply can’t help yourself.)
This life is short and precious, and you should be here, healthy and happy, for as long as you possibly can.
Something I learned from this, too, is that thyroid diseases are actually quite common, but very manageable. Most people, like me, don’t realize that the underlying problem to their physical and mental ailments is due to a hormonal imbalance. They think that their metabolism is changing — that’s why they’re gaining weight, or grumpy because of their life circumstances, or they’re constantly fatigued because they must not be sleeping well. And people end up living in misery for years before being treated.
I’m glad I caught onto my symptoms now.
So much of the future is uncertain. So many things can happen to our fragile bodies and minds, and I have no idea what is in store for mine in the future. All I can do is take care of them the best I can now, and live in the now, because this moment, this life we’re in, won’t ever happen again.
Happy living, my friends….