You Are Your Best Advocate
Let’s just get real vulnerable for a second shall we? I mean, you already know all about my lost tampon ordeal so I think it is safe to say that we are on that level of vulnerability with each other.
These past few months I have been feeling like something has been really off but I haven’t been able to put my finger on it. After my daughter was born I felt like I was probably going through some postpartum depression but I never actually addressed it or had it diagnosed. You know, that taboo word depression. AKA my body just grew a tiny human, pushed it out of my vagina, is now the only source of food for said tiny human, my boobs feel like they are on fire, I don’t sleep, I don’t shower, and I feel like I have to do everything perfectly all at once all of the time. You know, that. Who wouldn’t go through some kind of postpartum depression with all of those demands. Thankfully it wasn’t severe and didn’t last long but I definitely struggled with it a little. I assumed that once we got settled and fell back into a routine that my mood would improve and I wouldn’t be hovering over a constant state of gloominess anymore.
Until it didn’t.
I have been so exhausted day after day for over a year. Of course I attributed this tiredness to the fact that I have three kids and work full time and oh yeah I’m going back to school (still…). Who wouldn’t be tired, right? I have been blessed with rockstar babies who sleep through the night from early on so I can’t even use that as an excuse – I get plenty of sleep at night. But every morning I wake up exhausted. A few months ago my hair started falling out. At first I just brushed it off but then I kept finding a significant amount of hair in the shower and on the counter in the morning. It wasn’t until my husband noticed the increase in hair all over the place that I realized it was actually happening and wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. I just attributed this to my body adjusting to not being pregnant or breastfeeding anymore.
I started feeling like I lived in this fog. Brain fog, as I so lovingly call it. At school and work I started to notice that I felt incredibly scatterbrained. I would get so frustrated and embarrassed when I would forget things for no reason, not be able to focus, and just felt like things weren’t running smoothly. Why could I study for hours but struggle so much to remember? Oh, that is just mom brain, right?
Yesterday I had my yearly doctor appointment. At this appointment I requested that my cholesterol, glucose, and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) be checked. Honestly, I was t-e-r-r-i-f-i-e-d of getting my cholesterol and glucose checked. I really thought if anything is going to be wrong it was going to be one of those. Since I was so tired and was losing my hair I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get my TSH checked but I really felt like I was just being overly cautious. I’m kind of the definition of being overly cautious with all things medical… don’t ask my friends.
Fast forward to 3:00am last night and I had randomly woken up and checked my lab results online. I’m such a nerd and love analyzing my own lab results. My palms got sweaty and I was so nervous to open the cholesterol and glucose checks but praise Jesus they were just fine. I opened my TSH lab result and it was twice as high as it should be. Twice.
Enter lots of feelings of wanting to vomit.
On one hand I wanted to jump for joy because I have finally figured out why I have been feeling like this. I wasn’t just crazy and I wasn’t just making it up. I was right, but for once I didn’t really want to be right. A high TSH basically means that my thyroid is an “under active thyroid” and doesn’t work like it should. This can cause all kinds of things like fatigue, mood swings, hair loss, weight gain, etc. And in a real honest moment I was relieved because I have been feeling so defeated in the weight loss area lately. For the last 3 years I have mostly (but definitely not completely and in some seasons not even at all) tried to stick to eating real food and not processed foods. I have started to become more active (but not as active as I want or need to be). And still I can’t seem to lose the 80-100 lbs that I desperately want to lose. Okay, holy vulnerability right there. I could cry my eyes out over it. So on one hand part of me is relieved to finally know what is causing all of these issues so now I can hopefully get it all back to normal, but the other side of me is freaking out.
And okay, while we are being all vulnerable, I have a confession to make. I am a horrible person. Seriously, horrible. I used to roll my eyes when overweight people would blame being overweight on their “hypothyroidism.” It especially made me roll my eyes when people weren’t even tested for it and who claimed to have it. Oh come on, just eat healthier and exercise! … see, horrible. But now I get it you guys! And I feel like the biggest jerk ever. I am by no means blaming my inability to lose the 80-100 lbs I’ve gained in the last 13 years on that but it is so relieving to know that it isn’t just me not trying hard enough. I really am trying. I really am doing my best. I really am making good food choices and exercising. I can’t tell you how frustrated I have become over the fact that I want to be eating clean and exercising, and do, but my body can’t freaking get on board with the results of that. My body doesn’t match how I’ve been eating or how I feel about food. I go to the grocery store week after week and hardly buy anything processed and yet I don’t feel like I look the part. There is much more going on here than just my own perceived lack of determination and discipline in myself.
Knowledge is power. I can stop beating myself up over the fact that I have been trying so hard and nothing seems to be working. I can know that I’m not just tired because I’m lazy but because my body really is exhausted. I’m not just forgetting things because I don’t care enough but because I really just can’t see through the brain fog. Your thyroid controls so many functions in your body and needs to be at optimal levels in order for everything to run smoothly. And my biggest piece of advice? Advocate for yourself! Had I not specifically asked for my TSH to be tested it wouldn’t have been. You know your body and don’t be afraid to ask for things to be checked out. You can only take control of what you know. You are not alone if you feel like something isn’t quite right but you can’t put your finger on it.
I really have no idea what to expect and I don’t claim to be an expert. All I know is that I’m not the only woman struggling with this and I want to be incredibly transparent in the process. Whatever thyroid, I’m on to you now.