Dear Mom, do you have “thyroid issues?”
Your thyroid might not be working enough (hypothyroidism) or it’s working too much (hyperthyroidism). You could have Hashimoto’s disease, where your body is inflamed and attacking your own thyroid, making it function less and less and less.
How nice of your body, huh?
First you have to get a diagnosis. Good luck with that; the usual method most doctors test for isn’t accurate for most people. (Did you know the TSH blood test most doctors request doesn’t even test thyroid function?) You might be disappointed when your TSH blood test comes back ‘normal’ because even though you never want anything ‘abnormal’, something is wrong and you so badly want to know what so you can get better!
If you can find a doctor who will order the accurate blood work (recommended: Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3) and your results come back abnormal, you might sigh with relief because now you have confirmation that something is indeed wrong (it’s not just in your head as you’ve secretly worried) and you can begin to get healthy again. Right?
Oh but that’s just the beginning.
Thyroid issues aren’t easy to treat. Sometimes medication doesn’t work (especially the most frequently prescribed Synthroid, Levothyroxine, etc.) or it does for a time, but all of a sudden, any progress you’ve made disappears or you’re even feeling worse!
If you’re fortunate to have a doctor who prescribes meds that do actually make a long term difference (Armour, Acella, NP Thyroid, Cytomel, etc.), then you have to find the right dosage. Too little and you won’t feel better. But your body can’t handle too much too fast, so you have to increase slowly but consistently.
Thyroid issues are awful and can be incredibly debilitating.
You might have weight gain issues and no matter how healthy you eat or how much you try to work out, that scale won’t budge. On the other hand, if you’re HYPER thyroid, you might not be able to keep weight on you. Your heart races frequently, you sweat, and you get agitated easily too.
Some days, you barely have enough energy to get out of bed. Much of the time you’re so bone-numbingly tired, you feel like you’re watching everyone else live while you’re stuck on the sidelines.
The brain fog is so bad, you can’t even think straight. Most days are spent just trying to wake up and when night arrives, you’re finally wide awake and can’t sleep when you need to.
Your hair might be thinning or falling out. Your eyebrows are disappearing. Your skin is dry and flaky.
You might be depressed and this isn’t simply due to feeling yucky for so long; it’s an actual symptom of thyroid disorders. Of course, your lack of progress only worsens this.
You might feel like you’re losing your mind because you can’t remember things anymore.
Your digestive system has slowed down. You’re cold all the time. It might be a joke that “Mom is always cold,” but it’s really not that funny.
You’ve spent so much time, money, and effort trying to get well. It’s discouraging, no downright devastating, to get your hopes up that “this” supplement or medication or therapy might make all the difference, yet it doesn’t.
You feel like a failure most days because you can’t do the things you need to or want to. But you’re NOT lazy; you have a genuine health problem. The trouble with thyroid issues is that there’s no obvious broken leg or something that tells the world that you’re sick. You might look tired, but that’s usually it.
You look at someone who has cancer and it’s easy to look at yourself and think again that this is all in your head.
But you ARE sick.
This isn’t the real you.
One of the hardest part of having a thyroid problem is that it’s incredibly isolating.
Try to explain why you’ve canceled yet another playdough because you’re just “too tired.” It’s like “chronic fatigue” (often an undiagnosed thyroid disorder); people simply don’t understand unless they’ve experienced it.
You start to learn who your real friends are. Because most will move on with their lives when you’re stuck in “messed-up thyroid world.” And it’s heartbreaking when there’s only one or two left.
Somedays, you want to scream “I just want to be well and get my life back!” If it was a matter of will power to get up and “live” again, you would have done it a long time ago. But it’s not. It’s a tiny stubborn little gland in your throat that’s wreaking havoc on your life.
The guilt is one of the worst things about thyroid issues.
You feel it every time you have to tell your child you’re just too tired to play with him.
You feel it every time you have to go to bed early instead of spending time with your husband.
You feel it every time you have to order take out instead of making dinner.
You feel it every time you look around your messy house and wish you had the energy to sweep and vacuum.
You feel it every time you stay home from church.
You feel it every time you say “no” to an activity for your daughter because you just can’t.
You feel it every time you yell at your kids because you lose patience again when you can’t think straight.
The guilt is very real.
You would do just about anything to get your life back. To be the wife and mother – the woman – you know you were meant to be!
Dear mom with thyroid problems. I understand. I have hypothyroid/Hashimoto’s and have experienced just about everything on this list (aside from the hyperthyroid – not being able to gain weight. No issues there!)
Oh my heart goes out to you. Dear friend, just know you are NOT alone. There are so many others out there suffering from this silent disorder. Please don’t give up. This is a tough one, but you CAN get through this.
After 8+ years of suffering, I am finally beginning to feel better. (Read more about my story here.)
valmg @ Mom Knows It All says
I’ve been on thyroid medicine for about 20 years now. Thyroid problems run in my family, both my Mom and grandmom also had them.
Ah, the dreaded thyroid! My better half has been dealing with this for about 15 years.. I think they change her Synthroid dosage at least twice a year and have yet to get things on track. I’m glad your beginning to feel better and get your life back!
A low functioning thyroid is the worst! I have a hypothyroid friend, and before she figured it out, she was just on the floor every day.
katrina gehman says
i have hypo but it’s being managed by meds so that’s a good thing.
What a relief, Katrina!
Amy Desrosiers says
My neighbor has these issues and she has to take medicine. In fact, her’s are so bad that she cannot even have kids.
debra finney says
I have Hashimoto’s disease, low T3 and may MD put on Armour. I feel great…best in about 10 years.I have my life back! I went to an endocrinologist and she confirmed my diagnosis but wants me off the armour and control it with a celiac diet period….no gluten.I am already on that diet and have been for months. She said it is more harmful to take armor than the benefits. I am afraid of going off it…I really don’t want to go back to the way I was feeling before….not living just surviving!
Stay on the Armour, Debra. You are not the only person who’s been told by an endocrinologist to get off it when it was helping. Check out this Facebook group – there’s thousands of people with stories like yours: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Thyroidtopics/
Hugs, you are not alone!! Stay strong!
I can totally relate to every word you said because I have been diagnosed with hypothyroid 9 years ago. But only a few years ago, after 6th baby, I had to have my health back to take care of myself and my children. So I finally called my doctor and told her I needed medication for my thyroid. Since I’ve been on synthroid for past 2 years, I’ve had my ups and downs but not as bad as before synthroid. Lately my hair is falling out like crazy and I get dizzy spells when I’m on my feet to much. I had my blood work done and it came back normal. But I’m not feeling normal. We have moved to an another province in Canada and we don’t have family or friends here. So it’s hard to get a recommended doctor. But I really want to see a natural doctor. We will finally have some insurance coverage for such doctor’s with my husband’s new job. Thanks for sharing your story and for encouragement. It’s much needed and greatly appreciated.
Hugs, Natasha! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this awful disease too. At least we can be reminded we’re not alone, right? Hang in there!
Winnie Tsoi says
Hypothyroid sounds horrible. I have hyperthyroidism instead so I don’t feel I need to lie down all day. But one of the side effects is that my eyes start to stick out. It made me look angry or fierce all the time. Young children on the street may stare at me coz I look weird. That’s a different kind of problem. Worst of all, I look terrible in all my family photos. 🙁
Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism says
I can totally relate. And T4 only med Levothyroxine didn’t help me at all. I only got worse!
Thank you for writing such a heartfelt piece. Hopefully it reaches a lot of women out there who needed to hear it.