My Hashimoto’s diagnosis was kind of like a big, fat, not so funny joke. I mean really, "Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?" A funny and rather forgettable name, for a not so funny and forgettable illness. My doctor didn’t seem worried so I took her laissez-faire attitude and went about my life not knowing a single thing about what would later become one of the toughest things I would ever had to deal with.
I won’t bore you with the play by play of the last 8 years living with Hashimoto’s because to be honest, it wasn’t ALL that bad. After beginning thyroid ‘treatment’, I had lost nearly 100 pounds, my hair was strong, thick and lengthy and my confidence was soaring high. For a short few months I was exactly who I had always dreamt I would be. I wanted to feel that way forever.
Spoiler, it didn’t last forever.
Before I knew it, I had gained some weight back. I started to become depressed, fatigued and rather anxious all the time. My hair started to fall out in clumps, leaving trails of where I had been on my pillow, in the shower and all throughout my house. I was scared to brush my hair because I knew I would eventually discover bald spots. I was exhausted no matter what. It didn’t matter how much sleep I got, I needed more. If I was out in public I would often venture off on my own, crying in bathroom stalls because everything felt too “heavy”. Soon enough, my bed and I became closer than ever. I would spend most of my time there, sleeping or staring at the ceiling wondering if this feeling was going to last forever. This went on for a few years and got progressively worse in 2017. I remember waking up one morning, rubbing my eyes and sitting up in my bed. My eye-lids felt as if they were not my own. They were much too heavy, and they ached, almost as if I had been crying for days. I put my feet on the ground and tears streamed down my face. Something in my body was very wrong and I had done all I could to ignore it for far too long. I knew that I couldn’t go on much longer without seeking help. In my heart, I knew that this was beyond Depression. I started to realize that my body was begging me to get some help, I just didn’t know what kind of help it needed. If you follow my posts, you know that my doctor did nothing to help me, but I kept pushing anyways. I couldn’t afford to give up on myself, the pain in my body wouldn’t allow it.
Hashimoto’s Disease was my wake up call. It was a brutal, middle of the night, annoying ringtone wake up call that wouldn’t let me disconnect from it and I am eternally grateful for that. Yup, I am grateful for my diagnosis, and one day you will be too.
Here are 5 Things My Hashimoto’s Diagnosis Has Taught Me:
1. Hashimoto’s disease taught me how to be friends with my body
I look back in awe at the way I used to treat myself. If I spoke the way I did to my own self, to my friends or anyone else, I would be a very lonely, arrogant person. My body has certainly tested me, and yes, I still catch myself poking and pulling at it in the mirror on occasion but ultimately, I have a kind of respect for my body now that I never knew possible. I started to recognize how feeding my body total crap was a form of physical abuse. I knew it was hurting me, I kept doing it anyways because there was no respect or value for my own body. I sometimes wish I could go back and give my little old self a hug. I wish I knew then what I know now about the importance of loving your body even when it doesn’t seem to love you back because the truth is, you are going to spend the rest of your life with yourself and that’s the only guarantee we really have.
2. Hashimoto’s disease taught me how to stand up for myself
I cringe when I think about my poor little, naive self, sitting in my doctor’s office crying like a baby when my doctor mocked me and called me names. I wish I could go back in time and hold myself up, tell myself that this very moment was going to shape the woman I would one day become, strong and resilient. I now know that just because you have MD behind your name does not mean that you know EVERYTHING. It doesn't mean that you can talk down to me or anyone else for that matter. I have learned to detach from those I disagree with, and i've learned to respectively speak out when I feel it is necessary.
3. I discovered my ultimate purpose in life
I was in sixth grade when I decided I wanted to open my very own wellness centre that focused on the connection between the physical body, the emotional mind, and the spiritual soul. In fact, “Mind, Body, Soul” was my first Instagram #bio when I was 13 years old. It was my passion to help others find themselves, even from such a young and otherwise clueless age. But maybe I wasn’t so clueless after all. Maybe society teaches us that we have to be more realistic, play it safe and choose a career path that is less 'unstable'. So one day I woke up and decided an office job and a communications degree would be the way to go. Hashimoto’s and this entire healing process has made me discover that my true passion and calling in life still is, and always will be to help people find themselves. I am still coming to terms with the reality that a 9-5 day is just not the life I was designed to live.
I found my calling. Some people go their entire lives never knowing what that is so I thank Hashimoto's for that.
4. I learned how to be alone and not be lonely
Not every relationship was meant to last. Learning how to let go of the people and things that do not serve me is just another thing Hashimoto’s has taught me about life. Losing touch is not always a bad thing. Sitting alone in a Starbucks doesn’t mean you are a loner, and hey if it does, than i'm beginning to think being a loner is not all that bad. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the relationship I have developed with myself has become so strong that I often don't feel the need for other’s company. Except for my mom, I always need my mom.
5. I learned how capable I am of doing great things
The world is my oyster. I hate that saying, but it fits in this particular context. I can literally do anything I want with my life. I can make this into a business, or I can keep it as a hobby. I can change my education path and go into holistic health care, I can write a book, or books, I can open that darn wellness centre that I always dreamed of opening. There is nothing stopping me from living the life of my dreams. Going completely broke just doesn’t seem to scare me anymore, and “What if this fails and doesn’t work out” has turned into a “what if this succeeds and DOES work out?” Hashimoto’s has really proven my full potential and taught me to aim for the sky in whatever I choose to do next with my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t recommend Hashimoto’s to anyone, and I really wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Sometimes, when life gives you lemons (even if they’re sour) you gotta just make the best lemonade you can with it. Another annoying phrase, but hey it fits.
If you’re newly diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, or if you have had it for a while now, I challenge you to find some good in your situation. Maybe it’s taught you some unforgettable lessons, maybe it’s shown the true colours of your doctor, your family or your friends. Maybe it’s pushed you to eat a healthier, more sustainable diet. Whatever it has done for you, big or small, notice that and be thankful for it.
Remember, as the concept of The Butterfly Effect suggests, everything that has happened in your life has led you to this moment.
Thank you for reading,
Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroidism, Victoria explores the reality of living with chronic illness through her blog, The Butterfly Effect.
Victoria seeks to spread awareness of autoimmunity and writes to inspire chronically ill patients to live wholesome lives beyond their health struggles.
You can also find more from Victoria on Instagram and Facebook