Hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid disease, is a condition in which there are lower than healthy thyroid hormone levels in the bloodstream. Since the thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism, digestion, healthy bones and muscles, heart function, and brain function, the effects of an imbalance are very far-reaching.
Hypothyroidism is more common among women than men, and the risk increases with age. About 1 in 5 women over the age of 50 are affected by hypothyroidism. In the United States, there are 10-12 million people living with hypothyroidism and unfortunately, 15% of them continue to suffer in spite of receiving the recommended treatments.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness, aches, and stiffness
- Elevated blood cholesterol level
- Joint pain and swelling
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
- Thinning hair
- Slowed heart rate
- Brain fog
- Enlarged thyroid gland
What’s it Like to Live with Hypothyroidism?
Reading symptoms in a bullet point list is one thing, but actually seeing a loved one experience them firsthand, or going through them yourself, is a different story.
“The difficult thing about this condition is that the symptoms are often explained away — as if being a woman, a working mom, or in your 40s, is a reason these things are happening,” hypothyroidism diagnosee, Hollie Geitner of Pittsburgh told Everyday Health.
Fellow hypothyroidism fighter, Trish Hoffman from Laguna Beach, California agrees. She writes, “I think the biggest misconception is that those around you may just feel like you use this condition as an excuse for being tired or they may even think you’re lazy.”
One anonymous mother of two wanted to share her experience of living with hypothyroidism. Her health took a sudden turn for the worse at the age of 41. She found herself completely sapped of energy and unable to get through her days without feeling exhausted. She received her diagnosis in 2013 and has been fighting to maintain a good quality of life since.
She wrote an open letter to her spouse and her two sons, and shared it with Dana Trentini, founder of Hypothyroid Mom, in the hopes that it would resonate with other strong hypothyroid warriors.
A Letter from Your Loving Hypothyroid Wife & Mommy (6)
“You can be a hypothyroidism warrior as I like to champion myself, or you can stay in bed for days on end without lifting your head from the pillow (and trust me, there are many a day that I would love nothing more than to do just that).”
She goes on to describe her average day, of essentially working two full-time jobs. The first is what she does for a living, the second is fighting against brain fog and fatigue just enough to accomplish what she needs to do to stay afloat and keep her family organized and cared for.
“You see, by this point, I am both mentally and physically exhausted – not in any way that you could possibly understand. This is a constant lifelong sentence of exhaustion. So, call me lazy, whiny, negative, miserable, but you know what? I AM a warrior!”
She admits that it’s pretty impossible to expect anyone to fight daily for their own health and keep a smile on their face at the same time. She knows her family notices the toll it takes on her every day. But she’s determined to keep fighting for herself, with the help of the people who love her.
“I have not given up or given in. Yes, some days are more difficult than others, but I fight and do my best not to let anyone see this, albeit, this is becoming more and more difficult to hide. Please do not take offense if I need some quiet time, some help and most importantly, some love.”
“I’m not whining, I’m winning. I’m not lazy, I’m tired. I’m not grumpy, I’m in pain. It’s time to notice that your wife, your mother, IS a hypothyroid warrior and will not give up, ever. However, I need the support and love of a hypothyroid husband and children more than ever. This disease is also your disease, like it or not.”
If you suspect that you’re experiencing symptoms of a thyroid hormone imbalance, speak to your medical care provider right away. Finding the right treatment for you will likely require some patience, but take heart in the fact that you’re surrounded by many other hypothyroidism warriors who understand your experiences.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.