Hypothyroidism has the power to affect our lives so completely.
Written by Robyn Guidon, Founder of She Went Out on a Limb
It was January 20. My boyfriend and I had been living long distance while we waited for his company to transfer him. We were planning a life and trying to have children and I knew he was the one for me. We were on the phone and he had just let me know that he didn’t get the transfer we’d been hoping for. I was starting to comfort him when I heard “…and I was relieved…”
My gut dropped.
During the weeks that passed like molasses he asked for space. He got angry. He had previously asked me to move home but realized that’s not what he wanted either. I heard everything from the trying to hurt me “I don’t love you” (he absolutely did) to “I don’t want to slip back into old patterns” (I can’t blame him) to the absolutely soul crushing “I haven’t felt loved in a very long time”.
Crap. Yup. There it was. And the saddest part was that I knew it…
We were in a place that certainly wasn’t okay and from the moment the ball dropped, I’ve let him know that I respected his decision. He’s always led us to be our best and I was not showing up as that person for him or for me.
Though I’ve heard many things through this time, we’ve settled on the fact that he needs to be alone and do things his way. I know in my heart of hearts that there’s truth to that, so through our breakup I have loved him and honoured him and his wishes and we’ve remained as fair as we could be.
But, also in my heart of hearts, I know that if I was showing up as the person he had met and fell in love with, we wouldn’t be in this spot in the first place.
And that’s where my story begins…
The other day I was flipping through pictures on our computer, being nostalgic and letting myself have a good cry.
Things were incredible.
Unlike anything I had ever experienced.
Our first dates were romantic and epic:
A bucket list northern lights experience on our very first date. Our second, a 4 day trip that included my first time ever seeing Niagara Falls by opening the grand curtains from our Falls View Suite (I cried at the sight), then, a weekend in the world renowned Jasper Alberta, followed by 10 days in a car traveling all through the Maritimes, always stopping to golf at some of the best courses in the Country.
Then came pictures of our life and home together, adopting our pets, and more travels.
Glimpses of our daily life that I had been missing for the last 5 months we’d been apart flicked in front of my eyes.
And then there it was.
A screen shot of a text I received many moons ago.
I wasn’t expecting it.
I don’t even know why it was there….
The text simply said:
You’re so easy to love. I’m a lucky man.
It hit me hard.
As recently I have been very not easy to love…
I’m not sure where it all started but somewhere along the last year or two I became someone I couldn’t recognize.
A few years ago I started to gain weight and feel lethargic.
C’s brother would call me “high energy” and we’d look at each other like he was crazy; that was certainly not how we’d describe me anymore.
I started getting snappy, my sex drive disappeared and I felt impatient about life.
In September 2012 I experienced 3 large losses and after the stress of it all I was no longer just ‘moody’, I felt angry a lot.
At where we lived.
And anyone who’s been angry, or with an angry person, knows that it rips through your life like wildfire.
I had no idea where it was coming from. Things that would normally never bother me would make me fly off the handle. Like, really stupid stuff:
He wouldn’t turn off his alarm quickly enough in the morning.
Pending client calls or appointments.
Driving in a town with no traffic.
Even chopping veggies for dinner made me angry – and I’m a health coach and truly believe in the miracle of great and healthy food!
He drew the line on numerous occasions and let me know that he would not be with an angry woman; hearing that would break my heart and I’d try to control it, but it’d seep out of me like water from an over soaked sponge…
I didn’t want to show up as that girl.
I didn’t think I was that girl.
And yet, that’s who I became…
Besides the anger, I had been having scary head pain daily with large painful pulses that felt like something was about to burst; I went to bed the last 6 months with the fear that I wouldn’t wake up. Despite eating clean and hiring trainers and joining crossfit, I continued to gain weight (people would tell me that losing weight was just harder in your thirties. I countered that I know 60 year olds that could lose weight, and yet, I could not lose a single pound, nor could I stop gaining weight although I was doing everything right to lose it).
I felt old and tired all the time, I lacked intimacy, my legs kept swelling (the doctors had me in compression tights), my joints hurt, and not only could I no longer wear the wardrobe I loved because of the weight gain, I could no longer wear heels either as my ankles felt stiff and weak.
I went from feeling strong and capable to always feeling too busy and like things were always spinning out of control.
I’d wake up in the morning and ask C if he felt more tired waking up than he did when he went to sleep (his answer was no, mine was always yes). I had anxiety and felt like I had depression (life felt flat, monotone and lacking joy) even though I continued to feel motivated towards life and our future in a non-depressed way. I’d bicker with people at work even though I was highly trained in conflict resolution and office dynamics.
Somewhere during this time my cycle flipped and I’d be irrational and emotional and feeling crazy all month long and level out during my period. C loved being around me when I was on my period; I was emotionally connected and caring and had a softness about me that I didn’t have the rest of the month. We both loved that girl who showed up those days.
I had been going to Doctors for a year and Naturopaths for the 6 months following.
I carried a list in my phone to read off to each professional I saw (just a glimpse…the list is longer than one screen shot).
The doctor’s would either test me and tell me I was “low but within normal range” or tell me there was nothing wrong.
One actually told me, ‘welcome to a woman’s normal cycle’. (Um, I just told you it was opposite of normal…)
I felt shameful as this shouldn’t be happening to a once young feeling, vibrant, and bold woman. Didn’t hormone issues just affect older women?
I felt embarrassed that people were judging my extreme weight gain as I wanted to let them know I was working my tail off and yet that doesn’t easily fit into conversation…
I’d seek help from friends stating, “I love C more than I’ve loved anyone, and yet I always seem angry with him…”
No one was listening and as I was beginning to lose my positive outlook, felt like I was complaining.
I was no longer the woman who cried with his mother at the idea of him moving so far away to be with me; I didn’t want to take him away from everyone he loved. “It’ll be good”, she replied, mentioning that love and a new career is an exciting time. And quite possibly, if things were better for me, it would have been everything we all hoped for in that moment…
C and I eventually decided for me to take a transfer, hoping he wouldn’t be far behind, as I obviously wasn’t happy and something needed to change.
We talked about living in a place that allowed us to explore hundreds of places on an average weekend and create a new and exciting normal for ourselves because I (and we) were feeling so stuck.
We chose a location where our family up north comes to visit and then we packed up my life and drove me south (that was the thing about C, he’s only ever wanted me to be happy and was willing to sacrifice whatever it took for that, including him living alone in our house and taking on the sole responsibility of selling it and officially moving us down at a later date).
But the thing about feeling disconnected when you’re with someone every day and can see them and kiss and touch them is that it’s overly amplified when there’s 1,200 kilometers between you. I figured we had done the long distance thing before so we could do it again, but I wasn’t in a disconnected fog when we were long distance before…
I was in the location we wanted and was still feeling stuck and flat and monotone and angry…C and I communicated daily although we weren’t always talking and when we would he’d feel unsupported. My family was feeling snapped at. My work sucked.
We did a large renovation to get the house ready to sell (possibly a little too much for a struggling long distance couple to do although with the best of intentions for our new life) and I freaked out at the debt of it all because acting irrationally was normal at this point and when everything feels out of control, you try to control the things you think you can…I’d speak to myself with my coach logic. It’s just money and a renovation is an investment, but that’s not how I would act…
Although I knew I was excited to see him, I wouldn’t greet him the way I used to nor be able to connect with him emotionally or intimately the way I wanted.
I cried at the drop of a hat.
I spent weekends at my mother’s feeling lazy and tired.
Although we had a ‘good Christmas’, things continued to feel flat and I greeted my family with a pasted on smile. The best gifts I’ve ever received were from C, and this Christmas was no exception, yet he felt that he didn’t do a good enough job or that I didn’t recognize his thoughtfulness. Disconnection was spilling out of me. My dear sweet Nana stated that I seemed ‘off’.
In my disconnection I questioned my love for C an energy I’m sure he felt. But what he didn’t know was that I also questioned my love for my family so I knew this was bigger than us; unfortunately, he did not and I was in a fog and unable to communicate it all. But, energy is energy, and everyone was feeling it.
I wasn’t aware just how far I’d fallen and everything that was being impacted as it’s a slow ride downhill and over time, feeling crappy just feels normal.
During the relocation, I was at my Naturopath every week to 2 weeks; she called me the model patient as anything she suggested I did 110%.
We spent thousands of dollars treating everything she suggested.
I was at massage and chiropractic weekly to help with the head pain.
I wanted to be well so desperately that I was willing to try anything, including messy hot oil packs on my abdomen for an hour every 2 days to help treat adrenal fatigue.
Slowly, there were little glimpses of hope; treating my adrenals was helping with some of the overall exhaustion and massage and chiropractic were somewhat helping my head pain.
I became unable to look at myself in the mirror; I didn’t recognize myself physically or emotionally anymore and let my image be something that was only caught by accident in my peripheral vision.
Early January, I went to my Naturopath appointment and demanded that she test my thyroid; I kept bringing it up and nothing was happening.
She replied that she didn’t think we were ‘there’ yet; I told her she was wrong and that we’ve been ‘there’ long before we met.
She ordered the testing and I was hopeful for a bit of weight loss that I couldn’t seem to find on my own and hoped that helping my body image might help other things fall into place.
One day after our breakup, I got my test results.
My Naturopath said she was glad I forced the testing as my thyroid was a ‘mess’ and on January 21, I was diagnosed as hypothyroid.
I started to treat it and even through heartache I immediately began to heal in the deepest way that I have ever experienced.
Here are photos of me (2010, Christmas 2013, 6 weeks later):
The world seemed full colour!
It was like a switch was literally turned back on in my brain.
I knew the thyroid was responsible for metabolism and I immediately saw changes in my body, but I had assumed all the emotional changes were fleeting and only due to feeling raw and hurt and a bit tuned out from my recent breakup. I was sure I’d be back to being angry and disconnected soon…
Then, a week or 2 later, I noticed one evening that my legs weren’t shaking walking down the stairs anymore and slowly started to piece together that within 2-3 days of treating my thyroid my ankles didn’t hurt upon waking, things at work were no longer making me panic, and I felt more centered and mature and calm than I had felt in a very long time even though I was completely heartbroken.
Nothing continued to make me angry or act irrationally and I wasn’t trying to control anything.
I started to observe that driving daily under a flight path, I no longer feared the planes would fall on me instead, I started to fantasize about getting on those planes and going places again.
Driving thousands of kilometers a month, I went from stressing out to enjoying the gorgeous scenery.
My desires, empathy, creativity, and love of music returned and I was no longer feeling like a shell of the person I used to be.
And the greatest gift of all?
I started laughing again; I didn’t even know it was gone!
I LOVE laughing (and actually used to be pretty funny pre-thyroid disease) and feel my soul healing with every time it escapes my lips.
I was excited to see people again, including C as he drove my belongings down.
This was certainly not the way I’d hoped to see him, but I was still excited to see him, as when all is right in the world, you’re just plain excited to see the people you love (even if the reason sucks).
I couldn’t believe it…
Could my body actually feel pain free because of kicking my thyroid back in?
Is it even possible to cure a decade of depression and anxiety through your thyroid?
It couldn’t be that even the anger that ripped my life apart is completely gone because of treating this too…
And I was shocked at what I found out:
The thyroid is not only responsible for metabolism and sex drive like I had previously thought, but is the center of your emotional wellbeing. It’s the epicenter of your life and is related to your truest expression of self; when your thyroid is off, you literally have a disconnection of self and to others.
I found physical symptoms ranging from infertility, swollen legs, thinning hair, low body temperature and dry skin, to rapid or unexplained weight gain, fatigue, slow reflexes, and body pain. Tinnitus, snoring, yawning all the time to try and get more oxygen, muscle tremors, vertigo, and recurrent sinus infections. Severe menstrual cramps, sleep disturbances, fatigue, dry eyes, significantly calloused heels, and headaches, along with dozens more.
I found emotional/mental symptoms with a list just as long: depression, anxiety, irrationality, mood swings, anger, forgetfulness, behaviours mimicking bipolar, and impaired cognitive ability. The Thyroid Association of Canada prints that, “an underactive thyroid can lead to progressive slowing of mental processes, fading of the personality’s colour and vivacity, general intellectual deterioration, (and) depression with a paranoid flavour. In instances of each condition (hypo and hyper), some persons have been wrongly diagnosed, hospitalized for months, and treated unsuccessfully for psychosis and hypothyroidism often develops insidiously over a considerable time”.
Thyroid Mind Power: The Proven Cure for Hormone-Related Depression, Anxiety, and Memory Loss author Dr. Shames has been quoted as saying: “The number of prescriptions for thyroid medicines now exceeds that for almost any other category of illness and the chance that you might have a thyroid issue is well worth considering, even if you have normal tests… An astonishing 1 in 10 North Americans of all age ranges has some degree of thyroid imbalance and even a mild imbalance can cause severe symptoms”.
“Scientists now consider thyroid hormones one of the major players in brain chemistry disorders. And as with any brain chemical disorder, until treated correctly, thyroid hormone imbalance has serious effects on the patient’s emotions and behavior.” – Dr. Ahem
Out of the 25 million people with Hypothyroidism, less than 10% know about it…
Thyroid issues are becoming more and more common today and everyone from young children to the elderly are being diagnosed. Whether it be today’s stressful life, birth control, flouride, pesticides, food or hundreds more triggers, the thyroid is sensitive and can wreak havoc on your emotional and physical life.
For me, I’ve always lost an insane amount of hair and every hairdresser I’ve had mentions my thyroid and I had my first test before I was 18.
I was first diagnosed with depression and then anxiety (depression with a paranoid flavor) at 21 and spent the next 10 years on and off anti-depression/anxiety medication which never seemed to help.
Last year, I had a psychiatrist I was seeing as part of a panic program continue to try to prescribe me medication citing that I must have never been on a high enough dose if it wasn’t helping.
I had my last Doctor issued thyroid test a year ago which came back again ‘low but within normal range’. Current ranges for thyroid health are very broad and I would have been diagnosed years ago using the Naturopathic ranges.
My tests were not low enough to catch a Doctor’s eye and yet my symptoms were severe and took a huge toll on my life and relationship and I have learned that you can ONLY have your best life when you’re physically and emotionally able to show up in wellness.
To be living in such a tuned out state and resurface into clarity just as my relationship is crumbling at my feet has been the most difficult journey of my life. Because of the mental fog, I have little memories of being unable to connect over the past few months and now that I feel fully conscious, have tons of mental availability and space, and life feels 100% easier, the person I want to connect with most is gone and a large void has been left in its place.
I continue to be in shock at the toll that this has taken on my life, but as a Coach, I will (not always gracefully)
sit in the space of trust that,
although I feel that I’ve lost my everything,
I will find a powerful way through this and heal deeply by being as healthy as I can be.
And quite possibly, healthier than I’ve been in over 10 years…
About Robyn Guidon
Robyn Guidon is a 4 time certified coach (with a BA in Psychology) and founder of She Went Out on a Limb – an online resource created to help women unleash their best lives. Through multiple levels of healing from both parties, Robyn and C have mended their relationship (with an extra emphasis on health and awareness that’s been learned along the way). You can also find Robyn on Twitter @robynguidon and her Facebook page.