Suicide plan interrupted: What prevented this thyroid patient from going through with it?

This Thyroid Patient's Suicide Plan Interrupted

There are certain people who inspire me every day to continue writing Hypothyroid Mom. Lorraine Cleaver of the Thyroid Petition Scotland is one of them. She is a woman fighting for change for thyroid patients across the globe. I am happy to know her and call her friend.

Written by Lorraine Cleaver, Thyroid Petition Scotland

After a lifetime of great health, I embarked on pregnancy with no apprehension aged 36. I was happily married and feeling so positive about my first baby’s arrival.

Lorraine Cleaver, Thyroid Petition Scotland

A few midwife check-ups revealed a low iron count but I was told I could take some iron tablets “if I wanted to” and with such a casual approach that I gathered this was no biggy. I did supplement for a few weeks however, when I told the midwife I suffered with terrible constipation and stomach pains on this, she said not to worry, my iron wasn’t too low. So, wracking my brains, this was the only red flag I can come up with in an otherwise stress free pregnancy. I had a non remarkable delivery, epidural and forceps and a bouncing 7lb 4 oz boy. I took my son home excited about the future as a new mum. I didn’t have to return to work and money was not a pressure so we had the world at our feet and all we had to do was enjoy it.

Lorraine Cleaver, Thyroid Petition ScotlandThe reality was starkly different.

Within days of the birth, I weighed less than I ever have in my life, 7 stone, about 44 kilos. I was reassured by the health visitor that this was the wonderful side effect of breast feeding. As the weeks rolled on, further weight fell off, despite an enormous appetite. By the time my son was nine months old, I weighed less than 6 stone, 38 kilos. I was gaunt, anxious and near hysterical with fear, dreading cancer or some other devastating illness.

There were dark intrusive thoughts of death, not of killing myself or harming my baby, but fatalistic doom laden images of death and falling down stairs. I felt I had no control over anything. If my body was doing this to me, what say did I have in anything that really mattered? How could I keep this little boy alive when I couldn’t even keep weight on myself?

Lorraine Cleaver, Thyroid Petition Scotland

The exhaustion was crippling and yet sleep wouldn’t come. I was running on empty, doing everything at one hundred miles an hour, with palpitations and bulging eyes to prove it. Finally a year after my child’s birth I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease. Hooray! This madness had a cause. I would get well. The carbimazole worked a treat and I did indeed feel fantastic again within weeks. The nightmare was going to end.

Or so I thought.

A year later my endocrinologist told me I should have my thyroid removed to prevent any damage to my eyes. He said the body can cope fine without a thyroid and that he would replace the hormones my gland could no longer produce with one little pill a day, Levothyroxine. I trusted him and felt it would be churlish to refuse an operation that could prevent damage to my sight. I went ahead and have not stopped regretting it since.

I’ve spoken at length before about the trauma I endured having this operation – post op hematoma, emergency tracheostomy without pain relief, second surgery and loss of parathyroid glands. Still, years later, I struggle to relate to the person I was then, naive and obedient.

Why did I go ahead and let doctors remove a gland that was in fact not diseased?

My immune system was faulty, not my thyroid!

Why didn’t I research and question this?

All I can come up with is I was raised to trust doctor knows best.

I know better now!

Recovering from the surgery was easy enough, it was adjusting to life with hypothyroidism that was the real challenge. I now know the wisdom of that saying “out of every hard time, something good will come, nothing is lost.” It took a long time to get there though.

I endured some of the darkest years of my life then, with a little boy to care for and no hope that I would ever feel well again. I was constantly told my thyroid levels were ‘normal’ despite being so tired I was unsafe to drive to hospital appointments. I became obese, lost my hair, developed high blood pressure and tachycardia, had high cholesterol, insomnia, tinnitus and carpal tunnel among many debilitating new symptoms.

To be constantly told these symptoms are nothing to do with the recent removal of a body part made no sense whatsoever to me. Neither did the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, made, incidentally, by a doctor who didn’t examine me or look at blood results.

Once the panic attacks began in earnest, I hit my all time low, real rock bottom. Fear was my constant companion. The sun could be shining and out of nowhere a sense of utter doom would come over me. My heart felt like it was bursting out of my chest. There were many trips to the emergency room where of course, no cause could be found. Cardiologist ran extensive tests and could see the ectopic heart beats and tachycardia come over me but were unable to establish the cause, only saying it was endocrine related. Endocrinologists dismissed me as usual, saying thyroid wise I was fine.

I had exhausted all avenues. Looking back, the day my family doctor suggested I apply to be registered disabled was the turning point for me. I wept in her office, wept to my husband later that night, cried myself to sleep and woke hours later clear in my mind this was time to call it a day. I had no quality of life to speak of. I rarely left the house, couldn’t make plans, didn’t see friends, didn’t live. What was the point of this charade?

My beautiful, longed for baby was now an anxious seven year old who saw his mother carted off in ambulances all too often. He’d developed a swallowing problem and for months was unable to eat solid foods. Tests found nothing and I realised this could have its roots in his fear of losing me.

What was I doing to him?

To my husband?

It really did seem clear to me then, I would be doing them all a favour by killing myself.

Speaking to my husband about my plans was the saddest time of my life. There was no drama, no big scene, or tears. I just laid it on the line, the positives of staying alive and the negatives and he could not argue with my logic. He tried, really tried but he literally couldn’t assure me that I would get better. How could he? I’d tried almost everything, saw every doctor.

It was all in my head! The bloods were normal.

I was just this forty four year old woman with the body of a geriatric and the mind of a depressive and no one knew why. The pills didn’t work, not the Levothyroxine, not the antidepressants, not the Tramadol, not the sleeping pills, not the beta blockers, not the anti inflammatories, not the acid suppressors, not the laxatives, not the anti anxieties. Nothing worked and everything gave me worse side effects.

What they might be good at was ending this excuse for a life and that was the decision I made that evening, to stock pile the drugs and commit suicide four weeks later, when I had put my affairs in order.

What happened to prevent me going through with it?

My husband quietly researched and found what I should have years before, real information on how thyroid patients are not always well on Levothyroxine, despite so called normal lab results.

He found excellent online thyroid communities including Thyroid UK, and through them, the wonderful Dr. Skinner who tragically died. I sacked the useless Endocrinologist whose mantra was ‘your bloods are normal, it’s not thyroid related’ and began taking natural desiccated thyroid. I read up on nutritional deficiencies that often go hand in hand with autoimmune disease and raised my b12 and iron levels which had been dangerously low.

Recovering physically was only part of the battle though. The emotional impact of being essentially neglected and lied to by the medical profession hit me hard.

What to do with that impotent rage?

Where to direct it?

Why are (mainly) women in their hundreds of thousands having their reality denied like this, every single day?

The treatment for thyroid disease is nothing short of scandalous.

That’s when I decided to petition the Government in Scotland where I live. The health of the nation’s female population is a feminist issue as well as a political one and cannot be ignored any longer.

The Scottish Parliament has so far been wonderful in support of this petition, holding meetings with leading Thyroid charities and Endocrinologists to try to uncover the issues we face. Currently the government is planning a Listening Exercise to establish what goes wrong for thyroid patients from diagnosis to treatment and the Petitions Committee themselves are considering their own enquiry, acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. Things take time to come to fruition but I am very hopeful this will yield results and new research backing up my petition is being peer reviewed all the time.

Meanwhile, I try to recover the years I lost to this utterly treatable yet poorly managed disease.

If it wasn’t for the kindness of strangers, I would have gone ahead with my planned suicide.

The wonderful patients on forums here in the UK and in the USA gave so generously and tirelessly of their time to guide me in my thyroid journey. I try to pay it forward where I can whilst still finding some balance in my day to day life, to be with my family who suffered along with me.

I have no problem talking about my plans to end my life, or the mental health problems I suffered whilst ill because the stigma and shame associated with these are not mine.

The shame is that of the medical profession.

I refuse to feel any shame for their incompetence and medical negligence.

When I have the usual off day we all get from time to time, I can feel like walking away from all things thyroid and forgetting about the battle we still face. I don’t though, I take time out and come back more resolved than ever to keep going because without good people like Hypothyroid Mom and the online thyroid community, many lives will surely be lost. Sharing our resources and experiences is what will save our lives.

We will win this battle because we have right on our side and when we do, it will be time for well deserved celebration and good health.

I am so lucky to turn 50! I have family and friends who have seen me through the darkest of days who kept me strong when I was an ill pain in the ass. I am so, so lucky. I may be getting old but my god, old feels good.

This Thyroid Patient's Suicide Plan Interrupted

About Lorraine Cleaver

I am now an impatient thyroid and hypoparathyroid patient. I have petitioned the Scottish Parliament to ask for better thyroid testing and treatment PE01463: Effective thyroid and adrenal testing, diagnosis and treatment. You can find me on Facebook Thyroid Petition Scotland, Twitter @lorrainecleaver, and Paper.li #Thyroid News.

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About Dana Trentini

I founded Hypothyroid Mom October 2012 in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroid Mom is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for consulting your physician regarding medical advice pertaining to your health. Hypothyroid Mom includes affiliate links to favorite resources including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. My thyroid issues came after the birth of my first daughter and now I have hashimotos. Just wanted to let everyone know to keep an eye out for small fiber neuropathy. About 5 years ago my feet started aching like my tsh was off but all my tests were normal. After 2 years of trying to figure out what was wrong with my feet I found a doc that thought it was neuropathy, but my emg was normal. I finally had a punch biopsy done and found out I have idiopathic (meaning they don’t know what caused it, or as I like to say, a cross between idiotic and pathetic, lol) small fiber neuropathy. My quality of life is awful. My docs will only prescribe anti depressants and/or Lyrica/Neurontin for my pain but they don’t do anything except put the pounds on and make me feel beyond drunk. Now my heart is all screwed up and I’m on my third cardiologist. The 1st one diagnosed me with cardiomyopathy, which is a death sentence and my 2nd opinion idiot told me it was all in my head. Nice, huh? I’m 51 now, been living hypo since I was 32 and the last 10 years have been a total waste. Every night I hope I die in my sleep only to wake utterly disappointed. I go to talk therapy twice a week and do TMS for my depression, but until I can do laundry, take a shower, blow dry my hair and every other little thing I toll for granted, I will never be happy. Add to that the fact I married Spock and it’s hard to see past the despair. Anyway, if you’re feet and/or hands start to ache like you stood on your feet for over 24 hours see a neurologist and ask for a punch biopsy to rule out SFN, it’s the only test they have for it and the specimen has to either go to boston or ny to be read correctly. Good luck everyone.

  2. I was diagnosed with Graves but I go hyper to hypo daily, although I have long runs in either mode.. Can trace it to my late teens early 20’s. I have searched for my whole adult life, over 30 years now, to find an answer. Have struggled with several auto immune conditions that have ravaged my body as well.. Crohns,colitis,celiac,lupus like? I found part of the answer at a D.O. who did blood work 3 years ago, he found I had serious food allergies and no hormones, low vitamin d3 etc.. This helped a lot but had a setback with h pylori that I had for 30 or so years. Eating healthy, sleeping good and all the right things and still no relief for my thyroid.. I tried the meds for a year, but I unknowingly had prediabetes which the endocrinologist refused to test me for. Our medicine is useless !!! Too many chemicals, radiation in everything we ingest daily, isn’t that what causes the thyroid to go crazy?? Stinks to know there isn’t much hope to feel like a normal person again.. Nice to vent to someone who suffers and has compassion..
    Blessings
    Chris

  3. Have hypothesis I am gaining over ten pounds a week total of 140 lbs in less than 6 months my husband walked out after the first 20 lbs saying what a stupid lazy fat pig when I showed in court for the divorce the judge said wow what a disgusting fat cow and its about bald and he was awarded full custody of our 2 children and I have to pay him alimony and support for cruelty & emotional distress and counseling for all three of them because my disguing fat body and the 30 more pounds I gained in the 2 weeks we were in court with more hair falling out it I touched it or moved my head I was finally told my presents would not be required I could sit in a side room and use a phone to communicate. I now have no visitations or contact with my children I was seen as a disgusting fat slob and not being able to control my own body I would be allowed to ruin their lives . Week later told all test results are normal every week for 3 months the same. Finally I told Doctor I will kill myself if I gain just one more pound oh I did try 2 times that week but being so disgusting sick fat the wood beam broke before my neck the emts and police laughed when they arrived saying there no way we can lift that animal without a crane not realizing that animal was me a women who never weighed over 120 in 50 years of living and within 9 months I am at 367 lbs bald lost half my teeth can wipe the shit off my ass lost my job house now living on street have welfare insurance and while they use to say test are all normal now they say sorry you don’t have insurance that covers and testing or lab etc etc. maybe go to a shelter they can put you in a alcohol & drug program for morbid obesity. Tried suicide #3 got locked in hospital again for two weeks just got out and I won’t stop this time #4 the charm . The last words my mother heard was both her other kids yelling out the car window as their father drove by with his blond model perfect new wife was your dead to us already you stupid fat pig thank good your not our mother anymore why don’t you die fat slob. I am her oldest daughter I was in college overseas in the year this happened she never let me know no one did I was walking down the sidewalk to surprise her what I saw was her put a gun to her head and pull the trigger she is a peace now . But I need to know why there are so many people with thyroid problems and 90% of the doctors don’t even know anything about treating or testing and insurance companies that won’t cover even the basic tests I feel bad for people on low incomes and elderly who have nothing but welfare insurance that won’t cover anything more that 1 blood test yearly so they like my mom have no choice . I miss her so much I was coming to surprise her with the news that I was accepted into med school on a full scholarship. I now know what field of medicine I will pursue.

    • That really sucks. Have you tried taking any supplements OTC? I resorted to treating myself with over the counter supplements since the doctors were completely worthless and didn’t know what the hell they were doing and didn’t care. I figured obviously I have to either find a way to do their jobs for them or commit suicide because it would be better than dying slowly of organ failure induced by neglect and idiotic misprescribed drugs.

      This is what helped me more than anything the doctors prescribed. I can’t guarantee it will effect you exactly the way it helped me. If you decided to copy what I’m doing or treat yourself over the counter, you are responsible for monitoring the effects it is having on you. I’m not a doctor. Honestly, I take a lot of supplements and spend a few hundred per month on them instead of insurance. I was disabled before I started using them. I need to take them every day and continue using them or I am disabled without them. They are my medicine.

      I take iodine (but make sure it is nascent iodine, not just any iodine. Some forms like Lugols solution can be dangerous if you take a lot of it.) Mix liquid nascent iodine with distilled water and drink it twice per day. I drink at least 60 milligrams (not micrograms) of iodine in distilled water every day for years. (atomidine is the form of iodine I recommend) I also take 200 micrograms of selenium and at least 20,000 or more IU of D3 per day. You will probably need to watch out for an immune system dysfunction related to your thyroid. The D3 and selenium might help with that. D3 helps regulate the immune system. I’ve heard glutathione helps, too. I also take desiccated thyroid. Without taking D3 and selenium, my TSH was over 10.5. When I went back on D3 and selenium, TSH dropped to less than 5, anti TPO was 0, but anti TG was somewhat elevated. That is the first time in my life doctors ever agreed to test more than just my TSH (despite multiple requests for years). I had depression and pcos since puberty and I am 100% sure they were symptoms caused by hypothyroidism I had since puberty. I am almost 30 and was just “diagnosed”. Doctors always told me there was nothing wrong with my thyroid because the TSH was “normal” and prescribed shit that caused liver problems instead of actually treating my thyroid. You really can’t listen to them or trust them at all. If you have normal TSH and symptoms of hypothyroidism, there are herbs that you can use to stimulate your thyroid. Naturopathic medicine typically treats hypothyroidism with herbs to stimulate the thyroid and natural methods to reduce auto-immune attack. I don’t go to a naturopath because its expensive and not covered by insurance. I just look stuff up online and in books and talk to people in health supplement stores to find information. One herb I like to use to stimulate my thyroid is coleus forskohlii. Start with a small amount of it if you have not used it before. If it weren’t for my supplements, I would be completely disabled by depression and might have to kill myself. I also do not drink tap water because it has fluoride, chlorine, and bromine in it. All of those negatively effect thyroid function. I refill jugs of water with de-ionized water from whole foods (cheaper than buying new gallons of distilled all the time) and add minerals into it because drinking water that pure without minerals will deplete them eventually.

      I noticed an improvement in my depression and pcos symptoms taking those supplements and have gotten off all prescription medications. I don’t really rely on the doctors for thyroid or depression treatment that much since they are useless and you have to do their job for them anyway. I can function as long as I’m on the supplements, but without them I am disabled.

      Another thing that helped with weigh loss was detoxing my liver. Don’t detox too hard too fast or it can over stress your liver. Over stressing your liver can cause complications like liver fire (chinese medicine term) or other liver imbalances. Don’t be too scared to detox, but just be aware of that and start slow at first until you know how much to handle and don’t rush too much to detox. Depending on the type of detox you do and the intensity, it is good to just detox for a short time, maybe a week or two and then break. When you detox, your liver dumps toxins into the duodenum (part of small intestine) for your digestive system to process and poop out. You will also pee more. Detoxing can put stress on your digestive system, cause diarrhea, and possibly cause gut dysbiosis from water/diarrhea flushing out your system. Drinking food grade calcium bentonite clay before bed can help absorb toxins so they are eliminated more efficiently with less detox side effects. Detoxing releases toxins before they are eliminated, which is why you might feel worse initially before they are eliminated. Kefir is like drinkable yogurt. It is helpful to restore probiotic balance if needed. I think lactose free kefir exists, too.

      You should probably look up some books to buy for advise on treating thyroid problems yourself. Search for thyroid protocols and things like that.

    • Since you are overweight, there is a good chance you are very estrogenic. A lot of pharmaceutical drugs are estrogenic and will bind to estrogen receptors (mimicking the effects of estrogen) and contribute to estrogen overload/estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance causes weight gain, depression, and other symptoms. You might want to try taking some progesterone cream. It is available over the counter at a lot of health supplement stores. It was extremely useful for me when I got off antidepressants. I don’t need it anymore, but I wouldn’t have been able to function without it then (several years ago). Estrogen dominance makes you more fat and depressed. Protesterone makes ou gain muscle, lose fat, and counters depression caused by estrogen dominance. Detoxing your liver helps eliminate excess estrogenic compounds (and other toxins) stored in fat cells. When it eliminates the toxins stored in fat, then the body has no need for the fat cell anymore and eliminates it. (Make sure you use food grade clay when you drink/ingest it btw.)

      Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. This advise is just based on personal experience.

  4. I landed on this website because reducing other medications I’ve been taking for years is causing wild fluctuations in the absorption of my T4 & T3 replacement hormones. I feel half crazy with anxiety more often than not these days, which for me always leads to depression (the anxiety that is). Every few weeks I get my levels right and feel fairly normal, which is a nice reminder. But often, no matter how much I know it’s the medication making me feel so bad, I struggle to believe I’ll feel okay again, which of course leads to hopelessness.

    I’m in the US. I’m a 41 year old man who has suffered from Hashimoto’s with very high antibodies of both types since I was in my very early 20s. I wanted to comment on a few things. First, I’m so happy you got well. I haven’t been quite as close as you to ending things, but I’ve definitely gone through months where I told myself it’s my only option if things don’t get better. Again, an internet search with those keywords led me to your post. I did want to tell you something I think women don’t realize because there are so few men with thyroid disease, comparatively. The dismissive treatment you received from your bad endocrinologist has been my experience from many endocrinologists I’ve had. I can’t tell you how many times they’ve brushed off my symptoms, told me they’re not thyroid related when they are, and told me that any benefit I received from the addition of T3 in my regimen is psychosomatic. I finally found a good endo, but it took years.

    I also don’t think this type of treatment is specific to thyroid disease. I think doctors tend to be dismissive of anything that doesn’t fit with their limited snd often out of date training. I have many friends and acquaintances who have been dismissed by doctors as complainers, only to find out later it was something serious. Something is wrong with western medical training if so many people fall through the cracks.

    I’m terribly sorry that you lost your parathyroid glands. I know surgery always carries risks, but that seems like negligence to me.

    • Jesse,
      I too am a 41 y/o man recently dx with hashimotos. My TPO levels are ski high (1220) but my TSH, t3 and t4 are all normal. My journey began 8 months ago when I had some huge life stressors happen and I baker acted myself cause I was having suicidal thoughts. And now 8 months later being dx with major depression, anxiety and “bipolar 2”, 2 psychiatrist, ketamine treatments (for depression), acupuncture, hypnosis therapy, CBT therapy, daily meditation, 6 antidepressants, and every sleeping pill available… I’m still battling anxiety, depression, fatigue and dark thoughts. I found a great functional Doc that is open to any treatment modality that will work. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

      • My antibodies and TSH are lower when I take 20,000 IU+ of D3 (sublingually) every day and 200 mcg of selenium. My TSH is over 10.5 without them and under 5 with them. My anti TPO was 0 but I still had anti TG. I’m trying to research more ways to reduce antibodies more. I read in a book that glutathione helps, so I started taking NAC (N acetyl cysteine). I am female, had hypothyroidism (undiagnosed) and depression since puberty.

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