Living With Hashimoto's Thyroiditis - Bethany's Story
Every Wednesday I will be posting a new blog sharing a person's story talking about their condition and how living with it has made them a stronger person. I am calling it my Wellness Wednesday Blog. My goal is to help educate people about different chronic illnesses and mental health conditions. Sometimes it is hard for peoples to understand invisible illnesses since the person looks perfectly healthy from the outside. I want to help give a more in depth look and perspective of what it is like to live with different health conditions.
If you, or someone you know, would like to share your story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This week I am sharing my friend Bethany's story about living with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. She is currently battling a horrible flare up and has an inspiring message to share about how she has been coping.
Tell me a bit about yourself:
Hi! My name is Bethany. A little about me - I am a 31-year-old Actor. I am born and raised in Southern California, so I love to roller skate and go to the beach- that’s my therapy. I would describe myself as fun, quirky, and a total empath.
What is the name of your condition?
I have an autoimmune thyroid disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
At what age were you diagnosed, and how did you handle getting the news?
I was formally diagnosed at age 28, but I suspected something was going on around the age of 18, that was when I first experienced some odd symptoms. My handling of the news was unique in that I wasn’t in any flare at the time, so I didn’t realize the severity of what my doctor was telling me- especially since he had no concern whatsoever. I was told to have my thyroid checked every year, and that my case was mild. Never heard from my doctor again after that.
Tell us a bit about your condition and how it has affected your life.
So without getting too scientific, and to make it easier to understand, the thyroid, which is that butterfly shaped organ that lives in your neck along your windpipe, is responsible for every cell in your body and the thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism. When you have Hashimoto's disease, your thyroid gland is being attacked by your own immune system. It recognizes it as an invader, via what are called antibodies in your blood, and tries to kill the gland itself.
There are hundreds of symptoms that contribute to this disease and can be difficult to diagnose, which is why my own doctors for years couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Interestingly enough, women have a 5-8x more chance to develop thyroid diseases whether its hypothyroid, hyperthyroid, Grave’s, or Hashimoto's and affects around 20 million Americans- that number is conservative. The fact is that most modern medicine and doctors often don’t know much about the thyroid and often downplay symptoms all too often.
It took me years to find a doctor that tested the right things related to my condition, but when I got diagnosed and researched more, it all started to make sense. Everything I had gone through and felt off-and-on over the past 13 years made complete sense to me. I would say the biggest aspects in my life that I suffer from is chronic fatigue, migraines, nausea, cold intolerance, Vitamin D deficiency, and most recently, gastrointestinal issues.
How has living with your illness made you a stronger person?
I’ve always been a very secure person. I had never really severely struggled mentally or physically until recently, as I am in the midst of a flare that started about 4 months ago, leaving me virtually bedridden. I am thankfully getting better every day, but I would say that some things that have made me even stronger and that I recommend to anyone that deals with chronic illness is to always remember that you are not your disease. It’s easier said than done for a lot of us, but I continue to push myself every single day- even to do the normal everyday activities like shower, put on makeup, and cook for myself can be a lot for me on my bad days. To stay strong I stick to routine and a schedule while always allowing for spontaneity, and if I am having a bad day, I always listen to my body, never over-do it or exert myself, and am always trusting in the process that my suffering will bring me compassion and understanding. I am fortunate to have a strong support system in my family and friends, understanding agents, and I will forever and always have faith in myself. Also- meditation has been an actual lifesaver for my mental health.
What have you learned from living with your illness?
The human body is crazy and fascinating. I have learned a lot recently about the correlation the brain has to your gut, and how that affects most auto-immune diseases. I continue to learn something new virtually every day. The disease is silent as is most chronic illness, and I’ve barely touched the surface in understanding the patterns of my own symptoms and flares. I am learning about nutrition, my own nutrient deficiencies, adrenal function, gut infections, and detoxification. I have recently gone the way of naturopathic methods in order to put myself into remission with diet, stress reduction, and supplementation.
Did living with your condition inspire you to start a blog or a business?
No! But I am inspired to do SOMETHING. I don’t know my path yet as I am still learning and not as knowledgeable as I would like to be to do it but stay tuned. I am constantly inspired to share my experiences and create community. 💯
How will the Healthy Life Planner help you manage your illness in 2021?
The main things that drew me to this amazing planner are the ways to track ER visits, medications, and the extra pages for journaling. I am already a type A, very organized person. I live by a schedule, and after going to the ER 6 times in 3 months in 2020, I needed a place to write out everything- all my test results, medications, and journaling my experiences. For 2021, I hope to reduce my need for medical attention, but It’s perfect for me to have to keep track of my life. I also absolutely love the motivational quotes and goals that are added at the beginning of each month- very uplifting and great for setting intentions.
Do you have any words of advise for others going through the same thing as you?
My biggest learning lesson has been to keep your doctors accountable and fight for yourself. My own primary doctor at the beginning of my recent flare told me that I was healthy and to stop going to the ER. She also sent me to the mental health clinic. It ended up working out because I absolutely love my therapist, but if you are feeling sick and you know in your heart and soul that something isn’t right- DON’T let up. Keep fighting and find doctors that listen to you. I actually have to pay out of pocket now for a new thyroid specialist. But he listens to me, and in the end, I was right. My antibody levels are extremely high putting me into hypothyroidism, and he is helping me in getting me to optimal condition. Never let your doctors tell you it’s all in your head.
Is there anything else you would like to add or say?
I would like to say thank you to Brea for having me be a guest on the blog. If you want to support a small business during this pandemic, and more importantly to me- to support MODERN WOMEN, then you really have no excuse to not buy one of these planners. You won’t regret it. Cheers!!
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