Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP, Guest
Every Experience Is Unique
I remember the days of dread. When I dreaded the anxious, cold sweat I would break into during work meetings, or the crippling panic I would feel because of my IBS symptoms, or the surging pain that would shoot up my arms, a product of carpal tunnel.
These were just some of the embarrassing and disruptive problems I experienced as a result of the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
But these examples don’t even tell even half the story, and they don’t convey the stories of the thousands of other people I’ve connected with who have also endured the effects of thyroid disease.
This is because every individual’s experience of Hashimoto’s is unique.
I’ve been told that the condition “breaks the spirit” or makes you feel as though you are “wading through chin-deep mud or quicksand with a load of bricks on your back.” It has also been described to me as “confusing, exasperating, numbing, exhausting” …or as a disease that eliminates the desire for intimacy and creates feelings of isolation.
The Research Agrees
When Danish psychologists interviewed individuals with thyroid disease about their experiences, there were notable differences, but there was also a profound similarity—many felt like they had lost control over their own physical and mental states; they had become observers, dissociated from themselves and others.
This was certainly true of my experience. I lost interest in friendships and closeness with others. I felt like a light inside me had been snuffed out, and I was left to live alone in a dispassionate darkness.
When this is how you feel, it can be difficult to describe to others or, even if you can put it into words, for them to understand. And this lack of understanding of course only exacerbates the distance you feel from those around you.
I remember not long after my diagnosis trying to describe to my husband how I felt. He’s a kind, compassionate person, yet all he could say to me was that it was probably in my head and that I looked “just fine.”
When Looks Can Fool
This is one of the complexities of thyroid disease and other conditions with “invisible” symptoms—because people can’t see your pain, like they can when you’re in a cast, or showing stitches or bruises, they have a hard time comprehending it.
I once had surgery for a deviated septum and for weeks had swelling on my nose, cheeks and face. My friends and family were so concerned that they made special foods, encouraged me to get home and get some rest, and went out of their way to offer help.
Even though the pain and discomfort I experienced from Hashimoto’s was so much greater, the response from those around me wasn’t anything like what I experienced when people could see proof of the pain. (This isn’t to say that they’re to blame—it’s more about how and what we are conditioned to respond to.)Every individual’s experience of Hashimoto's is unique. Click To Tweet
First Things First—Are You Listening to Yourself?
Before we can expect others to acknowledge or respect the reality of how Hashimoto’s makes us feel, we must come to terms with it ourselves. For me, this took some time—I felt like admitting my symptoms was equivalent to defeat.
But what I discovered was that admittance was a big part of healing. When I stopped believing my own fibs about how I was feeling and forcing myself to push through everything like I was some sort of Superwoman, I made room for a renewed and highly necessary dedication to self-care.
And I’ve found that coaching other people with thyroid disease towards this commitment has helped them make a transition towards healing as well.
This is true for everyone, and especially so for women who put their own priorities last on the list. As I tell readers of my new book Hashimoto’s Protocol, “You must fill your own cup first.”
Making Time for Self-Assessment and Self-Care
The first step in self-care is to perform a self-assessment, to take your personal inventory. Ask yourself:
- How does thyroid disease make me feel?
- What are some actions I can take to show myself serious compassion and self-love?
- If I loved myself, what would I do for myself? (Think of some things you might do for others you love—maybe it’s time to direct some of those actions your own way for a bit)
If you have trouble coming up with some actionable self-care steps, try approaching it another way by listing at least a few items in each of these categories: “things that make me feel better” and “things that make me feel worse.”
I surveyed over 2,000 of my readers and clients—who I refer to as my Root Cause Rebels—with these same questions. They reported that things like spending time with loved ones, being in nature, and reading made them feel better, while lack of sleep, feeling stressed out, or being around negative people made them feel worse.
I encouraged them and I am encouraging you now to start to incorporate more from the “feel better” list and less from the “feel worse” one. This simple exchange can be a gentle introduction to the practice of self-care, which you will only get better at with time.
Of course, self-care is only one part of getting your life and health back from thyroid disease. There are likely many other underlying imbalances that need to be addressed before complete healing can happen.
After establishing a protocol that I used to help myself heal from Hashimoto’s, I’ve dedicated my life’s work to discovering and sharing success stories and strategies that will guide others to health recovery as well.
You can check out many of these success stories and strategies, including more focused self-care practices and tested protocols that will boost liver, adrenal, and gut health (key to a full recovery), in Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back.
No matter what, I’m here to support you! You can find me on Facebook under “Thyroid Pharmacist, Dr. Izabella Wentz” or at https://thyroidpharmacist.com/. In both places, you’ll often find me engaging with readers and followers in the comments section. I hope to connect with you there.
About the Author
Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP is an internationally acclaimed thyroid specialist and licensed pharmacist who has dedicated her career to addressing the root causes of autoimmune thyroid disease after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2009. Dr. Wentz is the author of the New York Times bestselling patient guide Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause and the recently released #1 New York Times bestselling protocol-based book Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90-Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back. As a patient advocate, researcher, clinician and educator, Dr. Wentz is committed to raising awareness on how to overcome autoimmune thyroid disease through The Thyroid Secret Documentary Series, the Hashimoto’s Institute Practitioner Training, and her international consulting and speaking services offered to both patients and healthcare professionals. Be sure to visit her website, www.thyroidpharmacist.com.