Series by Christina Sanghera 
Before we begin, let me make sure I mention that I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the interwebs. I am, however, a passionate and informed patient who has been through the wringer as it relates to my thyroid disease, and I want to give hope to those who are feeling hope-LESS on their thyroid journey, made to believe that their symptoms are all “in their head”.
 
If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid condition or know someone who has, this series is aimed at helping you get equipped with the right questions and knowledge to start navigating your own thyroid journey versus relying solely on the opinions of people who don’t live in your body every single day. I want to help empower you to take control of your health. Don’t ignore those subtle signs and symptoms; they are there for a reason.
 
Everyone’s story will vary greatly, but there are common themes when it comes to the treatment of thyroid disease and that’s what I’ll be going over in this series. Cheers to inspiration for your journey!
 
First … My Story
In my late teens and early twenties, I wasn’t all that concerned with my health. I felt invincible and didn’t think about the consequences of my:
 
  • 1/2 pack to 1 pack of cigarettes/day habit (started off as a “social” smoker)
  • Frozen meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – holy moly, just look at that ingredient list!!
  • Weird science experiments for snacks – hundred calorie snack packs, anyone?
  • Energy drinks in exchange for 3-4 hours of sleep each night – barely existing through each day.
  • Partying and drinking into the wee hours (see obsessive need for energy drinks above) a few times each week.
  • Eventual abuse of prescription medication for my anxiety.
 
I existed in this state for several years, never understanding how sick I really was. I dragged through mud each day, dealt with a whole host of symptoms and setbacks. Things like:
 
  • Constant headaches
  • Nausea
  • General gastro upset (gas, bloating)
  • Sinus infections
  • Frequent colds
  • Major anxiety/panic episodes (for which I was put on three separate medications together which did nothing but completely numb me)
  • Asthma attacks
  • Multiple miscarriages
  • Shall I keep going?
 
I was at the doctor’s office pretty much every week with something wrong. The scary part is, when you think about it, these things aren’t totally out of the norm. They seem like everyday ailments we go through because, well, we’re human right?? Little did I know that until I was better, I wouldn’t know how sick I had been and how my body was screaming for help.
 
Fast forward a few years. I lost forty pounds after starving myself and working out two hours per day. I was finally the “skinny” I had always wanted to be, and yet I still found things I didn’t like in the mirror. Boy, don’t I wish I were as skinny as I was when I thought I was fat, right!? Well, no. To be 5’10” and a size 4, for me, just wasn’t my natural frame. I had to harm my body with processed junk and exercise like it was a part time job. Oh, and let’s not forget the cigs. Clearly that wasn’t my natural size.
 
It was around this time that I started becoming dependent on my anxiety meds. Actually, let’s just go with “addicted”. I hate to use that word because it makes me feel vulnerable, but that’s what I was. I was taking three separate meds PLUS a sedative and allergy pill just to fall asleep at night … all legally prescribed which is the crazy part when you think about it.
 
I didn’t like this feeling, but I also couldn’t shake it. Ever try weaning off a medication? Don’t try it – it’s brutal and you should always work with your doctor. I was dumb enough to wean myself off and paid the price with brain zaps, hot flashes, crazy mood instability … the list goes on.
 
Surely, all of these things had an impact on my health declining and my body doing everything it could to keep up.
 
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to explain how my not-so-normal but also not-all-that-out-of-the-ordinary past decisions helped create the perfect storm for what would eventually be a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease, and a complicated one at that. I’m telling you all of this because I want to give you hope.
 
As I dive into my recovery, I want to give you that little spark you may need to overcome your doubts about the past and the present and live in the now with your healing journey. It’s easy to place blame on yourself or to feel lost and hopeless; especially when modern medicine tends to discredit thyroid patients and their symptoms. I’m hoping that some or all of my journey resonates with you and that you feel ready to tackle the next step and the one after that …
 
Stay tuned next week for the next post in this series. If you’re on our email list I’ll be sure to send it to your inbox, too, so you don’t miss it. I’ll be diving into my diagnosis and what I learned in those first few months of thyroid treatment and the incredibly confusing maze it presents.
 
Sincerely, 
Christina Sanghera

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