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Dysthymia. Fatigue. Irritability. Infertility.
All things I have suffered from for years. All things I never got treated. All things I thought I just needed to get over. Maybe if I changed my lifestyle, I could get back to normal.
Well, I did. I went AIP. I did a detox that supported gut healing and liver cleansing. I tried to work on my mental health and stress levels by getting to bed at the same time, doing yoga, meditating, and not being afraid to take mental health days.
In one month, there were only 4 days I felt better than my normal.
As I hit the one month mark, I fell into a deep depression. I stopped cleaning the house and taking care of myself. I stopped working. I threw myself into researching hormonal imbalances, but there too I hit a wall eventually. Just looking at a book made me want to cry. I knew that I needed to eat clean and de-stress. But it wasn’t doing anything, was it?! Where was the magic 30 day transformation I was promised? Why were my cycles getting worse? I ovulated and had a relatively normal cycle in July during my honeymoon. Why have I returned to an anovulatory state?
And why, why, is this happening to me? I’m 22 years old. One of my books specifically says that in women under the age of 35, “the fix is often stunningly simple.” Stunningly simple, huh? Then why can’t I get off the couch between the depression and fatigue that feed off each other, even though I’ve cut out all “bad” foods and replaced then with vegetables? I’m not using any commercial products. surely my commercial (and therefore not organic) food isn’t making that big of a difference.
I just…I need an answer.
I’ve had tests done before. All normal. The only thing I ever got back was the suggestion of dysthymia, or subclinical depression, from a psychologist. Oh, and MDs prescribing hormones without actually know what is wrong. Was this just in my head? If I could just find a way to control my stress levels, could I find peace in my mind and body? I was learning that I needed to let go, but that extent of letting go just wasn’t feasible all the time.
I began to dig a bit deeper. I took online assessments to figure out where I should start looking for answers. I got varied results, but all suggested I look into low thyroid. This made sense. Hypothyroidism runs in my family, but aren’t I a bit young for that? But then I looked at my old blood tests. In August 2012, my thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) was 3.26. In November 2013, it was 3.67. My doctors called this normal, since the upper limit is 4. However, anything above 2.5 points to subclinical hypothyroidism.
So I ordered more tests. I got my TSH, as well as my T3 and T4 tested, so I could get a complete picture of my thyroid. I got my reproductive hormones and my cortisol tested, so I can see how everything is interacting.
As I waited, I went over the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Check. Check. Check. I discussed what I might find with my husband. One of his first questions was, “Is thin hair a sign of hypothyroidism?”
“Well, the other day when I was putting the dye in your hair, I noticed it felt really thin.”
“My hair has always been thin.”
“But I think it is thinner than it was five years ago.”
I ran my hand through my own hair, and then his, really paying attention for the first time to the density and the feel. “Holy crap! Is that what hair is suppose to feel like?!” I exclaimed when I got to his.
“Yeah. You have really thin hair.”
So maybe it wasn’t just in my head after all. Maybe there was a reason I felt depressed and fatigued. Maybe there was a reason for my infertility. Maybe there was a reason my hair doesn’t look as good as it did in high school. Maybe there was a reason I had stubborn abdominal fat that not only made me feel awful about my body, but also posed serious health concerns.
And if there is a reason. If there is a cause I can point to. Then I can fix it.
I got my test results back, and sure enough all my results pointed to subclinical hypothyroidism. Thankfully it is just standard subclinical hypo on account of my family history of a weak thyroid. Most hypothyroidism patients have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. My tests came back negative for that. The tests also revealed low vitamin D and low sex hormones, despite normal to high levels of the precursor to those hormones. My low estrogen and normal cortisol revealed the importance of getting these tests done – I did not have the two imbalances that most women in my situation are expected to have.
I breathed a sign of relief. My mom (who has hypo) congratulated me. I had numbers. I had a name for what I was going through. Which means I can find solutions. Which means I can target what I do for my specific concerns.
Real food, stress management, good sleep, and proper supplementation are amazing. So many people can find the solution to what is “just in their head” with these simple changes. But when they don’t, it often leaves them feeling even worse. If neither modern medicine nor natural solutions help, is it really just in their head? No. There is always a reason and you shouldn’t have to settle for feeling crummy. This is why my next step was to work with a practitioner who was able to look at my results and symptoms and tailor a plan specifically to work with what I need. Most importantly, she validated what I’m going through and confirmed that it wasn’t all in my head.
It’s not all in your head.
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