I know, we need to rewind a little bit. When I was 5 years old I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Basically, there are people with an over-active thyroid (hyperthyroid), under-active thyroid (hypothyroid), no thyroid (don’t know that term), and a normal thyroid.Your thyroid (in a nut shell) is responsible for distributing your hormones, which keeps you overall balanced. As we all know, there are tons of different hormones our bodies produce and that gland in your throat’s job is to make sure you are getting the correct amount of each one.
The side-effects of an over and under active thyroid tend to be the total opposite of each other, however, I was lucky to have some weird crossover symptoms (I’ll share what they are below). The reason behind this post is not just to share random facts about my health, but rather to inform others who may be living with similar symptoms as me, that no, it’s not normal to be exceptionally tired after 8-10 hours of sleep, among many other things. At 27 years old I am only now taking a real interest in my condition, and it has opened my eyes to a lot of information that explains a lot about my life.
Here are symptoms I experience regularly that are directly related to my hypothyroid:
Sleepiness, fatigue, exhaustion. I sleep 8-9 hours each night. I don’t have trouble sleeping, and I keep my sleeping hours / patterns pretty consistent, going to bed around 11:00pm and waking up around 7:30am-8:00am. During the day I can be either really energetic or super sleepy, it’s a guessing game which way it will go. I experience extreme sleepiness anytime it is dark outside and the TV is on or I am reading a book. Lately, I have decided to give myself 60 full minutes of daytime reading, since at night I can barely get through one page of my book before passing out. It’s kind of funny sometimes–my husband used to have to carry me to bed every night because I would pass out so hard on the couch watching our shows. It has also forced our TV habits to take on a pretty weird routine: We turn on a show, I pass out 20ish minutes into it (sometimes sooner), he watches the whole episode, the following day I need to finish watching last night’s episode, we turn on the next one, and I’m out. Repeat. Kinda annoying, not gonna lie.
Funny random story on that note, my cousin has known this about me since we were kids, and in an effort to prevent me from falling asleep instantly while watching one of our favorite movies that we love to laugh to, she would make us watch it on a laptop and place it on my chest. That way I would have to watch. But nope. I would just pass the laptop over to her and knew it was game over!
Moodiness, PMS-prone, depression. As I mentioned above, I have some crossover symptoms from hyperthyroidism–and not experiencing depression is one of them. I do, however, experience unwarranted moodiness out of nowhere. Again, it’s not predictable–sometimes there is absolutely nothing wrong in my life and I’ll feel off. It’s a total pain. I try to talk myself out of it, psych myself out, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work. I have noticed that extreme physical stimulation, such as my TRX classes, helps keep my mental health in check, which is one of the million reasons I enjoy it. Same with yoga.
Infertility, low sex drive, no period. My endocrinologist(s) have always told me my body needs time to regulate from being on birth control. I know it’s one of the biggest myths out there (thinking you need to “regulate” in order to get pregnant), but not in my case. My hormones need to be balanced before a healthy pregnancy can occur, and it requires me to be off the pill for a minute. I’m not trying to get pregnant if that’s what you’re thinking…but I do plan on having a family in the future and now is the time to let my body get back to “normal.” This may be TMI, but since stopping the pill (in July) I have not had a period. Meaning: my period has been hormone-produced by the pill for the last 10 years. I don’t think I need to tell you what it means when you don’t have a period when it comes to fertility.
In regards to the sex drive, I’ll keep most if it private, but what I can say is not being on birth control will definitely increase your sex drive. Funny how all 3 things linked need to line up in order to achieve the potential end goal–a baby.
Weight gain. Remember that crossover? Well, here it is, big time. People with hypothyroidism have a slow metabolism that pretty much makes losing weight impossible. People with hyperthyroidism have the opposite. Somehow, someway, I have a really fast metabolism. My doctors are constantly telling me how I’m lucky, because one of the biggest complaints of hypo people is the weight gain. As I’ve gotten older, I definitely see that my body has regulated a bit and requires regular exercise and a healthy diet like most people, otherwise I’ll get a little chub here and there. As long as I’m not fighting weight gain I’m more than grateful and willing to keep my body working hard.
Constipation. Again, sorry if this is TMI, but I’m going there. I used to be a verrrrrrrrry constipated person. I would be bloated and full for days! It was the worst. The last couple of years (with the help of acidophilus, lots of water, and diet adjustments), I’ve been able to get on a regular “schedule.” I’m not lying people, I use the bathroom everyday at the exact same time. I won’t disclose the details on that, but if I miss that window it’s not happening until the next day.
Dry skin. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. If you know me, you know I cannot LIVE without my creams. No, not lotions, creams. There is a difference. My body craves moisture–internally and externally–and I must have my supply of Cetaphil cream handy at all times. Like, washing my hands is a nuisance because I’ll need to moisturize immediately after. Same goes for washing the dishes (that’s not just me trying to get out of it lol). But here we go again with weird crossovers. My skin is super oily some days and beyond dry others. I’d say I’m more dry than anything but there’s just no telling with my body. And just to give you another example of how this obnoxious side effect affects my life–after I take my daily shower at night I have to moisturize immediately after, let my body absorb it, then do it again!
Cold hands and feet. I’ve always been that girl with cold hands and feet. Everyone always told me it was poor circulation. I need more pepper. The list goes on. But nope, pepper did not solve this issue for me. Just one of those things I have to accept about my condition…I run a cooler body temperature than the average person. Which brings us to…another crossover! Hypo people are typically colder than most people (like those people who always need a sweater when it’s hot out). But no, not me. I’m hot hot hot. Like, during the summer my husband and I can’t cuddle because I’ll die of heat, of claustrophobia caused by the heat, I can’t get comfortable, hot skin freaks me out. Yes, I know. I just went on a weird tangent. But that’s pretty much what it sounds like inside my head when I’m hot: nothing makes sense and all I can focus on is how hot I am.
You may be wondering why we don’t just crank up the AC and problem solved, right? Well, I’m married to the world’s biggest human heater and he gets “sick” if we sleep with the air on. So pretty much I wake up in a puddle of sweat as if I just broke my fever every morning. So pleasant, isn’t it?
Mind issues, brain fog, bad memory. I saved the best for last. I have literally been walking around earth for 27 years thinking all people experience these things. To be more specific, some days my vision is great (I wear glasses to drive at night and watch TV, a direct result of age and too much back-lit devices), and others I wake up borderline blind. Probably an exaggeration but in other words, some days I can’t see shit without my glasses in broad daylight. It’s weird. Instead of thinking anything of it, researching, contacting my doctors, etc., I just put on my glasses and went on with my day. The cause? Well, it has everything to do with a lack of my medication. It’s called brain fog, and it not only affects your vision, but you can’t really think straight either.
I used to think I was ADD from my inability to focus, but nope, not ADD. Just experiencing brain fog. A reminder that taking my medication is crucial to my productivity and vision.
And finally, my memory. My poor memory that just can’t stick around for too long. My husband will most likely write a memoir about how my poor memory has changed his life. I blamed my father for years. He has bad memory. But he’s also 50-years old. Me, on the other hand, I just can’t seem to remember things. Not all things, but I tend to forget a lot. Hence my over-usage of note taking and list making. I will say with all honesty that I’m happy to know there is a real reason behind me having a bad memory, and it’s not me just being selective.
So, what have we learned today? If you are experiencing a similar combination of my symptoms, and weird crossover symptoms, you may want to consult your doctor or see an endocrinologist. Before I leave you hanging with a million questions about what I do to keep my body balanced, here it is: I take levothyroxine (synthroid) daily. I’ve been taking it since I was 5 years old. My thyroid grew at the base of my tongue (instead of inside my throat like most people) and it is now almost completely gone. Yep, you can survive without a thyroid entirely. I see my endocrinologist every 6 months and he runs a ton of blood tests. The primary thing to check is your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level, but my doctor likes to check a whole heck of a lot more to ensure that every part of my body is functioning properly.
And what happens if I miss my pill? My medication has a long “shelf life,” meaning, I can miss up to 10ish days before my body starts to experience the above in an extreme way. I’ve been there and it’s not pretty. And you see that pretty little turquoise pill container in the pictures above? My husband had to get me one of those because I often forget if I took my pill(s). Yeah.
I’m healthy, have been my whole life, and have my condition under control. As much as my symptoms sound like they suck, which they do, I’m honestly used to it. It was a rude awakening for me to learn that these are not just “normal” conditions people live with, but I’m happy to know there is a reason behind it all and I’m not just living day to day hoping to feel good. There is a crazy statistic out there of the amount of people living with a thyroid condition that don’t know it (we’re talking 10’s of millions), I just hope if one of them comes across this post they get it checked out before writing off living a more comfortable and healthy life.