Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto and I

“The sickness is just in your head and
you are too lazy!”

Have you heard that before?
Have you thought that about yourself?
Because I surely have and I know it’s not true!

My name is Nara and was born 1982 in Germany and have been suffering from Hashimoto’s for at least 18 years.
I want to share my experiences with you, how it is having Hashimoto’s and an underfunctioning thyroid, aka hypothyroidism and how I found a way to feel a lot better!
But first off, I think my journey might be easier to understand when I tell you a bit about myself.

Childhood & Adolescence

When I was born, they tested me for hypothyroidism but they didn’t find anything. Nonetheless I grew up as very slightly chubby. At least my extended family always teased me with this, which I didn’t really find funny at all.

Looking back, I don’t even see how I could have been considered as chubby, but I guess it was the ’80s, standards were different back then.

When I went into my teenage years I was pretty normal at first, but when I turned 13 and I had my first menstruation, I went to a gynocologist and she told me I had to take the hormone pill. I started to gain more weight, but according to her that was perfectly normal.
That too much estrogen can trigger hypothyroidism wasn’t well known at that time, I assume, or she didn’t really care.
So even though I wasn’t intimate with anyone, I still had to take it.

I continued doing this for many years, and while I did lots of sports as a teenager (I danced modern dance and ballet, I rode on horseback, went swimming regularly, took my bike everywhere, inline skated with friends and of course gymclass in school), I was always a bit chubby. Especially around my hip section and upper thighs.

We also had regular check-ups from nurses when I was younger and I remember one very special incident. A nurse was checking up on me and she asked whether I got bullied in school because I was slightly overweighed. I just shook my head and said “No!” and was pretty shocked she even asked me that. No one had bullied me so far except for the adults.

Nonetheless, she asked me to tell my mother to use iodized salt from now on, which didn’t help with my hypothyroidism either, I assume. Too much iodine can trigger hypothyroidism as well! But adding iodine to salt has been a good way to actually prevent thyroid diseases, so the risk of people getting a thyroid disease from over-iodizing was a risk they took.

When I was 17 I stopped with doing most of my sport because other things were more important. Because, you know, as a young adult or late teenager partying and hanging out with my friends became way more important.
I gained weight at an alarming rate, even if I didn’t change my diet much. But people were just assuming I ate less well, or ate more, which I didn’t.

It was towards turning 18 though that I started to get a depression. I was stressed out emotionally and mental. I only saw help in escaping my current situation and so I moved to a city far away and even to a country that was even further away.
I changed my diet to become a vegan and in retrospect I think this safed me from this first depression. I weighed around 120 lbs (55 kg) back then.
I am mentioning this specifically because I want to show you how much of an effect hypothyroidism had on me.

Nonetheless, reality hit me soon and I had to move back to Germany. I stopped eating vegan and went back on a normal diet. I even moved back to my parents and went back to school to get my High School diploma.
Unfortunately, almost a year later, I was suffering from a lot of stress again because the last year at schools in Germany is very stressful. The last exams are incredibly important and if you don’t pass them, you are not allowed to go to college.

The depression I had been holding back came back full force. It was brutal. I have never had such a severe depression again, but I was also suffering from PTSD back then.
I went to a clinic for three months, and during that time my house physician found out that I was suffering from severe hypothyroidism.

Unfortunately, he said it in a way that made me so afraid that I actually ignored him telling me to take medication. I thought with ignoring the problem, it would also go away.

How foolish of me! Two years later my metabolism had slowed down so much that I was chronically fatigued and couldn’t do anything anymore. I had gained about 100 lbs by that time. That’s how much of an impact hypothyroidism had on me.
I realized I couldn’t keep on going like that and I had to take my medication.
Which I did. But unfortunately very irregularly.

Many years later I could recognize the pattern that showed when I wasn’t taken my meds. I would get depressions. Even without actually suffering from stress.

I had moved to Nuremberg in that time and also had gotten a new physicist. He looked at my thyroid and noticed that it had a lot of scarring. He told me to go see an endocrinologist, which I did. And after some tests he told me I had Hashimotos.

He explained to me that Hashimoto was an autoimmune disease which causes the thyroid to go defunct.

I asked him what I could do, but he just shrugged and said I couldn’t do much but take my medicine.

For the longest time I thought that was true, until about a year ago I dove deeper into what could ACTUALLY help me and I think I have found a way now!

In upcoming posts I will talk more about this, though, so keep an eye out!

Lots of love,

Nara Elling

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