Reason

We’re all born on a knife-edge mountain ridge. In the beginning we stay alive because someone makes it so. After that, we have to crawl out on our own. We wobble and teeter, but somehow stay on the sharp, narrow path.

Sometimes we come perilously close to falling into an abyss. There are two of them. One on each side of our steep trail. We have no way of knowing what’s at the bottom of either one. We just know we shouldn’t want to go there. So we painstakingly teeter along.

Then one day we say to ourselves, “Why don’t I just quit this harrowing struggle and jump?” A little voice says, “Not today.” So we continue to inch along the sharp edge, sure we’re headed for happiness, fulfillment, worthwhile contributions, something to make it all worthwhile. It’s just ahead.

Then it hits us. There isn’t a reason. There isn’t a means to an end. We’re all just staying in line, slowly and obediently traversing the narrow ridge. So we stop, carve out a little flat spot and plunk ourselves down.

Maybe the best thing we can do is enjoy the view and whisper encouragement to those still on the trail.

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How Hashimoto’s Disease Stole My Life

I don’t know when it started. I’ve always been tired, searching, easily disheartened.

I think puberty, pregnancies, and anxiety exacerbated my problems.

The Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis diagnosis didn’t come until I was in my early 50s. I’d already lost opportunities, drive, and lots and lots of memory cells.

Being around people became unbearable. I couldn’t remember their names, what they did, why I knew them, or even how to make pleasant conversation. If I didn’t immediately insult them, I usually got around to it. It was painful – for everyone.

Depression was inevitable. I decided it was warranted so I didn’t try to do anything about it. I thought I deserved it. I didn’t like me. Still don’t, really.

I ended up quitting my jobs, one after the other. I couldn’t count on my memory enough to convince myself that I was dependable in these jobs. That became especially true when I worked as a substitute teacher. I couldn’t keep the kids’ names or schedules straight. I woke up one morning and realized I might leave a kid behind on a field trip or put them on the wrong bus or dismiss them early when it wasn’t early-out. There were so many ways I could mess up. I just wasn’t safe so I quit, again.

I couldn’t think of a single job I could do without a dependable memory, so I retired early and took up painting and writing. I suck at those too, but at least everyone is safe.

I’ve tried almost every supplement created for thyroid health. And I’ve been through almost every thyroid hormone available. I’ve tried countless varieties of desiccated. Now I’m trying synthetic. Nothing makes a difference.

My apologies. I don’t mean to sound so pathetic and disheartening. Who knows, maybe it’s not my thyroid at all.

Maybe I have Alzheimer’s. Sigh.

The Benefits of Whining

Nobody likes a whiner. There’s some truth in that, and I was the last one who would argue against it – my family’s motto was Suffer in Silence. We should’ve embroidered that saying on pillowcases and had it embossed across the tops of our doorways, that’s how seriously we took it.

I dislocated my knee when I was 14 and afterward, instead of whining, I went to bed. The next morning my knee was the size of a soccer ball. When we finally went to see the doctor, he was not pleased. My knee is a mess to this day.

So I’ve finally come to realize there are a lot of good arguments against Suffering in Silence. If you have a problem, ache, pain, complaint, observation, injustice to right, or are just feeling puny, let someone know. Scream it from the rooftops, if you must.

And here’s why.

I’ve always been lazy. At least, that’s what I told myself. I would wake up tired. Heck, the act of waking up was itself an exhausting battle. My mom got so frustrated with trying to awaken me that her solution was to throw on the lights and yell my name at the top of her lungs. It was a great way for both of us to start our days. Not.

I didn’t know I was suffering from fatigue until I wasn’t. I really thought I was just plain lazy. I missed out on countless opportunities because I wanted to go home to take a nap or go to bed early.

I took shortcuts with homework or projects just to get them over with. I’d turn down work assignments that involved overtime, because I just couldn’t make it through it.

I didn’t want to go to a doctor or dentist because of the work involved in making an appointment and getting myself to their office, what with driving and parking and walking. The thought alone was overwhelming.

I’d eat frozen dinners because I was too lazy to cook. It was just who I was. I thought there was nothing to be done about it.

Then one day, not long after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and starting on thyroid hormone replacement pills, I felt like weeding my disaster of a flower bed. I spent a couple of hours happily digging in the dirt.

Later that same day I felt like doing the dishes. I’ve always put them off until morning because I needed the temporary motivation that a caffeine burst gave me. But that day I actually felt like doing them right after we ate. Oh, and before doing the dishes, I had prepared a healthy meal.

Eating healthy, I’ve learned firsthand, helps compound your energy levels. Then, before I knew it, I had the energy to start exercising regularly. Before long, I started sleeping better. Waking up wasn’t nearly the struggle it had always been.

I also noticed that, slowly but surely, my anxiety levels were dropping. Things that would cruelly torment and torture me suddenly didn’t seem that dire. I could actually laugh some of them away. I started wondering why they’d bothered me so horribly in the first place.

What was going on? What happened to my life-long laziness? Was this how “normal” people felt?

Don’t get me wrong, I still have occasional relapses of fatigue and anxiety, but instead of letting them defeat me, I double down on eating healthy and exercising. A good night’s sleep does wonders as well.

No matter what comes next, I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I know I can have happy, energetic days again. And best of all, I know I’m not lazy.

I only regret that I didn’t whine, yell, and complain about my constant fatigue. I could have whined to the right person and been told to get my thyroid checked. I could have felt better a long time ago.

So get out there and whine! Do it for yourself. It could change your life.

I Was Actually Joyous

Nights are the hardest. You’re trapped alone with your thoughts in gloomy darkness. I sometimes think my mind gets a perverse kick out of making me relive my most deplorable moments as I lay there helplessly in bed. And when I’m tired and anxious, these thoughts gnaw away at my soul. I can feel the anguish build. Eventually, I fall into a restless sleep and wake up exhausted. Nights are the hardest.

I cracked a tooth the day before going on a week-long vacation. I was popping pain pills all day and found a generic painkiller with a sleep additive for the nights. For the first time in a long time I was sleeping soundly and sleeping the whole night through. It could have been the quiet farmhouse we were staying in, but I tend to think it was the sleep additive.

I woke up on the 5th day, toothache and all, and I felt fabulous. I was actually joyous. I couldn’t wait to go explore. Nothing bothered me. My demons were blocked out. The negative part of my mind tried to regain a foothold, but to no avail. I was actually joyous.

Is sleep the answer? Is it that simple? Or did my toothache refocus my thoughts. Or did getting away from my usual surroundings reset my thought patterns?

I don’t know. But I did learn that anxiety can be diminished. Even if it’s temporary, I’ll take it. The reprieve was fabulous. The knowledge that I can feel better under the right circumstances is freeing and fills me with hope.

I got a root canal and I’m not taking the chemical sleep aid anymore, but I am becoming more aware of my sleep patterns. I have discovered Valerian root, L-Theanine, and other natural supplements that can calm my nerves and hopefully help me sleep like I did in the farmhouse.

I’ll keep you posted.

Sweet dreams.

A Question of Selfishness

I realized I was going down a dark hole after I spent days obsessing over a stupid question I had blurted out at an inopportune moment. I was sure I had brought shame upon myself and my family. I was certain I’d ruined lives and changed the course of history. While lost in this bizarre mental oblivion, I suddenly remembered that the next day was a loved one’s birthday. Gulp.

At some point in my life I had convinced myself that I must serve a penance for doing or saying stupid things. I needed to berate myself, even knowing I was steeping my brain in the cortisol this punishment releases. I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy food, entertainment, sleep, virtually anything, until I had sufficiently beaten myself up. I thought this self-flagellation would somehow “fix” things.

I can only speculate that this act of martyring myself was supposed to prove I possess a loving, caring nature. But, in reality, it is just plain selfish. Not to mention, bad for my hippocampus.

While I waste precious time fretting, the people I care about are left hanging and abandoned. Their birthdays forgotten. I’m not doing them any good by obsessing over my mistakes. Mistakes, I might add, that most people didn’t even notice. Nobody disowned me. Nobody marked their calendars with a frowny-face. No one demanded I lose sleep over it. It was all me.

I managed to salvage the birthday, and this near-miss ended up giving me a gift. I finally realized I needed to get out of my head. It was time to think about others. To really think about others.

Let it go. Live in the moment. Breathe. I used to think those were lame platitudes that promote selfishness. Now I realize they are actually words to live by.

Now excuse me while I plan the next birthday party.

A Question of Selfishness

I realized I was going down a dark hole after I spent days obsessing over a stupid question I had blurted out at an inopportune moment. I was sure I had brought shame to myself and my family. I was certain I’d ruined lives and changed the course of history. While lost in this bizarre mental oblivion, I suddenly realized that the next day was a loved one’s birthday. Gulp.

At some point in life, I convinced myself that I must serve a penance for doing or saying stupid things. I must berate myself, even as I steep my brain in the cortisol this punishment releases. I couldn’t allow myself to enjoy food, entertainment, sleep, virtually anything, until I had sufficiently beaten myself up. I thought this self-flagellation would somehow “fix” things.

I can only guess that this act of martyring myself was supposed to prove I possess a loving, caring nature. But, in reality, it is just plain selfish. Not to mention, bad for my hippocampus.

While I waste precious time fretting, the people I care about are left hanging and abandoned. I’m not doing them any good by obsessing over my mistakes. Mistakes, I might add, that most people didn’t even notice. Nobody marked their calendars. No one demanded I lose sleep over it. It was all me.

I managed to salvage the birthday, and this near miss ended up giving me a gift. I finally realized I needed to get out of my head. It was time to think about others. To really think about others.

Let it go. Live in the moment. Breathe. I used to think those were lame platitudes that promote selfishness. Now I realize they are actually words to live by.

Now excuse me while I plan the next birthday party.

Accentuate the Positive

It lies in wait. I can feel it at the edge of my consciousness beckoning to get in. It’s dark and insidious. It has no mercy.

My only recourse against it is to ignore it, but my self-doubt won’t let me. I try humming my favorite song. I think about new story lines. Sometimes I even yell, “NO!”

These meager attempts at stopping it are futile. My inner voice has turned on me. It has become the enemy. For some reason it has decided that I deserve to be berated.

My job is to chance its mind. My mind.

I have to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. It’s that simple. What’s not simple is the implementation.

Some of the best advice I’ve read is to ask yourself, “Is this fretting and berating yourself doing any good? Will it change anything?”

The answer is, of course, NO! So common sense tells us that a more productive stance is to let go of past mistakes, forget embarrassing moments, laugh off stupid utterances, don’t dwell, and just live in the moment.

One of the things I like about New Year’s Day is we’re encouraged to start anew – do a complete reset.

So I’m giving the ‘reset’ plan my all. Goodbye gnarly, cruel, belittling thoughts. You’ve been given your notice. I’m going to like me for me. I’m going to eliminate the negative.

I’m going to accentuate the positive.

Happy New Year!!