Does this Hashimoto’s Make Me Look Fat?

Let’s start with the science-y stuff. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an auto-immune disease in which a person’s own immune system attacks their thyroid. While being pummeled, the thyroid goes through phases of over-action followed by under-action. So some days your pulse races and you’re uber energetic. On other days you’re listless and your brain feels like it’s lost in a dense fog.

Hashimoto’s can be a tough one to diagnose because it can look like so many other things – depression, anxiety, dementia, digestive ailments, hair loss, diarrhea/constipation, mania/fatigue . . .

The first step is to get a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test and a test to see if you have antibodies to your thyroid. If high and/or positive, you will be prescribed thyroid hormones. These won’t cure you, they’ll just help even out your thyroid hormone levels. You get to take these every day for the rest of your life.

Welcome to the rollercoaster. You now get to navigate the Wild West of theories, concepts, and testimonials. Some articles will tell you to give up gluten and dairy. Others will say that’s just a fad – you need grains for heart health and dairy for your bones. Some will tell you to take selenium and digestive enzyme supplements, but not too much. Some will say to exercise, others will say not so much.

Two opposing schools of thought will say to take either desiccated pig thyroid (T4 and T3) hormone because it is more natural or to take synthetic (T4) hormone because it is more standardized. Good luck figuring that one out.

If you’re like me, you will try all of these suggestions. Soon your counter will be covered in supplements bottles – magnesium, D3, Ashwaganda, calcium, the B vitamins, L-theanine, Black Seed Oil, Sleepy Time Tea, gluten-free flours and breads, dairy-free “milk” and “butter”, etc, etc.

In the meantime, you may be hyper-sensitive to any weight gain, hair loss, your wonky sleep patterns, and your brain health.

Anxiety might try to take over your life. Don’t let it. Be calm and carry on. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, take walks in the pines, breath deeply, try keeping a food journal or just a journal, and drink plenty of water.

And, most of all, know you are not alone.

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A Mother’s Unexpected Legacy

My mom died 4 years ago this October. She was a few days away from her 92nd birthday.

I’m still going through her paperwork. Every time I sit down with a box, I have to fold everything up and put it away when it comes time to get tough. I can’t bring myself to throw her personal paperwork away. There are old cards, lists, newspaper clippings, and odds and ends.

Going through a box the other day, I found a scrap of paper with a verse in her handwriting. It was about planting a garden, except each vegetable name went on to become a homophone. Peas became peace, squash became, well, squash, and lettuce became let us. So you would plant 3 rows of peas – of mind, heart, and soul. 4 rows of squash – indifference, selfishness, grumbling, gossip, etc. It was inspirational and I was so impressed with my mom for writing it.

I decided it was a rough draft of a card she was making for us children. I lamented that she didn’t actually make the cards. What a wonderful gift they would have been.

Today, right before I sat down to write the story of my mom’s lost verse, I googled the first line. To my amazement, dozens of entries popped up. It is obviously very well-known.

At first, I was disappointed, then, not to be deterred, I decided Mom must have sent her verse to a publisher a long time ago. I studied the scrap of paper. It seemed old. There were add-ins above lines, like she had changed her mind as she wrote.

But, as I did more research, I found that the poem was attributed to other people that weren’t my mom.

Instead of feeling sad, I realized this episode was actually an incredible tribute to my mom. I’d always known she was a talented writer, so I readily gave her credit for this verse. She was definitely capable.

This helped me realize how much respect I have for her.

Her legacy will live on, verse or not.

Am I Actually Stupid and Just Don’t Realize It?

I grew up in a household in which I was praised for everything I did. I continually heard, “You are so good at that!”; “Where did you learn to do that so well?”; “You are so smart!”; “I wish I could do that.”; “No really! You are so smart.” I’m pretty sure I was the best sleeper, breather and tv watcher, as well. I could do no wrong.

So imagine my surprise when I got beat in a game or got a lower score than a classmate. It had to be a fluke, I’d convince myself, over and over. I definitely had attitude. A somewhat dangerous attitude.

What’s the dangerous part? I had a “let me do that” attitude. Even when I didn’t have a clue how to do something. And I’d blurt out ridiculous statements because I was fairly certain I knew everything. I’m sure I gave out bad advice, instructions, directions, you name it. All because I was “so smart.” Thank goodness nobody was harmed during the blurting of my stupidity.

To the contrary, people were always nice to me, making me believe that I made perfect sense. Nodding in agreement even when I’d state something stupid like, “Mt. Everest is 16,000 feet tall.” It’s 29,000. And to make matters worse, I said that to a mountain climber. Or, “I only paid $8.25 for this $10 item. That’s like 6% off.” Sigh.

When it finally dawned on me that maybe I had a real conundrum on my hands (thinking I was brilliant, when I might actually be stupid), I went into a tailspin.

I wondered if I had damaged my extraordinary brain somehow. My family wouldn’t lie to me. I must have breathed in some toxic fumes or something.

I started to microscopically analyze everything I said or did. I kept score. My brain was losing. I began worrying and fretting. My identity was tied into being smart. I didn’t know how to behave if I was actually stupid.

I was caught in a vicious cycle. If I did something smart, it was a lucky guess. If I did something stupid, it was the real me. I couldn’t win.

Then I realized my family had only been trying to build my confidence. They meant no harm. I’m sure they thought I’d succumb to the self-fulfilling prophecy and actually become smarter. I wish it were so.

So, for now, I’m a work in progress. Trying to think before I blurt. And trying to convince myself that maybe I’m smart when I’m not being stupid.

There’s a loophole to everything.

When Being an Introverted Narcissist Can Be Hard on Your Health.

Some traits of an introvert:

1. Likes to be alone.

2. Quiet and reserved.

3. Doesn’t enjoy being in crowded social situations.

4. Doesn’t relish small talk.

5. Needs to recharge after social gatherings.

6. Introspective.

7. Self-aware.

Some traits of a narcissist:

1. Lacks empathy.

2. Exaggerated sense of self-importance.

  • 3. Feelings of entitlement.
  • 4. Selfishness.
  • 5. An excessive need for praise and attention.
  • 6. Doesn’t like criticism.
  • 7. Judges others.
  • Try imagining a person who exhibits the worst behaviors of both an introvert and a narcissist. Having all those bad traits together in one psyche would be hell. I should know, I managed to do it.
  • Imagine being painfully self-aware, feeling stressed around crowds, thinking you’re smarter than most, yet possessing questionable social skills. Now imagine being in any social situation and blurting out an ill-thought-out question, a stupid comment, or an inconsiderate observation, and freezing up when you should be explaining yourself. Now throw in being painfully self-aware and absolutely convinced that your statement, question, or lack of response has just ruined lives and irreparably harmed people’s self-esteem or their perception of you.
  • That is the perfect recipe for harmful, lingering, and painful rumination. I blurt out something inconsiderately inane and blow my chance to fix it because my mind goes blank. Now I own it – lock, stock and barrel. It will follow me for life. I know this from all the past stupidities I’ve hoisted on the world. They dutifully come back to haunt me at 3:00 am. And, since I’m so influential, important, and powerful (in my own head) everyone involved is thinking and talking about what I did. They will surely dwell on it, causing them to think less and less of me. It can also ruin what could have been a joyous memory of a special occasion, causing me, instead, to get queasy when thinking about it. That’s sad.
  • That, of course, is an exaggeration. I have to keep reminding myself of the famous quote, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they did.”
  • I don’t know how many times I’ve apologized profusely to someone the day after blurting out something stupid, only to realize they don’t even remember what I said or half the time, that I was even there.
  • You’d think I’d learn from that, but no. I fall back on my delusions of importance and influence. I’m convinced they’re just being nice to my face, but are actually talking about it behind my back.
  • Even talking about this is narcissistic. Why should you care about what goes on in my mind? I’m self-inflating my importance, yet again.
  • If I had to explain why I’m writing this, I’d say I want to help someone else going through the same thing. I’d like them to know they are not alone and let them know that ruminating doesn’t do anyone any good. You’re not paying a penance. You’re not driving home a lesson. You’re not making everything better. You’re actually releasing stress hormones into your body, some of which are kind of rough on it.
  • We all hate to hear, “Let it go!” Or “Why are you still thinking about that?” Or “Oh no, you actually said that?” So sometimes it can be hard to talk to people about it. But know that their are people who understand, be it a trusted friend, a doctor, or an empathetic family member.
  • Things that have worked for me are – writing it down; trying positive reinforcement techniques – instead of beating yourself up, make it a positive by thinking of the good things it could have caused, even if that only means schadenfreude therapy for the people involved; finding the humor, if possible; anti-anxiety supplements like L-theanine; a long walk through the woods; focusing on other people’s needs; and just plain getting out of my head for awhile.
  • And, most of all, realizing that I’m not alone.
  • Why You Should Stop Ruminating

    Anxiety is a bear. A big, ugly, growling, slobbering, terrifying bear. It grabs you by the throat and won’t let you go. It keeps you awake at night. It takes over your thoughts. It causes confusion, inaction, and despair. You want to be alone, but then you don’t. The thought of having to live alone in your head is unbearable. It’s scary in there. You’re forced to relive your embarrassing utterances, thoughtless gestures, stupid questions, hurtful comments, over and over and over. It’s like watching a video on an endless loop. The bear wakes you up to watch it again and again. It starts playing while you’re eating or shopping or watching tv. It’s relentless. Your heart races. Your appetite wanes. You want it to stop, but you don’t know how.

    And the bear is clever. He sees to it that you not only worry about the stupid things you’ve done, but you also worry excessively about your loved ones. You’re overcome with thoughts that they may have had a horrible car wreck if they don’t answer your text right away. Or were kidnapped, or fell down some stairs, or were hit by a car while riding their bike, or . . . You name it, your over-anxious mind will concoct it. You pace and wring your hands and text them repeatedly. Then you start calling. If they don’t answer, you start calling their friends.

    This ruminating and excessive worrying is hard on your mind and body. It causes cortisol to be released into your blood stream. Cortisol, one of the flight or fight hormones, is released by your adrenal gland. It can do damage to your hippocampus, the part of your brain that stores memories. It causes your heart to race and an overall ‘jumping out of your skin’ response. It makes it hard to fall asleep and then interrupts your sleep if you do.

    Time heals all wounds, you think, you hope. And eventually you do start feeling better. Yet, days or months later, the bear is back. Something will remind you of one of your past stupidities and you’re back inside the jail you’ve built in your head. You’re once again being held prisoner and forced to watch replays of those bad memories over and over.

    You try mindfulness, yoga, meditation, camomile tea, every anti-anxiety herbal supplement you can find. Your counter is soon over-flowing with supplement bottles and boxes of tea.

    Nobody around you seems aware of your torment. Life goes merrily on. You decide you must be the only one who feels this way and it’s just what you do.

    Sometimes, when it gets really rough, you bring it up to someone in your life. Unfortunately, you will sometimes get an answer like, “Are you still on that?”; “Let it go!”; “Try thinking about something else.”; “It’s not that big of a deal.”; “Move on, already.”  Or you’ll get the dreaded blank stare and the even more dreaded shrug.

    These people aren’t meaning to be inconsiderate or impatient (I hope). They just don’t know what to say or do. I’m sure they feel as helpless as you do.

    If you have these overwhelming feelings of anxiety or worry, talk to somebody who will understand, be it a therapist or an empathetic friend or family member. Take deep breaths. Exercise as often as possible (I like hiking through pine trees. Take your bear spray – wink). Drink plenty of water. Do the things you love to do (pine trees – I’m not kidding).

    And, most of all, know you’re not alone.