I am a college athlete, an honor student, and a go-getter, but I also struggle with an autoimmune disorder. I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a disease where my immune system attacks my thyroid.
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, and it releases hormones that regulate vital body functions. My Hashimoto's also led to my hypothyroidism, meaning I have an underactive thyroid gland that doesn't make enough thyroid hormone to keep my body functioning normally. I take medication to raise my thyroid hormone levels, but even though my levels look good on paper, I don't feel better.
So what is it like living with Hashimoto's thyroiditis? It affects everyone differently, but here are some of my symptoms.
Chronic fatigue is arguably my worst symptom; I am always tired. I wake up tired and I go to bed tired. My friends will complain about how tired they are, but they don't understand, it's different for me...at least they can escape their exhaustion.
I was just diagnosed with reactivated mono, which can be reactivated from severe stress. I asked my mom to get me tested for the Epstein Barr virus because I had been feeling abnormally tired. The sad part, however, was that I couldn't confidently distinguish my normal tiredness from mono. I'm still learning to deal with the fact that tired is my body's default state.
Difficulty Regulating Body Temperature
I am almost always cold, and my heated blanket and tendency to blast the heat will atone for it. Your thyroid gland regulates your temperature, but my thyroid often fails to do its job. Where other people are at a comfortable temperature, I'm cold.
I am thankful to say that I have been spared from most of the other symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis and hypothyroidism, and I am still able to do everything I love, such as horseback riding and taking rigorous classes. The thing is, I quickly run out of steam.
I feel that my autoimmune disease has changed my personality. I used to be the type of person who had self-regenerating energy in social situations, and now I find myself more so feeding off of other people who radiate energy. Sometimes I feel as if my charisma has abandoned me.
I wish to be so full of life, radiating joy, and seeking new adventures, and I can, but I'm still finding the energy to do so, which sometimes means taking breaks or not always taking the most challenging route.
We all struggle with things in our lives, and I am by no means trying to complain; I am so thankful for my blessings. I know that my passions fuel my energy, and as long as I'm able to do what I love, everything will be okay.