Many people suffer from hidden diseases. These are diseases that can be debilitating to the sufferer yet are invisible to the eye of the observer. Illnesses of the endocrine system, auto-immune disorders and chronic fatigue situations are all examples of hidden diseases. Hypothyroidism falls into one or all of these categories, which results in the need to explain the disease and symptoms to others.
Sometimes I’m so tired and foggy that it seems nearly impossible to explain what low thyroid is all about, however, it is important to do. People need and want to understand what I am going through and it is my responsibility to let people in my life know. One of my most prevalent symptoms has been an inability to think clearly at times and certainly to express my thoughts into words since the area formerly known as my brain has morphed into mashed potatoes. I have made several attempts to explain hypothyroidism to people, only to leave out important details, confuse the situation entirely and of course completely forget what I am saying mid-sentence. So to make things easier on myself as well as the person who was kind enough to ask about how I’m feeling, I have decided to construct my very own hypothyroid elevator speech. This way I can succinctly explain the basics in 60 seconds or less.
“I have hypothyroidism which means that my underactive thyroid does not produce enough hormones. These hormones affect many functions in the body including the adrenals, the ovarian system, the brain, metabolism and others. This results in a vast array of symptoms, many of which are not noticeable to anyone else. Some symptoms are physically apparent, like weight gain, muscle loss, hair loss, thinning of the eyebrows, dry skin and in some cases like mine, melasma which is a hyperpigmentation on the face. Symptoms that might not be so easily noticed are fatigue, migraines, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, extreme cold, joint pain, breast tenderness and dealing with heightened emotions. Many other symptoms exist as well and this is one of the reasons why it can be so hard to diagnose. Luckily, I have been recently diagnosed after dealing with this for many years and am on treatment. My treatment includes thyroid hormones, progesterone, multiple supplements and a specific nutritional plan. It can take a long time to feel better so I just take it one day at a time. I have to make sure that I get plenty of rest, otherwise I can be set back for a while. Please realize that it takes a lot of effort for me to just do regular things. Even though it might not be obvious, I’m exhausted much of the time. I make sure that I chronicle my symptoms and how I am feeling often so I can see a timeline of my progress. This allows me to tell what is working and what I need to modify. In the past five months since I started taking medication, some of my symptoms have gotten much better. I am grateful for people like you who want to understand this. The best thing you can do to support me is just simply be there with love and kindness. I will do my best to let you know what I need. I really appreciate you.”
So that is my attempt at my hypothyroid elevator speech…perhaps a bit longer than 60 seconds. Best used for an elevator in a really tall building I suppose. Hopefully just having an outline will help me better explain my situation to people. I’ll see how it goes and adjust when needed.
How do you explain a complicated situation to people in your life?