How this photographer in the American South manages her hypothyroidism

Hashi & Me is a series of stories for people with Hashimoto’s told by people with Hashimoto’s and other thyroid problems. In each piece, one of us will share our experience with Hashimoto’s, our personal findings and tips. We believe one person’s experience can be useful for others, especially to newly diagnosed people.

This week meet a portrait photographer based in South Carolina.

When did you discover you had Hashimoto’s? Tell us your story.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in November of 2017. I felt like I had bothered my doctor at the time so much, but my constant sharing of my symptoms every appointment led to several tests revealing levels of hypothyroidism.

I felt almost relieved to finally be able to pinpoint the cause of how I was feeling for longer than I would like to admit. I’m still on the journey of getting my levels correct after a year and a half since diagnosis.

Next week I will be getting my usual lab work (TSH and T4) while having something new tested—for the first time, I will have my antibodies tested to see if I have adrenal fatigue and/or Hashimoto’s.

What did you learn since? Do you have some tips or findings to share with other Hashimoto’s people?

This diagnosis has truly made me feel more in touch with how my body feels. The silver lining is that I have been able to educate myself about this disorder, and I’m still trying to learn what I can do to feel better while living with hypothyroidism.

I’m also learning that Synthroid doesn’t heal everything, and from my personal experience, you have to ask specific questions (i.e. products, supplements, changing lifestyle, etc.) to your doctor, because mine only suggested Synthroid. I know there are other synthetic thyroid medications, but it has been difficult to get medical permission from two different doctors to switch brands.

If you think you may have symptoms of a thyroid disorder, the easiest thing to do is ask your family if there is a history of thyroid conditions on either side. I didn’t know until my diagnosis that my dad has hypothyroidism and his mother had her thyroid removed.

Also, question your body if you wake up exhausted despite having 7+ hours of restful sleep, and you aren’t under an incredible amount of stress. Even when I’ve had a couple days off with nothing truly stressful occurring, I often still wake up exhausted. I’m in my early 30s and this shouldn’t be normal.

What does your day with Hashimoto’s look like?

I take my Synthroid—50mcg at the moment—as soon as I can think of it in the morning, because then I have to wait an hour until I can eat or drink anything other than water. Let’s be real, I’m born and raised in the south of the US, so sometimes I take my Synthroid with barely sweet (might as well be unsweetened) iced tea.

I have my great days, good days, bad days, and then plummeting moments. It’s all over the place to be blunt. I can have a pretty awesome day, feeling energetic and smiling about life. Then, at the drop of a hat, I can suddenly feel my aura just fall inwards and that happy afternoon will seem like a distant memory. These plummeting moments are difficult to crawl out of, and more often than I would like to admit they take over the rest of my day.

My hair has been thin for almost half of my life, but it’s gotten increasingly thinner. That was one of the biggest points I made to get the numerous lab tests in November 2017. Long story short, I feel the need to check the top and back of my head when I go out, even if I’m just placing it in a ponytail, because my hair is so thin. With my thinnest areas I take a small comb through to place my hair evenly on my scalp so it appears fuller. I’ve had my tricks of hair spray and dry shampoo for years due to my thin hair.

Almost every day my circulation isn’t great. It can be sweltering humid outside here in South Carolina, but my feet and/or hands can be freezing. Good energetic days are few and far between for me because I wake up often still having underlying tiredness. I sleep 8 hours or more as much as I can, and the times that I have had 6 or less hours of sleep isn’t a good start. So, does it feel like a rollercoaster within this body? Undoubtedly yes.

What was the biggest struggle and biggest victory you experienced?

For now, the biggest victory has been knowing that I have hypothyroidism. The struggle? The journey of living with all of the side effects this thyroid disorder gives me and millions of other people. It’s knowing we don’t have a cure yet. It’s also the battle of trying to get your doctor to figure out more options for you to live better.

What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed to ease their first steps with Hashimoto’s?

Ultimately, you aren’t alone. Congratulations on having proof of how exhausted and off you’ve felt. Learn what this thyroid disorder is affecting the most within your body. Make yourself more of a priority—I’ll try to take this advice too! These symptoms aren’t magically going to go away, but you have only one body. Find the knowledge to help your thyroid and body live more harmoniously.

You can continue to follow hypothyroid.pinup’s journey through Instagram.

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