A couple years ago I was feeling really sluggish and chalked it up to being a mom of a two year old- when I went in to get a sinus infection treated my doctor drew some blood. Turns out I wasn’t just a tired mom- I had hypothyroidism- an autoimmune condition that affects just about every other function in the body- energy level, digestion, libido, metabolism, everything. I went away to a cabin after I was treated with a radioactive iodine pill to let that sucker kill off the node on my thyroid that was causing all the problems. I slept for 14-hours straight.
And now, a couple years it’s returned. Instead of just popping a radioactive pill I get to take synthetic thyroid medication daily and have been learning how to take care of myself- to reduce and manage stress, eat nourishing food, exercise on a consistent basis. You know, like, the things healthy people should be doing anyways. It’s been both interesting and overwhelming learning about thyroid disorders- shocking to realize how many women it affects. One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime and are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to have a thyroid disorder. (See honey, I’m not just lazy & addicted to napping!)
In part I’ve been pretty quiet on the blogging front because it’s been a struggle just to do normal things- like the dishes, caring for my kids and returning emails. I know that sounds so pathetic but there were days that I would get 8-hours of sleep, wake up exhausted and then still need a 2-hour nap to get through the day. Then add in the guilt of not getting home or work stuff done, a healthy dollop of depression was added into the mix. Oh, plus unexpected weight gain. Just what every woman wants!
It’s been sucky to realize that this is going to be a life-long thing I deal with and not to minimize it (oh, I’m just tired.) A couple things have been really helpful in regaining energy, focus and endurance to get through long days with young kids. Limiting gluten, drinking a ton of water, and joining the YMCA to go to exercise classes has made a noticeable difference in my health and energy.
The bigger piece has been learning how to manage stress and anxiety by practicing self-care. I’ve loved discovering thyroid loving care (TLC) and Tracie Fountain’s website on how these women have successfully learned how to manage their thyroid disorders. Tracie even offers a free 20-minute consultation to help you get started on your healing journey which was so helpful to me to even legitimize that there really is something wrong with me.
Women put so much pressure on ourselves to get things done everyday that self-care is one of the easiest things to cut. Do we really need to sit and read a magazine with a cup of tea? Take a 20 minute walk in the middle of the day? Light a candle because it’s simply enjoyable? Yeah. We do. Because it’s a way of affirming- I’m worth it. I’m worth taking care of. This was such a big piece for me- stopping and saying “by doing these things I’m setting myself up to be healthy and happy. Taking 20 minutes to paint my nails or bake some gluten-free bread is not going to end the world.”
What have been ways you’ve learned how to practice self-care over the years? What do you struggle with in taking time for yourself?