In 2011, I was 31 and had my first baby. Of the many struggles I had adjusting to life with a new baby, I’d never imagined having to deal with personal health issues. It wasn’t until 2 years after her birth that I’d finally begun getting anywhere with receiving a diagnosis, either.
You see, my lack of energy was blamed on my age and having a young baby (or toddler) at home. I was constantly told that my forgetfulness and inability to speak intelligently were simply a byproduct of mommy brain.
Almost every one of my symptoms was dismissed as the effects of having a baby and my age. “It’s mommy brain” many women liked to tell me. Or, I was treated as though I was simply being lazy.
In that two years, I had to fight for understanding from my husband and family members. At some point, I began having periods every week and a half to two weeks. This started an uncomfortable journey with my OBGYN treating me like a lab rat. She had me try all sorts of hormonal therapies to no avail. I didn’t know any better at the time and let her try treatments instead of running tests. And then she finally decided to test my thyroid. “Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems” according to Thyroid.Org.
I did, in fact, have hypothyroidism. And, I was excited that we had an answer … or so I thought. Treatment didn’t work and I had to continue being a lab rat. Eventually, I did enough research of my own to begin finding real answers.
Unfortunately, treating my thyroid hadn’t taken care of most of my problems. Having been treated poorly by the traditional medical system, I resorted to doing a lot of research, diagnosing myself, and changing my diet to treat my thyroid.
Here’s why I feel you need to about my journey in discovering my autoimmune thyroid disease and gluten-free living.
I Have Hashimoto’s Disease
As it turns out, I have Hashimoto’s Disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid condition. Simply having my thyroid labs in range wasn’t enough. Getting my OBGYN or my Endocrinologist to understand was a feat I couldn’t tackle. I’ve since moved on to a more understanding and caring doctor to help see me through this unexpected phase in my life.
What I’ve learned is that mothering with autoimmunity isn’t easy. I’m the only person who is going to fight for myself … no one else feels the pain and exhaustion I feel. No one else can possibly understand.
When I go through phases where I feel I can’t get out of bed or keep my eyes open, people are going to judge me. I must push through to make it through the day, even when it seems virtually impossible. My family relies on me, regardless of how I feel. And, even though there are times I pass out because my body just can’t do it, I still have to get up and get things done. And, in some people’s eyes, it isn’t enough because they just don’t get it.
But, as I struggle from day to day or week to week, there’s one thing that’s for certain! I continue to push through, try new treatments, and change my diet because I want to stay alive for my kids. My house isn’t the cleanest and I don’t have the organizational skills to hide a lot of it. Maybe I should be ashamed. I don’t know. But, what I do know is that I can only do so much. I feel like it’s a successful day if I managed to stay awake all day.
When I get any cleaning done, it’s a victory!
That I get my kid to and from school on time and still help her get her homework done before dinner is a miracle. Sure, it’s my job, but by the end of the day, it’s a miracle I have the brain power to handle it. And some days, I may not handle it with the patience a mother should. Maybe I’ll never know what that’s like.
Mothering through autoimmunity happens to be the only thing I know … and from one day to the next, I don’t know what to expect but the unexpected.
Complete and utter exhaustion. Even with thyroid hormone prescriptions, I couldn’t shake the exhaustion. After 8-10 hours of sleep, I woke every morning feeling as though I never slept. Most days I would pass out in the middle of the day … sometimes just on the floor if I couldn’t make it to a bed. The worst part of this was that sometimes I was called lazy. I finally had to explain to my husband that I felt as though I was dying internally … like my insides were shutting down. I was certain I was dying. But I looked well, so no one could tell.
Too frequent periods. I’d start a new period about a week and a half, or two after my last one ended. This took a toll on me mentally and really put a hamper on my marriage. Our sex life was non-existent. The thyroid hormone replacement hadn’t helped.
Unable to think straight and horrible memory. This was often chalked up to mommy brain. In addition to being unable to participate in an intelligent conversation, I also struggled with stuttering and inability to find words.
Muscle weakness and failure. At the peak of my problems, I began having difficulty opening jars. And, my legs began to give out on me regularly. Sometimes people dismissed my problems as “age”. But, my husband began asking what was wrong me with after I fell a few times.
Reaching a diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disorder and gluten free living
I finally began researching my problems and found information on autoimmune thyroid disease, or Hashimoto’s. When I read the symptoms, I cried. I knew this was at least part of my problem.
The next day, I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN and demanded to be tested. Not surprisingly, my suspicions were verified.
As I waited for my new endocrinologist appointment, I researched everything I could about Hashimoto’s. My reading led me to lots of research on autoimmune thyroid disorder and gluten free living benefits.
Combating Hashimoto’s With Healthy Living
My visits with the endocrinologist proved to be a waste of time. She did no more than my OBGYN … testing the same numbers and solely treating the thyroid. The cost for visits had significantly risen but I received no better care.
When I complained about still not having energy, she retorted “With the medication, your numbers are in line so everything is fine. If you feel like you need more energy, I can prescribe you [insert whatever anti-depressant it was].”
Anti-depressant? I feel like I’m dying and I’m being offered anti-depressants?
I fired her and came home to some of my gluten free living research into practice. In about 2 weeks, I began to see an improvement in my energy levels and stopped falling.
I regained much of my life back with that simple dietary change. But, I continued fighting for my life by finding a functional medicine doctor who not only listened but cared! And, instead of solely treating my thyroid, worked to find out why my body was going crazy.
Why am I Writing About Hashimoto’s and Autoimmunity?
I know I’m not the only one suffering from this! I have Hashimoto’s Disease and I’ve been through some serious trials to find a healing path. As a mother, my failing health made it difficult to parent…. sometimes it still does.
If I can help just one other mom through her journey with autoimmunity while navigating motherhood, that’s what I want.
A friend of mine spent a weekend with me in Orlando at an influencer conference. Unfortunately for her, she was dragged along with all my crazy food allergy and food intolerance problems for the weekend. At the end of that weekend, however, she urged me to start writing about it all. She told me she learned a lot from me over the course of the weekend. And, she thought I could use it to help other mothers out there who may be struggling.
She was right. I know there is a lot of information floating around on the internet. Maybe you don’t need me, but what if someone does?
Going through the process of getting a diagnosis and appropriate healing isn’t easy. It’s not straight forward. And, sometimes it’s a lot of work just to get a doctor to understand you and think past your lab results.
Getting support isn’t always easy. People just don’t understand unless they’ve lived it.
It’s easy for others to tell you “it’s just mommy brain.” But, I think, deep down, we know when it isn’t just baby brain.
I Have Hashimoto’s Disease, Now What?
It’s not the end of the world.
Having Hashimoto’s Disease, or any other autoimmune issues is a new world.
Put on a brave face, do some research, and change the way you live. It won’t be easy. You may feel like giving up, but I know, as a mother myself, you won’t. You’re going to fight a good fight to be there for your children.
You’ll face adversity and you’ll rise above it, so long as you have the motivation and desire to get better.
Is there a cure?
I haven’t found it. But, I have found a way to live with it more peacefully. It’s a constant battle to stay on top of it, but I don’t find myself dying the second my feet hit the ground in the morning.
You’ll learn to take better care of yourself, even if it’s just to keep yourself alive for your family. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find it in yourself to “make Hashi your bitch.” (excuse my French)
As a mother with Hashimoto’s Disease, I’ve discovered the following to be useful:
Find a doctor who will look past labs! A good doctor will ask HOW YOU FEEL, instead of disregard your feelings for lab results that show everything is fine. In-range lab results aren’t always “optimal” and a good doctor will listen to you.
Don’t stick with traditional medicine. I fired my endocrinologist and sought out a Functional Medicine practitioner. You could also seek out a Naturopath. You need a doctor who will try to get to your root cause, not just treat your thyroid or autoimmune systems with a bunch of pharmaceuticals. It’s important to remember pharmaceutical drugs only mask your symptoms …. in cases like your thyroid, they do not treat or cure a thyroid problem.
Check for food intolerances and leaky gut. Speaking of the root cause, have you ever seen the commercials about your gut playing a big role in your immune system? One of the first things my doctor did was to test (and confirm) leaky gut. For me, glyphosate (which is a major component in GMO products) is a HUGE factor. This meant I needed to increase my consumption of Organic, Non-GMO foods in addition to removing gluten and dairy from my diet.
Eat Healthy and Detox. I’m not a doctor, so this is something to ask your doctor about. In my case, I had tons of food and environmental intolerances. I was instructed to eat a Paleo-ish diet, removing any major problematic foods and products. For me, gluten, dairy, almonds, and a range of other things ranked high on my list of items to cut out of my life. A detox plan was in place to remove the toxins from my body. Eating Paleo supported this process, which allowed me to skip the normal fasting in a detox because it supported the cleaning process.
Rebuild gut health. Once you’ve detoxed under your doctor’s supervision, it’s time to rebuild gut health. Your doctor should recommend an appropriate probiotic. They aren’t all created equally. At the time I did my first detox, I required a large amount of probiotics and continuation of my Paleo-ish diet.
De-stress and ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for some down time! As a mom, I know how hard it is to let go of our motherly responsibilities, even at the expense of our needs. But, it’s important that you take care of yourself mentally, not just physically. Stress plays a big part in your health. Check out these tips for incorporating parenting teamwork to make this transition easier on everyone. Take some time off and practice some self-care when possible.
So, It Begins
Can You Relate?
If my autoimmune thyroid disorder and gluten free living story resonates with you, stick around! In the next weeks, I’m going to share more health related articles to help you live a healthier life.
Over the last couple years, I’ve learned a lot about hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s, autoimmune disease, and living with food allergies. I can’t wait to share all the things I’ve been learning (and continue to learn) about healthy living. I’ll discuss thyroid disorders, general health topics, food allergies and sensitivities, special diets, and organic or NON-GMO products.
If you have Hashimoto’s Disease and are a mother navigating this unexpected condition while struggling with the day to day life of a mom, I’m here for you. I’ll share my journey. Some of it will be good, but at times, it won’t. That’s the nature of autoimmunity, I guess.
As we take this journey together, I want us to be able to say “I have Hashimoto’s Disease, but I will not let it beat me!”
I want you to know this …
You are not crazy
You are not lazy
You are not alone
What health issues are you struggling with?
Leave me a comment if you’re experiencing health issues too. What are they? Do you have Hashimoto’s Disease or something else? Can I help? Are you excited that I’m willing to share my story and continuing journey to better health?
Here’s to motherhood and your health!