Sunday, December 23, 2012

Yoga, Thyroid, and the (potential) dangers if you push too far


Today's NYTimes has an article on the dangers of yoga, for men, as written by the man who wrote this year's "Science of Yoga," (who is also a yogi and a writer for the NYTimes). He talks about competitive yoga (sounds like an oxymoron to me) and other ways in which men either push themselves or their instructors push them too hard (btw, he doesn't ignore women in the article, but the focus is men).

When I teach, one of the first things I say to my classes (after we warm up, because, doggone it, I don't believe you can do yoga without being thoroughly warmed up) is that they need to listen to their bodies. If it even feels like it might start *thinking* about hurting, they need to stop and not do it or pull way back to try it safely.

To me, yoga is about being where you are today. It won't be where you were yesterday and it won't be where you will be tomorrow. So, the important thing is to pay attention to what is happening in your body, mind, and spirit right now. If you consistently practice, you will see benefits, and likely, poses that are challenging or impossible to you now will become easier in time. That is the point. Yoga (imo) isn't something to do once a week. It is really something like brushing your teeth. When I get up, I brush my teeth, every single day. That is how I do yoga. Every single day. It's not always an intense hour-long practice. Sometimes, it's five or ten minutes, but I step on the mat, at least for a little while. Every single day.

Being hypothyroid means that I need to do less exercise (very little aerobic because that messes with my thyroid's calm and makes me dip more into hypothyroid land) but I have found that yoga helps me retain balance, strength, and flexibility and even heart health since yes I do raise my heart rate with some of the more challenging poses even if I am not running or jumping to get my aerobics in. Try plank pose on your elbows and toes and try holding it for a minute. (Keep breathing naturally and make sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Make sure your butt doesn't rise and that your shoulder blades are broad along your back. Keep your neck aligned with the rest of your spine, your butt flat, and your legs straight so as to not injure yourself. Push your heels toward the back of the room. And remember, if it even feels like it might start thinking about hurting, lower down and rest. Don't overdo. That's not what this is about.) By the end of that minute, you will be very grateful and your heart will be pounding hard.


Even if you do a little but do it every day, you will reap enormous benefits and not just physically. But, pushing yourself can definitely lead to injury so that is the less optimal way to practice. Do it today and tomorrow and the next day and pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you as you sit or stand or lie in a pose and you will be present and eventually by being present, you will progress.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/23/sunday-review/the-perils-of-yoga-for-men.html?_r=0&adxnnl=1&smid=tw-share&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1356268466-1IMHsxS8ZQ9G/W5m6rmvTQ

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

By the Jugular

It has come to my attention that my eating habits have deteriorated since September. Renaissance Festival season always takes it out of me, but this year, it has drop kicked me back into the energy roller coaster that spells, potato addiction. 

Generally, during the festival season, I work seven days a week and average ten to twelve hours a day. So, from mid-August to the end of October, I am just trying to hang on until I can catch a breath during the first week of November.

Having a thyroid condition that kicks my energy-level's butt on a daily basis doesn't help matters so I end up eating quick carbs to ensure that I will be able to stay awake enough to do a good and solid job in all my various endeavors. Don't get me wrong. Many people work hard. I get that. And many people work at the ren fest and work seven days a week just like I do. I am not discounting how hard they work. I am just speaking of my personal experience here and the thyroid condition makes everything harder. Ask anyone with hypothyroidism and they'll tell you. For a health issue that isn't life threatening (not usually, anyway) it can be one of the more debilitating ones (as far as your energy level is concerned).

So, how do I do it? How do I keep myself from falling over in exhaustion while working my butt off? Enter the much beloved and dreaded potato. Ah, potato, you truly are the Queen of Foods as far as I'm concerned. You bring such joy, such relief, such bliss and contentedness that you leave me breathless, happy, and fulfilled. 

Temporarily. 

And I think that right there is the crux of the matter. You bring relief, but you aren't a constant source of energy and support. On the contrary, you are consistently quicksilver. One second I feel terrific after eating you and the next, I feel like I have fallen into the abyss. 

I know how wrong you are for me. I truly do. I see what you do to me. I see how you bring me to the high of highs and the low of lows. If I weren't already married, I would look at us as having a very unhealthy romance or worse, a junkie/dealer relationship. 

Whenver I need a fix, one that will give me a boost, do I go to uppers or cocaine? No,  those will never do for me. Me? I run to french fries, preferably with either ketchup or ranch dressing, although my favorite, garlic mayo, definitely still holds the key to my heart. 

And here's the most insidious thing of all. Once I start eating you, I also start inching towards other forbidden fruits. For me, those aren't actual fruits, they're grains. Specifically, I must refrain from letting wheat pass my lips. But here's the thing, once I start eating potatoes, bread and its ilk creep into my diet as well. And then? And then, I make excuses for my behavior. "Oh, just one sandwich," I murmur as I glassily eye the menu and once again fall under the grilled cheese and french fry spell. "I can stop anytime I want to." And that's the thing. In the moment, I believe it. I truly believe that I will be able to curtail or stop next time. In my heart, I feel that this one time will be the one time and then next time, I will forego both of these foods that have such a negative effect on my body. I know, I *know* exactly what eating both of them will do to me, and I still eat them. It's nuts, but there it is. I am addicted to those fast, white carbs.

Last night, I sank to my personal diet low and had a sandwich and french fries for dinner. Interestingly, I felt defensive of my right to eat whatever I wanted. I knew how sick I'd be afterward (and I was. I hardly slept all night because of this meal). I knew that it was terrible for me and for my poor gallbladder that is hanging on by a thread (long story). I knew I'd feel like crap afterward but if anyone had tried to talk sense into me and tell me not to eat this food, I would have gladly ripped their heads off.

This sort of food addiction is strange. I'm not binging. I don't eat any of it often, but when I do, the pleasure I get from it is intense and borders on creepy. And here's the thing: I have given up many other foods and been just fine. I have been a vegetarian since 1987. Three years ago, I gave up chocolate (because it, too, caused me some health issues). A year and a half ago, I gave up sugar and by some miracle, I have not gone back to eating it. While I miss it, it does not hold the same power over me. So, I know that I can and do have the willpower to make good choices consistently. I know I can do these things when I need to. If you knew how much I love sweets and chocolate in particular, you would understand the significance of those actions. But bread and potatoes? Oh yes. They still have me by the jugular. 

Yet, most of the time, I don't eat wheat, either. Actually, last night was the first time I'd eaten bread in months and months. I blame the potato. It's a gateway food, for me, to whiter and whiter carbs. 

And so today, this morning, I will do something about it.

I am starting a food diary today. As of right now,  I am not sure I can give potatoes up for good. But I will see if there is a way to at least know how often I eat them. 

Hopefully, seeing everything in black and white will help me deal with the cravings for these carbs. If I could look at them without seeing them as delicious food, that would be amazing. If, instead, I could see them as almost dangerous, that would be ideal. Sadly, I was absent the day they handed out the ability to do things in moderation. I can't just have a potato today and then not eat it again for a few weeks. I know myself too well for that.

But at least, if I keep a food diary, I will consciously see the results of my choices. And maybe that will help me make better choices in the long run.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hypothyroidism and Opening the Steam Valve on a Global Scale

I've been talking about opening the steam valve to anyone and everyone who will listen. We are living in an increasingly busy and stressed out world. Wars and other conflicts are raging around us. People   cause pain, take advantage, and otherwise hurt one another as a matter of course and with impunity (do *all* people do it? No of course not, but enough do that we are all diminished by their acts). And all the while, we are constantly bombarded with images that we are not enough, we don't do enough, and we don't have enough. We constantly try to play catch-up and many of us might feel like a hamster that's running on one of those little wheels. That poor little thing is running, running, running, like crazy. She's exhausting herself but in the end, she's not getting anywhere. It's enough to make you run screaming through the streets.

But basically, it's just enough. For my part, I've had my fill of the crap that seeps through our streets, in our workplaces, and around our dinner tables (not to mention in our entire world). Aren't we a smart species? Don't we have that big ol' frontal lobe in the front of our heads? Don't we have eyes to see what's happening every second of every day around us? Can't we do something about it?

Now, anyone who is reading this, who also happens to be hypothyroid, just got more tired, more depressed, and more stressed. The above list is enough to make anyone exhausted with the sheer amount of things that feel hard or wrong. But, someone who is hypothyroid spends her or his time being exhausted every single second of the day and so having to be aware of all these other issues and problems is only cause for more exhaustion.

Sometimes, in order to deal with some of these horrors (because let's face it, lack of kindness, sympathy, and empathy on a grand scale have gotten us in this global mess to begin with) we have to close our eyes to them. Because if we don't, we might just become paralyzed with the immense size of the problems we, on this planet, face. It might be easier to look away, to not get involved, to busy ourselves with tv shows, magazines, other little dramas that take us away from the realities that might just be too hard to face head-on.

It might be easier, but it won't fix anything in the long run. That will take a paradigm shift on a universal and individual scale. Wow, I just said a mouthful and scared myself a little. I'm calling for a revolutionary shift of perception, perspective, and interaction, on a global scale. If we all did it, if we all shifted just a hair, the world, our home, would shift as well.

How would it help the average EZH*? I truly believe that a constant awareness of all the troubles and a constant state of stress from that awareness causes the EZH to feel and be squeezed even more than before. So, an external easing of some of that pressure can only help. I liken it to doing certain yoga poses. When I am trying to hold a stretch, I will often unconsciously tighten the very muscles I am trying to relax. As a result, I can't stretch nearly as far and I am far more uncomfortable in the stretch. But, in those times when I realize that I am holding myself tightly, and when I send my awareness to those muscles and release their hold and tight control, why then the muscle relaxes, elongates, and everything changes.

Awareness of all the various issues, troubles, and horrors is the same. Yes, we can stay aware of them and thrash against our inability to change them. Or we can step back, release our desperate grasp, and then open ourselves to the awareness of what we can do, right now, in the moment, to shift that paradigm of stressed impotence. To me, it all goes back to respect and kindness to ourselves and to others (all others, everywhere). I am reminded of a scene in the tv show Angel. The quote goes something like this: "If nothing we do matters, then the only thing that matters is what we do. ... Because if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness, is the greatest thing in the world." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gXaMnkmGq0

That is the question to ask ourselves, isn't it? What can I do, right now, in this moment, to make a tiny change? How that change might later change the world is impossible to say. But, if we release ourselves, if we open the steam valve of desperate grasping, amazing things might be possible.

And here's the thing: that act of kindness? That instant of release? That will help anyone, EZHs included, to open the steam valve. It will work. Trust me. When you are stressed, exhausted, or just plain unhappy, stop, breathe, and then do something kind for someone else. It will change them, it will change you, and it might just change the world.

Next time, we will talk about specific steam valve openers on an individual scale. Until then, Izolda http://izolda.info

*Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidic

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hypothyroidism and Breaking Patterns: Tough stuff

This is a post I've been rather dreading to write. I don't want to be a hypocrite and write about advising breaking old patterns when I have such trouble doing it myself, but here it is. This post is about breaking old patterns so that you can develop new and better ones.

The need to be able to do that when you are an EZH* is pretty vital. People who have hypothyroidism aren't lazy, slow, dim, or faking it. We have a disease. It sucks but there it is and the sooner we admit it, to ourselves (and others?) the better. Personally, it took me years to be open about it. Why? Because saying something like, "I can't go do that. It will mean being out too late, and I will get too exhausted and my thyroid will make me pay" sounds somehow wimpy.

Or, when someone says something along the lines of, "You're so pretty. Now, if only you'd get some exercise," you want to shove the information of your hypothyroidism down their throats if only to make them hush up. Yes, I know it's absolutely none of anyone's business how much I exercise, but for whatever reason, people feel free to say stuff like that to me. Responding with, "First, it's none of your business. Second, I do exercise; I just have a thyroid condition that keeps my metabolism slow and me weighing this much," also feels wimpy even if it is factual.

When I add the fact that I want to be able to do all the things I used to do and that I want to have the energy that I used to have, it makes it even harder to break some of my patterns of behavior that leave me exhausted. See, I used to be very social. I was out and about at museums, moonlit picnics. I danced until dawn. I regularly drove to New York (from Michigan) for an overnight with friends. I did and I did and I did, and my energy level never wavered (or so I thought at the time). Sure, I paid for my partying ways by being exhausted the next day, but I always recovered and continued what I'd been doing.

In college, I worked two jobs, went to school full time and still maintained a heavy social life. And I had no real problems summoning up the energy to do whatever fanciful thing I felt like doing. Little did I know that I was slowly leaching vitality from my endocrine system and that one day it would hit me, like a ton of bricks, that I no longer had any energy to do most anything.

So, when I think about it now, I have to pay hommage to my younger self. She went out and had all sorts of amazing adventures. She traveled. She marveled. She had a terrific time. And perhaps one day,  my older self will get to do more of that.

For now, I need to mend my ways. Every time a new and exciting opportunity comes up, I have to weigh it against how I will feel later. Can I attend this party that will last into the morning? Likely not. Can I stay up all night and watch the Perseid Meteor shower? Not nearly as late as I used to. I know that I can't push myself like that anymore and so I don't try not to.

These kinds of concrete decisions are actually pretty easy to make. They are right or wrong, yes or no situations, and I can do those well. The kinds of things that trip me up? The tiny seemingly insignificant decisions that we make every single day are the ones that challenge me.

Take last week when instead of saying, "No, I can't start the meeting at 9pm," I agreed to do something that in retrospect kicked my butt for the following two days. If I had been thinking properly, I would have responded with a resounding, "No." But I was following my old patterns and paid the energetic price.

I guess it comes down to being mindful when we approach situations that are rife with old patterns. One of my patterns is to be accommodating to the needs of others, without necessarily taking my own needs into account. That's what I did last week with respect to starting the meeting so late. I could have stopped, thought about it, noticed that my pattern of accommodation was rearing its ugly head, and consciously decided to break the pattern by saying I couldn't start the meeting so late. Instead, I blindly followed the years-long groove of being accommodating to the detriment of my health.

So, here's my advice to all you EZHs out there who still think you can maintain your old patterns of behavior, thinking, etc. Please, step back and think about each new situation. Decide consciously whether or not you ought to do do the next activity, eat the next piece of bread, push yourself too far, or accommodate others to the detriment of your own health (because for EZHs it really *can* be unhealthy to keep pushing ourselves too far). You want to assess each and every opportunity for its future impact and then decide, mindfully, whether or not you should do the thing you are thinking about doing.

Some questions to think about:
What is it, exactly, that I will be doing?
How tired will it make me?
When will it start?
When will it end?
Do I have a way of getting home/rest/sleep when I need it?
Will there be someone there to help me if I need it?
What are my contingency plans if I get so exhausted I can't drive?
Is it worth the possible exhaustion/fatigue?
Will it cause me stress?
Am I just doing this because I am following an old pattern of behavior?
Do I want to?
What would it be like if I were to do something different?

If you can answer all these questions to your own satisfaction, you are good to go.

As always, if you enjoyed the post, please consider sharing it, or "liking" it.

Until next time, Izolda http://izolda.info.

*Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidic

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hypothyroidism: Respecting Our Own Needs First Will Help Keep Us Healthy

So, here's a lesson on putting your money where your mouth is. Last night, I had a meeting to run. Several people who were supposed to attend, never showed, and didn't call to let me know they wouldn't be there. If I had been thinking properly about myself and my needs, I would have just started the meeting on time (9pm, which is a late start for me to begin with) and not been so accommodating of the latecomers. But, I wasn't thinking and I paid the price.

Here's what I mean. As an EZH*, I get tired early, quickly, and often. By ten pm, I am usually done for the day. I make up for it by being up at around 5am every morning, but the late night partying is history for me. So, when I was told by several participants of the meeting that they couldn't be there until 9pm, I bit the bullet, nodded, and said I could handle it. Mistake, the first. No, I can't. My energy level just won't let me do it. I should have said, okay, let's do it on a different night or not do it at all. But in an effort to accommodate everyone, I agreed. (By the way, it's not their fault that I agreed to accommodate them. They were asking to have their needs met. That's all. But, I forewent my needs to accommodate theirs, and that is entirely on me.)

Again, if I had been taking care of myself, I would have started the meeting at exactly 9pm like I had planned. I figured that if we started at nine, it would go until about 10:00, we could have a snack afterward and I'd be in bed by 11pm. Heh, fat chance. When 9pm rolled around, I thought, "I'll wait for another few minutes." Then, by 9:20, I thought, "Okay, I'll call and see what's up." I got voicemail and thinking to be accommodating (still), I said, "We'll wait for you for another ten minutes and then get started." (We ended up starting at 9:45, something I will never do again.)

Mistake, the second. I shouldn't have waited. Now, granted, these meetings, once they start, really shouldn't be interrupted. There's a process in place that, if someone had come in in the middle, it would have seriously messed up the flow. But, in retrospect, I now believe that that is the chance I'll have to take. Or better yet, I'll hold everyone to the time. In other words, "If you aren't there when I say we'll start, please don't show (but if you know last minute that you aren't going to show, please call)." That way, I can start the meeting with whomever did show up, the meeting won't be interrupted in the middle, and I won't stay up wayyyyy past my bedtime.

It's a hard lesson for me, but it's one I need to learn. I can't keep accommodating other people at the expense of my health. And it's about time I truly admit that, by the way. I have a serious health issue. I keep trying (and have been for a long time) to behave as if I am not an EZH. I do, a lot. And I need to slow some of that down because it isn't good for my thyroid, and I know it.

By 11:30pm, I was sitting on the couch and I felt tiny and fragile, very very fragile. It was as if every iota of vitality had skittered away from me, and I felt lifeless like an old wet rag that's been wrung out and left twisted and scrunched on the sidewalk. I broke my own rules and ignored the warning signs of exhaustion. Mistake, the third.

Here's the last bit on this and I will return you to our regularly scheduled posts on specific ways to address hypothyroidism naturally, next time.

As an EZH, once you set up your own rules to keep your health on track, do. not. break. them. If you know (like I do) that you shouldn't eat bread, don't eat it. It's that simple. You know that eating wheat will make you exhausted. So why do it (other than you are probably just maintaining an old pattern that you need to change. I'll have more on that at a future time)? And here's the thing that kicks you in the teeth even more: if you haven't eaten it for a while and you decide to indulge, well, your body has gotten used to not eating it (and developed some sort of equilibrium) and so the influx of whatever it is that makes you exhausted when you eat bread, makes your reaction to it that much worse. You will pay the price for eating it. And hey, if you are willing to pay the piper for the slice of ciabatta or french loaf, then go for it. But if you are not, then step away from the bread bowl and everything will still be all right.

The same thing goes for staying up too late. I knew. I knew I shouldn't have stayed up late. I knew I shouldn't have agreed to a nine pm starting time. I knew I shouldn't have waited for 45 minutes to start the meeting. I knew I should have kept to my own rules. But I didn't. And that feeling I had, the feeling of death warmed to a tepid temperature while being nibbled on by crazed three-toed sloths? That was entirely my own fault.

Now, I just have to forgive myself my own trespasses, respect the choices I made last night, reaffirm my commitment to my own health, and move forward.

From now on, I start meetings on time. Hey, it's a good first step.

Until next time, Izolda. http://izolda.info

As always, if you like the post, please consider sharing it or "liking" it.

*Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidic

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Strategies to Overcome Hypothyroid-Induced Depression

As anyone who is an EZH* can attest, having your thyroid out of whack causes all sorts of troubles. When you choose to treat it naturally, you are jumping into the deep end of the pool with a bunch of lead weights tied to your waist. And then, of course, you have to figure out how to swim back to safety.

Even to me, it sounds pretty dire as I write this. As an EZH, you are constantly trying to tread water any way you can. You don't have the energy that healthy people have. You don't have the oomph to get things done. And on top of everything else, you tend toward depression. It's enough to make you just want to go get the water wings of Synthroid (the medication that helps replace the Thyroid hormone your thyroid should be making but isn't, for whatever reason) and be done with it.

But, if you stick it out and go the natural/holistic route, you need some strategies to handle the depression. Below, is a list of things to think about and perhaps do to help.

First, and foremost, increase your awareness of what is going on with your body. Pay attention to what it's trying to tell you and act accordingly. So, if you have been pushing yourself and your poor body is vainly trying to tell you to slow down, listen. Leave the dishes in the sink overnight if you are too exhausted to clean them before bedtime. Keep your exercise to a minimum (more on this in a future post). Don't go out to the next event if it's going to exhaust your further. Even though they say that being out and being social can help alleviate depression symptoms, I believe it's different for EZHs. If we try to party like it's 1999, we will pay dearly for it later. Perhaps, you might think about inviting people over to your place for an early movie night rather than going out and partying. Whatever you do, don't overdo. 

Second, Frankie says: Relax. Yeah, I know. It's way easier said than done. But, you still have to. Often, part of an EZH's depression will be a certain amount of anxiety. And if you aren't relaxed, those two (depression and anxiety) will combine to stress your entire endocrine system even further. So, what's the first rule of relaxing? Breathe. Breathe, breathe, breathe, and when in doubt, breathe some more. Here are a couple of techniques and exercises you might consider doing to help with breathing.

First, have a seat and relax. Put one hand on your belly. Take in a deep breath. Feel if your hand moves and your fingers expand. Notice if your shoulders came up as you inhaled. If they did, try the same thing again and this time try to keep the shoulders relaxed and down. Instead, as you inhale, imagine that your belly is a submarine. As you breathe in, let the air flow all the way down into the submarine. When you exhale, let the air come back out the periscope that is your air passage and your mouth/nose. Try to breathe this way three more times. When you feel you have the hang of it, put your other hand on your side, a bit higher than the hand on your belly. This time breathe into your belly and then when that is full, let the breath keep entering your body and feel your sides expand (the hand on your side should move at this point). Try these two steps for the next three breaths. Once you have done that, breathe into your belly, then into the sides, and then last up to the top of your chest. Keep your body expanding and opening. Your breathing apparatus is like a ballon that is being filled as you inhale. Your entire trunk can expand and you can get lots of good oxygen into your lungs this way. Try this breathing technique for three more breaths. That ought to help you relax. Take a minute and note how you feel. 

Here is another set of breathing techniques. In addition to breathing, this one contains a bit of vocalizing. We as a species generally begin to vocalize right after birth. In fact, when we are born, that is one of the ways they test to make sure all is okay. If we aren't crying our presence out into the universe, they think something is wrong. So, in addition to breathing, another relaxation technique is to use your voice (we will get a lot more into using your voice and speaking your truth at a later time). This technique is accompanied by an audio guide. Here is the link to Breathing3.mp3. Feel free to utilize it to help you relax. The instructions that accompany the audio file appear below.

1. Deep breathing correctly. Your stomach is relaxed and expanding out on inhalation. Your ribs are relaxed and expanding and your shoulders are relaxed and down. (You’ll find when you breathe deeply like this, that your shoulders start to ride up and get tense around your neck. Consciously lower and relax them whenever you notice this.
a. Inhale and exhale full deep breath five times.
b. Inhale a full, deep breath using good technique and exhale on a whispered “Ah.” (five times). Horse noise is great for finding where you are using your breath.
c. Inhale and exhale on a closed-mouth low “Mmm.” (five times)
d. Inhale and exhale on an “Ah” sound.
e. Yawn an “Ah” sound. (five times)

As always, if you like the post, please consider sharing it or "liking" it.

Until next time, Izolda. http://Izolda.info

*EZH: Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidic

Friday, July 27, 2012

Aside from weight gain and fatigue, depression is one of the most prevalent symptoms of hypothyroidism. Bottom line: if you are hypothyroid, you will tend towards depression. And it's not that you might be predisposed toward depression naturally. It's more that when your thyroid is distressed and is underperforming, depression will often rear its ugly head and bite you on the butt. There is not really anything you can do about it. Even if you normally would never tend toward depression, you will often get depressed if you dip into being an EZH*. Distress and a sluggish thyroid, your slower metabolism, the weight gain, the slowing down of all your bodily functions, all of these things combine to depress you even if depression doesn't normally figure into your world view or your physical symptoms (not to mention the fact that the sluggish thyroid is a depression cause all on its own).

That's kind of what I go through. You see, I'm not normally a depressed person. So, when I first went very hypothyroid, one of the things that I noticed was that everything looked bleak. I found myself being depressed for the first time in my life. What the hell? I thought. Why was I depressed? My life was full. I had a partner I loved. I had good friends. I was doing work I enjoyed. So, what on earth was it that was making me depressed?

When I got the diagnosis, I found out. Since I had hypothyroidism, I was also likely going to be depressed. On top of all the other crap you have to wade through, on top of all the murky fatigue and other symptoms, I was also going to be depressed, perhaps too depressed to do anything at all about the thing that was making me depressed in the first place. So, as I've gotten myself together, and as I started treating the hypothyroidism, one of the things that started happening was the depression reached a manageable level without me needing to address it specifically, at all (this might not hold true for people who tend toward depression naturally).

In fact, one of the clues that tells me that I'm very hypothyroid is I get depressed. When I get depressed, for no reason, I know that I need to check my thyroid. But the tricky thing is that when I get thyroid-depressed, fatigue usually follows closely behind. And if I get it to that point, I might spiral down into the "why bother?" place and that is a bad place to be if you are an EZH. That is hard to come back from.

Normally, I don't feel that things are bleak. In fact, I tend to have a sunny disposition. I tend to want things to work out. I tend to hope that they're going to work out. But when the hypothyroidism grabs me by the throat, I don't think things will work out and I sink into depression. And here's the sneakiest part of all: if I'm all stressed out, the depression gets worse. That's one of the funny things about being hypothyroid. Hypothyroidism is supposed to make you tend toward depression. Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) is supposed to make you tend towards anxiety. But, if you're under stress and hypothyroid, then you might achieve that most egregious of double whammies: both anxiety and depression.

So, how do you deal with it? How do you handle your depression if it's coming on because of hypothyroidism? The trouble here is it's a double-edged sword. Your depression makes you feel that it's too much work to fix anything at all (and that it probably won't work so why bother trying)?  The hypothyroidism makes you so tired that it's almost not worth it to push out of bed and do the things you need to do, the things that you must do, in order to make yourself better. There have been times in my life when I basically turned myself inside out trying to maintain my life and when depression compounded the trouble, it became practically impossible to fix.

Nowadays, I try to take it easier on myself. I try to catch things early. I do daily check-ins. First thing in the morning, I ask myself how I feel. Here are some of the questions I try to answer:
  1. Am I fatigued? (More often than not, yes)
    1. What can I do about it? Sleep? Maybe. Exercise? Only a little.
  2. Am I aching? (Ditto)
    1. What can I do about it? Yoga, ultrasound, massage, bath, or passionflower supplement (before bed).
  3. What is my outlook for the day? 
    1. Open ended answer but it often depends on what my deadlines are for the day.
  4. Do I feel stressed out? (Often, yes, though I try to mitigate the stress with my daily yoga practice.)
    1. What can I do about it? Breathe. Breathe. Breathe (at least five, deep, full breaths before I do anything else). Yoga or Tai Chi. Reach out to a friend or my husband. Do something I enjoy even if it is only for a few minutes before I jump into my day. 
  5. Do I feel anxious? (Again, this depends on the deadlines for the day)
    1. What can I do about it? This one depends on the time of year. A cup of hot tea (no caffeine) will often have a soothing effect. I go for a hike with the dog and focus on the things I see in nature. And breathe breathe breathe. Taking full, deep breaths is one of the best ways I've found to handle anxiety if it comes up as part of my hypothyroidism. We'll talk more about how to breathe in the next post.
  6. Do I feel sad? (If the answer to this one is "yes," I start looking at other indicators that I might be in thyroid-depression. This is because I'm not generally prone to sorrow.)
    1. What can I do about it? This one often necessitates an increase in kelp in my life (the iodine in kelp helps in thyroid hormone production). Then, I try to do something I enjoy even for a minutes. For example, I play one of my favorite songs to dance to and I go crazy dancing. I move my body, even for a little bit. It helps break through the layer of sorrow very nicely. 
  7. Do I feel depressed? (If this one is a "yes" well then, I need to be ready to try to deal with it.)
    1. The answer to this one is similar to the one for sadness. I know I need to look at my TSH level if the depression persists for any length of time. So, in addition to trying to mitigate the depression, I will get my TSH levels tested. Here's a place where you can order and conduct the test online (not sure if you then have to have your doctor read the results, since I've not used this particular company before). http://www.healthhometest.com/product_info.php?products_id=38
There are more things to be done. And next time, I'll list more possible ways to combat depression. First on the list: Breathe. We'll talk more about how to breathe to get the most out of your breathing apparatus. Please note: I am not telling anyone to not see their medical professionals to treat their depression. This is a blog on treating the issues naturally so the topics of medication will not be addressed here.

Until next time, Izolda. http://izolda.info
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*EZH=Exhausted Zombie Hypothyroidic

Please Note

Welcome to Natural Thyroid. This blog details my process of treating my hypothyroidism naturally. Please note: I am not telling you *to* do or not to do anything with my posts (remember to work with your medical practitioner, whether it's an allopath or an alternative medicine practitioner).