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."

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

*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

*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.

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

*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).