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

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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).