I’m 36 years old and, for most of the past 16 or so years I thought I had an anxiety disorder or suffered from regular bouts of depression for no reason. If, as a college student, I had understood the ramifications of my thyroid beginning to fail, my life would probably be much different.
Depression is an illness very few people understand. Bosses, professors, friends and even family misunderstand the symptoms of your disease.
No, I’m not lazy. Yes, I do want to do my job. But, today, I just can’t. I can barely get out of bed and you want me to speak in front of dozens of businessmen? I don’t think so.
Great work ethic, intelligence and talent just cannot get you over the hump of explaining depression to an employer. It sucks. Hard. So, at 33 when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism and was told that I may be able to stop taking anxiety medicine (since anxiety and depression are side effects of the disorder), I did a little jig. Not that depression is anyone’s fault no matter what the reason. But I was just happy that I finally found the source of my struggle.
And then, well, I got pissed. Why didn’t anybody tell me this before? I could’ve climbed higher up that publishing world ladder had I been able to truly deal with my anxiety while I was still working in the “real world” and before I became a freelance journalist. I mean, sure, I’m happier now anyway. But damn it, if I’d been able to say “I’m sorry, I can’t work today because my thyroid is acting up” rather than dragging myself in to work when I feel like shit and then being criticized for not rocking my job as well as I usually did, that would’ve been nice. You know?
But, instead, I TRY to get over it. I know now and I feel better now. So, going back and sticking my tongue out at the boss who asked me why I wasn’t being myself and chastised me for it, that would be silly and childish, right? Yeah, I figured.
Now, I want to be clear. I’m not saying that everyone who has suffered from depression as a young woman should get their thyroid checked. But I had some major warning signs. These included family history and other thyroid disorder symptoms. And, whatever the reason for your depression—be it a hormonal or chemical depression or just plain crap hitting the fan and feeling overwhelmed—you need to find the reason in order to heal yourself. And, for me, it was this tiny little butterfly shaped organ causing most of the trouble.
Now I’m much happier and am completely off of anxiety meds. So no matter what crazies you have going on in your brain, stop beating yourself up about it and get to the root. Whatever it is, the treatment can’t be more painful than how poorly you’re treating yourself now.