12 years on, still a nobrainer…


In 1998 I was (eventually) diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.  As with many people who suffer with this condition I think I went over active first, which means that for a short period my brain was quick and active, I was very thin and fit and bursting with energy, which makes it incredible cruel when the thyroid gland stopped working, I put on 2 stone very fast, grew sluggish, my hair started falling out and my skin got very dry to the point of developing psoriasis on my arms.  Exhaustion was my constant companion, my previously witty banter was non existent in fact I could no longer trust what came out of my mouth at all.  The very very worst part of this was my brain turning to cotton wool and getting anxiety attacks.

One such attack occurred in Tescos supermarket, I was feeling very low and was plodding around the store waiting for my husband to arrive to help (he had popped off on a chore) when I got to the baked beans I stood and looked at them for what seemed like an eternity and then I just went into melt down, shaking, crying, unable to move, fortunately my husband arrived at that point – boy that could have been embarrasing!  I have hated large supermarkets ever since.

Having mush in your head is not good for a job performance, being tired all the time isn’t either especially not when you commute for an hour and a half each morning and an hour home again. I took a job neared home and muddled on.  Plagued with highs and lows of emotion , weight gain, unsightly skin, dodgy memory, having to carefully think before I spoke, socially feeling completely inept, inarticulate and uninteresting,  muddling along is really the only explanation.

The Doctor has told me so many times that the thyroxine I’m taking is enough, we check every 6 months or so or longer if it seems alright but the test itself is known to be inaccurate and the drug not completely effective, the cotton wool brain is still here and so occasionally is the depression, I think it’s time to see an endocrinologist…

However, I have managed to find “tools” which seem to help with the depression, I have a banana a day;

“bananas contain tryptophan, a protein that converts to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is instrumental in facilitating relaxation. Low levels of serotonin are believed to cause mood disorders including depression.” source – http://www.mrbreakfast.com/article.asp

I take omega3 to help with the cotton wool brain and the depression, there are mixed opinions as to the benefits of this but it seems to help me…

I have cut down on my caffine intake, one coffee and 3 teas;

Caffeine can exacerbate or even cause stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia because it interferes with a tranquilizing neurotransmitter chemical in the brain called adenosine. This is the chemical which turns down our anxiety levels – it’s our body’s version of a tranquiliser. Caffeine docks into a receptor for adenosine and regular use of caffeine is enough to produce anxiety and depression in susceptible individuals.” source –http://stresshelp.tripod.com/id7.html

I recently heard that taking my thyroxine in the evening on an empty tummy would improve it’s performance, so I have started to do that too ( harder to remember to take them but I’m trying!)

I still have to keep an eye out for the symptoms of the low coming on, the quick tears, the flood of emotion, the feeling of uselessness and no self esteem and take action – more banana no coffee…  The cotton wool brain is still here and I wonder if it will ever go…

I have been meaning to write this post for a while, it would probably still be in my head under all that cotton wool if it had net been for the prompt about how depression feels for you, on the Writers Workshop this week at Sleep is for the Weak this post is only very loosely on that subject but I feel better to have written it – thanks Josie.

I’d love to hear from other thyroid or depression sufferers, what is working for you? Any other tips or advice?

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12 Responses to 12 years on, still a nobrainer…

  1. gaelikaa says:

    The thyroid is no joke, I know some members of my family and friends have suffered from this. You are doing great, keep it up and thanks for sharing. I did this workshop too, but a different prompt.

  2. Hi interesting post. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism shortly after birth. Apparently it’s very rare so when for example I got pregnant they weren’t quite sure how to handle it, it was all guesswork and my TSH levels were all Over the place. I’m currently on 300mcg daily. I found it really interesting that you have been advised to take thyroxine on an evening on an empty stomach as I’ve been doing that all my life and about 9 months ago was advised to do the exact opposite.
    I feel for you as although I’ve never had to go through the whole diagnosis process since babyhood, I do get hypo times and they leave you feeling so ill & rundown. Good luck, & great post.

    • kailexness says:

      My Niece was diagnosed at birth too, it seems to be in the family as my Auntie has it too… I was referred to an endocrinologist through out both my pregnancies but only ever got as high as 200mcg. Good luck to you too Rebecca – every day is different eh!

  3. Dear Thyroid says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing this and pointing us in the direction of it.

    To echo Gaelikka’s sentiments, “The thyroid is no joke”.

    My question for you is, when you were skewing HYPER, did you have any psychiatric manifestations or only when you were HYPO?

    Another suggestion I would make, because dealing with this disease is incredibly hard, is to check out some of the literary healings on Dear Thyroid with respect to depression and other psychiatric issues. You might also want to create a profile and connect with other patients — we need all the support we can get.

    http://dearthyroid.org/thyme-for-some-literary-healing-part-viii/
    http://dearthyroid.org/thyme-for-some-literary-healing-part-vii/
    http://dearthyroid.org/psychiatric-manifestations-in-thyroid-patients-written-by-douglas-bremner-md/
    http://dearthyroid.org/profiles/mingle-signup-page/

    Please keep us posted! Very proud of you for writing this, I know it wasn’t easy.

  4. TheMadHouse says:

    I often wondered if that is partly to blame, but appently I am in the normal range, yes at the low end of it, but OK. The boys God Mothers suffers like you.

    I have anemia and understand the tiredness, it is terrible nad I have given up caffine all together. very hard indeed.

    I am off for more tests in July

    • kailexness says:

      The test is hopeless, even if it shows you in the “normal range” it might be on the low side and there are diets and supplements you can take to help that wouldn’t affect the rest of your health, take a look at @dearthyroid ‘s website via Twitter, it’s very useful and may help.

  5. Pingback: Mental Disorders 101

  6. dawniebrown says:

    My mum had her thyroid gland removed soon after I came back from Oz so about 13 years ago. She still struggles with the thyroxin levels but compared to how she used to be she is so much better. It was horrible seeing my mum getting so thin and tired looking and seeing her go through it all.
    I sometimes wonder whether my thyroid is struggling as I’m far too thin, have extremely dry skin and my hair is getting thinner and thinner but I’m hoping that is just post pregnancy hair loss (I seem to have about half the hair I did now compared to before I got pregnant!).

    • kailexness says:

      My hair all around my hairline fell out completely after my son’s birth, I looked daft for ages!
      If you have any concerns about your thyroide get your Dr’s to do a blood test – better safe than sorry!

  7. What an interesting blog post!

    I was just discussing thyroids at work last week on a week of nightshifts (I’m an operating theatre nurse), and we were discussing thyroidectomys. The anaesthetic nurse that was on nightshift team with me, had had a thyroidectomy after an appauling time with hypothyroidism like you’ve mentioned, and also says it’s the best thing she’s ever done in her life. It enabled her to feel like she HAS a life…

    Before these discussions with her, I didn’t even know the condition was so severe! I thought it was just something you popped a pill for and everything was back to normal – how naive!! And me, a nurse too! (albeit only qualified a year and a half I’ll use that as a semi-attempt-at-an-excuse).

    Now I don’t know too much about the op etc, but maybe it’s something to look into and research yourself and broach with your Doctor?

  8. Susie says:

    Have they done the thyroid antibody tests as well?

    • kailexness says:

      No, I shall ask about that! Thanks

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