You’ll Be Good As New
While exchanging morning pleasantries with a friend recently, I explained that I woke up feeling terrible, exhausted, aching, short of breath. These are some of the unpleasant side effects of Thyroid Disease. “Just Drink a cup of coffee. You’ll be good as new,” he said to me. ☕
How To Respond To That?
No, a cup of coffee isn’t going to heal my autoimmune disease.
This presented the perfect opportunity to be a self-advocate and teach about Hashimoto’s Disease, aka Chronic Lymphocytic Thyroiditis – a disease that causes the body to produce antibodies that gradually destroy the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland influences the function of organs such as the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and skin.
A cup of coffee isn’t going to fix that.
That’s what I should have said, but I didn’t. Instead, I quietly and in a slightly deflated voice said, “Yeah, maybe.” A few minutes later, my friend said, “You seem down. What’s wrong?” Hmmm let me see… hit rewind, start over.
In other words, this is not just your average tired.
Why Is It Hard To Speak Up?
The bottom line is that I don’t want to sound like a complainer or a broken record. It seems impossible to convey how the effects of my invisible illness cling to me like plastic wrap to a glass bowl – every single day.
What Is An Invisible Illness?
You may have heard the term ‘invisible illness’ used more frequently lately. Invisible disability, or hidden disability, is defined as disabilities that are not immediately apparent. Wikipedia describes invisible disabilities as follows: Invisible disabilities are chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living.
Don’t Be Dismissive of Others’ Struggles
What about chronic depression? What about special needs parenting? Both of these things are draining all by themselves. They each have significant impacts on mental health, energy levels, and stress levels.
You can’t just drink a cup of coffee to solve those issues either.
What Is It Like?
Every day is an effort. What does that even mean?
Between depression, thyroid disease, and special needs parenting, it is an effort to maintain the status quo every – single – day. There is no time off – not from chores, responsibilities, special needs parenting, depression, nor from chronic illnesses. It doesn’t help to let something go one day, two days, or more. Fatigue will still be there when it’s time to get back to it, and that means double, triple or more the work to catch up on.
I wish I could explain how I feel this very day – how it feels to sit on the couch and the muscles in my legs feel like they ran a race yesterday. Sometimes I can’t tell if they feel like they are wrapped up and pressure is being applied onto them, or if the pressure is on the inside and needing to get out.
I wish I could explain how I feel short of breath when I’m doing nothing, and not even breathing hard. Maybe it feels like pressure; a weight pressing into my chest – a heaviness.
Chronic fatigue is a serious downer. There are many other things I would like to be doing, and places I would like to be going. Sometimes, I can push beyond the tired and do those things anyway, but then sometimes not.
I wish I could explain how it feels to be facing this difficult life alone; how it feels to put myself, my health, my needs second every day. How discouraging it is to know that each day forward is unchanging.
What I Want People To Know
Know that every time that I walk out the door of my house, it is a conscious effort. Whether walking to the mailbox, taking the garbage cans to the street, or getting in my car to go somewhere, just know that it doesn’t come naturally. It takes deliberate effort, sometimes for leisure and socializing, and sometimes out of necessity.
Know that I want to feel better and that I make constant efforts to help myself. When it comes to assigning cause, I usually cannot separate the depression, the thyroid disease, and the long-term stress of special needs parenting. They are all very different issues, but there is not a clear line that defines where one ends and the other begins.
Be A Better Self-Advocate
Don’t passively accept dismissal.
How many of us are there out there that experience this lack of understanding by friends and family? I think many more than will speak up and say so. One single limiting factor, such as special needs parenting, is enough to permanently disrupt mojo and contribute to exhaustion, fatigue, depression, and isolation.
I propose that the next time someone suggests that you just drink a cup of coffee; or that feeling bad is because of eating wrong; or that an exercise program is the answer – speak up. Be a self-advocate. Give an explanation a try, even if you think or know that it won’t really be heard. Work on getting past the self-consciousness of worrying that it just sounds like excuses.
If we don’t initiate advocacy for ourselves, no one will – not because they don’t care, but because they don’t know. Our family and friends can’t possibly understand if we don’t at least try to explain. Our silence and seemly self-imposed isolation could be interpreted as simple aloofness, or as a lack of interest in what’s going on in the world around us.
How Can I Help You?
If you can relate to what I’ve shared here, please Contact Me if you need a listening ear. If you know of someone who needs help and you want to help, but you don’t know how to get started, please feel free to reach out to me as well.
About My Friend
Let me take a moment to defend my dear friend that suggested I just drink a cup of coffee. ☕ He has been my friend for almost 20 years and understands that I have a difficult and challenging life. He was not trying to be dismissive to my complaints. Instead, it was his way of urging me onward that day. Anyway, he is my constant supplier of high quality coffee beans so that I always have really good coffee. ☺ ☕ ☕ ☕