I was tired, bone weary tired. I was only working out sporadically and even then, with difficulty in exercises that had previously been easy. Maybe it was the on-and-off nature of my exercising, but I felt was achy and sore. All I wanted to do was to curl up under a couple of sofa throws and read until I fell asleep. Was my diagnosed depression getting worse? Were these symptoms that I might have to go back on medication instead of using activity and exercise?
Every marriage goes through its ups and downs and so was ours was in a rough spot. Maybe my “depression” was in response to that stress. But how could I have gone so quickly from a busy yoga instructor to an old woman who had to have a sweater or a workout jacket on, even in the summer time?
I was able to shake myself out of my lethargy and manage to schedule an appointment to see my primary care doctor. She looked me up and down, wondered if it might be early menopause or anemia due to my heavy menstrual periods, and sent me off to the lab for a complete blood count (CBC). Later that week, I heard back from her office that my lab work was normal, so I wasn’t anemic, although I certainly felt like I was.
Weeks later, I found myself in yet another doctor’s office reciting the same litany of complaints. This time, however, differentiating between the fatigue being a symptom of my chronic depression – which we’d thought was in remission – or a symptom of another disorder was of particular importance. This time, I was in my psychiatrist’s office and we were contemplating me going back on antidepressant medication despite my history of unusual side effects to almost everything on the market. This doctor was a trusted ally who had helped me navigate to safety from a particularly rocky portion of my depression. He’d been supportive of my attempts to treat myself with exercise, activity and meditation and get off of the prescription medication. “Let’ try one more thing,” he mentioned casually in his office, “let’s see how your thyroid’s doing.”
The thyroid is a gland that sits at the base of your throat, just above the bony part of your chest. Among its functions, it produces hormones that regulate our metabolism. It is almost our body’s gas pedal as it determines our energy level, how much we sleep, and the rate at which we burn calories, among other things. Guess what? Mine lab tests showed that mine was low, slowing down, exactly as my family history indicated that it might. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include “fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, puffy face, hoarse voice, muscle aches, pale/dry skin, muscle weakness, brittle fingernails/hair and heavy menstrual periods.”
Treatment is with a synthetic version of the hormone that’s taken orally, once a day. My blood levels are checked about four times per year. And I have my life and my energy back.