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Kitty Sings the Blues

A kitty singing. Or yawning, more likely.
A kitty singing. Or yawning, more likely.

No, this isn’t about me actually singing. You don’t want to hear me doing that. Believe me.

This is about the other blues. Feeling blue. Not so bad I’d need professional help, but not good, either.

When feeling blue hits, it gets difficult. You don’t really see it from the outside, and if you’ve never experienced it, it may be hard to understand, so I’m trying to raise awareness here, through a blog only a chosen few read. 😆

The person in front of you doesn’t look like he/she is in pain, or suffering in any way. Doesn’t look cheerful, either, but nobody is always cheerful anyway. Mostly seems lazy. You might wish for him/her to just get up already and do something useful.

Well, getting up and doing something is the difficult part. If it’s necessary to go to work (otherwise you’ll lose your job), or buy groceries (otherwise you’ll starve to death), or cook (otherwise you and your family won’t have a decent meal), or take care of kids, yeah, you’ll do it. And while doing it, you’ll feel slightly better. And as soon as you sit down to get some rest, the blues hits again.

If it’s not about doing something necessary – say, if it’s about writing that novel, and writing novels is not your day job – it turns out that, somehow, you never quite get to it. You think about it, sure. You feel bad about not doing it. But you still don’t do it.

It’s not terribly bad, but it’s not good, either.

So, what to do about it? What can be done?

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, and I can’t give a competent medical advice. I can only tell what works or doesn’t work for me.

In my case, the big part of it is a thyroid gland problem, the Hashimoto’s disease. So I wait for the increased dose of the meds to kick in, which takes weeks.

Physical activity helps some. It gives you a firm(ish) body, which makes you feel good about it, and if you choose the one you find fun, you’ll enjoy doing it even when it’s difficult (if you’re out of shape, it will be hard). If you choose the one you don’t find fun, you won’t enjoy it, it will become yet another tiresome task, and you’ll feel bad whether you keep doing it or quit (unless after quitting you choose something you actually stick to). Careful, though; if you overdo it, you risk injury, and you also risk quitting because you’re way too exhausted to do anything but breathe.

Having a job or tasks you have to do also helps, because it forces you to move, and moving and doing something eases it a bit. After doing it, though, you might feel both blue and tired. Achieving something (Hey, I made lunch! Hey, I finished this day’s work!) does very little to help.

Beating yourself on the head and trying to blame yourself into doing what you intended to do doesn’t help. Then again, it never does, does it?

Waiting it out helps. It doesn’t last forever. It will pass (if it doesn’t, medical assistance might be necessary). Waiting is no fun, but waiting it out is doable, and sometimes doable is what counts.

And… That would be pretty much it. No miracle cure (I’m not in the business of selling the snake oil, sorry). No magic wands. Just going through the day, and then the next one, and the next; and doing what you can, including at least some stuff you enjoy.

And remembering that this, too, will pass.

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Living With Hashimoto Syndrome (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

Since I was freelancing, I was afraid to stop working for a while – besides, I enjoyed writing. So I kept doing my six articles per day, much to the surprise of my doctor, who couldn’t believe I was able to write about 100 articles per month in such a condition. Granted, I barely had energy left for anything else, but I wasn’t supposed to be able to do that much, and yet, I was doing it. It was a challenge, to keep doing it in such a condition, and I enjoyed challenges.
Gradually, my condition improved. Very gradually. During that time, I started experiencing strong pain in my hands in the morning. During the first half an hour after I got up, I was barely able to do anything with them, they hurt that much. Later during the day, they almost didn’t hurt at all. When I asked my doctor about it, she told me it couldn’t be because of my thyroid gland, since my TSH level improved a lot (it still wasn’t normal, but was quite close to it). She also told me one autoimmune disease might follow another, so it could be the beginning of the rheumatoid arthritis.
Oh joy.
During a visit to my dentist, I told her about Hashimoto syndrome, to find out that she and her daughter had it too (although her daughter was still very young and her thyroid gland was still functioning, but the antibodies which were to start attacking it were there). I mentioned the problem with my hands, and she told me she had similar problems with her hands and knees too, and that No-Dol capsules helped her a lot, she was taking them for three moths (what it does is helps rebuild cartilage, thus removing the reason for pain) and never needed them after that. I tried them out too, and the problem was gone, so I never checked out whether I really had rheumatoid arthritis.
During all that time, I kept writing, which is what I love doing most. I never stopped. Not when I had problems with my cervix too (and painful biopsies, and laser vaporizations, ouch). Not when my boyfriend (we’ve been together for thirteen years now, we’re living together, and he’s been very supportive all the time) got ill with bronchitis and it went on and on.
I kept writing, not just the usual amount of articles, but short stories too, and I got a book published. A book with 26 short stories, horror, fantasy, fairy tales retold, under the title “Macji snovi” (it means “Cat Dreams”). Finally, my first book published! And with the cover done by one of the most famous illustrators in Serbia!
My publisher was very supportive too, and waited for me to finish the book. Right now, she’s waiting for me to finish another one.
It’s not done yet, though, and I don’t mean just the book. I’m not sure it can ever really be “done”, that some ideal condition can be achieved. Since my thyroid gland doesn’t work, I’ll have to keep taking synthetic hormones for the rest of my life, and it’s hard to determine just how much exactly I should take, because it varies, and the TSH test results are not the only thing that matters, it also matters how I feel. My doctor tells me that I respond great to the therapy, that my body responds pretty much “by the book”, which is rare, but it’s still not perfect. Right now, my TSH level shows I’m fine (it’s 3 something, closer to the upper than to the lower limit), but I sweat a bit too much, feel it’s too hot while people around me are freezing (actually, quite useful during the cold winter days), and I’m often restless.
Still, restless means I have energy – much more energy than I used to. And it matters a lot. My dentist told me that people with my (and her) condition should rest as much as we could, because we tired easily. However, while I’m lazy, I’m also 34. What am I going to do for the rest of my life, to spend most of my time resting? No way! There’s too much I want to do, mostly writing, not to mention that spending entire life resting doesn’t sound like an enjoyable idea to me.
So I write, I dream, I create, I love, I am loved, I try and learn something new whenever I can…
I live. With all the troubles and all the joy, with Hashimoto syndrome as a constant companion for the rest of my life, I live.
I write, I dream, I create, I love… Photo by Serena
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Living With Hashimoto Syndrome (Part 1)

I was so tired all the time. – photo by ClatieK

“It happens to somebody else” is what people often think, even when they don’t have just common sense telling them it could happen to them too, but other reasons also to believe it’s neither unusual nor something reserved for others only. It’s so easy to dismiss, to never really think about certain kind of problems until it hits us directly, and to realize in hindsight something could’ve been done about it much sooner.
My grandmother (mother of my mother) had had thyroid gland problems, but that was before I was born, when my mother was just a child. The stories of my grandmother suffering from Basedow’s Disease were just that, stories from my mother’s childhood. I mean, I understood she must have been scared to see her mom with eyes bulging out, but that was a thing of the past, she had it treated, and suffered no such problems during my life.
Then my mother’s sister started having some weird problems, like constantly forgetting things, lack of concentration, muscles in her legs hurt… It turned out she had hypothyroidism. It also turned out to be one of rare forms, so, for quite a while, the medications didn’t work. My aunt was in such a pain that she was taking marijuana (she lived in Netherlands, where marijuana was legal). She never had a substance abuse problem of any kind, this was just to stop the pain, for it was unbearable, and she stopped using it when she found medications that did work for her.
Some time later, my mother was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. She responded well to the regular treatment, and, since she has always been checking for this or that disease, I didn’t pay all that much attention to it.
Besides, I was busy. I was writing about six articles per day, almost every day, and it was making me tired. The constant change of subject required to successfully write six 400 words articles every day also made my concentration lacking. Since I was tired, I didn’t really exercise, and my muscles were getting weaker. I was having cramps in the legs in the morning, I had no idea why. My cholesterol level was sometimes high, I attributed it to unhealthy eating and energy drinks I was sometimes taking to keep me awake and clear-minded enough to do my job. I lost some hair in patches, I didn’t know why. I became sensitive to cold. And I was too depressed to question what was happening to me – after all, I did write a lot, it was normal that I was tired and that it was hard to keep focus after writing six different articles every day, since I didn’t exercise it wasn’t unusual I wasn’t exactly strong, not to mention I wasn’t as young as I used to be (I was a little over 30, which isn’t old, but isn’t 15 either)…
One day, my doctor (a wonderful woman, one of the most cheerful people I know) sent me to check out the thyroid gland hormones, just in case, because of my mother, aunt and grandmother. The result showed that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was higher than 75. The normal level is between 0.4 and 4.0. Higher than 75 can’t be measured – it could be 76, could be 200… The other result showed it was an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto syndrome. My thyroid gland was being gradually destroyed by antibodies from my own organism.
At the time, I almost fell asleep while waiting for my doctor to see me. She asked me if I was tired. I showed her the results. She did her best to hide her shock.
After I got the results, but before seeing my doctor, I searched it up a bit on the Internet. I looked at the symptoms, and it was like: “Whoa! So that’s what was happening to me?” I was surprised, but not scared, because I understood what was going on with me. I knew my mother had thyroid gland problems too and was feeling much better, so I was confident I was going to feel better too. We had the same doctor, so if she could help my mother, I had no doubt she could help me too.
And help me she did, although it took quite a while. Because of my small weight (hypothyroidism slows the metabolism down, making people gain weight easily, but it didn’t happen to me), my doctor had to be very, very careful with the doses. We were gradually increasing it, seeing the results, she told me about some sort of problems a dose too high might cause and what to do if it happens, I looked up some possibilities on the Internet too, and yes, I did get some of the problems. Like my heart beating so hard I felt like it was in my throat and I was going to suffocate (it didn’t help that I was also under considerable stress at the time). Like feeling nervous and not being able to sleep well. I was sweating a lot.
The part with feeling like my heart was beating in my throat was the scariest.