I am a 43-year-old professional who has autoimmune thyroid disease. After almost 12 months of hell on the medical roundabout, my condition was eventually diagnosed in 2008 by a naturopath. My diagnosis followed four years of extremely stressful life events one, the culmination being the traumatic breakdown of my marriage. The 12 months that followed my marriage breakdown were very hard on me, but I was trying to rebuild my life. I was training for a triathlon, eating the best I had in my life and was forming close, supportive friendships.
But something was very wrong. My hair turned grey overnight and began to fall out in clumps. ‘It’s just stress’ the doctors advised and offered antidepressants. I couldn’t get warm, my feet and nose were always cold (despite living in central Queensland at the time), my skin was dry and sallow, I had these perpetual dark circles under my eyes that no amount of cosmetics could hide and I was having extreme digestive issues. ‘You are depressed’ they said, and more antidepressants were offered. I started gaining weight in incredible increments—all up I gained 30 kgs in six months! Sometimes clothes I wore to work on a Monday did not fit me by Friday. Now that was depressing! I had very poor memory and concentration, couldn’t keep a straight thought in my head and there were times I thought I was going crazy.
Off to yet another doctor. I was told ‘You are clearly eating too much’ (without actually asking me what I was eating and what exercise I was doing) and offered antidepressants and Duromine (a weight loss medication, kind of like speed). As tempting as it was for a ‘quick fix’ for my weight, I knew that something was really wrong, and I had to find out what it was.
I went to see a Naturopath and she ordered tests, talked to me, asked me a million questions, actually listened to my answers and took notice when I said, ‘Something is wrong’.
I tried to carry on. I went to work every day, even though by this stage it was a mammoth effort to even drag my massive arse out of bed each morning. I had absolutely no energy, and I was feeling very low. I still remember very clearly the day the naturopath called me. She said my test results were back and that I had an autoimmune disease – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. ‘What does that mean?’ I asked her, suddenly feeling very scared. She explained that my body was attacking my thyroid and my it was unable to function properly, which explained all my various symptoms. I felt relief, knowing that I wasn’t crazy, that there was actually something wrong and now we could fix it……right? I soon found out that having an autoimmune disease isn’t as simple as ‘fixing’ it.
Another majorly stressful life event occurred in 2009 when I moved from the town that had been home for the past three years, back to Brisbane to start my studies. I had enrolled in a bachelor’s degree of health science, naturopathy. The next five and a half years were massive in terms of stress and workload, not to mention my financial situation and lack of support in what I was doing. Most of the time my ‘condition’ was on the backburner, I was just getting through it. At the end of each semester I would crash and burn and try to rebuild myself enough to go back for the following semester. Uni is hard enough but imagine trying to study and produce assignments when your brain can’t hold a thought. The brain fog was so extreme at times I would walk out of a lecture not retaining a single thing.
The high demands of study and working to support myself took its toll. All the unresolved emotional baggage from my marriage reared its ugly head at the most horrendous time. That’s the thing with emotions, they store up and will eventually smack you in the face! This was nearly my undoing. I was exhausted on every level and could not conceivably go on. I took six months off study to regroup and pull myself together. I thought about not going back but, by this stage, I was halfway through and it was still important to me—I wanted to do this. I had help from a lot of people at this time, for which I will be forever grateful. In 2014, I graduated from my degree and I am so very proud of myself. But the toll it took on my health has been huge.
Straight after I finished my degree, I started my own naturopathic business with four clinics in four locations: Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Goondiwindi and St George. I was always on the road and in clinic. Even when I wasn’t sitting down face-to-face with a client, I was doing research, invoices, treatment plans and all of the other million things associated with running your own business. My exhaustion went to a whole new level and once again my health suffered.
After two years of this relentless pace, and the recent death of my father, I knew things had to change. I could not go on the way I was. I made the very difficult decision to step away from my clinics and the business I had built. I needed to learn how to nurture, nourish and heal myself.
Since that time, I have educated myself about the thyroid, how it works and what can go wrong. But most importantly, I have found what my triggers are, what causes my thyroid condition to flare and what I can do to help restore it. It has been an adventure to say the least.
Through my own journey, I started recognising symptoms of thyroid dysfunction in my clients. I even started to see it in children which is very alarming. I was intrigued why these conditions were so prevalent and yet largely under-diagnosed and under-treated.
Maybe you can relate to my story. Are you living with a thyroid condition? Do you have a medically diagnosed autoimmune thyroid disease? Are you unhappy with how it is being managed? Perhaps you are still in medical limbo trying to figure out what is wrong but think you may have a thyroid condition. Come along to my workshop ‘It could be your thyroid’. Find out how your thyroid works, what can go wrong and, most importantly, what you can do about it.
Looking forward to connecting with you and helping you on your thyroid journey.
Written by Amanda Lorch BHSc
Naturopath & Kinesiologist
Workshop – It could be your thyroid! Join Amanda Lorch, qualified naturopath and nutritionist with a passion for natural health and wellbeing, for an informative presentation highlighting the importance of thyroid health. Information presented will be extremely useful for anyone who has been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, thinks they might have a thyroid condition or knows someone with a thyroid condition. We will also have special offers on the night for guests! Book your place at It Could be Your Thyroid!.
If you would like to come in and discuss your symptoms with Amanda, book an appointment here.