Sounds like I’m using my hormones as a scapegoat, right? That’s exactly how I started to feel too.
I have been dealing with symptoms of anxiety and depressions for some time now. If I was truly honest, possibly on and off throughout my life. But, the reality of it is that we all do at times. Within the last couple of years, it increased. At times where it felt almost consuming. That’s not what led me to get help, though. Odd? Maybe. Here’s the thing. I’m a nurse. I have worked in the medical field since I could (at 18yo) and I don’t go seeking medical attention. I am the one who gets sought out for medical attention. That’s how it’s always been. Plus, and anyone with a nurse in the family will understand, I am not about to go to the doctor unless it’s life or death.
But what finally led me to seek out some assessment and treatment was my throat swelling. I just knew something was wrong with my thyroid. It was obviously swollen and I felt as though there was an obstruction that caused difficulty with both swallowing and breathing. It, of course, caused tons of worry and anxiety (especially being as there is a history thyroid complications in our family) which worsened my symptoms of shortness of breath and just created this awful loop leading swiftly to a downward spiral. I had lab work done and an ultrasound, both with unremarkable results. It brought some relief, but still didn’t explain why I was having this complication along with many other symptoms I had experienced for a long time. All of those things just pointed directly to my thyroid being the culprit. But with the results of my testing, I knew that it was not the problem. Now, I had no cause, no source, nothing to blame my symptoms on. You would think that knowing my butterfly-shaped gland was well (despite large in size and having a benign nodule) would have made me feel content, happy even. I will admit that there was a sense of relief after realizing that my thyroid was not in distress. The problem was, my next thought was that my symptoms were psychosomatic in nature. That maybe I was being a hypochondriac. That it was possible my anxiety had gotten the better of me and caused me to actually feel physical symptoms that were less intense in reality; or possibly non-existent at all. I began feeling slightly depressed about this possibility. How had I let my emotions get the best of me to this extent? But, I just had this gut feeling that there was something up. There had to be a causative factor.
I am only 27 years old, but feel more like 72. I hurt all day. Some days worse than others. I am so tired; All. The. Time. Unnaturally so. Physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. I realize that I have two small children, a family, a job, etc., but I see folks manage these things daily with seemingly no sweat on their brow. I have become more tearful, irritable, and the mood swings can have a way of rearing their ugly head. This was just the start. So, I sought out a specialist. After a lot of education, more lab work, and plucked apart all of my symptoms, we found the problem…my hormones; along with some vitamins and minerals. As soon as I found out my lab results and paired it with the education that the practitioner went over, it all made sense. It was like I suddenly felt this wave of relief. We found the problem and now had a plan to solve it.
My iron levels (and all testing related to such) were all extremely low, as was my vitamin D, progesterone, prenenolone, DHEA, cortisol, and my thyroid levels were on the low side of normal, along with others. The specialist made mention that some of my results were equivalent to what a 70 year old woman would be experiencing, while others even hinted that my body was possibly trying to go in to early menopause. No wonder I felt all out-of-sorts.
I have been taking replacements for several weeks now and have noticed some changes. I rest better at night (so long as the kids sleep good too 😉 ) and feel less fatigued. I also feel as though I have some improvement in my mood, which I hope will continue. I feel optimistic about it. During part of my cycle, I stop taking the progesterone for several days each month. I am currently within that episode as I type. Let me tell you, I can feel the toll my body and mind is having right now. Whether it be because I am not taking the replacement for these several days, the fact that mother-nature is trying to pull me to the dark side, or a combo of both; I notice the difference. I start back on progesterone tomorrow and am curious to see how I feel.
See my post: Discerning Depression
I want to share this story because I know I am not alone. I know I cannot be the only woman that is suffering with mental, physical, and emotional symptoms that just seem to have no plausible explanation on the surface. Ones that make you feel as though you are on a cycling flywheel that has you scampering to find the stop button or exit sign. Ones that make you question your sanity at times because you know that there cannot be any possible reason that you could possibly feel the way you know you feel. A hormonal imbalance won’t be the cause for everyone, but it seems as though it may have been for me. Finding that these imbalances existed gave me the ability to form a plan to find myself again. I hope to continue to see improvements in the future. I encourage others to educate themselves on what is going on with their body. Pay attention to it. It will tell you when something is up. And if you feel as though you need to have something further assessed, DO IT!