Here’s the thing – on the outside it may look like I have it (mostly) all together. But the truth? I struggle with anxiety. Every single day. Sometimes it’s quiet in the background, like white noise. Other days, it completely takes over my day-to-day like a loud, pulsating car alarm that no one turns off.
Honestly, some of the anxiety is health related. I have a very messy thyroid (thyroid cancer + missing half of a thyroid + Hashimoto’s = disaster). Most of the time I can keep my thyroid issues under control but it really can change within hours. I’ve been on medication since being diagnosed and having half of my thyroid and a cancerous tumor removed nine years ago. But this will be a lifelong issue. I never knew how much of my anxiety is triggered by a lack of thyroid hormones and my thyroid just not functioning. Just the slightest change in my thyroid levels can send me through the roof.
Case in point – Summer 2017. Months and months of anxiety. Both the kind that is white noise, as well as the loud, frustrating and debilitating kind. After months of therapy (wow, that’s hard to say outloud) I was learning to deal with the anxiety. But imagine going through your work day and all of the sudden in the back of your head that loud, pulsating car alarm starts to go off. Mid-email or mid-meeting. Trying to keep it together was exhausting, which led to sleep issues. The heart palpitations would make me feel like I could be dying at any point. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and need to “calm myself down” by walking around my house, drinking water and praying that the attack would pass quickly (sometimes they would last ten minutes, sometimes over an hour).
At the advice of my therapist, I finally found a new thyroid doctor and went to get blood work done. A few tests later, it was discovered that yes, my thyroid was absolutely out of whack and more than likely was causing some of the intense anxiety issues. Do I still struggle with my thyroid causing anxiety and anxiety attacks? Definitely. Is it more under control than it has been in the past year or so? Absolutely.
Is it scary to admit the level of anxiety that I have? You have no idea. But I’ve learned to deal with it and have really started using my resources when it comes to my therapist and my thyroid doctor. I’ve developed a “tool kit” of resources that have helped me through anxiety attacks and it has all become much more manageable the past year. Yes, one is an anti-anxiety med (which I rarely need to take at this point) but some of the other tools are ones that my therapist and I have uncovered together.
Was it scary to admit that I go to therapy? It was. But my therapist has quite literally saved my life.
image c/o: The Player’s Tribune