Why am I always so tired?
I remember thinking this for the first 6-7 months after giving birth. The obvious answer was that I had just had a baby. A baby who didn’t sleep unless they were permanently attached to me. A baby who wanted breastfeeding all the time. I also had a partner who worked a lot. So I was trying to keep the baby quiet at 3am so he didn’t wake up and get grumpy. As it happens he never once woke up and I was getting worked up for no reason!
One day when I finally broke down in tears, thinking that I had post natal depression I booked myself a doctor’s appointment. Having suffered from depression in the past I knew the signs and recognised that I had quite a few. I was terrified on the walk to the doctors, I didn’t want to admit I was struggling. But I was. As I began talking to the doctor, I could feel the tears coming. I filled in a few questionnaires, and then she asked if I had my thyroid checked out. I hadn’t so she booked me in for a blood test the next day. The doctor said whilst I was showing signs of depression, she certainly didn’t think it was post natal.
Within 72 hours I was back in the doctors being told I would need to take medication for the rest of my life. I was told I was suffering from hypothyroidism. Apparently my thyroid levels were among the worst my doctor had ever seen. I was handed a prescription and off I went. Obviously the first thing I did when I returned home was turn to google and find out more about my diagnosis. Bad idea.
So what are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
Well there are a lot but the main ones are
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
Thyroid disorders affect one in 20 people in the UK. I also found out that 7% of women can develop post partum thyroiditis after giving birth. Having spoken to bloggers and friends, I know a lot of women who have developed thyroid issues since becoming a mum. In some cases it can clear up on its own. However most will need to take levothyroxine which replaces the hormones that your thyroid gland would normally produce, for the rest of their lives. Those hormones control your metabolism, and if your body is not producing enough it’s called hypothyroidism. It can also go the other way and produce too much, which is called hyperthyroidism. Getting the correct levels can be quite tricky and take a long time. Thankfully with regular blood tests, taking the medication daily, eating a good diet and exercise my levels are doing fine.
If you think you might be having problems with your thyroid, please make a GP appointment. Ask them for a blood test. You can also find lots of advice on the British Thyroid Foundation site. http://www.btf-thyroid.org/