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Thursday, September 10, 2015

World Suicide Prevention Day - The Ups & Downs of Thyroid Disease

I've always wanted to write about this.  I've started many times and have stopped, then discarded everything I wrote.  Depression is a hard subject for me on many levels.  I've written about anxiety and panic attacks but never about my depression, and never about my suicide attempt.

I was a pretty happy kid.  I grew up well & did ok in school.  I was a very open-minded teenager, straight edge, and rebellious!  I had a good group of friends, and though they did help mould me, I always made my own decisions and knew right from wrong.  I would butt heads with my parents, get in screaming matches with them and have bouts of crying but I was a teenager and very expressive.  I never considered myself to be depressed or feel depressed.  Things got better after I graduated.  I moved out, I worked a lot of jobs, I hung out with my friends a lot, & I traveled.  Things were good.

When I lived in CA my anxiety got worse.  I had a terrible bout of hives that kept me out of work for almost 2 weeks after getting allergy shots, which I stopped the shots all together after that.  After that it just seemed month after month I would get more ill, more tired, and issues with migraines and asthma got worse.  I was afraid to go anywhere on my own, nor did I want to go out.  Most of my time was spent traveling to work, at work, then traveling home and just being so exhausted when I finally got home.  Work was good.  Even with my health issues I was excelling at my job and was chosen to work in our operations support after we lost our one contract.  Lots of other little things built up.  I went on prednisone a few times, gained about 20lbs and then my fiance broke things off.

I don't remember packing anything, I don't remember much of the move.  I remember not eating, not being able to.  Just wanting to sleep, wanting to find a way to work things out but feeling worthless.  Everything was my fault.  I knew my parents were there, even a good friend of mine came to visit me (we're still friends to this day), but I didn't know what was really going on around me.  I slept and cried for weeks.  I was put on an antidepressant & I moved back to NY leaving one of my cats behind.

The timeline of events after I moved back is a little hazy.  I was surrounded by people, friends, family but I didn't want to be there.  I didn't know why I had been getting sicker and sicker.  I couldn't comprehend everything that just happened.  Within a month my ex's new girlfriend moved in.  Not long after that, my 1st cat I owned on my own died right in front of me, drowning in the fluids that filled his lungs.  I later found out was caused by a fungal infection really only known in animals on the west coast so this made me feel like it was all my fault, if I never took him there it wouldn't have happened.  My parents were fighting with each other.  I felt like I didn't mean anything to anyone though people were constantly telling me how happy they were I was back, and how much they loved me and supported me.

I wanted to end it.  And I almost did.  I remember hearing my parents fighting upstairs and I felt stuck.  I was 25, had no job, I'm stuck with this.  I had put in so many resumes and no one was calling me back.  I'm a failure.

I went in the bathroom and took 12, 50mg Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) pills equaling a total of 600mg.  From what I've read, it seems the maximum dosing in a 24 hour period, spaced out, is 300mg.  I doubled that taking them all at once.

My mom came downstairs and asked if I wanted to shopping and I said, "Sure."  We weren't out for too long & things got fuzzy very quickly.  I think I remember telling my mom that I was just too tired.  The next thing I remember is waking up over 20 hours later on their bed.

I didn't dream.  But I felt like there was a long absence, some part of my life went missing for those hours, completely out of consciousness.  I woke up, hazy for the next few days, wondering if that's what death will be like.  Like... nothing.  But I was happy to be awake.  No one knew what I had done.  And my parents never found out until today, when going through my medical history with my new ND.  I never would have done something like that years prior.  I would have sucked it up and moved on.  So what had changed?  Not long after I had done that, my allergist confirmed I had antithyroid antibodies & Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.  I was hypothyroid.

And since, I've struggled.  I've had the hardest struggle of my life battling my thyroid autoimmune diseases.  Yes, depression, anxiety... mental disorders go hand in hand with Hashimoto's!  I've said I'd never do something like that again but I have been close.  When I feel my life slipping from my hands I start pushing people away from me because I don't want them to see me sick.  And many people don't get exactly what's going on.  I told someone once about having panic attacks and they were all like, "Yeah, this girl had one once and she was all flipping out!" Umm, no that's not it.  When I get them I'm in so much pain I tense up and get extremely quiet.  So I just stopped trying to explain it to people.  It's also why it took so long for me to write this post, though I've been meaning to.

Being in this boat myself, if you have a friend or family member who did commit suicide, do not blame yourself.  Don't think that if you could have done just one thing differently it wouldn't have happened.  It is ultimately our decision.  Still, be there for us as much as you can.  Constantly show compassion for your friends, family, and even strangers.

And for those of us suffering, I know all too well how hard it is to change your mindset.  Everything is easier said than done but I am living proof that if you fight you will come out on top.  If my one allergist hadn't known to check my thyroid just because of a hives outbreak years prior, I may have never known my thyroid was my issue and I probably wouldn't be here today.  It would have been easier to give up and there's things I'm still struggling with.  There is help!  Don't be afraid to ask.  Yes, there's some people who won't understand but there are MANY others who will.  When I thought I was going crazy because my one endocrinologist said Grave's Disease had nothing to do with my anxiety, many people in an online support group helped me learn it did.  It helped start me down a path of knowing my disease and finding the right treatment.

My dear friend lost her brother-in-law to suicide 1-1/2 years ago today.  Please watch the video below & please share.  No matter what your struggle is... thyroid, autoimmune, or not... We need you & you are loved!

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