I had some bloodwork done a few weeks ago and realized that my thyroid levels were crazy out of whack. (This is a very precise medical term.) I am no longer in possession of a thyroid gland, so I get everything from medicine that is managed by my endocrinologist. He’s very smart and I’ve been stable for more than ten years. I was not expecting a problem. So I sat there and looked at the dreadful numbers that had appeared in my online medical chart, and I had one of those flashback experiences that you get in a mystery novel done well. Some information drops, and you reel back through the plot, noticing all the clues that just seemed like part of the tapestry of the story at the time but are now obvious to any idiot who should have been paying better attention.
I had been fatigued for months. Not tired, as in needing to take a nap to catch up on the weekend. Fatigued, as in getting out of bed in the morning took a pep talk worthy of a drill sergeant and real fear of unemployment if I just stopped showing up to work. My hair has been weird. I couldn’t remember names well and I was forgetting parts of tasks I knew how to do cold. I ached, pretty much everywhere. I was completely drained.
The doctor (when he saw my bloodwork he said, “So you feel like garbage, right?”) did a little figuring and I seem to be pretty much fixed. It takes thyroid levels a few weeks to catch up, so I’ll be doing another blood draw at the end of this week to make sure. But I woke up about the fourth day after seeing him and realized that my joints didn’t ache. A couple of days later, my hair started behaving more like I expect it to. Ten or so days in, I woke up one morning and thought, “Wow. I feel rested. I don’t mind getting out of bed.”
So I’m going to be fine, and this mundane story about me kind of being a moron about my own condition (in my defense, it snuck up on me very slowly) doesn’t really matter, and I’m not looking for sympathy. But I wanted to tell you about it because I wanted to say this: Gosh, I was a jerk to myself. I don’t mean because I wasn’t paying attention to my body and taking care of myself, though that’s probably a conversation Myself and I need to have too. I mean my internal dialogue was just straight-up awful.
“What is wrong with you? Why are you so lazy?”
“You know you need to work out to feel okay. If you aren’t getting to the gym it’s your own fault you feel this way. Get it together and you’ll be fine.”
“You used to be able to do this. What happened? Where’s the discipline?”
“You are SO LAZY. MOVE.” (The most popular choice.)
“Are you stupid? Why can’t you remember basic things?”
See? Total jerk. I would never speak this way to a friend. If I had a friend who was struggling to power through her daily routine, who had to lie down for half an hour after work before she was able to get up and figure out dinner, I would not yell at her. I would worry about her. I would try to help. This is assuming she told me what was happening. I, of course, told no one, because I thought I would be revealing the deep, essential flaws in my character. Pride seems like a protection, but pride is an isolator.
Here is some unsolicited and hypocritical advice from me: If you wouldn’t talk to me the way you’re talking to yourself inside your head right now? Knock it off. You deserve better. If you aren’t performing up to the expectations you have for yourself, maybe take a very small step back and make sure they’re realistic. If you’re sure they’re realistic, cut them by at least twenty percent. If you’ve done that and you still can’t cut it, maybe get your thyroid checked.
I’m partially kidding about the thyroid thing, but not entirely. Talk to your doctor if you need to. Cut yourself some slack. Be a little nice. Probably, you’re doing the best you can.
(Yes, I know. Me too. I’m working on it.)