Hypothyroidism, also called an underactive thyroid, is generally seen as an invisible illness. It often isn’t taken seriously. Why is it so hard to see what it does to those around us?
An underactive thyroid, unlike many other illnesses, doesn’t tend to make its victims look that sick. Sure, symptoms include weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails etc. but those aren’t considered to be that shocking, compared to other illness that leave you bed-bound (that’s not to say hypothyroidism doesn’t, I’ve been almost bed-bound by it), needing a wheelchair, a cabinet stocked full of multiple drugs or unable to work (again, lots of people are left unable to work, but it’s not overly common). So, like so many other invisible illnesses, for example arthritis, depression or fibromyalgia, it’s not taken very seriously by A LOT of people. And it doesn’t help that medical professionals often don’t take it very seriously either.
But, for me, the worst symptoms aren’t even the ones you can see; the hair loss, weight gain, dry hair..It’s the ones you can’t. The invisible ones. The absolute fatigue that leaves you unable to climb stairs, unable to type on a computer at work, unable to get out of your chair. The brain fog and confusion that breaks you down as you can’t remember how to do a simple task at work, or forget to pick your child up from the school gates. The pain and agony in your limbs and back, like the worst flu you have ever experienced, that no pain medication can ease and it doesn’t go after a week or two. It’s constant. For the foreseeable future.
Ironically, even if people do acknowledge the symptoms we get that are visible, it’s the invisible ones that are more debilitating. But if most people won’t believe us about the ones they can see, how are we supposed to get people to realise how bad the invisible symptoms are?
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I also run a Facebook group, simply called Underactive Thyroid Advice & Support Group. This group is for underactive thyroid patients only, and not medical professionals or anyone else. If you have any questions on dealing with hypothyroidism, or want some help and advice, please join us.