I wanted to share a photo of my new T-Shirt with you because it means something significant to me and my recovered health, and I thought fellow hypothyroid patients would understand why.
The people who don’t understand the battle we have with thyroid problems and/or mental health conditions like depression, will think I’m mad for wearing a kid’s shirt, but I feel like you guys will understand me, so here it goes.
Last year, hypothyroidism plunged me in to a deep, dark place called depression and I’m not ashamed to say that I was suicidal. Heck, of course I shouldn’t feel ashamed. But I once was.
I was in physical and mental pain 24/7, I was beyond fatigued constantly and I had next to no quality of life. I couldn’t bare the thought of living this way for the rest of my life and I felt my life had been unfairly ripped away from me. I was 21 and felt like a 91 year old, but every doctor told me I was ‘fine’ and that it was all in my head. I was made to feel crazy and a hypochondriac, which only made my mental health and physical health therefore, worse. At this time, I was inadequately treated for my hypothyroidism.
Scrolling through Facebook one evening, I stumbled across an image of one of my favourite old quotes from the Disney film ‘Finding Nemo’.
It said: “Just Keep Swimming”.
The quote was sung by a blue fish named Dory and it was a line I loved and used to annoy people with when I was younger, but hearing it again now meant something different. Its message was simple: when life feels like it’s too much, just keep on going. People around me were already telling me this, but for some reason, a little blue fish from an old children’s film was getting the message to me better than they were. It really hit home for me.
It was hard to keep on going, but it gave me this new found hope.
I suspect there is some psychology behind it, with it being a film and line I loved so much as a child, but it really helped me, now an adult in despair, to see things a little clearer and give me some hope.
It’s amazing what helps us when we’re at our lowest.
I would read this quote and say it to myself when I felt like giving up, and it gave me hope. I don’t know how exactly, but it helped me.
“Just keep swimming” I’d say to myself when I felt like I couldn’t handle going to work, getting out of bed or even answering a phone call. It made things that little bit less dark, that little bit less hard and not so heavy.
I don’t expect the same thing to work for everyone, and this simple quote didn’t exactly cure me of all my problems – it took a lot of tests, trying different medicines and persistence to make improvements in my mental and physical health. But the message here is that this simple thing that most other adults probably would think odd, gave me hope in the darkest of times. It was unexpected, it made sense to me, and I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. Because I was going through the rough ride of depression and thyroid disease. Not them. And our journeys are individual to us.
So when I received my Just Keep Swimming T-Shirt in the post today, I was a tad emotional. It’s a simple quote from a children’s film that helped me through some tough stuff. It helped me make it through a really horrible time and it gave me hope. So I’m wearing it with pride.
Only those who have had a condition like hypothyroidism and/or depression, will really know what I’m describing and understand how important something like this is to me.
Other people can think I’m silly, immature or odd for wearing a child’s character on my shirt but I really don’t care. The things thyroid disease can do to us is vastly misunderstood by those who do not have it, including causing knock-on effects in mental health.
I’m happy to explain to them why I’m wearing the shirt and what it means to me, if they ask. They likely won’t understand, but you know what I’ll do?
I’ll just keep swimming 😉
For anyone else here who is struggling with their thyroid condition and/or mental health:
Just Keep Swimming.
EDIT: Since originally publishing this post, I’ve received many kind words. I’ve also seen people who have read the post, say“Just Keep Swimming” to fellow thyroid patients going through a tough patch, which demonstrates the supportive and kindhearted people who are part of the ‘thyroid community’. Amazingly, I’ve had loyal readers of my blog email me to tell me to “Just Keep Swimming” when they read my latest blog post, which may depict that I’m going through a bit of a rough time with my health, which makes my heart burst. The thyroid disease community is kind, thoughtful and strong. I love the support we give each other.
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I also run a group for the spouses, partners and other halves of hypothyroid patients, called Hypothyroid Patients Other Halves – Support & Advice Group. This is for the other halves only and not patients.