I only wrote a quick post yesterday (as it was a little hectic around here), but now is a good time to thank you all for your encouraging words on my health problems and for being there! I know - a lot of us haven't met yet and do not know each other in person, but we know each other in a very special way I assume: through our artwork - which often allows us a glimpse through the surface at a very special part of one's personality.
So it IS personal - even if we are "strangers" at a different level of "knowing" each other. And this is why your words and learning that you are with me in some way especially when times get rough really touched my heart and I am very happy that I stumbled upon this wonderful artsy and crafty blogland community to find all of you! Thank you all so much for dropping me those kind words and sharing some of my sorrow :) They really helped a lot!
I recommend that those who do not want to read about some personal health stuff and about the Hashimoto auto-immune desease, skip the rest of the text and scroll down to the end of this post (to see the image of the nativity scene ;). I really don't want to burden you against your will with this.
Some of you know that for the last three years (the ones before the correct diagnose not counted in) I have been dealing with an auto-immune desease called Hashimoto, which affects the thyroid. It's a rather common auto-immune desease (I have learned) and can't be cured but treated by substituting the thyroid with hormones it doesn't produce sufficiently anymore.
An underfunctioning thyroid like mine may cause a really wide variety of nasty symptoms - each one individually not seeming too "severe" (I thought I had the flu or a "tiny burn out" most of the time before I was diagnosed - and of course felt like a loser) - but when those symptoms all come together you just feel as if you were about a hundred years old and/or (very!) flu-ish and worn all the time (not to mention that remarkable gain of weight). And it also causes symptoms that often look like a depression - anxiety disorders and nasty stuff like that.
But - and that's the really mean part of this - most of the time there really is a depression involved as well as most of the "Hashis" (as they are called) have been going through years (!) of pain, fear and sorrow because they felt sick but all the doctors didn't find anything that might explain their symptoms (and said it was a psycho-somatic thingie)...so they mostly get diagnosed as suffering from a depression but don't get any treatment for the thyroid. Which during all that time causes a real depression too of course - and then the symptoms start to mix and mingle...which definitely makes things a lot more difficult....
I guess I was among the lucky who have a good family doctor who spotted the real source of all those never ending "flues", "depressions", aching bones, tiredness,... rather soon, but it also took at least five to six years before we found out what has really been going on (I have gone throught the "psycho-somatic and burn-out thingie" too until the symptoms got so heavy that it became a lot clearer). So there's a real depression too - which was too hard to spot obviously. And it was that increasing depression that was taking me down during the last months and especially weeks - it needed three panic attacks and a lot of sleepless nights and the fear that I would not make it for X-mas to finally go to a specialist, who really helped me a lot by fiddling all the parts apart and spotting the true wrongdoer. So I hope I will be my old self on X-mas eve and be able to enjoy it with my loved ones.
Why do I tell you about this?
Because I know that there are a lot of Hashis out there, who - like me - are going through a lot of ups and downs.
Finding yourself in another "down" is the most frustrating part of this I guess. And often you don't have a specialist who (like mine) encourages you to listen to your own inner voice and your body instead of the blood test results and normal ranges. I learned that it really takes at least two years (I guess maybe even longer) for you to learn to divide which symptoms are caused by what and to find your individual level for your hormones where you feel best.
"It is only two years since you have been working on your thyroid's levels" my specialist said. "ONLY two years"...not to talk of the years before... but this summer I knew (and felt) that it IS possible to be well again, because I was THERE: I felt like my old self again, I was able to do sports again, I started loosing weight again... I was ME again.
And if there were no depression, I would feel just fine! So at least knowing that it is possible to find the perfect dose for you gives a lot of hope and strength (which you thought you would never get back) - and I want to give a bit of that hope and strength to all those out there who are going through the same hard times.
I know - it is hard (for me too) to accept that depression might stay one's companion for some more months (or even years), but it will go away one day (but you have to get the help of a specialist before you can stop taking your anti-depressants - as the thyroid needs some different hormones then in preparation! - which was the most important thing I learned when I visited the specialist)!
The doctor told me that I should be gentle to myself and not force anything. Take all the time and help I can get (especially the help from medication ;). Not fight anymore. Listen to myself. And to not give up!
Being creative is my means for escape, for feeling agile and active, for giving meaning to the fact that I sometimes am not able to run and jump around or manage a day's work like I feel I should, for turning "lost" time into "precious" time, for forgiving yourself and/or forgetting about the fact that some things in life haven't been going that well. And I guess a lot of you know what I am talking about ;)
I know that 2014 holds a lot of wonderful experiences ready for us on our creative journeys and I am sure that we will find our ways to enjoy the trip, find our own personal pace and explore new territory!
I wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS AND ALL THE BEST OF 2014!
Hugs and thank you all once again!