We did the interview with Rachel Hill who runs one of the popular blogs regarding Hypothyroidism. By her own words – she is not a doctor, but just another thyroid patient, who is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Being a thyroid patient who advocates for better understanding, knowledge, treatment and awareness gives me the best experience possible to do that job.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What do you do for a living?
I’m a pretty normal 24-year-old, who works in event management and administration and in my spare time writes and advocates for thyroid health among other hobbies. I’m a vintage enthusiast and also blog about my love for that era, too. Missrachelkathleen.wordpress.com
What kind of thyroid issues are you dealing with or what kind of thyroid issues have you dealt with in the past?
I live with Hashimoto’s, so it’s always quite up and down! My iron levels drop fairly often, so right now I’m back on iron supplements as I was very nearly anemic on my last test, but I’m also trying to heal my leaky gut, tame my yeast overgrowth, calm the adrenal dysfunction and balance sex hormone imbalances. It’s never just your thyroid, is it?! It’s difficult trying to keep everything in check. In the past, I have had low vitamin D levels which I raised through high supplementation and solved the excruciating joint pain I had myself. I also made the decision to change my own thyroid medication when T4-only Levothyroxine did not help me at all.
When did you first become concerned that you might have a thyroid condition? What type of symptoms were you experiencing?
I have experienced the fatigue and muscle pains (thyroid myopathy) since I was 16, following swine flu, but doctors didn’t test me until I was 21, at which point I googled what an underactive thyroid meant and whilst waiting for the test results to come back, became convinced that it was indeed what I had. And I was right in those suspicions. By 21, I’d had a few rounds of being anemic, developed mental health issues, crippling fatigue, and acid reflux to name just a few symptoms. Five years of unexplained bouts of illness and general malaise was scary.
Describe how you felt when you were first diagnosed.
I was hugely relieved to finally have it confirmed that I wasn’t mad or imagining being unwell, but at the same time, I definitely felt concerned about having a lifelong chronic illness and knowing I would be on medication for life. It was daunting. Over 2 years later and I’m still grieving for my healthier life and what I had before diagnosis, but it’s important to keep looking and moving forward.
I have gone gluten free which is a biggie for autoimmune hypothyroidism, and it’s helped my acne, heart palpitations, sleep, blood sugar levels and more. Since confirming my leaky gut and Candida, I’ve also gone extremely low sugar, carbs and processed foods which has helped me lose weight without even trying and balance my blood sugar further.
What was your first course of action after finding out you had a thyroid condition?
I began Levothyroxine from my GP and then commenced my own research from books and online sites and blogs. I soon learned that I should probably supplement certain vitamins and minerals, go gluten-free and slow down on the exercise schedule I was forcing myself through. I became my own thyroid advocate. I bought several recommended books and signed up to lots of blogs!
How did your thyroid condition affect your life? Where there any major adjustments you had to make to prepare for living with a thyroid condition? Were you able to keep working (if applicable)?
I’ve only recently made the switch to part-time working hours, after struggling for the past couple of years to maintain in full-time work due to the intense fatigue, muscle and joint pain, brain fog and mental health issues that have come with Hypothyroidism. It’s drastically affected how active I am, as I’ve had to give up running, badminton, dance class and even just walking as much as I used to. Having adrenal fatigue as well as a thyroid problem makes it incredibly difficult to exercise without making your health worse. You have to listen to your body.
I have periods of good health but I’m still in the early days of my diagnosis really, so it’s very much up and down. Last year, for the most part, was great in terms of my health.
Self care is a phrase bounced around a lot these days but it really is important. Take time out to do things just for you and your mental health. Learn to say ‘no’.
What was it like telling your family about your condition and how did they react? Do you feel like your thyroid condition has had a profound effect on your family and loved ones and how are they dealing with your condition?
I’m not actually in contact with any biological family but I suspect they’ve learned of my diagnosis by now and I suspect other family members also have the same condition/s. But my fiancé’s family and my close friends are in effect my family and they’ve been very supportive. It took a while for them to understand what my diagnosis meant and how it would change things, but they’re always willing to help if I need them to or listen to me moan about a bad thyroid day. My fiancé is a star and I couldn’t have asked for more support from him.
Writing my blogs and having them read them helps, too. And since my blog is gaining in popularity quickly, it reassures them that what I share is by no means an exaggeration or unusual for thyroid patients.
Did you adjust your diet to improve your condition? What foods would you recommend for those dealing with a thyroid condition?
I have gone gluten free which is a biggie for autoimmune hypothyroidism, and it’s helped my acne, heart palpitations, sleep, blood sugar levels and more. Since confirming my leaky gut and Candida, I’ve also gone extremely low sugar, carbs and processed foods which have helped me lose weight without even trying and balance my blood sugar further. Many thyroid patients also find cutting out dairy and eggs to help but it’s all very individual.
Eating a lot of protein is a good idea for any of us, as are lots of fruits and veggies. Herbal tea is a real comfort.
Do you take any supplements to help with your condition? Which do you find work best for you?
Do you take a holistic or medical approach to your condition…or both? Which types of treatment do you feel is most effective in either or both approaches?
I have a rather understanding NHS GP, so whilst I self-source and self-medicate with NDT since Levothyroxine just did not work for me, he’s still happy to test what I ask for and monitor me. I also see a private functional doctor for her input in terms of the holistic approach, though, as I’d recommend to all thyroid patients. The NHS can be great but it’s certainly limited. They treat symptoms, not root issues and many of us need a holistic approach to our health.
Can you name one or a couple of things, like a food or supplement that you take, or an activity you do, that makes you feel good every day?
Switching from Levothyroxine to NDT has made the biggest change to my quality of life but also focusing on protein over carbs or sugar. It’s much better for energy and decreasing brain fog.
Self-care is a phrase bounced around a lot these days but it really is important. Take time out to do things just for you and your mental health. Learn to say ‘no’.
If you had to sum up your advice to fellow sufferers in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
Be your own thyroid advocate and don’t settle for a quality of life any less than you deserve.
You can Follow Rachel on:
Instagram – > https://www.instagram.com/theinvisiblehypothyroidism/
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