As we lay in the dark room, my husband placed his steady, strong hand on my neck. The warmth radiated through that small butterfly-shaped gland. He reminded me in his calm, compassionate voice that I need to be positive and to actively and daily do things that bring me joy. “The rest will come,” he said with quiet confidence.
“I know you’re right,” I sighed, despising my Type A programming.
At the time, my mind was whirling (Perhaps unnecessary so, but this is what I do. I’m an expert, really.) with worries of money, relationships, fear of the deaths of my parents, sleep-deprivation, blahda blahda. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like worrying about insomnia to help you fall asleep faster! Hey, if I fixate enough, I can solve these problems!
But there was his hand, so healing. I swear he could read my thoughts through my body. Or maybe it’s just that he’s been faithfully by my side for 11 years now.
I took a deep, cleansing breath. He gently removed his hand. But I fumbled in the dark and found it again, placing it back on my neck, while tears, sweet relief, washed away the nagging, obsessive need to fix. He was giving me permission to stop. I took more deep breaths and relinquished the things that I, alone, hold myself accountable for. Those impossible standards that have plagued me since I was a child, a straight-A, 10-year-old with the threat of an ulcer. Yep, that was me.
And lest anyone think this had to do with my parents, it didn’t. Okay, maybe genetically I was given the innate desire to bend toward perfection, but my mom can’t help that now can she? However, outwardly, they were as loving as parents could be. “Just do your best, Honey,” was the mantra I heard. “You can do anything you want to. You just have to work at it.” There were food, love, toys, travel, adventure, you name it. Yes, childhood was pretty sweet. I was and continue to be blessed.
In fact, I had never suffered from anxiety or depression, but thyroid struggles take you to new places. “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” Take the Constipation Cruise and explore the high seas. Enjoy an avocado-cucumber-beef collagen smoothie while avoiding the mouth-watering buffet entirely. Once you’ve arrived at Indecisiveness Island, you can relax on Bitchy Beach and skip the cold beer for some lukewarm water with lemon. But don’t let the good times end there!
After a few days of trying to sleep, you can drag your tired ass for a journey on the Fear Ferry to visit the Ancient Anxiety Ruins. They can be tricky to find, but with enough over-thinking and obsessing, they are sure to pop up. While scanning the great big blue, keep a ready eye for Weepy Whales–they are out there and will appear without reason and without warning, usually in public.
As you wrap up this sensory overloaded vacation of a lifetime, hitch a ride back home on the Demoralizing Dingy. While others rub sun tan oil on, you can slather on buckets of thick moisturizer with zero effect, popping Aleve to rid yourself of another damn headache and reflecting on how crazy you think you are becoming. Because after all, everyone else appears to be just fine.*
You’re completely envious of my trip, aren’t you? The best part is, the whole time, you get to think you’re in control. But you’re not.
But you are. You are. You just lost your bearings for a while, like we all do. And sometimes you find your inner compass in the dark with someone who loves you so fiercely that he’ll never let you drift away.
What my husband so patiently teaches me is to stop letting my thyroid and it’s co-pilot, the amygdala, take the steering wheel. I can shove my research, my stressing, my complaining, etc. in the backseat for a while. I can commandeer with the power of positivity. I can lift my face to the sun.
I get to say no. And I get to say yes. And no one gets to judge me. This is my journey.
On the path to wholeness and wellness, for some, thought precedes action. However, for me, I’ve learned the hard way that thought follows action. If I start by getting a good night’s sleep (This requires pulling out all the stops some nights: melatonin, warm herbal tea, books, heating pads, warm baths with epsom salts.), this leads to morning exercise, which leads to making better food choices, which leads to a more positive outlook and being present with nature and my people.
Taking action gives my brain a vacation–a sweet respite. Yoga releases. Dancing expresses. Ripping up To Do lists prioritizes. The simple action of picking up my Ukulele, when I begin to stress needlessly, gets me out of that deserted island of isolation and brings me to the vibrations of my own voice and my fingers strumming.
Look what this beautiful, strong, resilient body can do.
*Please note that while the vacation sarcasm is over the top and reads as negative and dramatic, the author actually had immense fun writing these paragraphs and coming up with alliterative vacation spots on the Hashimotos journey. Sometimes, it’s darn healing to laugh at all of this.
Digital Image: Woman Playing the Ukulele https://goo.gl/images/wh4rax