I’m Back: The Clinging Grasp of Depression

It has been about four months since I’ve last updated. The last time I made a post it was about my decision to go gluten and soy-free. Up until now I would say I have been successful at cutting gluten out of my diet. Soy on the other hand, I have found to be a lot more challenging. Mainly because I tend to love Asian food which often contains varying soy products and second, because many things contain soy in one form or the other. However, I have done my best to reduce my soy intake by a significant margin.  Continue reading

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Life with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Going Gluten and Soy-Free

Today, I’ve finally decided that starting tomorrow, October 15th, I’m going gluten and soy-free. I haven’t been feeling well at all these past few days. My thyroid has been quite swollen and more inflamed lately. It aches and throbs. I feel fatigued and confused. I’m moody and down. Pretty much I’m not feeling my best at this moment.

In the past few years of having my diagnosis, I’ve done some skimming of articles on the internet concerning the kind of diet that someone with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis should implement. The most common foods to avoid in the articles I’ve read were soy and soy products, as well as, gluten and goitrogenic foods. Even though I had this knowledge, I have always felt that the research wasn’t definite and conclusive. I was skeptical. Still, I did choose to avoid those foods for the most part without actually cutting them out.

Recently however, I’ve been consuming more soy than I have in recent years. Coincidentally, my inflammatory response has flared up. While I can just spend my days in my blanket burrito watching “New Girl” on Netflix waiting for the pain to subside and get on with my life, I really don’t want to do just that. I have so many big dreams and visions for myself that I feel that if I allow myself to give up- even just a little- I would feel as if I’d let myself down as well as the people I could have potentially reached out to.

So I need to take an active part in the battle that rages within me. The battle of self against self.

At times I feel as if my illness is a metaphor for the bigger picture of life. Your biggest enemy will always be yourself. You will always be the first person in your way.

So, tomorrow, I’m taking the plunge.
Tomorrow I cut Gluten and Soy from my diet.
One day at a time.

I wish you all luck with your own journeys.

Until next time,
Sarah M.

Meet Hashimoto

Hakaru Hashimoto and I go way back. We first met in Germany in 1912. He was a physician and he had recently published a paper concerning lymphomatous goiters. Years after his unfortunate death that was brought on by typhoid fever, his paper was finally evaluated by American and English researchers. These researchers determined that what Hashimoto had described in his paper was an independent illness – an illness that is now known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

   Now – I didn’t really know Hakaru Hashimoto but I do have the illness he described in his paper.


Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – what is it?

Pretty much, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is my body’s autoimmune response against my thyroid. For some strange reason (that I hope to uncover and explore) my body doesn’t recognize my thyroid. My immune system sees my thyroid, flips out and starts attacking it in an attempt to get rid of the intruder. As a result, my thyroid is inflamed and battered by the body it lives to serve. It sputters away trying to pump T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones) in order to keep my body well balanced metabolically. But, it either tries too hard and goes into periods of over-activity (hyperthyroidism) or it just gives out and goes into periods of under-activity (hypothyroidism.)

Symptoms: (I’ll bold the ones I’ve come across in my own experience)

  • Fatigue and Sluggishness
  • Increased sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin and hair
  • A puffy face
  • Hoarse voice
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, especially in shoulders and hips
  • Pain and stiffness in joints and swelling in knees or small joints of hands and feet
  • Menorrhagia
  • Depression 
  • Decreased concentration
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fertility problems

Wooh *wipes away sweat* that’s a lot to take in.

I mean, I’m somewhat used to all of this now – but not to the degree that I want to allow the illness to take over and control me. So, it’s been a couple of years now of the usual “treatment” for Hashimoto’s which is basically taking thyroid hormones so your thyroid doesn’t have to work so hard and can just fade away from your immune system’s radar. But that isn’t exactly treating my thyroiditis – all it’s really doing is calming down the resulting symptoms of an under-active thyroid. What taking medications such as Synthroid and Armour aren’t doing treating the root cause of Hashimoto’s. Now, what many doctors and medical sources might say is that there is no cure. But other sources I’ve come across beg to differ.

Really, I’ve had enough of feeling horrible. I used to really feel bad about my situation and pity myself – but not anymore. I can’t live that way anymore. I want to take matters into my own hands.

With my next semester in the horizon, I’m going to change things up from the usual endocrinologist visits and checking TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels. Rather than only keeping an eye on my thyroid hormone levels and treating my symptoms, I want to find the root of my problems. Why did I get Hashimoto’s anyway? Why do I feel sick more on some days than others? Why does my body continue to attack my thyroid?

From my readings, many  people seem to point fingers at components of our DIET – particularly at gluten. Apparently, there are many things that we consume that have similar protein structures to that of the thyroid. When these things somehow wrongly enter our body via a leaky gut our body marks it for attack and likewise, attacks the thyroid. Is any of this true? I don’t know. I’ll have to do some digging into medical journals.

The point is, I’m going to try going to an allergist and identify different foods and substances I may be allergic or intolerant to – gluten being a big one.

If I do end up being gluten intolerant – that’s huge. There’s going to be a drastic change in what I eat. It’s scary but it’s also kind of exciting. I hope to keep you all posted on how it all turns out.

Until next time,
Sarah M.