Getting diagnosed with Hashimoto’s can be overwhelming
Maybe you just left the doctor’s office, and the doctor told you you have Hashimoto’s. Maybe you just found out that your sister, or your aunt, or somebody has Hashimoto’s, and you want to help her on this journey, whatever it is, you found this podcast because Hashimoto’s has impacted your life, and all of a sudden you need to know:
- What do I do with this information?
- What is Hashimoto’s?
- What does this mean for my life?
- What does this mean going forward?
- How can I help myself?
- How can I help my loved family member?
Why I’m qualified to help you
I’m here for you. I’m Esther, I am an RN, and I have Hashimoto’s. I was in the emergency department around the United States for about seventeen years before I grew fed up with Western medicine. They slap short-term band-aids on chronic things. They never really help people get better. They never address the root of things. I went back to school for holistic health and I started my own practice, nurse coaching (coaching people as a nurse not coaching nurses.)
But the one thing that confused me in my four years of college and in my two years of going back to school for holistic nurse education was always the thyroid. I did not understand it. Every time I would listen to a lecture I would take notes and try to figure it out, and every single time I like got this glimmer of hope, “I understand it.” But that would quickly turn to “No, I don’t.”
So when I started feeling sick and when I started thinking that things were not right, I decided that it could not be my thyroid, because I don’t understand the thyroid well. Then I got my diagnosis: Hashimoto’s. (Hear my full story in episode 1.)
I understand where you are right now.
I empathize with you.
The mixed emotions of a diagnosis
Maybe you’re rejoicing because you finally have a name to put with all of these things that have been going on. Or maybe you are grieving or you feel like your body has betrayed you. Maybe you’re scared and overwhelmed because Hashimoto is a big word and is an autoimmune disease, and when you Google it a lot of stuff comes up.
However you are feeling, I want you to do this on your day of diagnosis (or helping your friend through it.)
The first thing to do when you’re diagnosed with Hashimoto’s
I want you to feel the emotions. I want you to give yourself permission to feel.
So often, especially in our culture, we move from feeling to doing very quickly. “Okay. I’ve got this. Now what?”
Does that sound familiar?
I want you to feel. Allow yourself the emotions. We need that. Your whole health is dependent on all the parts working. So if you stifle some of it well, then, you’re not going to be wholly healthy.
All right. So you’re gonna feel your feelings. That’s the first thing, and then I want you to stop the overwhelm. That’s one of the biggest things you can do today.
The second thing to do after your new diagnosis
I know that overwhelm is huge. So the biggest thing I want you to do other than feeling your emotions is just to breathe.
When you are overwhelmed you’re stressed. And when your body is stressed it lowers your immune function. In fact, in Hashimoto’s, one of the biggest root cause factors is increased stress or chronic.
So I want you to lower your stress.
You’ve been seeking a diagnosis. There’s been stuff going on. Now that you have a name for it that doesn’t change everything. It sheds light on it, maybe, but it doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t change what’s been going on in your body. And yes, it does change your path forward, but it doesn’t need to change today right now. It’s not like an emergency–like your house is on fire and you have to get out of your house right? That is something that requires immediate change.
You have a diagnosis. You have a direction now, but you don’t have to dive in headfirst right this moment. Take some time to breathe.
How to breathe to lower your stress
When I say breathe, go ahead and put your hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. *If you’re driving, of course don’t do this. If you’re anywhere else, take the next thirty seconds to breathe. Put one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly, and take a deep breath and observe your hands.
Which hand went up and down? Which hand moved while you took a deep breath? Do it again. Take a deep breath and observe which hand moves when you take a deep breath.
Now I hope it’s the hand on your belly, but it’s probably the hand on your chest. But let me give you a tip when you breathe with your chest, when you breathe with the tiny little muscles in between your ribs, and you breathe with your shoulders, you are sending signals to every single cell in your body that you’re under stress.
That’s what we’re trying to lower. We don’t want stress when you breathe with your diaphragm or with your belly, you’re actually massaging a huge nerve that runs right through your diaphragm. That’s your breathing muscle. It’s called the vagus nerve, and when you massage that muscle, it tells every single cell in your body. “Ahh, let’s switch over to rest and digest mode. Let’s get out of fight and flight.”
So now I want you to take a deep breath and focus on breathing with your belly.
Now, when I started learning this, it was several years ago, and I couldn’t do it. I had been drilled my entire growing life to sit up straight, have perfect posture, and tuck in and solidify my core. I could not breathe with my belly.
To learn, I had to lay down on my back with my knees up, so that it relaxed all of the muscles in my abdomen, and then I could practice breathing with my diaphragm with my belly. Now I can do it sitting up now I can do it, walking.
The wonderful thing about breathing is you’re doing it all the time. If you learn to breathe and lower your stress with how you’re breathing, you’re going to do your whole health, a favor.
Your breathing impacts emotional and physical health
Body, mind, spirit, diet, and environment–they’re all connected. Breathing with your diaphragm, breathing in a way that lowers your stress level, is going to impact your body, your mind, and your spirit. It’s even going to impact how you digest your food. So it’s going to impact your diet because your diet is not necessarily what you put in your mouth. Your diet is what you are able to digest. It changes how you see the environment. It changes your stress.
Taking a deep breath with your diaphragm is going to impact everything.
And that is the number one thing I want you to take away from this episode.
Yes, you’re going to feel your feelings. But you’re going to breathe. You’re to lower the overwhelm. You’re going to lower that stress level, because going into today, tomorrow, and the next week in a state of fight and flight, because you just learned a name for what’s been going on will not help. Having stress because of the phrase and title, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, will not help you, in fact, it’s going to hurt you.
Practice self-compassion next
Along with that, I want you to picture a preschool-age little girl who is working on arts and crafts. Maybe you help with Sunday school or preschool ministries at your church, or maybe you have your own kids… Are you picturing a little girl? She’s working with arts and crafts, and she’s trying to make it perfect, and her little fingers are not working right. She can’t get the picture exactly how she wants it. If she’s gluing and cutting it’s just not going as she wants. She’s trying so hard, and it’s not working. Then she falls apart. She’s crying and telling you that it’s horrible maybe even that she is no good.
Are you going to stand there and berate her? “What are you doing? Use the scissors correctly. Draw a picture. Put a head and a full body and arms.”
No, you’re not. You’re going to comfort her. You’re going to tell her that she’s doing the best she can. You’re going to encourage her.
Your immune system and Hashimoto’s
You are that little girl. Your immune system has been doing its best, and it’s not working well right now. It’s trying so hard. Your immune system is overburdened. Your immune system is kind of firing all haywire. That’s what Hashimoto’s. It is your immune system kind of going crazy, starting to attack yourself.
The temptation is to be mad. The temptation is to be mad at your body. It failed you; but instead of being angry, switch that to self-compassion.
Your immune system is crying for help.
Now that you have a name for it, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you can do something about it. Now you know that it’s your immune system. Now you know what to address. “My immune system needs some love and attention. My immune system needs me to support it.”
So switch from anger, feel the feelings, and then switch. Whether it was grief, anger, or something else, switch to compassion.
Let’s figure out how to support our own bodies. Let’s figure out how to support our immune function so that it doesn’t attack ourselves. It’s possible, and we’re going to do it step by step. Because I don’t want you overwhelmed.
That is why I offer Hashimoto’s Health Sessions. In this hour together, we’ll come up with your kickstart plan to growing in your health with Hashimoto’s.
- feel the feelings
- stop the overwhelm and stress by breathing deeply with your diaphragm
- have self-compassion Have compassion on your immune system
That’s what I want you to focus on today.
In the next episode, we will look at labs.
What is Hashimoto’s?
Quickly, Hashimoto’s is when you have antibodies to your own thyroid. So your immune system is attacking your thyroid. Your thyroid produces thyroid hormone, and that is like the spark plug that lets each cell work. So when you have Hashimoto’s, every single cell in your entire body is impacted. That’s Hashimoto’s in a nutshell.
In future episodes, we’re going to get into how to help your thyroid, how to help your immune system, and how to help you: body, mind, spirit, diet, and environment. Subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.