Let’s start at the beginning of my body shaming and cap it off with my latest blood work. Whew, I’ll do my best to keep this as short and informative as possible…
1990: my first year of college in Arizona. Everyone expects the “Freshman Five” yet most don’t have an open discussion about it until it’s happened. My family was experiencing its own upheaval so my body didn’t really get much attention. Yes my high school clothes were “shrinking “, but I blamed that on the dorm washing machines and dryers. I told my best friend that “If I ever weigh 145 lbs and up, shoot me. I mean it. If I get fat I must be miserable, so you would be saving me from misery.” She agreed as long as it didn’t count during pregnancy or baby weight.
By the time I graduated from the university and had my I nder grad degree in Secondary Education, I weighed 148 lbs. I didn’t care though. I was in love, and had a true purpose. I was also very tired. My boyfriend was convinced that I was pregnant. If that was the case, I was “allowing” my weight gain. He and I were living together in a one bedroom apartment with hand-me-down furniture.
After a few months, I was up to 180 lbs. I went for an ultrasound and the doctor was somber. Yes I was pregnant, but there wasn’t a heart beat. I was immediately sent for a DNC. Coming home after that was just miserable. I became depressed. My boyfriend became abusive. But in my mind, I deserved every hit, push, kick and whatever else he did. I lost his baby.
1998: After a very messy and exhausting break up, I applied for a new job. Teaching Kindergarten at a private school. I loved it! It had snacks and nap time. By 2000 I made it to the 200lb platform. I had been hating my body before the pregancy, now I was body shaming myself in the worst way. Diet after diet, starvation and smoking were just a few ways I used to try and lose weight.
July 2001: I had a gastric bypass. I was sick and tired. Dating wasn’t even on my radar. I weighed 298lbs. After twelve weeks I was starting to get noticeably thinner.
June 2003: I moved to Michigan for love. We got married in 2005.I started teaching again, I was content; but I was gaining weight.
November 2011: my doctor discovered that I had Hypothyroidism, I would get one pill a day and magically my weight would fall off. It explained the miscarriages and weight gain.
What I did not realize is how much the thyroid gland controls in the body. I researched Hypothyroidism and found myself almost giddy because it happens to a lot of people. I will be okay. My drastic mood swings, self loathing and death wishes would stop. There’s a “fix”, right? If others feel like me, surely there’s a cure. Nope. Nope. And nope.
November 2014: for the first time in my teaching career, I was disciplined by my principal for cursing during class. I didn’t even realize what I said or why. I was devastated. We were going to start Winter Break within the week. For some reason I could not think clearly or rationally. I decided that everyone else would be better off if I committed suicide.
December 2014: I drove to a small town south of where I lived and parked in a vacant lot. I swallowed a container of ibuprofen with vodka and waited. Obviously it didn’t go as planned. The ibuprofen mixed with vodka made me throw up. There were millions of little brown tablets all over the parking lot. I drove home feeling even more defeated than I had originally felt.
January 2015: referral to psychology unit. I was forgetting everything, not able to find my words, exhausted, moody and gaining weight. The one pill each day prescribed to me for thyroid wasn’t working. I was a mess with “normal” blood work. The Endocrinnologist started to drop the dosage based on the litany of tests. I was to have another consultation in a year. Hmmm…
2015: I got every single illness that ends in itis (bronchitis, sinusitis, etc.). I had to balance my more than full time job with illnesses and Doctor appointments. I was getting worse and worse.
I would sleep all weekend because I truly needed to. During the summer, I became seriously depressed and hardly functioned. I couldn’t handle the heat and humidity, so I stayed inside with air conditioning at full blast. My husband took to wearing his winter wardrobe in June. I was feeling like I just couldn’t manage to complete anything or remember much.
September 2015: ahhhhh a new school year. I’m always excited for meeting my classes and getting to know them. This usually takes about two weeks. However, I was asked to be the Guinea Pig class to run a new online test which gathers data on where each student stands academically. No other school, class or group in the entire AMAESD had tried it yet.
I didn’t have the time to get to know anyone new in a productive environment. This test was a mess. I became overwhelmed and frustrated with just getting the students logged in. I didn’t know the students names or anything about them. It was tense.
I received more write ups by my principal for a myriad of things which had been blown out of proportion. I was becoming convinced that everyone was out to get me. The fall and winter were awkward and tense. I started having seizures. Those were new for me, but part of my disease. My guard was up 24/7.
Don’t forget, I was still trying to balance doctor appointments with my school calendar. My husband was getting the brunt of my mood swings and endless complaining. The Spring semester is when my seizures became most frequent.
So, let’s see… I had a very stressful job, an immune system full of antibodies, full blown depression, anxiety, weight gain, paranoia, inability to remember anything and food sensitivities. All of this led me to a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and autoimmune disease.
These diseases are not conducive to being in public places. My antibodies were attacking healthy cells and tissues in my body. I was sick constantly-physically and mentally. My short term memory was not working and finding outside support was impossible. I had to lean on my husband to handle everything from house work, grocery shopping and chauffeur. I wasn’t allowed to drive anymore. Could this possibly get worse?
2016: in April I managed to have a panic attack with seizures and thoughts of suicide. This state of “crazy” got me an involuntary admission to the hospital for five days and a new treatment plan. I confided to my counselor about it all. She determined that I was not “safe” going back to work.
My blood work proved that my diseases were taking over my body and hence provided the final nail in the coffin so-to-speak. So I missed the last thirty days of school; my doctors wrote a note for me to be on on medical leave.
Every time I checked my email I became distressed. I was not able to do anything right. My principal wanted the lesson plans for the end of the year. The yearbook crunch time was happening and broadcasting was lacking its luster.
My dad asked if the state offered medical retirement for teachers. I checked. Yep it does. So I started that process. Then I figured we should refinance the house since interest rates were lower. All of that paperwork and electronic filing consumed my summer.
I was stressing out over it all. My seizures were becoming a regular occurrence and I wasn’t getting better. I had burned a few bridges along the way due to my mood swings and callous responses to situations. I was a giant mess on so many levels, weight gain being the only tangible external sign of my diseases.
August 2016: Back-to-School advertising and professional development avoidance all summer were not helping my ego. I felt sick all of the time. My metabolism is at an all time low yet my moodiness was alive and kicking. Self loathing, depression, anxiety and processing my two endeavors (refinancing and retirement) were not working out within the time frame I decided on.
Doctor appointments were frequent and utterly frustrating for me. There are no solid answers or cures for my diseases.
I have researched so much and still can’t decide how this all started. I have always been self conscious of my weight, the highs and lows, the surgery that was supposed to make me thin, and everything else would balance out.
So I wonder if the doctor who did the surgery noticed anything thyroid specific. Did that test even happen? I was in my late 20’s.
Or, did my miscarriages trip up my hormones? Which then tripped up my thyroid gland to stop making estrogen? I don’t know and apparently neither do my doctors. I just know that my symptoms have gotten worse and aren’t taking their sweet bippy time to render me unable to function like the rest of the world. Last year I would count the bad days; this year I count my good days.
I have to let go of the one constant thing I relied on in the past 20 years. It’s a lot harder than one might assume. Emotionally I am attached to teaching, but physically I am unable to carry out what the job entails. I feel betrayed by my body.
I go through times of shaking or trembling, which if not attended to becomes a full blown seizure that ends in crying and sheer exhaustion. It takes a couple of days to recover and then I try to finish what I had been working on prior.
This whole issue is debilitating. I don’t know what else to say except that I haven’t given up.