I was 12 years old when my mum took me to the doctor and said, ‘I don’t really know what’s going on, but I think she’s depressed.’ 

I was shocked to hear her say that, but deep down I knew she was right. I sat in the examination room and cried while they discussed the possibilities of why a 12 year old girl was so out of sorts.  

I took the time to reflect on where my health may have taken a turn.  

Was it when I started to need a blanket to sit outside in the dead of summer or when it started to hurt simply getting out of bed? I never put much thought into why I felt sad when my life was so good nor why I continued to gain weight when I tried so hard to be healthy.  

I felt like I was in a daze all of the time, like I wasn’t a part of my own life. Not present. Not fully there.  

I continued to have difficulties in school. I couldn’t concentrate on anything in front of me. I spent the majority of my time rereading  questions over and over again, and yet nothing was getting absorbed. I passed most nights having extremely hot baths because it was the only way to warm my body up after getting cold for no reason. I was often so cold that it would hurt and there was nothing to help. 

A memory suddenly popped up in my mind of when I was in the bathtub trying to get my body temperature to a normal range. I was in there for hours, too afraid to get out because I would get so cold again. I was too weak and exhausted and the only thing I could do was lie there. The next thing I knew my mum picked me up out of the tub. Maybe that’s when my mum started questioning my health.  

My doctor sent me for a blood test to check my thyroid levels. Once my results came in, it was confirmed that I was suffering with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism.) 

This diagnosis scared me. I didn’t know anything about the thyroid or how important an organ it was. I didn’t realise how greatly an underactive thyroid could affect your health.  

I was prescribed levothyroxine and was told I would have to take it for the rest of my life.  

As a young girl, I didn’t spend too much time thinking about it. I didn’t educate myself on the thyroid or any triggers that could worsen it. 

As life went on, continuing to take my medication, I decided to start a family. It didn’t take long to realise it would not be an easy feat for me. Three pregnancies ended in miscarriage and with that came mental health struggles. After tweaking my thyroid medication and receiving a progesterone supplement I became pregnant.  

After two successful pregnancies, I realised how important it was to educate myself on my condition as it really could affect all aspects of my life. 

Over the past few years I have really got to know my body - what works and what doesn’t with diet and exercise. I’ve tried intense boot camps and yoga, elimination diets, carb cutting and everything in between.  

The result  I do what works for me and what feels best for my body:  In my case, it’s spinning, following a gluten free-* and sugar free diet, little caffeine consumption and having calm environment with minimal stress, just to name a few.  

Everyone’s experience with their thyroid condition is different and unique. You must find what works best for you in order to live a happy and healthy life. 

*BTF comment: 

We are often asked whether there is a link between gluten intolerance and hypothyroidismIt is a fact that people with autoimmune thyroid disease are more likely to have another autoimmune conditionFor example, 1-4% of people with autoimmune thyroid disease will also have coeliac disease. This compares with 1% of the overall population diagnosed with coeliac disease (source: Coeliac UK)People living with the two conditions will naturally benefit from excluding gluten from their diet.  

Some people like Ashley with hypothyroidism, but without coeliac disease, also report feeling better following a gluten free diet. Unfortunately, there have been no scientific studies to date which prove that thyroid antibodies can be normalised by eliminating glutenSo reported benefits are anecdotal until more research has been done.

For more information on hypothyroidism please see our hypothyroidism resources