What were your symptoms and how were they picked up?  

I remember the day like it was yesterday, but in fact, it was almost five years ago! 

Whilst attending a friend’s wedding I remember feeling like someone had turned down the lights, cranked up the air conditioning and I was feeling ‘spaced out’.

As days of this feeling turned into weeks, the symptoms continued to escalate. These included increased sensitivity to cold, feeling slow in thoughts/speech, and constant fatigue. A visit to the doctors and a couple of blood tests later, I received my diagnosis: 'You have an underactive thyroid and need to be on medication for the rest of your life.'

Naively, I remember asking the doctor if I could improve my lifestyle choices rather than take medicine. I quickly learned that this was not an option (my initial response still makes me laugh today!). 

Did you know much about thyroid disorders when you were first diagnosed? 

Prior to diagnosis, I was completely clueless about thyroid disorders! I’m slowly learning but I couldn’t have imagined how important something so small could have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing. My mum also has a thyroid condition, but I foolishly believed that thyroid conditions were only associated with females. 

How has your condition been managed and how are you feeling now? 

I take 125mcg of levothyroxine (a synthetic version of thyroxine) daily. Following diagnosis, there was a period of trial and error to get the correct dosage. This ranged from 25mcg to 175mcg. This was monitored through regular blood tests.

I’m still learning what works best for me but I have learned that exercise and diet are extremely important for my thyroid wellbeing.

Providing I haven’t missed my daily medication, have a balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity I feel healthy in the main. From time to time if any of the above are out of kilter, my physical and mental wellbeing is significantly impacted.  

What aspect of your condition have you struggled with the most? 

‘Brain fog'!

I’ve noticed a considerable difference since diagnosis though I do have days where my memory is horrendous.

A typical example would be on a Monday morning. If a colleague asks how my weekend was, I look at them blankly, struggling to recall what I did just 24 hours ago or ate for breakfast. More recently I’ve developed vitiligo (another autoimmune disease) which I believe is related to hypothyroidism. These are some of the realities of living with an underactive thyroid but there are far worse illnesses. With correct levels of thyroxine, I can live a normal life!

Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone who is newly diagnosed with hypothyroidism? 

I’d strongly recommend a visit to the BTF website. There’s so much information to help understand the thyroid gland, opportunities to engage in research, and most importantly details of their support network.

I’d also suggest talking about your diagnosis to friends and family. I was diagnosed five years ago and only now have I decided to talk about it and in doing so it feels like therapy. 

Are there any particular BTF resources you have found particularly useful? 

Patient stories.

I get a sense of belonging from reading all the other brave patient stories. Hearing similarities with my own situation makes it easier to understand and be at peace with it.