‘The BTF helped me to feel seen when I was first diagnosed.’

Photo credit: Remarkable Television

Actor, comedian and writer Verona Rose appeared on BBC1’s ‘Pointless Celebrities’ programme, together with broadcaster and writer, Bobby Seagull. The awesome duo went on to win the show. Verona kindly donated her £1,250 prize to support our work. Verona shares her story about living with hypothyroidism.

Could you tell us why you choose to support the BTF through your Pointless Celebrities appearance?

When I was first diagnosed with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), the BTF was the first place I found information about my condition and I found it very, very helpful.

And how long ago were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed around seven years ago. When I was first diagnosed, they told me I had subclinical (borderline) hypothyroidism*. Soon afterwards, I had my thyroid function tested again, and they confirmed that I had autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis).

What kind of symptoms were you experiencing when you went to your GP?

I was going to the GP quite regularly as I needed to have naps in the daytime, which was unusual for me. Those around me would put it down to me working so hard. My hair was falling out. I couldn’t speak properly. I used to be a drama and English teacher and I would struggle to remember a word or how to spell it. So, I was getting a lot of brain fog. I was also forgetting lots of different things.

I was also very emotional. I didn’t feel low or depressed. I felt constantly panicked and worried, so I guess it was more anxiety than being low. I also felt cold, and had lots of aches and pains and bloating.

How long did this go on before you were diagnosed?

It went on for quite a while. Despite having 12 hours of sleep, I’d be feeling shattered within a few minutes of waking up. My doctor kept telling me I needed to work out to tackle my weight gain. I tried explaining to him that as soon as I tried to exercise, I felt like I had the flu.

I was also put on antibiotics because they thought I had an infection. Then I was told I was anaemic. It was only when they did more bloods that they diagnosed my hypothyroidism.

Once they put you on levothyroxine, did it help with your symptoms?

I was initially prescribed a very low dose (25 mcg) of levothyroxine. I was in denial and didn’t want to take the medication for the rest of my life as I rarely even take paracetamol. I admit to searching online to see if there were any other ways to manage my underactive thyroid.

Then one day, I thought: ‘I can’t cope any longer’ so I started to take the prescribed levothyroxine. It made me feel worse at first. My GP then gradually increased my dose to 100 mcg. I got a little better but still didn’t feel my normal self.

Some days my body was working ok, other days it was not.  I don’t know why this was as I know some people feel fine once they’re on levothyroxine. I still had lots of symptoms, and this went on for about five years.

So, what happened then?

During the first lockdown, I realised I needed to avoid stress.

Like so many other people, my lifestyle had changed overnight. I wasn’t going out and was eating differently. This made me so unwell I ended up staying in bed for five days.

So, I looked into changing my diet. I eliminated foods which I thought may trigger some of my symptoms.. **

Within five months, all of my symptoms disappeared, and I have had no symptoms for the past two years. I still take the same dose of levothyroxine and I feel really well. I seem to have found what works for me although I realise we are all different.

What was the hardest thing about living with a thyroid condition when you were very symptomatic?

I have more than one!

I would say your family and friends not realising that you’re not well. My partner was great though! After reading up on it, he realised just how much the symptoms can affect you.

The other aspect I found hard was my work. I did some shows and it felt like my whole tongue was tangled.

Do you have any message for anyone who’s struggling with a thyroid condition?

I would say try to educate your friends and family. Maybe give them some information to read so they can understand it a little bit more– you’re hypothyroid, not a hypochondriac!

One thing that friends and family should definitely not say is ‘It’s mind over matter!’ It is much more than that!

If I meet somebody with a thyroid condition and they’re having symptoms, I avoid saying ‘Just keep positive’ as I don’t think it is as easy as that. I think it is more of a case of finding what works for you.

 ’I would like to thank the BTF for all that you do – it’s incredible and it’s really needed!’

BTF comment

*Subclinical hypothyroidism or mild thyroid failure is indicated where the levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone are raised with normal levels of thyroxine (FT4).

**We are often asked whether people need to follow a specific diet with hypothyroidism, particularly a gluten free one. Some people, like Verona, do report feeling better following specific diets. Unfortunately, there are insufficient scientific studies to date which prove that thyroid antibodies can be normalised by making dietary changes, such as eliminating gluten. So reported benefits are anecdotal until more research has been done. Our BTF thyroid and diet factsheet provides more information about the thyroid and diet https://www.btf-thyroid.org/thyroid-and-diet-factsheet

Find more resources, including patient stories, films and details of our support network at

Living with hypothyroidism

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