fall leaves photo
Photo by LABabble

Doesn’t the R. I. P. Challenge make you feel like fall is finally coming? Fall has always been my favorite season, even when I was a girl. Ever since I was girl, it has felt like the real beginning of the year. Perhaps there is something to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah or even Samhain that makes more sense to me than New Years Eve, which is a holiday I have always disliked. Fall really feels like the beginning of the year to me. It could be that I’m a teacher, and I work to the rhythm of the school year. It has always seemed to me that each September brings new opportunities and a clean slate—a chance to start anew.

I don’t think I’m too different from many women in that I spent a great deal of my life worrying about myself, what people think of me, and whether I’m okay. It has taken a long time and a lot of work, as well as questioning a lot of what I was brought up and socialized to think, but I am finally becoming comfortable with myself. I could kick myself over how long it’s taken, or I could just be happy it is happening. I decided to do the latter. After all, I think plenty of people never arrive at that place. I do feel happier and more confident than I have in a long time. Perhaps ever. What a gift.

On the one hand, I wonder if my levothyroxine might have something to do with it. An underactive thyroid can cause depression symptoms (in addition to a whole host of other seemingly unrelated symptoms). I have now been on my medication for a month. I can’t remember the last time I felt so little anxiety. I am not sure I’d be me if I didn’t have some anxiety, but it’s been freeing to worry less.

I was socialized, like a lot of girls, to put others before myself. On some of the occasions when I have not done so, particularly as an adult, the repercussions, particularly from family, have been swift. I have spent a great deal of time—too much time—worrying about what other people think of me. Perhaps it is my approaching 45th birthday, but I just can’t do it anymore. I admit I admire some of these millennial women I see who have such strong ideas of who they are, of what is fair and equal treatment for women, of what they want. Perhaps it’s just a perception, and they feel the same inside as I always felt. It sure seems to me like their demands to be treated with respect are different from what I’ve seen in women of my generation and previous generations. I have come to realize that I really do need to take care of myself and that I need to see my own value. That doesn’t mean I need to be selfish. It means I need to love myself.

It’s hard to say that. That I love myself. It’s a new feeling. I have spent a lot of my life not really sure if I do love myself or if it was appropriate to feel that way about myself. I spent a lot of time doubting and second-guessing and worrying. I just don’t want to do it anymore. And it doesn’t really matter if I do because if I doubt and second-guess and worry, it doesn’t change what other people think about me anyway. So, in the end, there really isn’t much point in all the worrying.

I don’t know how it will change my relationships, or if it will, but I already sense a shift in my marriage. I feel closer to my husband. I’m also sensing a shift at work. Yes, I work hard, and give my job the attention it deserves. But I am trying, and succeeding more all the time, to leave my job at work and be more present at home.

I just feel different. I’m happy. It feels good.


I recently had a physical for the first time in years. I know, I know. One of the reasons I went is that I have had some fairly bad pain in my knees, and I was worried I was developing arthritis. Knowing that my pain would likely only get worse, and worrying I might not be able to walk if I didn’t do something, I asked my doctor about it. She checked my knees. She asked me if I sprained my ankles a lot when I was a kid. I think so. I can’t really remember. I do remember hurting my ankle so bad one time playing basketball that I thought I broke it. My friend Darcy managed to help me get home. I also pronate when I walk, which is something I have attributed to my hips. Who knows. She also ordered x-rays just to be sure that I wasn’t developing arthritis and ordered a physical therapy appointment. I have had the x-rays, and I understand that my knees look normal. My physical therapy starts Wednesday.

Anyway, my doctor is really thorough, and she orders a series of blood and urine lab tests for all her new patients. I was a bit surprised to get a phone call from her office the day after I had all my lab work done. I have an under-active thyroid, and she had prescribed levothyroxine for me. The prescription had already been called in to my pharmacist. Minutes later, my pharmacist called to let me know it was ready.

I did some research, and it turns out that a laundry list of what I thought were unrelated physical complaints might all be due to an under-active thyroid. Fatigue, joint pain, some gastrointestinal issues, sensitivity to cold (I am always cold when everyone else is fine), and slow metabolism, most of which I chalked up to “getting older,” if I even thought it was a concern. I didn’t really think there was much I could do about it. I was most concerned about the knee pain because it impacted me most through my day. The fatigue was not negligible. I thought it might be job stress. I am naturally introverted, too, and people wear me out. I am a teacher, and I’m around people all day. My husband was concerned about the fatigue, but I don’t think I remembered to mention it to my doctor. I don’t have as much trouble with it during the summer.

I have been taking my medication less than a week. It’s supposed to take a few weeks before I feel any difference (I thought). But my knees already seem to feel better. I can’t decide if there is real change or if it’s in my head (cue Dumbledore quote from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), but I just walked up and down the stairs today for the first time without thinking my knees were going to give out on me. Even getting up from a sitting position was hard with my knee pain. People asked me often if I was okay. I grimaced and said I was fine. My knees just hurt a little. A lot, really, but I don’t like to trouble others with my issues.

To be honest, my first reaction on hearing I had this condition and that I would have to take medicine, probably for the rest of my life was Here we go. The aging thing starts. Before long I’ll need one of those pill packs so I can put my daily pills in the compartment for each day of the week. I’m not ready for that part of my life. I’ll be 45 next month. Still, if this medicine will make me feel more energetic and just, well, better, I don’t mind.

Sorry for any folks who come across this page Googling “hypothyroidism” and expecting to learn something. I’m no expert. I know a lot more than I did a week ago, though. I have joked with my husband, who is nearly four years older than I am, that I’m older than he is because I felt older. I have gray hair. He doesn’t. I don’t have his energy or strength. He can walk up the stairs without grasping the banister for support. For the first time in a few years, I’m actually hopeful that I can feel a bit more like my old self again.