You may not be sure what to say to a loved one who has recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, or other chronic condition. Like any experience in life outside of our own reality, it can be tricky to understand what your friend is going though. You see them struggling with symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, mood swings or other issues, but maybe they don’t talk openly about what they’re experiencing, or you’re unsure how to bring it up.
This may be a frustrating time for them. They may not even know what they need or want in terms of support. But make no mistake, having the support of friends and family goes a long way in helping a new patient get well.
Your presence means more than you think. And here are a few things you can say to encourage your friend as they deal with hypothyroidism:
Many people don’t know much about their thyroid or how big a role it plays in their body function. When your thyroid is affected everything from your metabolism, body temperature, digestive system, mood and much more will also be affected.
Encouraging your friend to self-educate can be vital in helping them to restore their health. Nobody knows our bodies and how they are feeling better than us. Someone who is in tune with their body and knowledgeable of thyroid health will be better able to communicate with their Care Team about what they need.
A good doctor is super important to a hypothyroid patient. Many doctors only look at Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to assess thyroid health, but most patients do not know that more comprehensive blood work (including tests for Free Triiodothyronine (fT3), Free Thyroxine (fT4), and TPO antibodies) is needed to get the big picture.
A doctor who takes time to understand their patient’s symptoms, history, and test results is key. Since many people with hypothyroidism continue to suffer with symptoms even after starting medication, they need a Care Team who will work to find solutions that will work for their specific situation. If your friend doesn’t think her doctor is really listening to her, encourage her to find one who will. It can make a world of difference.
Unlike traditional healthcare, where patients only check in with their endocrinologist or GP a few times a year, Paloma Health has board-certified physicians who provide around-the-clock monitoring and care. This helps so doctors can adjust a patient’s medications and care plan in real time.
Dealing with chronic illness day after day can feel frustrating, lonely, or stressful. This stress can worsen symptoms like fatigue and brain fog, and can make previously simple tasks much more difficult.
It can be hard to use your voice to ask for what you need. There is fear of being vulnerable, or being misunderstood. Fear of being seen as selfish, or lazy. Or of asking too much.
Your friend needs to know that there’s nothing wrong in asking for help. There will be a period of adjustment as she finds her way forward and there’s no shame in needing to slow down for a while or asking for some extra help. Not overdoing things and taking time for healing are essential to getting on the right track.
As someone who was blindsided by my diagnosis of hypothyroidism, I can say that this was my first thought. Nothing would ever be the same. I will need to take medication for the rest of my life. My thyroid controls so many different functions in my body and they will all be affected.
But once a little time had passed and I was feeling better, my outlook improved. You do settle into a new normal of sorts, but it’s not a bad thing. It made me more aware of my health overall and caused me to be more health conscious.
It’s not the end, but the beginning of a new journey. And with good care and supportive friends, it’s a chance to regain your health and feel good again.
One of the best things a friend can do is listen when someone needs to talk. Having hypothyroidism (especially early on) can be like a roller coaster ride with constant ups and downs. Having someone to talk to can help keep you on an even keel while you are trying to deal with everything hitting you all at once.
Even when you don’t know what to say, just listening to your friend can be a tremendous help. Giving her an outlet and a place to vent without judgement can be invaluable.
Just as it can be difficult for someone who doesn’t have hypothyroidism to understand what it’s like, it can also be difficult for someone who does to explain. They can appear healthy on the outside, but on the inside it’s a completely different story. Symptoms will vary and some days will be better than others.
But having someone in your corner who just wants to help can be a huge boost for a patient. Having a support system is key and will be a tremendous help along the way!
Find inspiration for a healthy way to support your thyroid