I became obsessed with my lab results and spent hours researching everything from scholarly articles to more digestible health blogs. I went gluten-free. I cut out most cardio. I gave up coffee.
I can't pinpoint which behavior was most effective, but there were encouraging signs at this point. I began to feel more in touch with my body, and I noticed changes that would suggest something happening hormonally. But at this point it had been almost three years without a natural period, and my insomnia and mood were unbearable.
So when my doctor told me I was "unstable" that day, I couldn't disagree with her. It did feel that way. But I could track where my anxiety and defeat were stemming from: I'd been on a health roller coaster of invalidation and dismissal.
"I'm unstable because I haven't slept in months and am frustrated with not having answers!" I responded, my voice shrill with desperation and offense. But I sat in silence as she wrote me prescriptions for Cipralex (an antidepressant), Zopiclone (a sleeping pill), and Alesse (a birth control pill to "regulate" my cycle). "When you're ready to have kids, we'll put you on Metformin, and you'll have a great chance of getting pregnant," she reassured me with smile.
I walked out of the office both defeated and infuriated. Not only did I feel completely invalidated, but I still didn't have any answers. It seemed crazy to me that the solutions for a 28-year-old with hormone levels in the "prepubescent" category and high blood sugar — despite an extremely clean diet — would be a cocktail of meds and no formal diagnosis.
How I Finally Figured Out My Diagnosis ... and Regained My Health
I didn't fill the prescriptions. I knew the solutions suggested weren't the solutions for me. In my work with clients, I believe strongly in holistic health, and I wasn't ready to go the medication route just yet. I continued to look for answers on my own.
Finally, during another Saturday of fervent research, I stumbled across an article highlighting signs of hypothyroidism. I had every single one.
But my doctor had assured me hypothyroidism wasn't a possibility; my TSH levels were in the "normal" range. After more research, though, I learned that the TSH doesn't tell the whole story, so I requested T3- and T4-specific tests.
They returned with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. For the first time in years I felt validated in my health journey.
My naturopath prescribed me a compounded desiccated thyroid supplement, which differs from traditional thyroid supplements in that it contains both T3 and T4 (and is appropriate for people who have trouble converting T4 into T3, the body's usable thyroid hormone). Within days I felt like a new person. I had energy, actually fell asleep for more than three hours a night, could concentrate in sessions with clients, and saw a marked increase in my mood.
My hair stopped falling out, my joints stopped hurting constantly, my skin stopped flaking, my digestion resumed, and my blood tests six weeks later revealed encouraging hormone levels and normal blood sugar.
Honestly, though, I didn't need the blood tests to know I was healing. I finally felt normal again.
And guess what? I started getting regular periods. They're still not perfect — if I'm under a lot of stress or go on a yoga hiatus, I won't get one. But for the most part, I can trust that my body is no longer in chaos. I don't think about it anymore — and that's the best part.
I also feel encouraged knowing that, if I decide I want children, I now have a good chance of conceiving naturally. My most recent blood tests show normal hormonal levels for someone my age.
My story may not be a treatment plan for your own journey. But what I hope you get out of it is empowerment to advocate for your health. If you're experiencing symptoms, don't stop seeking answers because someone tells you your tests show that you're in the "normal range." There's nothing wrong with getting a second or third opinion, or taking an alternative treatment route if you feel uncomfortable with the "traditional" one. Don't let anyone shame you into staying silent or accepting one solution.
You are the expert about your body, and you deserve to enjoy inhabiting it.