As some of you may have seen in my recent Instagram post, this past few weeks have really been a doozy for me. An enlightening, trying, frustrating, confusing and revealing doozy. Here, I'm going to share my own opinions and thoughts on my situation.
**This is NOT to discount any method that has/will work for any other individual. This is merely what I'm going through, how I think and how I feel about my personal circumstances!**
For more background regarding my past health issues involving my pituitary adenoma and it's affect on my body as a child, view this post from a few months back!
In a family filled with women who struggle with hormone imbalance and thyroid disorders, this news really didn't feel too surprising. Finding out information explaining my fatigue, weight fluctuations, digestive issues, brittle hair and nails, low body temperature, poor circulation, and emotional distress was SO relieving. Soon after I felt the relief and went to snag my newly found prescription (Armour Thyroid), I was tipped off that thyroid medication is typically for life. Not only was the prescription for life, it was also made from desiccated animal thyroid (from a pig), which was very heavy on my long-time meatless lifestyle and heart. I made this post Saturday after getting the call from my doctor on Friday with very little details regarding my situation, promising to have more info in my blood-work to come days later in the mail. By the time Monday came around, and I received my blood-work results, I was pretty confused.
All of my levels were within their healthy ranges, aside from my off-the-charts low Vitamin D, low iron and hemoglobin (the last two were not mentioned by the nurse or doctor). This really shocked me. Everything was in normal mid-range, and my T3 FREE had tested on the lower end, but still within a "healthy" range (2.9) according to my blood-work and common averages listed (2.7-5.0). My doctor mentioned getting me to 3.5.
I had been making plans, attempting to make moral adjustments to make room for the medication, preparing myself for life, eventual pregnancy, lots of labs, and monitoring forever. After reaching out to social media to inquire about others' experiences, I felt very comforted and grateful for their support and vulnerability in their stories, assuring me that I would be so much better and happier in my brain and in my skin with everything leveled out.
I consulted others who had been through this, and relied on medical professionals in my family to give me their two cents. A couple would say just take the meds and see how you feel. A couple would say to try supplements to raise the nutrient levels that affect your thyroid, and pair with anti-inflammatory diet for a while and see how you feel. Collin, my husband, definitely supports any decision I make, but doesn't particularly love watching me weigh all my options desperately, deciding which route to take, so he voted for medicine. Frankly, I've been constantly confused, struggling to justify taking a medication for the rest of my life when I could possibly just supplement my way back to healthier levels, and see if my T3 FREE follows.
There's also been some speculation and debate on whether or not an animal product free lifestyle can contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies and mimic thyroid and hormonal problems, and/or actually cause those issues.
This is where I have to really face my own personal decisions on what I put on my plate. I never think of meatless eating from anything other than a moral standpoint, but once put in this position, maybe I should. Maybe I should've been taking supplements, eating adequate protein, and really doing my research to be a well-rounded vegetarian (mostly vegan, but the occasional egg or goat cheese has been known to make it's way onto my plate). I suppose I could "should" myself to death, but it's really just not worth it to me.
Bottom line of this ramble is that I'm officially dropping any label I've put on myself when it comes to dietary and lifestyle choices. I feel like I definitely have felt a warm hug from the social media veg community, and I am so grateful for that. However, if I feel my body and my heart pulling in different directions sometimes, to the point of discomfort, anxiety, avoiding social events, traveling or just bringing helpless tears to my eyes, then I know something just isn't in balance. Especially with a history with an eating disorder, restrictive behaviors, and food anxiety. I want to live my life freely. I really do.
I hate it. I hate that I'm not a 100% perfect vegetarian. I hate that I'm not 100% perfect at being a healthy young woman. I hate that I'm a perfectionist and being perfect is something that I constantly strive for without even trying. I'm cutting myself some slack. I'm listening to my body, and I'm dropping the labels. If I want a little bite of salmon or tuna every now and then, I don't want any guilt. I want my body to feel fed, satisfied, and balanced.
I was really inspired by several articles and blog posts I came across this past month leading up to my doctor's appointment and shortly after. Here's just a few out of the multitude I scavenged through over the past few weeks.
My New Roots bio, explaining that she is a "whole-food lover." I absolutely love her site, her outlook, and her recipes! Yummy!
My Life With Orthorexia via Refinery29, Jordan Younger sharing her journey from veganism into a life dealing with orthorexia--an eating disorder surrounding raw, "pure" food.
Why I Quit Being a Vegetarian explaining how excluding meat can lead to poor food choices instead of a well-rounded lifestyle.
For the next month or so, I will be focusing on whole-foods, mainly those that support the immune system and meal-plans surround auto-immune disease, as they are mostly anti-inflammatory and involve making, preparing, and consuming real food your body will love. I have been taking very pure supplements and am very hopeful with the eventual results and outcome!