For those of you that are new to IWWB, Pass the Mic is a way to give other spoonie warriors a platform to share their chronic illness journeys with each other. Sharing helps us feel a little less alone in our battles. Wanna be featured? All you have to do click here.
This month’s PTM warrior is Lauren. She is here to share her experience with multiple illnesses to include Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Sleep Apnea, chronic anxiety and depression to name a few.
So what’s your name and where are you from?
Lauren F. Los Angeles CA resident by way of New York.
How old were you when you were diagnosed with your illnesses? What events led up to the diagnosis?
I have an overlapping diagnosis history starting with panic attacks at age 13/14, then diagnosed with depression & anxiety in my late teens. After 9/11, I suffered from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Around 20, I was diagnosed with severe depression. My most recent were Hashimotos and sleep apnea at age 34 and insulin resistance at 37.
What has your treatment plan been? Which medications have you had the most success with?
For my depression & anxiety, I’m currently Cymbalta which has worked well for me for a number of years. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is fantastic and I recommend therapy to EVERYONE.
I do lots of anti-anxiety techniques, especially remembering to breathe.
For Hashimoto’s, I did combo therapy initially. Now just T4 and LDN to reduce antibodies.
I use a CPAP machine to treat my sleep apnea. And I’m still figureing out what to do about the insulin resistance. It will probably be a dietary/lifestyle change, or possible gut health issues that need to be remedied.
Are you in remission? If so, how long?
I’m in remission from OCD for sure. It’s been almost 20 years since my last symptom. But all the others, no.
Besides the symptoms, what’s the most difficult part of having a chronic illness for you?
The hardest part for me is not being believed or understood, especially by friends/family and medical team. Medical gaslighting is huge in our community. I’m happy to share my experience if it’s helpful!
What’s the biggest impact Hashimoto’s has had on your life? Have you had to make any changes to your everyday life?
I recognized I’m a very active mind living in a very sleep body. So I’ve had to change my life completely.
I was forced to leave my job in 2017 because of cognitive decline and functional exhaustion related to Hashimoto’s and sleep apnea. And I had to spend several years healing while I reinvented myself and created a new career that I had complete control over.
Working a 9-5 doesn’t work for me. It’s just not how my body works.
Besides physically what other effects has Hashimoto’s, Sleep Apnea, Anxiety and Depression had on you (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc)? How have you worked through these issues?
Mentally/emotionally/spiritually — I’ve had to re-evaluate my self-worth in a world designed with exactly the opposite in mind. It’s been an uphill battle.
Financially — I’ve had to accept help when I couldn’t afford my own way. And this has entirely undermined my sense of security, prosperity, and independence. I also recognize how lucky I am to have these resources available to me, because so many in my community do not.
I’ve worked through a lot with self-help and coaching, as well as therapy and the love and support of close family and friends.
Who or what has helped you the most in coping with your diagnosis?
BEING BELIEVED. And speaking up.
What goals have you been able to accomplish in spite of all of your illnesses? What’s next for you?
I’ve started a whole new chapter of my life! With a new lease on life post-diagnosis, and an award-winning podcast to boot.
Next up: I’m training as a health coach to further serve my community!
Think back to your Hashimoto’s diagnosis day. What advice would you give to yourself or someone newly diagnosed?
Just because someone else doesn’t believe you, doesn’t mean it’s not real. You CAN do this.
Any other comments or words of wisdom you want to share?
You are not alone!!!
If you’d like to connect more with Lauren you can find her as @uninvisiblepod on FB, IG and Twitter.