I’ve decided not to maintain this blog anonymously anymore, I’m coming out. The original reason I started this blog sans identity was two-fold. First, I wanted to say whatever was on my mind without a filter for fear that I would be judged or found out. Second, there are various aspects of this disease that have created feelings of shame within me, namely, the visible enlargement of my thyroid. What I found was that I used more swear words, was less succinct, got less personal satisfaction from my posts, and it exacerbated my feelings of isolation within my disease.
When I was 23, I decided to get a tattoo of the eagle from a Polish crest I found. My father is from Poland, and throughout my adolescence and young adulthood, upon learning my last name, people would hit me with their vast knowledge of Polish jokes. Instead of considering these people as ignorant propagators of false stereotypes, I became embarrassed to tell people my last name. I chose to get the tattoo as my own form of behavioral therapy. Though I’m forever branded with a ‘tramp stamp’, I like to consider myself a pioneer of that trend. When I got the tattoo, it was not that common and thus, had not yet earned itself a moniker. But I digress… From then on, when people asked about the tattoo, which inevitably they would, I’d proudly declare my heritage. I haven’t felt shame over the “ski” in over a decade. Maybe it was the tattoo, maybe it was part of
growing wisening up; either way, it worked.
My intention is the same here. Though there is still some sort of anonymity through the fact we’re not having this conversation face to face, it still is an effort to abort the shame from my repertoire of emotions regarding my Graves’ Disease. This journey is hard enough without feeling like I have to be ashamed for things beyond my control. I have a noticeably enlarged thyroid. It’s humiliating. I have to wear my hair up at work and I swear there are people who notice it and must think I have an adam’s apple. When I tell my family this, they laugh, but they don’t experience the looks and whispers that I notice. I attribute this to general ignorance. Most people don’t know what the thyroid is let alone where it is or its function. I didn’t until I had to.
So, I’m taking the first step of my behavioral therapy with this blog.
What? Why don’t I just get it removed? Well, you may want to reference this post because I just don’t have the energy to go into it again. I will say this, the cliche of “having a thyroid problem” being a euphemism for being overweight did not become cliche without reason. Every time I think I’m ready to get the surgery and get the first roller-coaster year of adjusting levels over with, I read one horror story after the next on a message board about someone who gained 30, 60, 100 pounds, and I chicken out. There’s no way to know how my body will react to synthetic hormones. I may do fine, I may not; I do know one thing… apparently I’m more afraid of being fat than I am of being slightly deformed.
I’m terrified of all the implications it could have on my life. I have a wonderful relationship that means the world to me and I’m scared that even if an extra 30 pounds didn’t drive him away, the depression and self-loathing I’d feel would do the trick. I hesitate to put that in writing, but that is my fear and I’m tired of keeping it bottled up. I’ve struggled with depression at times in my life and I am not willing to risk a potential lifetime of it yet. I’ve traveled with strangers, I’ve given away my heart, I’ve moved to a city I’d never visited, I’ve quit my job in the middle of a depression, but this surgery would be the biggest risk of my life. I’m scared of ending my life as I know it, even if it’s not for the first time.