There’s nothing quite so frustrating as sitting in your doctor’s office with all of your symptoms of hair falling off of your head (or growing out of your nipples… really??) stomach exploding with weapons of mass destruction, anxiety through the roof, and relentless and ridiculous amounts of weight gain — and then, having your doctor tell you it’s all in your head…
Until you come home, throw down your keys, look at the mess in your kitchen (and realize you haven’t taken anything out of the freezer for dinner) only to face a spouse who doesn’t believe you either.
It just sorta takes everything to a new level of:
How do I know?
I’ve lived it with my husband so I know it first hand.
Rock and I eloped in 1989 after a whirlwind year and a half of college life and relationship chaos that left us incredibly connected to each other but not very equipped for being married to each other.
That happens sometimes — that whole ‘not being equipped’ thing — when you’re 20 and 21 years old, sporting a professional music career and have family on both sides who don’t want you to be together.
Heck, that happens sometimes when you’re 40 and 41, sporting successful corporate careers, and have family on both sides who are cheering you on from every angle…
But in any case, it’s where we were…
We each entered with a significant piece of Samsonite luggage… filled and heavy with those unhealed places inside of us that left us more needy than ready for the partnership that a healthy marriage required.
But no one is all just the weak parts…
The strengths that we brought were my ambition, strong work ethic, and high energy to accomplish just about any task and handle just about any stress — while Rock brought strengths of an easy, happy personality, ability to flex and flow, to serve with joy, and take care of those more seemingly maternal qualities of nurturing and care.
So, we had a modern day dynamic of our own yin and yang.
Plus we were wildly attracted to each other and made beautiful music together as hired guns at the high-end restaurants and clubs in So Cal so, we had this really sexy fuel to feed the flames of passion that were already pretty strong between us.
All-in-all: We were a mixed bag of nuts.
One thing I knew about me: That when some really hard times hit in our first 5 years of marriage, I dug in harder to make our marriage work. My thought was the same as when I had a stubborn pan to clean in the kitchen: You just push harder and apply more elbow grease and eventually, with all the muscle, strength and vision, you’ll get through it.
Well, that works,
Until it doesn’t…
Until Hashimoto’s pretty much kicks you in the gut
And lands you on your ass.
Who knows how long I had Hashimoto’s… all I know is that life — my energy, my health, and my brain — came to a screeching halt at around year 7 of our marriage.
Just at the point we had worked through the hardest stuff and were ready to take new ground in our marriage and life, my health spiraled down. The doctors misdiagnosed me for a year and a half, told me it was all in my head, and then threw me on a bunch of drugs (kind of the equivalent of cutting the sensor cable to your oil light in your car so that it stops doing that annoying blinking thing…)
Eventually, after many trips around the mulberry bush, a scrillion tests, and office visits, and some daunting misdiagnoses, they figured out it was a thing called “Hashimoto’s.”
“We don’t know what it is, or how you got it, but you’ll need to be on meds the rest of your life.”
“There is no cause. You just have it.”
“No: Diet doesn’t make a difference. Eat whatever you want.”
“You just have to take your thyroid pill and then, you’ll be back to normal.”
“This is just psychological.”
These were the things that I heard. Over and over, repeatedly.
This was the information we had in 1996.
Now, you can imagine — when that’s what the doctors are saying, and you and your spouse are looking to them for information and guidance, then, you’re going to find yourself in a bit of a quandary on what to believe.
My husband believed what was said.
But my body was saying something different.
That’s part of where our breakdown came in.
I’d say, “I feel awful and exhausted after I eat these foods.”
He’d say, “The doctor says you shouldn’t and food doesn’t make a difference.”
I’d say, “I can’t think straight and my body is in pain.”
He’d say, “You’ve taken the medicine for 4 months now, the doctor said you’re back to normal.”
I’d say, “I can’t sleep and when I do sleep, I wake up and am groggy all day.”
He’d say, “The doctor said this is psychological.”
Followed by Rock saying, “When do I get my skinny, happy, productive wife back? I miss having fun…”
And I’d sit there looking at him for a punchline to this joke.
But he wasn’t kidding.
Did he think he was the only one? The only one who missed the way I used to be? I wanted to fit into my old jeans, have my old energy, and my old brain cells back.
I wanted to sit at a comedy club again without falling asleep in my drink.
I wanted to go to a restaurant and order food without ending up in the restroom while my stomach exploded with weapons of mass destruction.
I wanted to go to a movie without being overwhelmed at the bright lights and big sounds that bombarded me from the screen.
I wanted the old me back, too!
I just didn’t know how to get there. And I didn’t know how to get him on the same page as me about it all.
Here are the challenges you’re dealing with when you’re in that place:
– You’re exhausted and dealing with massive brain fog, concentration and memory issues while you’re trying to understand things that you can’t even pronounce at first.
– You’re likely still trying to do all the things you used to do. Only now you’re probably beating yourself up for not being able to do them.
– You’re not sure where to turn or whom to believe.
– And you feel alone.
You know why?
Because it’s really hard to convince a doctor to believe you, yes. That is awful and defeating… But you don’t have to live with that doctor.
That’s why it’s especially emotional to try to convince a spouse. Because it feels like you could be a team, but aren’t. And that he could help, but doesn’t. And that you don’t need to feel so alone,
But you are.
I’ve been in all those places. Trying to convince the person who said he’d love me ‘for better or for worse; in sickness or in health’ — of how real my pain, frustration, exhaustion, and brain fog really was.
Only problem was: He didn’t believe me.
And I didn’t understand enough about the condition to explain it.
And I didn’t trust myself enough to represent it.
I felt like a victim.
And I felt like I was sleeping with an enemy… my spouse who loved me but didn’t believe me felt like he didn’t love me.
And I was spending so much energy trying to convince him… until I finally realized I wasn’t doing for me what I really needed…
And that while I was waiting for him to put on his cape and be my Superman to rescue me, I realized that my cape was hanging in the closet too.
It finally became clear: He wasn’t going to rescue me.
And here’s what I had to do:
1. Understand my condition.
More than two decades ago there was no www.findeverythingatyourfingertipsdotcom, so I had to do it the old fashioned way: I went to libraries and bookstores. I sat with my health notebook that I started in order to track my condition and took notes. Exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed… I went anyway and hunted down the help that I needed. There was not a lot of information but it got me moving and I started to own my learning. I would go to health conferences that I read about in a book, or I’d call someone from my LANDLINE with LONG DISTANCE CHARGES (hilarious) over in England because I had heard someone had the same condition I did. I tore sheets off the bottom of the flyers at the health food store, after I had just spent an hour inside asking the vitamin people tons of questions about what helped for what symptoms and conditions I thought I was dealing with.
I just kept on searching. And kept on learning.
It’s so much easier in some ways, these days, because it’s all at your fingertips. The challenge in the 21st century is that it can feel overwhelming, whereas 23 years ago, it felt underwhelming.
I get it. But the truth is the same: As you own your journey, information is power.
2. Let go of the victim.
What came up for me was this: I was waiting for someone else to be my god and guru. And waiting isn’t always a sign of patience, it can be a sign of being a victim…
Of not owning my own life. Of not taking responsibility for my health. Of wanting someone else to tell me what to do because I want someone else to blame when it doesn’t work out.
All of that is no bueno.
I had to do the deep, emotional work of seeing where I wasn’t owning my life and where I expected someone else to do for me, what I was designed to do for me.
That was some of the biggest work I’ve ever had to do. Ever.
3. Take consistent action on what I learned.
Knowledge is just one part of our health. Real commitment to being better means taking action on what we know. Some of my best girlfriends like August and Tracy hear something is good for them, and they are researching it, ordering it, and actually TAKING IT in a New York minute!
The supplements do NOTHING on the counter. They do not jump into your mouth when you stare at them. Consistent action is where the power of results lives.
4. Represent myself confidently.
I’ve had some romantic notions of what love is: Love is rescuing me. Love is standing up for me. Love is speaking my mind for me and ordering the dinner for me. But can I be honest? Life has shown me over and over and OVER again that I am here to do that for myself even if there is a man sitting across from me or sleeping next to me.
Hashimoto’s reminds me constantly that the greatest romance that I need to have is the one with me.
When I have that, I can stand for myself and say what I want and need. When I can be that for me, I can be me with anyone without needing them to be more for me than I am. (Read that sentence again. Slowly and out loud.)
5. Find my tribe of supportive people.
I love people and I want to share my healing journey with others while they share with me.
We are not meant to be on an island as we heal. And if our spouse isn’t waking up in the time that we want and need them to, then we don’t have to keep knocking on a door that isn’t opening. There are beautiful communities like my Girlfriends’ Guide to Hashimoto’s and Thyroid Refresh where you can come to learn, heal, and thrive together.
When I was able to do those things for myself, then, I was able to:
Communicate what I wanted and needed with my spouse and invite him into a PARTNERSHIP with me
And then, clearly communicate HOW they can help.
When I am clear, I can be clear with others.
When I know what is MY work to do, I can do that with others.
Because here’s the biggest punchline that I really needed to get:
I am 100% responsible for my life, health, happiness, and peace.
And once I own that, I can live in the RESPONSIBILITY and JOY that comes with me being committed to my health.
A lot of the relationship frustrations we have come from false expectations we put on another person — and then we are waiting, wishing, and wanting that ‘someone else’ to show up in heroic ways for us.
Almost 100% of my suffering in the relationship with my husband went away after I realized that I was my own hero.
And then, guess what happened when I stepped into the arena, fully dressed in my cape and big-girl panties, all ready to go?
My husband caught on to the energy and excitement and showed up with his cape, too.
He wanted to advocate for me AFTER he saw me advocating for me. He wanted to research with me AFTER he saw me researching for me. He wanted to help to take care of me AFTER he saw me take care of me.
Would I have loved for him to take the frickin’ lead on all of it like the old fairy tales and Disney movies told me I could expect? Yes. I would.
But there was something different that I needed to learn…
I needed to step into my power, and to know the power that lives in me.
If he had rescued me, I might have always been looking for someone else to be the more grown up grown up and the more adult-y adult.
But because of this journey unfolding this way, I got to know that:
I am the grownup in the room.
I am the adult-y adult.
I am the hero I’ve been looking for.
My relationship with my husband healed and I’ve gotten so much more of what I truly wanted, after my relationship with ME healed and I gave myself what I truly needed.
There’s no one more powerful for you than you.
That’s what I learned from my relationship with Hashimoto’s.
And that has served me in every other relationship in my life.
That was the punchline I was looking for.
And that, my Hashi Girlfriends, is seriously
Stacey Robbins is the Author, Speaker, and Hashimoto’s Life Coach who wrote the award-winning book: You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone and has created the 7-module program: The Girlfriends’ Guide to Hashimoto’s Course. She spends her life-time encouraging, inspiring, and empowering women to know how powerful and beautiful they are and that they are the hero they’ve been looking for. Stacey believes that we can use every circumstance in our lives for our good — including a Hashimoto’s diagnosis.
Stacey is married to Rock Robbins, the author of The Guys’ Guide to Hashimoto’s. He tells his story of “finally getting it” and encouraging other spouses to do the same.
Rock and Stacey live with and homeschool their amazing teenage sons, Caleb and Seth, in Southern California
To learn more about her Girlfriends’ Guide to Hashimoto’s Online Course, click here.