I’ve been asked many times what one should do to start the healing process of Graves’ disease and Hyperthyroidism, or any thyroid disorder for that matter. There are two sides of this problem: Emotional (psychological) and Physical (i.e. diet, herbs, supplements, medication etc.). We’ll start with the psychological part because I believe that this is where all started.
First, knowledge is power, we all know that. The more you know, the better decisions you can make. Sometimes, just reading a different opinion, from a different point of view can help you realize that your thyroid disorder may have different backgrounds from what you were told by the doctors (i.e. purely physiological). It should be noted here again that understanding the additional psychological reasons for your disorder does not substitute any medical treatment. Thyroid disorders are also physical disorders, not only mind disorders, and they should be treated medically as well. By that I don’t mean agreeing to invasive procedures like RAI and thyroidectomy, which are irreversible and which I highly suggest to avoid, if not absolutely necessary. But even if you went through them, it is still not late to perform some life style changes before they transform into another disorder (autoimmune or not).
So, what can you do:
- I suggest you sit down with pen and paper and go through your hierarchy of needs (specifically your 5 Basic needs below). Examine honestly which of these needs are not met or to what extent they are not satisfied. Understanding what you need in order to be happy with your life is a step towards your healing.
- Examine your emotions and how you feel as a result of your needs not being met. Negative emotions are the ones you should be looking for: rage, anger, resentment, shame, fear, sadness, loneliness, guilt, inferiority. Have in mind that they are probably deeply suppressed in your unconsciousness and not simply available upon your request to be seen and admitted immediately.
- Look deeper at close relationships: with family members, children, spouses, parents, siblings, and close friends. These are the relationships that mostly matter and affect us. Emotions related to them, especially negative ones, are the hardest to detect and admit. It is like that because your Super Ego, or the moral aspect of your personality, is trying to protect you from emotions very painful to face, and it will try get in your way by all means. You may go also through the so called denial, which function is to protect the ego from things that the individual cannot cope with. For example: it may not be acceptable to admit that your children are driving you “crazy”, and you feel guilty because good mothers shouldn’t be angry at their children. Or that you don’t love your spouse anymore (but he is a good guy in general), or your parents are a burden (but you shouldn’t feel that way because you are a responsible daughter/son). This is especially true when you don’t have a particular reason and can’t really blame anybody for anything specific. You may be blaming yourself for something you did or said, that is not “morally” and “sociably” acceptable. For example, it’s not morally acceptable to annoyed with your siblings, or children at times, or your best friend. You may be even embarrassed or guilty about experiencing or having these feelings and emotions at all. These I call “secondary emotions”, and they are even more poisonous than the “primary” emotions. You may think for example: “I shouldn’t be resentful to my husband because he is not that bad person overall; he takes care of me”, or “My best friend helped me when I was moving, I shouldn’t be irritated or annoyed that she is ignoring me now, when I need her so badly”. As a result of these ambivalent feelings and emotions, you may feel guilty, angry or frustrated- this time towards yourself. You may also be paralyzed by fear that you can lose financial stability, social prestige, or a friend. You may feel lonely, even though you insist that you prefer to live by yourself or you may fear death, even though you know rationally that “death is part of life” and is inevitable. There are thousands of situations and variations where you can experience negative emotions, but they can hide very deeply in your subconsciousness so even you are unaware of their presence. It’s nobody’s fault, it is the way it is. It’s human. But just admitting, allowing, and inviting them to come to the surface is in many cases enough.
- In the process of emotional dissection, I have found very helpful two things: One is meditation, and I already wrote about in other articles. The other method is writing three pages every morning. I learned this method some years ago from Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, and since then I write every morning. It doesn’t really matter what you write about as long as you do it every day. Cameron believes that this helps clean out your mental trash every morning, and I assure you that it works very well for me. Get a pretty notebook and start tomorrow. Write about anything you want, the content doesn’t matter. You may put your thoughts, your feelings, your intentions, and desires, or your plan for the day. You don’t even have to read it after that, and nobody else will, so just write. You don’t have to be a writer either. As long as you are literate and can write, in any language, do it. I already have seven notebooks, filled with my life in the past few years. Will I even read them again, I don’t know. But they served their purpose and they still do.
- Building your self-esteem and cultivating self-love. Improving self-esteem is a very individual journey. It’s a key part of feeling happy within ourselves, and of feeling that we’re succeeding in the things that matter to us. It is also your road to health. It may be also a slow and difficult process; it’s not a twenty-four hour makeover. But don’t give up, it’s worth the time and effort! There are few methods that can be used to “treat” low self-esteem, even if you believe you don’t have that “disorder”. Again, don’t confuse self-esteem with self-confidence, these are different things, you may be very confident, but if you are reading post, you may have some of this “low-self-esteem disease” as well.
Below is a brief schema of the thyroid healing plan; some steps can be omitted if they are not relevant to the specific situation. This is also the plan I usually follow when working with clients, suffering from thyroid disorders.
More information on this subject you can find in my book: “Mental, Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Thyroid Disorders”.
Hope it all helps your healing journey!