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Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I have been feeling a bit low for some months. It’s just that time of year, I told myself, everyone feels a bit down during the winter. Then, of course, there was the weight gain. Just the effect of end-of-year festivities and laziness, I tried to convince myself, whilst being shocked at how I was no longer fitting into my normal clothes. I pushed away the thoughts on dieting: I’m not a woman obsessed by body image - I refuse to pander to the diet ‘industry’. No, I thought, I’ll just continue eating what I normally do - lots of green vegetables and fruit, fish daily, occasional meat, small amounts of carbohydrates, no junk food – and I’ll be OK. Except I wasn’t: my body looked unrecognisable to me and no matter what I seemed to do, I kept gaining the pounds. I tried to keep up with my running – something I used to do a few times a week – but found it a struggle. It felt like it took more energy for me to walk downstairs than it did on my usual 5 mile runs; I couldn’t do it.

This tiredness shocked me. A year ago I was working 15 hours a day on a film, then writing my book in the evenings and all weekend, surviving with, at best, 5 hours sleep a night; living on pure adrenalin (and a little coffee). I’m used to being the type of person with get-up-and-go; the people that know me would attest to my ‘zest for life’. In contrast, the last few months my lethargy has been overwhelming: even falling asleep at my desk at regular intervals during the day. I’ve felt like I was a walking zombie, barely functioning. I tried to justify all this to myself with different reasons – the changes in my life, post-‘outing’; the constant, draining, book-related promotion; no longer having my film-industry job with which to be energised over; extended influenza; suffering a personal loss – and yet, none of these really explained why it was that I’ve felt so run down recently.

I received a couple of frantic phone-calls from my doctor yesterday. “Your test results came back,” he said in a worried tone, after he had finally got hold of me on my mobile. “They’re terrible. Things have deteriorated very badly.”

He described what was considered ‘normal’, and then contrasted that with how far off the scale my numbers were. “Dreadful,” he said, reinforcing his point. “We need to sort this urgently, or things will just grind to a halt and you will become very ill.”

Suddenly it all made sense: the low mood, the constant tiredness, the weight-gain. Was this due to the lack of Thyroxine in my blood, I asked him? Was that why I have been feeling so crap for the last few months? Yes, as it turns out, it was. Thankfully, Hypothyroidism is both a common condition, and easily treatable, though I’m going to have to be medicated for it for the rest of my life - which is a bummer. The positive news is that I’m not going to be feeling as shitty as I have done for most of this year, which is a great thing: I’m looking forward to feeling awake enough to concentrate properly, not to mention finally have the energy to return to my regular jogging schedule.

Oddly, the only thing that hasn’t been affected in all this is my sex drive. I may not have had the energy to write all day, or go for a long run, but at least I know all systems are firing normally in that regard, which has come as some relief. Literally.

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