Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Aliz Toth has kindly written a guest blog to share her thyroid healing story so far with us all. It is extremely inspiring and empowering and shows us what is possible - beyond what conventional medicine tells us. Read her story below.
~Written by Aliz Toth~
I have been experiencing symptoms for at least the past 15 years, however for the most part of this time I thought these things were normal and that everyone experienced them in some way or another.
I would have a number of digestive issues such as IBS, constant fatigue, changes in my moods and temper, sensitivity to cold, need for caffeine and sugar for energy, I would over sleep and experience vertigo and dizziness daily.
I had seen a number of doctors by this point but I never got any answers besides “get more rest if you’re tired”, or “have some Panadol to ease your dizziness”.
My blood work was always “normal” and not knowing any better myself, I took their word for it.
It wasn’t until about 7-8 years ago when a friend of mine told me she was gluten free after seeing a naturopath that I began to question whether my symptoms were actually being driven by my diet.
So, I booked in to see a naturopath who was able to pick up on so many things in just our first session. We did a few in-clinic tests that showed I had high candida and a number of food intolerances such as eggs, cow’s dairy, almonds, yeast and gluten.
I removed these foods from my diet and began a herbal detox protocol she had put me on, and I felt exceptionally better, but not 100%. I figured it would take time and that it would be a long-term adjustment. During this time, I also became vegan and stayed this way for the next 4 years.
During my clinic days of my 3-year nutritional medicine degree, I was most interested in focusing on mental health, but this slowly shifted and I began taking an interest in thyroid health. I had seen a few instances where this played a significant role in symptoms but wasn’t ever picked up by doctors, and I wanted to understand this in more depth.
Straight after graduating I began my own business consulting whilst also working my day job, and as a result of this I crashed and burnt. I was already experiencing the same onset of symptoms as the ones I had back at the beginning, but this time it seemed like it came on with a vengeance.
I just KNEW it was my thyroid. I had long had my suspicions, but my TSH was always “normal” and no further testing was done.
This time, my levels were off the charts. I was in sever hyperthyroidism and straight away I was strongly advised to medicate. I was told I had Grave’s Disease and that my only option was medications. No further tests were advised.
I knew I didn’t have Graves, it just didn’t sit well with me. All my symptoms were that of Hashimoto’s. I had requested they check my antibodies, which they did, and my TPO and TgAb antibodies were off the charts.
Again, I was told I had Graves.
I then asked to have my Thyroid Receptor Antibodies (this is the test for Graves) tested, and as I suspected, they were negative.
I had Hashimotos.
This made me feel both relived but also very emotional. I had been dealing with debilitating symptoms for years, and I finally knew why.
But now I was faced with a challenge that I knew would be a lifelong commitment and adjustment and that life as I knew it would be altered.
This had its challenges emotionally and mentally because up until this point I’d never fully understood or knew anyone with a chronic illness, and the people in my life didn’t know how to fully support me.
I was experiencing a huge roller-coaster of emotions, and I felt self-conscious talking to people about it because there were times I was made to feel like it was in my head, that I was giving my disease power for thinking about it, or that I was choosing the suffering each time I talked about it. I was also told that by trying out different healing protocols and I was depriving my body of certain foods, which just made me angry and frustrated even more.
I was depressed and was at my lowest point, ever. I had multiple days where I wished I wouldn’t wake up the next day because that would just be easier.
To be honest, I am still working through things. I am always researching and looking at functional tests that can help me paint a clearer picture.
From doing this I have found out I once again had candida, high inflammation, leaky gut, possible SIBO, HPA dysfunction, abnormal cortisol levels and blood sugar imbalances.
Because of all of this I am currently focusing on two main things.
Eating an abundance of whole-foods, good quality meats including organ meats and drinking plenty of water and herbal tea, and ensuring to take time out as much as possible.
As far as food goes, right now I am mindful to avoid my main triggers which are gluten (this makes me extremely fatigued, irritable and depressed), dairy and refined sugars. I also try and stay away from grains, especially rice as I have recently found out my arsenic levels are a bit elevated, as well as lentils, beans and soy, which my stomach does not like one bit.
These foods also flare up my period pains, so I’m happy to live without them.
I did do a live blood analysis with a wonderful lady here in Melbourne who is a medical scientist and is a pathology guru, and we saw my inflammation go from crazy high to a beautifully normal level with simply implementing these diet changes, so right now that is what I am sticking to.
From here my levels swung back to “normal” within 6 weeks (this is common in Hashimoto’s) and to this day my TSH, T3 and T4 are within optimal ranges. I have not ever taken medication.
Do I always follow it perfectly? God no. But I do pay for it when I don’t, so it serves as a great reminder.
Besides this, saying “No”, taking guilt-free time out and having quality “me” time are all a non-negotiable for me. This is crucial to my mental health and I will never sacrifice these to please others. I have also had to learn how to speak my truth, be kind to myself and trust that I am making the best decisions for myself, no matter what others say or think.
5 quick questions from Dani:
1. If you could go back to yourself at the time you got diagnosed - knowing what you know
now - what is one thing you would say to yourself?
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to be patient, to be kind to myself and it’s ok to have the bad days because there are always good days around the corner.
2. Tell me one thing you have learnt out of this experience which has helped you to grow?
One thing I have learnt from this, is that we are incredible beings. We are delicate yet fierce and strong and what has helped me grow the most was the realisation that life is all about growth and change and that we are adaptable, as long as we listen and are accepting of change.
3. Who has been your biggest support throughout this journey?
I am extremely fortunate to have a supportive family, and friends who understand and hold space for me in whatever capacity I need. But my biggest support has been myself. My own relationship to self has completely shifted and it’s the most important one in my world.
4. What are your top three books or podcasts (or other resources) that especially helped you in your healing journey?
My top 3 recommendations would be the girls at Autoimmune Wellness, Izabella Wentz and Sarah Ballantyne. These women were the first people I listened to and started my journey with. There are many others but I find these women have fantastic resources from books to podcasts to blogs which can help answer many questions and get you started on your own journey without the feeling of overwhelm.
5. What is your favourite healing mantra / affirmation?
My favourite affirmation is “you are allowed to feel, I accept you, I love you and I am one with you”.
I truly believe that we need to let go of the need to always be positive and focus on only the good. I don’t believe this is healthy and its suppressing healing at our core. I allow myself to feel the bad as much as the good, and I hold space for myself with love and kindness on those days. That’s been the hardest yet most rewarding experience.
Aliz is a nutritionist who supports autoimmune warriors to navigate the path to healing with a holistic approach. She has recently launched a podcast all about helping people to face the ups and downs of chronic disease - find her podcast Autoimmune Diaries on iTunes and follow @autoimmune_diaries on Instagram.