When Poor Health Affects Your Writing, Work and Life

health writing life work

The New Me

For the first time in a very long time, eight months at least, I woke up this morning with a story on my mind. It took ahold of me and would not let me go. It caused me to toss and turn. It made my mind race and then demanded that I get up and write it down. I started writing about 5:30am and didn’t stop until almost 7:00.

It was a victory. It was a tiny miracle that I am profoundly grateful for.

For the first time in a very long time, I woke up this morning feeling like myself.

I’ve alluded in the past to the fact that I’ve been dealing with some health issues. After exhaustive research and tests and changing doctors, I finally have a diagnosis -sort of. I have sub-clinical hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue (to be confirmed next Thursday), and poor digestion/gut health.

Because of one reason right after another, my body is, or has been depleted of what it needs to keep going. This has had an effect on every aspect of my life. Very low energy, depressive moods, inability to handle stress, anxiety . . . and these are only some of the symptoms.

Even with all of this, the most frustrating symptom by far has been BRAIN FOG. It’s discouraging when half way through a conversation I can’t remember what we were talking about or people I’ve known for years, I suddenly forget their name. Worse still is barely being able to read. Being able to concentrate on a book has been impossible and every time I’d go to write, nothing would be there. I’m not talking about being inspired. I’m talking about not being able to form the words, the sentences or to have cohesive thoughts.

As writers, we know the best way to get better at writing is to write -every day if possible.

We live to write and when we’re not writing, it’s painful for us. At least, that’s the way it is for me.

So when I woke up this morning with a CLEAR MIND, and a story that would not leave me alone, it was a wonderful experience. It’s helped me to hope and to see that I’m getting better. It makes the medications, diet changes and life style changes that I’ve made, some of them very hard, worth it. I can continue to be patient with myself if that means I’ll get the full use of my mind and body back. With time and some tender care, everything will be all right.

Here’s a list of things I’ve tried to help me get better:

  1. Thyroid medication with both T3 and T4 hormones (under doctor supervision).
  2. Avoiding soy like the plague. (BTW, soy seems to be in EVERYTHING.)
  3. Avoiding wheat, gluten, most dairy and most processed sugar. (I really miss bread.)
  4. Adding homemade yogurt (small amounts because of the dairy).
  5. Adding some fermented foods like homemade sauerkraut and fermented peppers.
  6. Changing my daily multivitamin to one my body can process.
  7. Eating five small nutrient dense meals a day.
  8. Eating healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and butter.
  9. Eggs! I try to eat at least two eggs a day.
  10. Homemade Chicken Stock (Beef when I can afford it).
  11. Turmeric with pepper (added to breakfast smoothies).
  12. Probiotics to help my gut health and eating prebiotic rich foods.
  13. NOT counting calories.  (Concentrating more on healthy food choices.)
  14. Reduction in exercise. I was doing too much and can only do yoga for now.
  15. Trying to control and handle stress better. With four kids this is a challenge.
  16. Doing less. I hate this one because I love to work, but it’s helping me get better.
  17. Sleep. Taking breaks, sitting down. Basically when I feel tired, I need to rest.

I’m probably missing some things from this list and this isn’t going to work for everyone. I’m not even suggesting you follow any of this. I’m just including it to give a picture of what I’ve been through these last three months.

By doing these things:

I’ve actually seen my weight drop back to a healthy, ideal weight for my body size and type (losing 15-20 pounds depending on what time you want to start counting from).

I feel less puffy.

My digestion is improving.

I am starting to feel like I have more energy even though I still have bad days.

This is a frustratingly slow process, but I know I’m getting there. Being able to write this morning was a big indicator of that for me.

My ultimate goal aside from the obvious improvements to my health and ability to live my life, is to be able to get off the thyroid medication and still have a healthy functioning thyroid. I still have more tests to go through to see if that will even be a possibility. Taking the thyroid medicine is horribly inconvenient so I’m hopeful I won’t always need it. And now that I do have the official diagnosis of sub-clinical hypothyroidism, this is going to be something I’m “battling” the rest of my life. I will have to forever be watchful of my health if I want to keep this from progressing to full on hypothyroidism and there is a whole slew of other diseases that I am now at risk for because of this. It’s annoying to say the least.

I’m taking back my life though and as always, I’ve learned so much through this process.

I now have a greater empathy for people who live with chronic disease or who are constantly in poor health. Until now, it’s always been hard for me to sympathize because I’ve had good health most of my life and the energy I needed to get things done. Now I truly understand that sometimes you just can’t-get-up or do the things that you would genuinely like to do. I understand now how frustrating that can be. And while I have faith that I will get better, I also know that this happened to me for a reason. Perhaps this greater love and empathy I’ve gained IS the reason.

Through this process I’ve also learned that I really do need to focus on being whole.

I need to take better care of myself. In many ways, I’ve run faster than I’ve had strength. I’ve pushed myself many times, too hard and for too long. I have great confidence in my abilities, but while I focus on taking care of my family and helping those around me, I matter too. I am important enough for me to take care of myself also. In my mind, that sounds horribly selfish, and many people are criticized these days for their self centered attitudes, but I don’t really think this is selfish of me. My body was shutting down and going into survival mode. I could no longer ignore what was happening to me and while you might think this is me being dramatic, I felt like my body was dying, but I could never voice it. I didn’t know how to voice it.

I just knew something was horribly wrong.

But now I know.

And it’s not all that bad.

I’m not dying and I will get better.

I’m being made anew and I can’t help but be grateful for this process.

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4 Responses to When Poor Health Affects Your Writing, Work and Life

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I know a little bit about what you’ve been going through — I’m super glad that you’re discovering habits that help!

  2. Nichole, thank you for sharing this! I’ve been suffering with so many of the symptoms that you have described and honestly, I KNOW that eating a clean healthy diet is HUGE to help me feel better but reading this gave me the kick in the butt I needed at this moment.

    Have a great weekend!

    Jo-Ann

    • Nichole McGhie says:

      Thanks so much Jo-Ann! That is a huge part of why I decided to share my story. I suffered in silence for so long, not really knowing what was wrong. I want people to know there’s answers out there and there’s always hope.

      Thanks a bunch for reading and commenting!

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