Hi, my name is Dr. Cassie Wilder and I worked myself into thyroid imbalance.Yep. Even doctors can get sick. And I want to share my story with you because it’s an important reminder that, spoiler alert, no one person is immune to the physiological effects of stress. Because the modalities that I teach and prescribe have worked for me, it’s also important for me to share that they can work for you too. I believe in transparency, vulnerability, and authenticity. So here’s my confession: I let myself get to a depleted place, a place I know many of my patients have experienced. The happy ending? There IS a way to come back and feel whole again. Here’s how I did it.
The Beginning of My JourneyI was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when I started medical school, but naive to the next level of academics. It wasn’t just keeping pace with a syllabus—it was fire hydrants of information being sprayed in my face from every which way. I developed anxiety in that first year. My type A, overachieving, ambitious (all things I love and value about myself) personality was failing me, and I got my first C. So I stayed up later, pushed harder, studied more, drank more and more coffee, and started to question myself and my abilities. I wondered if all these things I loved about myself were a lie. Fast forward to year four and I was dragging myself to class, practically taping my eyes open to see patients, guzzling up to 64 ounces of coffee a day, and so wired at the end of the night (because anxiety doesn’t really get better if you just ignore it, and too much caffeine is a real thing) that I could feel the crash coming. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel: graduation, moving to Minnesota (!), and not having to study for any more exams. So, I kept on pushing. But the hustle didn’t stop like I thought it would and by June of this year (just three months ago), I was at a breaking point. I hadn’t rested, relaxed, and taken it easy on myself. Instead, I’d started a business, and all I could think about was sharing my new job with as many people as possible, and helping to transform their lives.
My SymptomsIn June:
- I was exhausted: This was my biggest concern. I couldn’t wake up by 7 a.m. It was impossible. I’d set my alarm for 5:30 and snooze until 7 and I would want to cry because I was still so exhausted, even though I was getting 10 or more hours of sleep per night.
- My hair was falling out: My hair is ultra thin, and I don’t have very much so when I started to notice that I was emptying out a full brush weekly, you bet your bum I freaked out. I noticed thinning patch around my temples (on both sides), and the outside half of my eyebrows were barely there anymore.
- I was constipated: I was going the the bathroom maybe every 2 to 3 days. I was eating clean, with plenty of fiber and not a lot of processed foods. Sure, I could have used something like magnesium to get me going regularly, but why would I just force myself to go to the bathroom when I should probably figure out why? Remember the 64 ounces of coffee per day? Yup, still constipated.
- I was anxious: Just about every emotion I had felt like it was going to kill me. I rotated between feelings of overwhelm, I can’t do this, and I’m-just-so-exhausted-how-the-heck-am-I-going-to-get-my-work-done. I’d get excited and happy—and I’d cry. I’d get anxious—and the adrenaline rush would last hours and my blood sugar would crash. I’d get frustrated—and the feelings of overwhelm would consume my brain power.
- I had mental struggle: The brain fog was real. When I was ‘on,’ I was ‘on,’ meaning if I could get myself into a rhythm, it was no problem. But after I was done with the rhythm, man, my brain was toast.
My First Steps to RecoveryIf you’ve been following along here, I bet you’re thinking, she knows that these symptoms sound like low thyroid, and she knows all the natural therapies that would help, why not just DIY it? I could have. But there are some times in life where you need direction and a plan that you don’t create. Where you need another expert to validate what you’re feeling, one who can make you a plan you can stick to. So, though I could have treated myself, I recruited a doctor friend to help me create a plan I could actually implement. And that started by running my bloodwork. My labs in June 2018:
- TSH: 2.891
- Free T4: 1.04
- Free T3: 3.8
- Reverse T3: 26.6
- Anti-thyroglobulin and anti-TPO antibodies: Negative
My Plan to Take Back My HealthI knew the solution wasn’t to keep going the route I was going, and eventually crash even harder. So, I whipped up a plan that was easy to execute but took into account all my symptoms:
- I made a plan to get better: I asked for help from my doctor, and then received it. Being supported by someone else through this was exactly what I needed.
- I organized my day better: I amped up my time management, started using a planner, synced my online calendar up with my husband’s, and started assigning him tasks to help out more!
- I hired help: This isn’t feasible for everyone, but I had to figure out what I could outsource. Whether it’s a cleaning service every other week, signing up for a delivery grocery service, asking friends for help, or adding an assistant to your business, it’s important to take some things off your plate.
- I started to do active meditation: I write out everything that’s on my mind and then embrace the focus. Now, I’m up to about five minutes of silent meditation through my Headspace App.
- I started on a thyroid glandular: It’s the step up from thyroid nutrient support, but with my energy levels tanking, I needed the extra boost of support.
- I started on a potent adrenal support: I also ran my morning cortisol test, which was 9.5 (I like to see between 16 to 24 in the a.m.), so managing stress better, and supporting my adrenals with a supplement was a necessity.
- I continued to eat a varied diet: High in vegetables, protein, fat, and fiber!