The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience. C. H. Spurgeon

This is Not a Thyroid Blog


This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

http://www.michelbabajanian.com/thyroid_surgery.htmlBut it is a blog affected by Thyroid. My last decade has been deeply affected by thyroid and I had no clue. I stopped blogging, and interacting online over the last few years because I couldn’t muster the energy. Now I’m discovering it was likely all about that bow-tie shaped gland in my neck.

The thyroid gland sits below the Adam’s apple on your throat and takes the shape of a bow-tie. (The women call it a butterfly shaped gland, but I prefer bowtie.)

Some of the over three hundred (300!) symptoms of Thyroid problems had started affected me terribly. I don’t want to list all of them, but there are a few that became hallmarks of who I am/was.

Terrible Memory

I imagine at least that I’m a fairly smart guy.  But within the last ten years no matter how smart I think I may be I couldn’t remember anything. My life became one great big worry about the hereafter. Meaning I would constantly walk into a room and wonder what I’m here after. Needing a cup of coffee I would walk into the kitchen with my cup in hand and between my office and the kitchen (less than 10 feet) would forget what I was going in there for. I would look at the stack of bulletins and forget to pick them up on the way to church.  I would set my Bible down at church and immediately forget where it was.

I had started “joking” that if I came down with Alzheimer’s it would take five years for anyone to notice. My memory has become the butt of jokes about me. I take them all in stride, and laugh at them because they are true.

But I can’t tell you how devastating it is to have someone tell me “I can’t trust your memory.”

Depression

Yeah yeah, swallow your garbage theology: “Christian’s aren’t supposed to get depressed.”  Even Spurgeon talked about what he called “the minister’s fainting fits”

AS it is recorded that David, in the heat of battle, waxed faint, so may it be written of all the servants of the Lord. Fits of depression come over the most of us. Usually cheerful as we may be, we must at intervals be cast down. The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy. There may be here and there men of iron, to whom wear and tear work no perceptible detriment, but surely the rust frets even these; and as for ordinary men, the Lord knows, and makes them to know, that they are but dust. Knowing by most painful experience what deep depression of spirit means, being visited therewith at seasons by no means few or far between, I thought it might be consolatory to some of my brethren if I gave my thoughts thereon, that younger men might not fancy that some strange thing had happened to them when they became for a season possessed by melancholy; and that sadder men might know that one upon whom the sun has shone right joyously did not always walk in the light. – Lecture 11

C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students: A Selection from Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle., vol. 1 (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1875), 167.

For years I’ve struggled through bouts of depression. No need to go into details here, but it’s a reality and let me assure you, when a pastor gets depressed, he really does think something is spiritually wrong with him.

Apathy

I’ve already written about it, so again no details. But how can I love Jesus, love my (His!) church, and love my family, and still not care about anything?  Maybe I needed to see a shrink?  Maybe I needed those anti-depressants.  They don’t work for this problem.  But this kind of apathy doesn’t make sense. It’s not emotional, it’s not spiritual, it’s a result of your body and brain being exhausted because your thyroid is responsible for a host of things from metabolism to brain power. It’s like a fuel pump that malfunctions, lowering the fuel flow in your car and then complaining when the engine won’t rev, it’s not the engine.

I tried to compensate for the sense of lethargy that came with it by increasing my coffee intake. I’ve surged as high as three or more pots of very-very-strong coffee per day. Sure I like coffee, but still, that’s a bit extreme isn’t it?

 

Brain Fog

For me this was the worst part. I couldn’t think straight.  I continually messed up words, I would look at the Microwave, and call it a lawn-mower (at least it has an M in it). I’ve had to ask the congregation for a Bible character’s name: “Who was that guy in the tree?”

“Zacchaeus” they would lovingly shout out.

I love the Bible, I love Greek, I love Hebrew. But my language studies took a nosedive because I couldn’t remember stems and markers (trust me, I should know them by now.)  Things I knew for years, I couldn’t concentrate on.

This wasn’t mere ADD, it was like looking at all of life through a fog so thick you couldn’t see past your glasses.

Meghan O’Rourke at the New Yorker described her brain fog in Oh too familiar a way:

“For weeks, I drifted along in a flulike malaise that I thought was protracted jet lag. I began getting headaches and feeling dizzy when I ate. At talks I gave, I found myself forgetting words. I kept reversing phrases—saying things like “I’ll meet you at the cooler water.”

One morning in March, I sat down at my desk to work, and found I could no longer write or read; my brain seemed enveloped in a thick gray fog. I wondered if it was a result of too much Internet surfing, and a lack of will power. I wondered if I was depressed. But I wanted to work. I didn’t feel apathy, only a weird sense that my mind and my body weren’t synched. Was I going mad?” [Source].

I would have continued to ignore and just “feel bad” about all of these symptoms (I didn’t mention all of the others that add up to an instant diagnosis for a first year med student.) Then I lost my voice.

Forced into the Doctor’s office I was annoyed by the diagnosis. Just give me my voice back doc. Then I started looking at all of the symptoms of Low thyroid (Hypothyroid) and specifically Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Everything is connected.

Then I started looking for the list of Hypothyroid symptoms that tend to affect men. Gotcha.

Pastor, if you’ve been feeling inexplicably down and having trouble concentrating, get your thyroid checked. Get more than a plain TSH test, ask your doctor for a full thyroid panel which includes TSH, T4, T4 free, T3, T3 free, and certainly the TPO  TGB antibodies.

 

The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble. Count it no strange thing, but a part of ordinary ministerial experience. C. H. Spurgeon

Depression in Ministry

 

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