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You may know Stacey Robbins from her amazing award winning book, You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone, or you may be aware of Stacey’s story after joining us for our webinar hosted by her husband, Rock, who wrote The Guy’s Guide to Hashimoto’s. Her journey is one so many of us can relate to – a fast downward spiral marked by acute symptoms and a lot of frustration. But today, Stacey is living life to the fullest and inspiring many others to do the same with her website and book.
We’re thrilled that Stacey will be joining us for our June 27th webinar to share her story of healing and how being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s gave her her life back. We will dig deep in to how we can all live our lives in a more conscious and intentional way!
Until, read on to learn more about Stacey’s approach to healing and how you can use her strategies in your own journey.
- Your journey back to health was a long one and one that had an element of loneliness. Can you speak to how important it is that someone’s life partner or family be supportive when you’re coping with Hashimoto’s?
I’m not sure there’s anything more powerful within our relationships than being believed. When a child comes to you and says that someone touched them or when a friend comes to you and says her partner hit her, you have this window of opportunity in the confessional of that sacred moment to say, “I believe you. I’m here for you.”
And even if you need more information and questions to ask before you land at the same conclusion, people can tell if your questions are coming from a place of “I believe you” or if you’re being the stand-offish skeptic.
When someone comes to you with symptoms of what’s going on, it’s a sacred moment of trust — the person is likely afraid, confused and vulnerable. To be taken seriously and believed, even in the face of some more questions you might have is essential.
Because when we don’t believe someone, the energy shifts from taking care of the person in need, to trying to take care of the other person’s skepticism. This sacred moment shouldn’t be all about the person who doubts, it should be about the person in need.
My husband didn’t believe me. His family and my family didn’t believe me. My doctors didn’t believe me. Not only did they not believe me, they treated me like I was making it up. I don’t know how you make up gaining 100 pounds and having your skin bleed. I don’t know how you call someone lazy when you’ve watched them work 70-80 hours a week for years, I don’t know how you tell someone you love them and that you’re there for them and then, when they come to you in need you treat them like they did something wrong…
All I know is that was my reality when I was dealing with the symptoms from Hashimoto’s, and that this is the reality for so many women — it’s heart-aching.
And for as hard and awful as it was — and is something I don’t want anyone to go through, I say this to the woman who was not believed: “Nothing is wasted and you are powerful to use even this for your healing…”
Because not being believed and supported showed me my strength to persevere and to be my own greatest source of support and belief. I learned that my advocacy for myself is the foundation for every other advocacy I would experience in my future.
If there’s a spouse or family member, neighbor or friend who is reading this: You have the power to make a significant difference in the life of your loved one with Hashimoto’s. Your belief in them is the beginning and is so valuable — and you can help in so many practical ways: Driving to a doctor’s appointment, helping to research since the Hashi’s person likely has gobs of brain fog, preparing batch meals that are anti-inflammatory so that cooking isn’t a grind, babysitting the kiddos, or sending a cheery note filled with good wishes — your love and loving actions are powerful. Being present and accounted for during the lonely parts of being ill is a huge gift that you can bring that person you love with Hashimoto’s.
- You tell people that working on thoughts, beliefs and patterns is as important as making lifestyle changes and finding the right medications. Why is addressing our mental state so important when it comes to healing?
When we have a health issue, it’s so important to address our thoughts, beliefs and patterns because whatever is our most limiting, unhealthy belief will sabotage our efforts to heal.
So, for example, when I had bought $500 in supplements after spending another $500 to see a specialist for my health, I just stared at my supplements on the counter. My husband would come up and touch my back and say, “You know, they don’t jump in your mouth all by themselves — and they don’t work if you don’t take them.”
I couldn’t figure out why I would invest so much of my hard-earned money into protocols I wouldn’t follow, until I sat down and examined my thoughts and beliefs. I came to see a few uncomfortable revelations: One, was that I didn’t feel worthy of being well. Like somehow sickness was my just punishment for making mistakes in life. I also found that I was afraid to put hope into anything. I had put hope into other programs and they didn’t work so, giving up before I started saved me the heartbreak of trying and failing. And I also was afraid — what if I actually do get well? What is going to be my voice to say, “No” if I don’t have sickness anymore and what is my excuse going to be for not living my dreams?
Once I addressed those areas by recognizing those faulty beliefs, I was able to move forward and champion my own health success without sabotaging it anymore.
- The title of your book – You’re Not Crazy & You’re Not Alone – resonates immediately with so many people. Why do you think so many of us feel that way, both before and even after a diagnosis?
Well, I think at first we do feel crazy — because we’re not able to function like we used to and we can’t figure out why. I’m not doing anything differently so, why do I feel so different? Why can’t I function? I can’t even think straight — I wasn’t hit by a truck — I have no good reason to explain this so, it must all be in my head.
I also think the symptoms seem vague and sound like common first world problems. They come off as, “Oh, I’m tired. Poor me. I have a lot of friends, a good job and a spiritual community of people who like to be around me. I’m just a whiner.”
Or we measure our issues against things that are worse, and therefore disqualify ourselves : “Well, I don’t cancer like that woman, or a missing limb like that man — and I don’t live in a third world country where I have to beg for food — so, really, what am I complaining about?”
As if the thoughts in our own head aren’t enough, we have people whose voices won’t stop either: our spouses, family members, co-workers telling us to ‘hurry up’, call us ‘lazy’ and tell us to ‘get over it’ — but when we realize that we can’t, we go to doctors who tell us that we’re normal and our labs are fine even though we don’t feel normal or fine. They pat us on the back and hand us a prescription, “Why don’t you take this anti-depressant and lower your stress a little more.”
All those reasons and more, we feel like we’re going crazy.
And that’s just before the diagnosis.
Afterwards, we’re told to take a pill and we’ll get better, but we don’t.
To go on a diet and we’ll get better, but we don’t.
To exercise more and we’ll get better, but we don’t.
And when we go back to the doctor, and the methods aren’t working, we aren’t believed or we are dismissed as being difficult.
It was a very long road for me before diagnosis and then after. But in between it all, I felt a whole lot of crazy.
But I also think this: That we likely wouldn’t feel that way if we didn’t have some kind of broken trust with ourselves. We feel like we’re crazy because we’re really busy judging ourselves for not being what we expect. So many of us have been hard on us — with overworking, poor eating, too little sleep and toxic relationships — that when our body talks to us and waves the little white flag, many of us have said to our bodies, “Oh just stop it. Do what I tell you to do. Keep performing and everyone will be happy. Why are you being so selfish?” So, I think for many of us with Hashimoto’s, part of why we feel crazy is because we’ve been in a broken relationship with ourselves. We haven’t been listening or compassionate with our body for a long time and trying to re-build a bridge with ourselves can be a very unraveling and destabilizing, messy process before things get reconnected and stabilized within ourselves.
Befriending ourselves with kindness, compassion and listening is a huge part of feeling okay and being our most trusted advocate is essential as we heal. All of those good, friendship qualities that we bring to ourselves, will make us feel less crazy and alone.
- What’s the most damaging assumption people (patients or their loved ones) make when it comes to Hashimoto’s?
Well, I think there are a few top contenders which we talked about before:
“You’re just trying to get attention.”
“Everyone’s tired, just buck up.”
“You’re just being lazy and trying to get out of your responsibilities.”
I think that when we hear that from the people who say that they love us and are committed to us, it hurts more than anything. And because those people feel so right about their assessments, they spend their energy trying to convince us that they’re right, instead of spending their energy on hearing us and helping us through our hard time.
Assumptions take the conversation away from the relationship and the person who thinks they’ve figured you out can’t hear you anymore. It shifts the energy to trying to convince the person that you’re telling the truth.
So, the damaging assumptions are just damaging because they’re not true. They’re damaging because that person doesn’t get you the help you really need and they’re damaging because they break the trust between the two people in the relationship. It’s akin to victim-blaming and shaming in our culture. On top of the person going through the hard circumstance of their situation — in this case, their health – then, they also have to endure the bullying aspect of the person across from them. So, even if the Hashi’s patient gets the help from somewhere else, that relationship where assumptions were made, will still likely need to be repaired and that broken trust between them, resolved.
- On your site, you say you can use Hashimoto’s to heal your life. That sounds like a very positive take on what many people see as a very negative thing. How can Hashimoto’s help a person heal?
I believe that with all my heart — that Hashimoto’s can heal your life. For all the heavy and hard parts we’ve been talking about today — the truth is that I am very much convinced that Hashimoto’s reminded me that I am an Alchemist: that I have the ability to turn this hard thing into my gold.
I’ve learned that when doctors or family members don’t believe me, I still believe me and find someone else to help. Instead of resenting them or taking them to heart, I learned to see them as “Orange Cones”, which is probably my most talked-about chapter in my book — because you see people as giving you information. “Okay, you don’t believe me or don’t want to help me, I’ll go around.” Just like I would go around an Orange Cone. I wouldn’t get mad at the cone, I would just take their unhelpfulness as information and use it to direct me to someone more helpful.
I’ve learned that I am the grown-up in the room. I am responsible for the food I put in my mouth, the supplements I take, the way I move my body, my work schedule, my relationships — my happiness and my peace. Hashimoto’s reminded me that I’m not waiting for anyone to rescue me from my life choices but that I am responsible to bring happy, peace and health to my world.
I learned that I have the power to be a victim to this condition — or anything in my life — or I have the power to rise, be resourceful and use this toward making my life more of what I want. The power has been in me all along, just like Glenda the Good Witch said, but Hashimoto’s was the catalyst for me to see it and use it.
That kind of reminder is something that I don’t resent but I bow to in gratitude because the truth is that I wasn’t paying attention to the signs before this. I was just bypassing all of the messages about my toxic relationships and workaholism and such…Hashimoto’s got my attention and it reminded me: Stacey, you are here with tremendous gifts and a tremendous purpose. Your time and energy are your biggest commodities in life and if you keep making choices that distract your time and steal your energy, you’re not going to be able to do what you’re here to do and be who you’re here to be. Hashi’s required something of me: To pay attention to my life in a conscious way. And it’s also given something to me: The opportunity to remove excuses and make the dreams of my life come true. I choose my dreams with every bite of my food that is healing and every person I hang out with who is healthy and fun, and every time I say “yes” to my work that is rewarding and providing.
Because Hashimoto’s is about the body attacking the thyroid, I have had to look at where I was at war with me. In being able to see that more clearly, I am able to recognize that when I make my choices throughout my day, that I am saying to myself, “I choose me.”
On Tuesday, June 27 at 5:00 PM PST / 8:00 PM EDT, Stacey Robbins will be chatting with us about her strategies for healing Hashimoto’s. RSVP here!