Click here to listen to a reading of this blog:
Social events and activities are great for everyone. Spending time with friends, family or even meeting new people is good for our mental health and promotes a good work-life balance for those of us who work. It’s easy to stay home all day or become a recluse, but it takes extra effort for many people with hypothyroidism, to muster up the energy and enthusiasm to socialise.
Why is This?
For many of us with hypothyroidism, social events can drain us in several ways and can even leave us with a ‘hangover’ effect.
The Mental Effects
Mentally, we may feel exhausted from trying to maintain enthusiasm for discussions, a smile on our face and the ability to follow a lot of stories and updates from several different people, due to hypothyroidism affecting how our brain functions.
Thyroid hormone is needed to ensure our brain works optimally, and when thyroid hormone is low, we can seem forgetful, withdrawn, confused and strained.
Focusing on making sure we pay as much attention as possible, when we have thyroid brain fog which can block concentration and the ability to process information, is very mentally draining.
After a social event, often we get home and sit in silence for a good while, whilst our mind is still buzzing and trying to process the day! This can have a knock on effect where we feel physically tired, achy and withdrawn and so we often need a day or two to recuperate afterwards. We may even experience a flare up day. It’s like being overstimulated. Even loud noises or a disruptive party at the next table in a restaurant can worsen our hypothyroid symptoms and drain us even more so.
For those of us who are quite sensitive to how others around us feel or project themselves, this can add another layer to the draining qualities of social events. I’m particularly sensitive to negative emotions (as I am a HSP) and tend to suck them up.
If my husband comes home after a bad day and is feeling rubbish, I soon do, too.
If I’m with someone who complains a lot and moans about everything, I soon find myself doing it and become rather cynical, too.
Happiness-suckers, those people we all know who, when we spend time with them, leave us wondering why we even still bother with them, can be especially draining on our energy and raise stress levels. They’re not good for us to hang around with too often, if at all.
The Physical Effects
And then there is the physical fatigue of a thyroid condition.
People living with a chronic illness such as hypothyroidism are often known as ‘Spoonies‘, meaning we have a limited amount of energy, and need to plan our energy use wisely so as to make it through the day.
This can result in a shower, getting dressed or brushing our hair becoming exhausting, so before we even arrive to meet a friend, we could already be exhausted! It might sound silly, but when you’re that limited in energy, it can be a real issue.
Having to stand at an event can be debilitating, too, let alone if we’re walking from bar to bar or doing some other form of physical activity. Drinking can also worsen hypothyroid symptoms. I personally gave up drinking alcohol altogether so that I could enjoy social events more and not have flare up days afterwards.
If a social event is in an unfamiliar place, then this can also be tiring for a few reasons. If applicable, the anxiety and worry we feel over an unusual environment (anxiety seems common with thyroid patients) is tiring and can be overwhelming. It can be concerning to be in an environment where, if we suddenly feel really ill, we have nowhere to escape to, or we feel unsure if they cater to our dietary needs (many autoimmune hypothyroidism patients follow gluten-free diets, AIP, Paleo etc. to help with symptoms).
We may have also had to travel or walk a certain distance to reach the location of the event, which uses up more of our energy.
If the event is at our home, then we’ve got the hosting to worry about – cleaning the house beforehand, going food shopping (don’t even get me started on how energy-draining that is!), preparing food and generally being the host – looking after guests and their needs. For the average person, this might be a bit draining or stressful, but it soon wears those with health conditions down.
So as you can see, we can easily become depleted; emotionally, mentally and of course physically. Many of us have to plan to have a day or two to recuperate afterwards, and if it’s a longer event, say a weekend-long wedding affair, we may even need double the recovery time!
I often find myself weighing up whether a certain social event or situation is worth the recovery time afterwards or if I can afford to spend days recuperating at all.
Do you ever experience this?
Read more about this topic:
Thyroid Patients Explain the Struggle of Social Situations
How To Survive Social Events With Thyroid Disease
* * *
This excerpt is from the book You, Me and Hypothyroidism: When Someone You Love Has Hypothyroidism. A book for those who know someone with hypothyroidism, such as a friend, family member or partner. Further information on managing social events, energy levels, mental health and more, can be found in the full book.
Please remember that if you’re a thyroid patient living with poor mental health or lingering physical symptoms, that you don’t have to live this way. To address why you may still be feeling unwell (often despite being on thyroid medication too), please see this article and go through each suggestion, putting your thyroid jigsaw back together.
There is also the online thyroid course ‘Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue’, which walks you through how to overcome thyroid fatigue.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, blogger, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. She has two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. Although British, she advocates for thyroid patients worldwide.