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Living With an Autoimmune Disease

written by Colleen Tirtirian July 9, 2018
lack of sleep due to autoimmune disease

I remember it clearly: I was working my first teaching assignment and was counting the minutes until my lunch break. I could not wait to turn the lights off and rest my head. The bell rang at 11:55, and I immediately fell asleep at my desk. It’s not something you do on the job, but I simply could not stay awake for an entire work day. On one of these particular afternoons, it finally occurred to me that despite being tired from teaching nearly a hundred middle-schoolers per day, it was just not normal to feel so incredibly sluggish. I was eating well, sleeping well, and prioritizing my work. I was 23 at the time and should not have felt so tired, and I knew it. 

It wasn’t long after my extreme exhaustion began that I started to experience other symptoms. I started to experience digestive issues, I was cold all the time, and no matter how well I ate or how often I worked out, I was unable to lose any weight. It was around this time that I asked my doctor what she thought was going on. She suggested that I have my thyroid checked. A few weeks later, I was given a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder. It is “the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States…[where] antibodies directed against the thyroid gland lead to chronic inflammation.” (thyroid.org) 

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