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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ball State chapter.

College can be one of the hardest changes one must go through as a young adult. We are faced with the pressures of figuring out the course of our lives in a matter of months and are expected to pursue it for at least four years. We are also ripped away from our homes and thrown into a new way of living, surrounded by unfamiliar faces. It can truly be a distressing experience to first endure. However, because we may be consumed with the worries and stress of this change, never do we expect nor seek to find underlying issues with our bodies during this time.

I started my first year of college in the fall of 2021. This was a difficult time for me as I was traveling four hours from my hometown in Illinois to the town of Muncie where I knew no one nor was I familiar with the layout of the town. I felt alone trying to navigate how to live in my own place and do things by myself–all while trying to understand the college process. The worries became so paramount that they overwhelmed my entire being. Though I was able to eventually figure out where things were, how to do things, and whom to socialize with; I was still stressed about the demanding work of courses. 

By the time of fall break, I found out that my grandfather had passed after battling cancer on and off the past few years. The following months grew harder as my mental health dipped. I began to struggle with myself and how to deal with the loss while still enduring the stress of school. I thought that the days couldn’t get any worse, but boy was I wrong. 

By spring semester, I had gotten things in order. I was starting to feel better all around about school, campus life, and myself. However, my body was not reflecting how I was feeling emotionally. I started to notice a disconnect between the two, but I tried not to put much more thought into it. The more I ignored it, the worse it became. I began to express my worries with my mom and a few close friends, all of whom told me that they felt there was something going on but it was probably nothing serious–perhaps just a deficiency of some sort. However, my gut was telling me otherwise. So, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment during spring break to get to the bottom of my worries once and for all.

So what were these symptoms that had me so concerned? Around the time of my grandfather’s passing, I noticed constant fatigue; no matter how long I slept or how many naps I took during the day, my body was always exhausted, and I never had enough energy. Shortly after that began, I slowly noticed my hair falling out in clumps more and more, causing it to thin out in certain areas. This symptom was the one that stood out the most to me because it was something I was physically witnessing. I started to document my hair loss each day while trying different supplements and hair treatments to fix it, but there wasn’t much improvement. The next symptom I noticed was heart palpitations–the irregular beating of my heart. This was not a constant symptom, but it happened randomly every so often. It was always scary because it felt like my heart was going to stop and there was nothing I could do to stop it, I just had to let it pass. Another noticeable symptom was digestive issues. I started to lose my appetite as I no longer desired to eat as big of a meal as I used to. It just always felt like I was full even if I had eaten very little. This symptom baffles me particularly as I feel this one isn’t talked about enough despite how many other women have this issue. Here is a link that discusses digestive issues more with thyroid disease. Other symptoms I didn’t notice until consulting with my doctor were joint pain, specifically in my hands, dry skin, swelling, and weight gain. 

After the first visit with my doctor, I was scheduled to take a panel of bloodwork to see what could be the potential underlying issue. That is where my journey with Hashimoto’s began. My bloodwork alerted my doctor that there was an extremely high amount of antibodies in my system that indicated I had an autoimmune disease. When paired with the examination of my thyroid levels, it was clear this was a form of hypothyroidism, called Hashimoto’s.  Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that leads to the development of hypothyroidism. This is due to antibodies attacking the cells in the thyroid, causing the thyroid to not make enough of its hormone. When left undiagnosed or treated, it leads to the severity of symptoms and the production of other health issues. 

Now, it has been a year since my diagnosis. I have been on medication and have seen my thyroid levels back to normal. However, I still have some flare-ups–making some days harder than others. Even on my “normal” days, I still don’t feel the same as I was before my diagnosis. The diagnosis has impacted my mental health tremendously on top of my physical health. The disease not only creates a battle between yourself and your body, but also your mind as well. It’s crushing to know that I now have to live with this disease for the rest of my life and that I will never entirely be the same again. It also creates this frustration of wanting to be “normal” or better again and not knowing how to get there adds to that. 

Since the diagnosis, my mother and I have done a lot of research on what can trigger my disease and what can also help deter it. From trial and error, so far changing my diet has been the most helpful. I noticed that a lot of my digestive issues were coming from eating gluten and large sugar consumptions in my day. Thus, I have started a gluten-free diet and limited my added-sugars in my food and drinks. I’ve also worked towards implementing other healthier choices in my life to make me feel physically and mentally healthier. However, I am still learning the ins and outs of Hashimotos; so I can’t completely say I know what I am doing. I can say that every day, I’m trying to improve my physical and mental health in natural ways so that, perhaps, I don’t have to solely rely on medication forever to improve my disease. Unfortunately, without enough research or medical help, it’s a day-by-day process that I will hopefully have down eventually. 

Payton Male

Ball State '25

Payton Male is a sophomore at Ball State University. She is a CJC major with a Psychology minor with the hopes of being a detective or an FBI agent one day. In her free time, she enjoys the arts, literature, music, and being with my three dogs.