Real Women, Real Lives
Who inspires you? Who do you use as your motivator to get things done or to make valuable changes to your life?
There are thousands of women who stimulate our need for greatness. They appear on our television and movie screens, we listen to them on the radio, or we read their encouraging stories in articles or books. It’s easy to put a celebrity on a pedestal and desire their lifestyle, skillset and strength of character, but we don’t need to turn to the glossy magazines, or the big screen, to find inspirational women who can motivate us to succeed. They live next door, work alongside us, and talk to us at the supermarket.
The Real Women, Real Lives feature highlights the incredible individuals who have succeeded on their chosen path, or turned misfortune into positivity. Ladies who have conquered illness or gone above and beyond to help others, and made a difference. Women who have stepped out of their comfort zone and launched a business, or ventures that have an impact on their environment, or community.
These remarkable women are your friend, co-worker and neighbour and I’m delighted to be able to share their stories with you.
Today, I am delighted to invite Rachel Hill from The Invisible Hypothyroidism to share her story.
Tell us a little about you and your story.
Hi, I’m Rachel – Thyroid Patient turned advocate, blogger, author and speaker! It’s been a funny journey!
After being diagnosed with autoimmune hypothyroidism (a thyroid condition) in 2015, my role as a thyroid patient advocate began. This eventual diagnosis came out of years of persistence, trips back and forth to the doctors and symptoms that just kept mounting up.
At just 21-years-old my life had been turned upside down as I was told I had a lifelong health condition and that I would need to remember to take my medication every day, or else I could actually end up in a coma. Not something that is particularly easy to process!
Now that I finally had an answer for the seemingly random symptoms that mounted up over the years – migraines, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, hair loss, menstrual issues, acid reflux, constipation and more – I wanted to know everything about the cause. I embraced understanding what my thyroid condition meant and the options available to me when it came to getting my life back on track. I started to absorb everything I could find on peoples’ experiences with this health condition.
You see, by the time I was diagnosed, I was not only quite broken physically, but mentally too. I was devastated by thyroid disease as I struggled to remain in work and at points, was even suicidal. I lived with debilitating fatigue, pain, brain fog and more, which drastically affected my day to day life. I felt like a 20-year-old going on 90.
Once I managed to begin turning my health around and things started to pick up, I began to realise that there must be many others out there living a poor quality of life with thyroid disease and needlessly suffering, so, I decided to turn my misfortune into something positive; something that could improve the lives of others with thyroid disease too. And that is where my journey as a thyroid patient advocate began!
I started by creating a website and blogging, which developed in to so much more under the umbrella of The Invisible Hypothyroidism. I now have a few books, have appeared in various articles and interviews as well as podcasts and even films surrounding thyroid disease, treatment, management and patient experiences. To go from not wanting to live anymore due to this disease, to finally thriving again, hasn’t been easy. But it has been worth the journey.
What’s your biggest dream in life?
I’d say I have already obtained it. I get to do what I am passionate about, writing and advocating for thyroid disease, every single day. Whether that is via writing personal blogs, my next book, or in creating a new resource for thyroid patients – it gives me so much satisfaction and I feel lucky that I managed to find my passion at the bottom of a very dark period of my life.
If you chose a power word for this year what would it be and why?
2019 is proving to be a year where I must be brave in taking on new challenges, facing change and making the leap to the things I really want. Even if my health condition can be an obstacle in that at times!
Who inspires you and why?
The people living with thyroid conditions that I speak to and interact with daily. I hear so many inspiring, amazing stories from fellow thyroid patients (or even those with other chronic illnesses), who go on to do things ‘in spite of their obstacles’.
For those of us who hit a real rock bottom moment with thyroid disease, it can be incredibly difficult to see that your life can improve. Anyone who can see that and work towards it, let alone get themselves to that point, inspires me to keep on doing what I’m doing. Because it all matters. All our experiences are valid.
What, in your experience, motivates you best? Can you give an example?
Knowing that what I do every day makes a difference.
Whether that is in reassuring another thyroid patient that they are not alone, helping them to make progress in their own health journey, or even just in raising awareness of thyroid conditions – what they are, the signs and symptoms and even effects on peoples’ lives.
I like the saying ‘Our voices may be small, but if we all use them together, we can be heard.’
What actions/events/environments would adversely affect your motivation? Can you give an example and how you coped?
The big ones have always been when I’ve hit a brick wall in my health, perhaps due to a doctor being less than helpful or when I’m facing a flare up of my health condition.
It is easy to feel frustrated, angry, upset, doomed and generally demotivated by it all.
Back in the worst of times of my health, this is when I would enter down the ‘What’s the point?’ tunnel and become deeply depressed. These days, I remind myself that I have seen better health days and gotten over a hurdle before or that other people have gone through this, and it really helps me to see the bigger picture. It is important to step back and put it in to perspective.
I have never liked the phrase “You should be grateful. Someone else always has it worse than you,” because I truly feel that everyone’s experiences are valid and deserve to be acknowledged as such. But being able to find hope – whether it is in another’s story of coming out the other side or by seeing in your own history that you have gotten through something similar before – can really help us to cope when those times strike.
On tough health days, when my body just needs rest and I feel frustrated and perhaps even a little like a failure, I have to be extra kind to myself. ‘This too shall pass’ is a great reminder. I feel that it is important to recognise emotions and then let them pass.
How do you ensure that your personal level of motivation is high on a daily basis?
If I’m being completely honest, when you live with physical health conditions (and even mental health conditions), motivation may not be at its highest every day.
Waking up fatigued, with a heavy, aching body is a serious motivation killer! However, I have learnt some tips and tricks in the past few years which have definitely helped me to feel more motivated on a daily basis.
I find that maintaining routine and structure is key – I work for myself, from my home office, and being strict about sticking to my work hours and working in my designated workspace is obviously crucial in order for it to happen!
Starting your day right can really set you up for a good day overall, so making sure to eat well first thing in the morning, listening to songs or YouTube videos that make me laugh or feel good and taking the time to get dressed and make myself look presentable, all help. When I don’t do these things, I always wake up feeling demotivated.
I also like to read self-improvement and personal development books often. They can be a consistent boost of realisation and self-reflection.
To find out more about Rachel Hill AKA The Invisible Hypothyroidism, you can connect with her here: