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Do People With Thyroid Disease Stop Loving?
A Look at How Thyroid Disease Can Emotionally Isolate Some of Its Sufferers
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Join this heartfelt and impassioned discussion about depression, emotional isolation, and the impact hypothyroidism has on those with the condition, and those who love them.
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by Mary J. Shomon

A poster asked this question on the bulletin boards, bringing up an important question: does the battle of chronic hypothyroidism shut some people down emotionally?

Here is poster "Westryn's" original post, found on the forums

"I've written before, and asked this question before. It's been several weeks and I'd like to see if anyone can give me an opinion after this amount of time. I am a spouse of a hypo man. He's been on Synthroid for 8 weeks, and his meds have even been raised in that time. I know that thyroid disease affects emotional, brain, and nerve centers, and I have been "studying" this. However, can anyone help me figure out the below dilemma, or help explain so I can understand:

Do thyroidic people stop loving their mates? Because of the topsy-turvy nature of the condition, do they just STOP loving??

Thanks -- Still confused,


(a very brief updated history is below)

My husband and I were mostly inseparable before his symptoms arrived. Sometimes we worked away from each other, but mostly together, all the time. We watched TV show together, he cooked for us, we traveled for work together, and we had the same social circle. We were both active, vibrant, dynamic, and creative. We did almost nothing without each other unless we had to. We talked by phone quite often when apart, sometimes many times a day. He used to call himself the luckiest husband to have me.

Hubby got an overdue routine physical in November (2000). His GP saw high TSH levels but did nothing. Hubby had "unexplained fatigue" and attributed it to over-work. His emotional symptoms arrived in February, started being hostile and quiet, and by April he was so depressed he was suicidally talking, but too tired to do anything suicidal (*whew!*). He was dx'd in late April; by that time he was irritable, moody, rude, lost his hobbies, didn't want sex or touching in any way, ignoring his friends, ignored our anniversary, ignoring the cat, suicidally-talking, talking about leaving me, and I was in therapy from it all. Essentially, he has misplaced his life. He still doesn't think he has TD, he thinks he's just going insane.

Now, after 8 weeks on Synthroid, Hubby has more energy. We have just bought a new house, and he does do his packing. However, he doesn't offer to be sweet or kind to me, just dependable. He's EXTREMELY private now, even hides his meds and won't discuss 'what the doctor says is TD'. He isn't polite much, and not romantic at all. Luckily, he not as hostile anymore. He doesn't act like he likes who I am or what I look like. He does nothing CREATIVE for anyone but himself, has stopped going into his workshops, and has packed up his hobbies. He still won't speak to his best friend, just because . . because the guy would be able to see "inside" him?. We rarely argue because the book "The Thyroid Solution" says not to argue. We finally now have sex, however. He kisses my head every day before going to work but stopped saying "I love you". I know he's not loving to me, but I send nothing but waves of love to him.
This question has spurred quite a bit of discussion. Let's take a look at some of the thoughts of other thyroid patients and family members about this provocative question.

Kangaroopaw wrote:
It can take a while to be diagnosed, and it can take even longer to feel better with thyroid disease - and during that time life can be pretty revolting for everyone. When people are tired and unwell, their main concern is survival from day to day. Selfish but necessary - and exaccerbated by feelings of guilt about not meeting the needs and wants of others.
Oldpoet said:
Please know, when this thyroid disease hits, it tends to cause the sufferer to draw back into themselves. As already said by the previous poster, it is a survival technique. Further, it takes too much energy to interact. It takes too much energy to say, "I love you."
"Hypothyroidism doesn't affect a person's capability to love. It's just that sometimes the fatigue and altered brain chemistry (depression) get in the way of the expression of it." -- Wondercook

Frequent poster 'nette had this to add:
I can feel your pain coming through your post. Please be patient. 10 weeks is very very early in the healing process. I know it is extraordinarily hard as you want back the man you loved. I first got the energy to do a little more than barely survive after about four months from the start of treatment, and days I could crack jokes were rare. At 18 months it was was much more frequent, but not 100%. Even now at 2.5 years, I find certain stressful events can put me back into "survival only" mode (examples would be jet-lag, couple of days of skiing, moving etc.). These things tired me before, but didn't knock me flat. Your husband is clearly ahead of my healing process so celebrate the advances. It is very hard to realize being on the outside. His behavior has nothing to do with you and your desirability. I suspect it is hard to get the right balance between supportive and what might be perceived as nagging. I know I closed people out who kept bugging me "aren't you better yet?" My response tended to be an irritable, defensive "I'm doing the best I can, leave me alone." Patience is tough, patience is what is needed. Full cellular healing takes 12 to 18 months with superb nutrition, plenty of sleep etc. If you believe in marriage "for better or for worse", please practice patience. This is one of those "for worse" times. If you can't, counseling may give you some coping tricks that would be useful. Don't give up yet.
HI Westyrn, perhaps you would like to hear a few examples of how hypothyroidism (and probably adrenal problems) have affected my behavior. I have been married to a wonderful man for eight years. Things were great for the first 2 years, then i started a downturn. I became more irritable, had flashes of anger, became depressed, lost interest in activities and friends. It started slowly and became progressively worse. things are slowly improving and I have been treated now for about 6 months. I still have some problems. Examples:

When I am tired, I don't feel like going anywhere. At the height of it,I used to call my husband and ask him to bring home some dinner, even though I was home all day, just too tired to cook. If he got the order wrong, I would get aggravated. I didn't know what came over me, I didn't want to treat him this way, but sometimes it seemed like some evil spirit was inhabiting my body....I have reduced my circle of friends to 2. I found I could not relate to active, normal people with busy lives. I just stopped calling my other friends, it was too much trouble to keep up the relationships. It is depressing to hear about how great their lives are, when you feel like your life is down the tubes for good. Socializing is too stressful, I don't like to go to any social gatherings. I once asked my hubby if he would "wait for me" to be normal again. I don't know how he lives with me now. I get easily irritated, and tend to take it out on him. Minor annoyances can make me throw things in a rage...I also found myself not wanting to be touched, since my muscles were aching, my skin seemed more sensitive, and sex was totally unappealing. I used to be a very affectionate person. THis does not mean I love my husband any less, I still want to be with him. He is the kindest, most patient person I know, and I don't know how he puts up with me... Sorry this got so long. Just rest assured, your husband still loves you. He is just overwhelmed probably. I am six months into treatment, and things are getting better. I am a lot calmer, very few attacks of irritability now, but I still think I have a way to go yet. Please have hope! I know things will improve with time. I just don't know how much time.
I experienced a lot of guilt when I was first diagnosed. I desperately wanted to know what I did or didn't do that caused me to have the disease. I was (still am some days) frightened by the extreme fatigue and what we here at the site call "brain fog"....confusion, memory loss, inability to focus, etc. I get frustrated when talking to someone and cannot bring to mind the words I want to use. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever again be the articulate, intelligent person that I used to be. I also experienced a 70-pound weight gain (without changing my healthy eating habits) and all of the self-esteem problems that go along with the metamorphosis from an sexy, attractive, fun-loving person to an exhausted, middle-aged frump. Friends and family don't always understand my weight gain or depression and are still waiting for me to "snap out of it". I am hurt by their lack of understanding and disapproval. I feel terribly guilty if I indulge in the tiniest bit of dessert or chocolate. Encounters with physicians are the worst of all. You are patted on the head, handed a pill and told that it will solve all your problems. When you are still symptomatic after taking their wonder drugs, you are told that you're depressed and handed yet another pill or you're told that your test results are fine and you need to just be patient and give the meds time to work. Meanwhile, you're so exhausted that you can't get out of bed, much less want to go see a movie or chat with friends. Your efforts to research and communicate new info to your physician is also met with distain. "Who are you to think you could possibly know more about this than I do?" is the not-so-subtle message. You leave the dr's office once more feeling like an complete idiot, child, etc. You start yet another search for a compassionate, open-minded physician. More time away from work that has to be made up for dr. appts, etc, etc, etc. For me, along with all of the above, came an incredible sense of loss....loss of vitality, good health, self-esteem, sense of joy, peace, etc. I would think that these feelings of frustration, helplessness, fear, etc. are probably compounded for a man suffering from this disease. After all, a man is supposed to be in control, be strong, take care of you...I know that you must be feeling terribly lonely because of your husband's withdrawal. This disease doesn't occur in a vacuum....when one person is affected, the entire family is affected. From your comments, I find it hard to believe that your husband no longer loves you. I don't want to overstate the obvious, but Sweetie, his body chemistry is screwed up (ever have PMS or go thru menopause???) and on a lot of levels he just may not be able to communicate or help what he's feeling. Your patience, compassion, acceptance and affection will work wonders. He needs you more now than ever even if he doesn't/can't express it to you. Hypothyroidism doesn't affect a person's capability to love. It's just that sometimes the fatigue and altered brain chemistry (depression) get in the way of the expression of it.
ANNBRAD4D wrote:
It sounds like your husband is suffering from all the classic hypo symptoms. Do hypo people stop loving? NO! Absolutely Not, although we sometimes forget how to show it.
DEBBIEA25 wrote:
i'm on the other side of your fence and i wanted to tell you something kind of inspiring i thnk. i am hypo and have been that way for three years now. i spent most of my days being incredibly rude and inconsiderate to those around me. especially those people i knew would love me no matter what...like my mother. i yelled at her i cried at her i was soo angry with her. why? i guess because she couldn't fix it and make it go away. i'm crying right now as i write this because i an't even believe how bad i must've tortured her. but now i'm better. i think i've gotten my meds straightened out and i hug her and kiss her every day to show her how sorry i am. she was patient with me and she listened to me scream and cry when anyone else would've walked away. but our relationship has only grown stronger because of this and i will never let another day go by where she doesn't know how much i love her!!! i applaud you for trying to help your husband and for sticking with him through it all. and if you keep sticking by his side when he's better he'll love you even more for it,guaranteed!
"I surely haven't stopped loving my grandbabies or my children and friends, for that matter. I simply do not have the emotional energy to deal with them right now." -- V4Victory

V4Victory wrote:
This hypo experience is HORRIBLE! I can understand the way your husband is acting (as you describe it), but I am not certain that I can put it into words. I do not have a husband, but I do have children, grandchildren and friends. I have always been a "hands on" grandmother... babysitting often and spending lots of time with my grandchildren doing recreational things. I love them more than anything, but I simply do not have the physical OR emotional energy to deal with them right now. I had to ask my daughter and daughter-in-law to please not ask me to babysit for a while, and also to discourage the children from calling and asking to come over. It is almost impossible to say no to them, but I have had to recently. That was really a hard thing to do because I love them so much, but I find myself SO anxious and even irritable lately, that I recognize that I am not good company for anyone, especially children. Even with adults, I find myself getting really ticked off at some of the dumbest things, things that I would normally not give a second thought to. I feel very anxious, but at the same time very depressed. I don't want to DO anything but just sit. While the fatigue has limited many physical activities, there are many projects that I could do that don't require too much physical energy. However, they DO require mental and emotional energy, and it's just not there! I guess I could sum it up by saying that I have just lost interest in most things. I HATE the way I feel... physically and emotionally! I am sure that your husband does too. I haven't been into this long enough to give advice (I've been on the synthroid for just over a month). About all I can tell you is to hang in there. I surely haven't stopped loving my grandbabies or my children and friends, for that matter. I simply do not have the emotional energy to deal with them right now. I'm sure your husband has not stopped loving you. He is probably just like me and doesn't know how to express what he is really feeling. If he's anything like me, he probably does think he going crazy. I would think that if I had not come to this board and seen that what I was going through was common to this horrid disease. Could you get your husband to come here? At least then he would know that he is not alone and that he is not going insane.

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