Friends' and Visitors' Cognitive Experiences
I have decided to add people's emails here who share about cognitive problems including memory problems, focusing and other typical ADD type symptoms. This is apparently fairly common with hypothyroidism so I decided to add them here so anyone reading this won't feel they are the only one experiencing these problems.
Cognitive problems emails
"I found that most sites talked about symptoms but I am really having a difficult time with the emotional aspect. What you said about not thinking clearly, and being literally at a loss for words is exactly where I am. Socially, I feel it is causing a real problem because I can't keep up wit-wise and on top of that i'm so ADD (for lack of a better word) that I can't focuse on what they are saying. And out of the bits and pieces I do get I only remember about 1/2 , if that much!!
Thank you again!
I got an email from a visitor to this site who shared her experiences with Hashimoto's and cognitive problems. She also shares some other symptoms & agreed to share her story here also. I know there are a number of people who can relate to these symptoms as well yet are able to work and go to school but is just frustrated with these cognitive deficiencies.
I stumbled on your site by accident this evening and I'm so glad! I was particularly struck by your description of memory loss and cognitive abilities. I never thought about this before! I never made the association between my own sense of inadequacy in these areas to Hashamito's disease.
I am 48 years, 137 lbs. (5' 4"), married with two children (15 and 13). My elder daughter was diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 just 2 years ago). My husband was diagnosed with type II diabetes a few months later! But we don't have any family history of diabetes, except for my father's half sister in England. She's in her 70s and has diabetes.
The warning signs that brought me to the doctor's office started with extreme tiredness that began almost 12 years ago. My kids were 2 and 4 yrs. old. At the time when I was experiencing fatigue and a general lethargic feeling, I immediately thought I was pregnant because that's basically how I felt with both pregnancies in the beginning. But that was ruled out. The other thing is that ever sine I can remember (since childhood) I've experienced a kind of tiredness throughout the day and evening. As a child I was very healthy and full of energy but always felt the need to have a nap during the day. I was never a night person. I had to get to sleep by 11:00 p.m. and I was an early riser. When I was in my late 20s I went went back to school - to finish my B.A. in sociology. This was a pivotal point in my life in terms of really recognizing some kind of cognitive deficit. I found it difficult to fully concentrate on the lectures, no matter how interesting they were. I had a problem processing the information. Of course, if I had known more about ADD - I would have stuck that label on myself. I intuitively knew that something in my brain wasn't operating in the way I wanted it to. I didn't notice it right away -- it was gradual. It emerged in subtle ways that only I was in tune to. Absorbing information was a big problem, a problem that I found overwhelming to say the least. So, I started making tapes, taping all my lecture notes and listening to them at night. I relied on other people to brainstorm with so that I could reinforce what I had learned. I used colored markers, re-wrote all my rough notes and basically tried my hardest to 'exercise my brain' to process and retain information. Somehow, I managed to pass all my courses, but I was still bothered by the fact that I had a problem at the cognitive level. When I read your article, I couldn't believe the similarities to my own life and experiences. I'm at that point in my life where there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about this problem. I've never brought it up with a doctor although I think I should. Reading your story really hit home with me. For many years I worked as a school secretary and hated it. I knew that I could be doing something more fulfilling and stimulating. I've always wanted to work directly with kids/people in a helping capacity so I chose to work in the public school system. I was very fortunate to get in over a year ago and now I'm working l/2 the day as an educational assistant for a jr./sr. kindergarten and educational assistant for an autistic child in the afternoon. Working with the autistic child is very challenging and I enjoy it very much. I am implementing my own program with him because the school does not have one. (the situation is quite unique because he is the only child in the school with autism). Also, two years ago I applied to get into the teaching english as a second language programme in Toronto. I was so happy that I was accepted and so far I've completed 4 courses toward the certificate. I have another 4 courses to complete. I'm finding that I'm experiencing that same old feeling of lack of concentration, memory loss. It's not all the time. I can be sitting listening and feel like I have complete control but then there other times when I feel I'm slipping away -- a kind of sleepy state (not tired) that would'nt be the word for it -- but going kind of brain dead in the middle of listening to something. I have also had situations of forgetting very basic information, forgetting concepts, forgetting names of things, meanings of words,etc. I've made a habit of keeping a small dictionary on the table and in my purse to refer to when I draw a blank. I write things down all the time and review them. This is one of my strategies for recalling information. I never thought of attributing any of this to Hashamito's disease. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's not related. Maybe it's related to something else. I was really interested in what you said about MIND SET (vitamins) to promote cognitive abilities/concentration/memory etc. I'm wondering if I can by them in Canada. Would you know? I would really appreciate knowing more about where I can find this in Canada. If not, I will order it through the States. In addition to all of this, I haven't experienced any other symptoms. I'm taking eltroxin 0.15 mg and synthroid 0.125 mg, alternating each one (one tablet a day). Despite my very hectic schedule (working full time at two different schools, literally racing from one end of the city to the other) and taking on a part-time job and university course, I'm not as tired as I thought I'd be. I make sure I get my rest. I'm home by 4:00 p.m from the school I work at in the afternoon and 2 or 3 nights of the week I work a part-time job at the university for 4 hours. Sometimes I think if I give any of it up, I'd be worse off. I'm a big believer in keeping busy, especially keeping your mind busy. When I wasn't working, I experienced longer bouts of tiredness than I ever do now. I used to be sensitive to the cold - I can't really remember how many years ago, but that's not a problem now. My hands and feet are very dry, especially my feet. I've put on a bit of weight around my thighs and buttocks but I attribute that to not exercising. I've never had any problems with my weight, at any point in my life. We eat very well, and since my daugher and husband are diabetic, we lay off the sugars, carbs, and food high in fat. Most of what we eat is fish, salads, chicken breast, beans, humous, green salads, soups, wheat.
Anyway, I hope you had the patience to read this! I really wrote a lot! Thank you again for your article. It was extremely helpful.
Thank you so much for responding to my email. I'm taking a quick break from my studies (ESL) so I can write you. I just wanted to mention a few things. I went to my doctor's this week - just to have her check my throat and mention that I should have blood work done to check on my thyroid, etc. It seemed like I was long over due but I was right on target. Anyway, I mentioned to her that I had read about the correlation between Hashimoto's and deficiencies with cognitive abilities and memory loss. Her response was this: She said: 'Aren't you talking about people who haven't been diagnosed with thyroiditis and are experiencing these things? The attention problem and memory lapses could be from something else.' She also said that once you're taking medication, you wouldn't or shouldn't be experiencing these symptoms. I don't know. I'm confused. As I told you in my last email, I realized that I was having difficulties with retaining information around the age of 26/27 and by 30 when I was taking part-time studies towards my B.A. When I was about 32-34 yrs. old I was experiencing chronic fatigue. I had already had two children (one was 5 and the other 3) at the time. I can't really comment about my mental capabilities because I wasn't working or doing anything that required me to be fully alert and aware. I only started to notice it in very subtle ways by the time I was actually working full time jobs. As I told you, I didn't know anything about ADD. (By the way, my father was diagnosed with underactive thyroid around the age of 50.) My brother was diagnosed as having ADD - the kind where he had problems processing information, and remembering things. I never knew this until after his death in 1997. After that, I became very interested in it. I cut out every article I found about the subject and listened to all the talk shows. I wanted to know more about it because I felt that the symptoms matched my experiences. I never thought that thyroiditis could be related to it. So, without really knowing what I'm suffering from -- because it is a kind of suffering when you are around people and discussing something and someone asks you something that for some reason doesn't seem to register in your brain and you find yourself having to quickly come up with something that will sound appropriate even though you know you're feeling kind of 'lost'. It's like you're in a kind of sleepy trance-like state, aware of it but unable to re-connect with the situation. I find that when I'm listening to a lecture, I'm forcing my brain to concentrate so hard on what the person is saying -- all the while thinking about all the other people in the room who are probably soaking up the information like a sponge -- I'm sitting there thinking -- 'I have to stay focused...I have to stay focused...Now what did she say?' Sometimes I will amaze myself and come up with some very insightful thoughts/ideas only to discover that someone else raised their hand before me to mention them. When I catch myself in that situation, I have forced myself to raise my hand and SPEAK! Not sit back and think I know something about this and I have some good ideas but I'm too frightened to say them. I am getting over that.
So...getting back to the thyroiditis - I just don't know how it's connected to all of this. Are you saying that taking the medication is not enough? When you mentioned something about being more aware when you're sleeping and less aware during your day-time waking hours, I suppose this could be true. I never thought about it before. I mean have researchers actually done studies with people to measure their REM - brain waves during sleep to see what's going on?
Anyway, to answer you question about adding my experiences -- for sure! Go ahead and use all of it and this one too.
Another thing, don't you think that as we age - (I'm 48) that your retention and memory decreases with age? I intuitively knew - some years ago that I should keep my mind active by doing lots of things. I switched jobs - from secretarial to working in a school with kids - that fits much much better with my personality. I'm very young minded and love kids so it feels right for me. I also felt that I had to keep studying, no matter how hard it would be to exercise my brain toward handling large amounts of information, etc. I have found it very stimulating and very helpful for whatever it is I'm suffering from. Working in the classroom also regenerates all my thinking processes, all the information that I thought I knew but seemed to forget. It kind of brings it all back, if you know what I mean. It's a fascinating subject. I appreciate your feedback. Let me know what you think. Gotta go.
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