I was always the geek/swot in the class who lacked the social skills yet got the best grades. It was drummed into me from a young age. My Father put much emphasis on education, on good handwriting, on always excelling academically. I completely understand why he did this, and I do not resent it one bit. At high school I attended a private Islamic independent school. During years seven and eight, my grades were good but they were just above average. It was in year nine that I began to really excel academically. Year nine was the height of my depression, and in order to block it all out, I decided to channel all my energy into my school work and SATs exams; and it worked. People started to say things like:
"She's got over 90% for all her exams, but she goes around looking so moody, she should smile a little more- I'd kill for her grades!"
If only they knew what was really going on. I didn't take much notice of the people who did say that, cos I knew they were jealous. During years ten and eleven, the pain of my weight gain was so overwhelmingly numbing. I just didn't know what to do anymore. I tried to accept that I'd always be "big" but it didn't work. I couldn't accept it. So I didn't face it, I ignored it and again, blocked all these thoughts away by throwing myself into my studies. By the end of year 11, I left with an amazing set of GCSE results, that still, to this very day, shock me. I have no idea how I even got them with all the stuff I was going through. Everyone was really sad to leave high school, but not me. It's not that I wouldn't miss the people, but five years was way too long, and I was ready to move on.
I then attended a sixth form of a private school, the same school that my two sisters were attending. I didn't really have much say in which sixth form/college I'd be attending. I didn't really care. The new sixth form was a complete culture shock. Yes, it was girls only, but they were girls from upper class families who were basically loaded, financially. I'd never interacted with such people before. It was overwhelming to say the least. I quickly began to struggle with my AS levels. Having only studied double science at GCSE to doing all three sciences at AS level was really hard. I was trying my best to keep my head above water but I was drowning in the work. My grades went from hero to zero, from excelling to not even passing. I was in shock as to how this was happening yet I couldn't seem to control it, no matter how hard I tried. Friends that had joined me from high school to this sixth form were doing just fine, but I wasn't, and I felt like a complete let-down.
It got to the point where my brain fog was so bad that I was literally falling asleep in classes, I couldn't concentrate, focus or pay attention to what was being said. I'd zone out so quickly. My life was literally passing me by. I had no control or grip upon it. This continued to worsen. When me and my sister would attend science lectures after school, my Dad would pick us up and ask us in the car to summarise the lecture. My sister, being talkative by nature would always answer and tell him what the lecture was about. Once, my Dad asked me to summarise the lecture instead. I had zoned out completely and couldn't remember any of it, and struggled to think of anything to say. He got so frustrated at me and started shouting and saying what's the point of you attending if you don't pay attention. I'll never forget that moment.
My parents were always frustrated by my brain fog- I'd zone out quickly, I wouldn't speak much, I'd forget things easily, which my Mum hated. She'd tell me to do a specific chore and I'd forget and she'd think I was just making it up so I wouldn't have to do it. There was just so much pain associated with my teenage years. It's like we all suspected, at the back of our minds, that something, anything, was wrong, but we just didn't know what.
I saw this tweet (below) recently which made so much sense to me, and helped me understand. I was definitely not born hypothyroid (as that's the congenital type, all babies are tested at birth). The type that I have is called "Hashimoto's " or the autoimmune type; where the body's immune system attacks the thyroid. I still don't know whether or not this runs in my family, but I suspect not. I recently found out that my Grandad is hypothyroid, and was diagnosed five years ago. It came as a bit of a shock. My Mum went to visit him, and he was asking about me saying: "Is she still fat?" and my Mum was like actually, she's hypothyroid, and then my Grandad was like I've got that too, and I've had it for five years. But, anyway, age seven or eight was definitely when the weight gain kicked in, so I suspect I've had it since then.
Over the next two years, the brain fog was still present. It's difficult because it's a subjective thing, that is hard to explain, only I know how I was feeling and what was going on. I thought post-diagnosis that this magic tiny white pill would make all the pain go away, almost instantaneously. But it didn't.
Now I feel like I've finally got my life, my destiny and my future back on track. I feel like a kid who wandered down the aisles in the supermarket, looking for Mummy desperately. I feel like a train that de-railed momentarily and is finally in motion again. Basically, I was just so lost, but I finally feel as if I have some direction in my life now. I don't want to speak too soon. But my grades have been pretty good this year, and I'm so thankful for that. As geeky as it sounds, my grades are a big part of my life, so I finally feel as if I'm getting my life back. The "old me" is back. Maybe it is the subject, but I finally feel like I'm enjoying what I study; I was destined to study this. The brain fog is still here, part of me thinks it will never leave, but it is undoubtedly much less than it was pre-diagnosis.
It's hard to block out all the pain, just erase it all and give yourself a new identity post-diagnosis. It's like what Lorraine Williams said in her latest post; it's about re-definining yourself.
**post title taken from Linkin Park, Somewhere I belong