Hashimoto's - finding a job

I really need some advice. About three years ago I had spinal fusion surgery in my lower back (they had to go through the stomach). I was off work but had been taking time off work anyway for a list of other problems - from migraines, fatigue, extreme brain fog etc.

It took two years for me to recover from the surgery but in that time I accepted a redundancy from my job.

I was working in a management position in central London and I knew they wanted to get rid of me because of my health issues. It was a full on position but I was good at my job before all these things started going wrong.

A year ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's and there was an improvement in my health once I started medication and went gluten free. However, I'm having extreme anxiety and panic attacks. I've lost all my confidence to the point where I'm thinking I'm not good at anything. I'm looking for work but the last interview I was in the room for two minutes and had major brain fog. I couldn't answer any questions and could hardly speak. I apologised and had to leave. It was humiliating. I'm only looking at jobs which are minimum wage and I am still not confident I can do them. I used to be on a very high salary working in technology.

I really have to get a job but after not working now for three years I just feel hopeless. My husband is having to take care of everything. I'm also worried that once I start working I'll only have to take time off due to migraines, extreme brain fog and other Hashimoto symptoms.

Has anyone else had similar experiences. I could really use some advice. I don't know how to get my life back now. :-(

31 Replies

  • Good morning Kym

    I'm sorry you have had a series of health problems and you have lost your confidence at present.

    I am hypothyroid but members who have hashi's will respond.

    Have you had a recent thyroid gland blood test. If so, get a print-out with the ranges from the surgery and post for members to comment. If not, ask for a new one, ie TSH, T4, T3, Free T4 and Free T3, Vitamin B12, Vit D, iron, ferritin and folate as these can be deficient.

    I think you may be undermedicated as I had similar symptoms with hypo. I know that hashimotos leads to hypothyroidism. Doctors usually just do the TSH which varies throughout the day and pronounce on that alone, instead of doing the FT4 and FT3 too.

    Some links in the meantime:



    When you have your blood test don't take levothyroxine before the test take it afterwards. Have the test as early as possible as TSH is highest then. If your GP is reluctant (as tests cost money) as they have been told the TSH is the 'exquisite' test (rubbish) and to use it as a diagnosis only, ignoring the patients clinical symptoms (even if they knew them).

    We have to take our own health into our own hands unfortunately. It is a read and learn process with the help of members' own experiences.

    You will now begin to improve your health and your confidence will return.

    Take levo with 1 glass of water and don't eat for around 1 hour. Also take Vitamin C with it as it helps to convert T4 into T3 which is the Active hormone we need. Don't take other supplements/medication within 4 hours of levo.

  • Thanks for responding so quickly and for all the helpful advice. My GP won't do all the tests. She also said she didn't feel comfortable providing ongoing treatment for this condition so wants me to go back to the specialist. I have an appointment with him in a couple of weeks.

    The specialist is a bit better but really dismisses a lot of symptoms. I have vertigo and started to have vision problems a year ago... just blurry in general and migraines. I also have chronic constipation which causes a lot of discomfort. The specialist just dismisses the migraines and vertigo as being some different problem. He said I should see an ENT for that. However, I just feel it's all got to do with the same issue. That just would make more sense to me. :-/

    I just wish I could feel confident and get back to work. I wish there was a place where you could be helped back into the workplace and be supported. People just don't understand how difficult it can be! :-(

    I'm really glad you mentioned not taking medication before the blood test. I would never have thought of that. Also, I was reading about the B12 issue. My iron levels were low and I was told to take iron but it made my constipation even worse. Difficult to know what to do!

    Thanks again for all the info. :-)

  • Kym

    The Iron provided by the NHS is not very bioavailable and leaves everyone constipated. The great shame about our health system , however much money they throw at it, is they do not do enough testing and they use the cheapest medicines/supplements. So we have to spend our own money on tests and supplements anyway. You will feel much better emotionally and mentally when you sort out the physical side of this. Good luck.

  • Very true. I just don't have the money to get private tests done now that I'm out of work. It's a vicious cycle really. It's just sad when I think that only five years ago I had everything under control and a great job in the city... now I feel nervous and scared to take on a basic admin role just answering the phone. The brain fog makes it so difficult to function and juggle tasks.

  • A lot of us have been there Kym. Don't give up.

  • Thanks... I'll just keep trying. It's so hard when doctors just treat you like you're an annoyance. Before I was diagnosed my doctor said I should see a therapist. I asked to be tested and she said with a slight smile " ok, I'll test you for Hashimoto's however, if the tests come back negative I want you to promise you'll seek help from a psychologist". I felt like crying at that moment but was so beaten down I just nodded. Anyway, the tests came back positive and I could tell that she was a bit embarrassed by the way she had treated me. Such is life!

  • Kymn,

    Now you have support on this forum as many of us 'have been there - done that'.

    I assume you have to have a blood test before you see the Specialist and that your GP will do them. (Ask anyway). Also say to her that you want to ask your specialist for the addition of some T3 so could she also do the T3 blood test as that's the active hormone so that he can give you an answer at your appointment, rather than having to wait for another blood test result.

    When you discover that, yes, you can get well again but haven't due to the 'guidelines' I think you will discover that it is anger that will drive you on. At present because they don't recognise clinical symptoms (I have had vertigo etc as well - thankfully only on lying down or rising) plus lots of other things.

    This is a link which is self-explanatory and the person has taken her case to the Scottish Parliament which is considering her points. She is also a member of Thyroiduk.org and she is now well.


    All you might need is a rise in your medication but, as I say above, try to get the addition of T3 added to your T4. Some doctors won't but some Endocrinologists might.

    Forget physchologists - your GP knows little as proven by her attitude to your hashimotos.

  • Thanks... I'll just keep trying. It's so hard when doctors just treat you like you're an annoyance. Before I was diagnosed my doctor said I should see a therapist. I asked to be tested and she said with a slight smile " ok, I'll test you for Hashimoto's however, if the tests come back negative I want you to promise you'll seek help from a psychologist". I felt like crying at that moment but was so beaten down I just nodded. Anyway, the tests came back positive and I could tell that she was a bit embarrassed by the way she had treated me. Such is life!

  • My GP refuses to do any blood tests which aren't standard so the blood test I have coming up won't really tell me much I guess. Still good to have it to see if my iron levels are ok I suppose. I then have an apt with the specialist but they've not requested blood tests in advance. I'll make a note of what you've suggested and bring it with me so I know what to ask for.

    I can't believe what the woman went through. It is so great that this forum is here for people struggling with this condition (and others).

    Thank you so much for all your help.

  • Kym46, I wonder whether it would be worth contacting your local Job Centre Plus to see whether they can help advise you re getting back into work or whether there are any local job clubs which can help you with interview techniques and role play/interview practice.

  • Yes, I was thinking about looking into that also. I used to give very good interviews. It's the anxiety and panic attacks I have now that have changed things. I think I just need to resolve those... it's not normal for me to have these attacks!

  • Sounds to me like you're not adequately medicated. And you can only see that by getting an FT3 test - TSH is meaningless once on thyroid hormone replacement. Feeling anxious and worthless and having brain fog are very obvious hypo symotms.

    I also think you might be B12 deficient. Would be an idea to get that tested along with vit D, iron, ferritin and as many other vits and mins as you can. You are bound to have nutritional deficiencies, it goes with the territory.

    Hugs, Grey

  • Thanks Grey... it's just difficult to get the doctors/specialists to do the tests! When I was working and had private coverage they did most things but now I'm on the NHS they really refuse to do all the tests. I just can't afford to pay for it myself because I'm not working. A vicious circle it is! I am trying to stay positive. Nice to have people here who understand. :-) hugs

  • Yes, I know. It's a real problem. But you could try B12 (with a B complex because the Bs all work together) by yourself, because you can't over-dose on the Bs, because they're water-soluable, and you just pee out the excess. Why not give it a try and see if it makes you feel any better?

  • Ok I'll try that. I thought that over the counter B12 wouldn't work because we've trouble absorbing it. I'll certainly give it a try! Thanks :-)

  • Well, what you want is sublingual methylcobalamin, that bypasses the stomach and makes things a lot easier.

  • Is that an injection?

  • No, tablets. Sublingual means under the tongue. You just put the tablet under your tongue and let it dissolve.

  • Ah ok thanks Grey... I'll see if I can get hold of that. :-)

  • They have it on Amazon, by Jarrow.

  • Perfect... thanks so much! :-)

  • :)

  • Hi Kym46,

    Would you consider doing some voluntary work while you jobsearch?

    May I also suggest that you focus on a part time role if possible when jobsearching - this will give you a chance to ease back into work and will also build your confidence over time.

    I received this brilliant advice from the Disability Employment Adivser at the JobCentre and it has been invaluable.

    When volunteering, search out local organisations and don't be afraid to approach them directly through letter, phone or email. They're often really pleased to hear from experienced people who are willing to give their time and skills - even when you feel you've lost your edge.

    Another friend also found an opportunity on Doit.org (not sure if this is just for London but might be worth checking out). All the very best. Don't give up on yourself yet. As Susan Jeffries wrote - Feel the FEAR and do it ANYWAY.

  • So funny you should mention that because I just applied for a volunteer position last week. One day a week. It's for a communications position which is what I was doing before. I was thinking of explaining my situation completely. I think it will be nice to feel like I'm doing some good... while also building up my confidence a bit with supportive people. The place I applied for is in my area and it's a mental health charity. I really hope that works out.

    I also started looking at PT admin roles. However, I'm just really worried about my brain fog as it stops me from being able to resolve simple problems etc.

    I'm remaining positive and will just keep trying.

    Thanks for all your advice and it's good to know that I'm heading in the right direction.

  • Good on you Kym46.

    As anxious as you feel, I'm sure that whatever you've forgotten is probably more than most people even know. This is something I was told by my Clinical Supervisor so be kind to yourself, be realistic but don't give up on yourself until you have absolutely no choice in the matter.

    Let us know how you get on.

    All the best

  • Thanks Reykua! :-)

  • What meds are you on ..doses and labs? Please post. Hashimoto is autoimmune in nature and the doctors ignore that part and just give thyroid replacement and for many, like me, that just isn't enough. I am very symptomatic and swollen. Your symptoms could be undermedication also. But for me, Hashi's has it's own set of symptoms that meds don't help.

  • I take 75mcg of thyroxin each morning. I haven't had bloodwork in almost six months now. My doctor doesn't want to treat me because she said "I don't feel comfortable treating someone with Hashimoto's". I've an appointment with my specialist at the end of the month and I will be getting blood work done so will post everything once I have it. My specialist never talked about B12 or Vit deficiency... he only said I was low in iron and Vit D... I just don't think they check for everything. :-( It's very frustrating.

  • Good luck..let us know what you find out. In the grand scheme of things, the private labs and meds from mexico, aren't that expensive at all..really. In the US, we do not get free medical and are rather used to paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket. Maybe a parent..any body can help you? You may have to do it on your own to get your life back. I did..still not there yet, tho!

  • thyroid.about.com/b/2011/04...

    Here is a link with proof about Hashimoto's effecting quality of life.

  • Thanks Faith.

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