Hashimoto’s Disease: Learning My Body

When I dropped this video and made it ‘facebook-official’, I introduced this video well enough,

I thought it was appropriate to share this with you all now, so close to Thanksgiving day. … Making “Hashimoto’s Disease: Learning My Body” has helped me to let go of a lot of vexation with the universe I had let build up inside me and come to terms with having a life that will now never be free of disease. I have been given a wonderful gift to live this life, and I now know that Hashimoto’s Disease does not make me any less grateful for that wonderful gift!

And when I shared it on youtube, I gave an equally as accurate but somewhat different introduction to the piece,

Hashimoto’s Disease: Learning My Body was made entirely by Marita Chustak, without any supporting crew. It chronicles her journey through diagnosis with Hashimoto’s Disease in a way that combines science, personal anecdote, and visual art.

Special thanks to Aaron Dodd, who encouraged me to openly and honestly share the raw parts of this experience with viewers, Greta Buis, Athan Mighion, Emily Blue, and John and Andrea Chustak, for the feedback they gave to me throughout the process of making this piece. Your input was invaluable.

What I want to talk about here is something rather different: Pride. My pride. This is something that I really began to grapple with in the same time that I was researching for, writing, prepping for, shooting, and editing this video.

When I was in the Junior High, I remember once that Andrew Garvey offered me to cut him in line for lunch. I was joking but completely earnest in my reply, “No, because I am a stubborn, prideful person!”

This is the way I have been all my life. As I dug into myself to try to piece together some sort of map of what led me to becoming sick with this at so young an age, instances where pride had run amok within me kept resurfacing over and over again. Why would I pretend to be warm when I was cold? Pride. Why would I not accept that I was simply physically weaker than the man next to me? Pride. Why would I avoid cleaning my wounds up and protecting them in the face of embarrassment? Pride.

Hashimoto’s disease has been the single greatest intervention in my life to help me see where I had turned putrid with pride. Hashimoto’s forced me to be weak, and then it forced me to accept that weakness.

But here is the thing: accepting my own weakness was the only thing that could allow me to become stronger. Accepting that I am disabled has given me far more ability than I otherwise would have had.

Hear me out. If I refuse to accept that my body has become deficient in comparison to what it used to be and in many ways in comparison to those around me, and I ignore this disease and try to push through my life pretending it isn’t there— which, I tried— I just get smacked down flat over and over again. With that mentality, I will not be able to get out of the house, I will not be able to go on adventures or go to social events or live my life. But if I accept it, if I come to peace with it, then I begin to accept help. I accept help from others, and I accept help from myself in the openness and gutsiness to make real and difficult changes in my life that are necessary for me to maintain a livable amount of health whenever possible. With this acceptance, I can do so many of the things I want to— just perhaps not as heroically and superbly and pridefully as I originally planned, and with less commotion and more rest.

And I am okay with that. I hope that at the end of the day, having Hashimoto’s Disease has made me a better, and more substantial person.

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