Fatigue, depression, brittle hair, pallid skin — these are just some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism, a lifelong autoimmune disease. It causes the thyroid to slow down and not work properly. This interferes with the body’s ability to use energy efficiently, among other functions. While anyone can be diagnosed with the condition, women are more likely to have thyroid problems than men.

Once you’ve been diagnosed, managing this condition means more than just taking a pill. It also means eating healthfully, exercising when you can, and relying on your friends and family for support.

Shannon Rebekah, 35 – Diagnosed in 1998

"I’ve kind of learned to ignore it a little bit and live with it. I’ve learned to deal with the sleeping patterns, so I make myself get up early in the morning so I can go the gym. I monitor my gym activities and my exercise so that it’s not quite so taxing on my body. I’ve learned to deal with being a vegan, even though I used to be a very big steak lover."

Lila Von Tesch, 31 – Diagnosed in 2006

"I feel very grateful that I have friends and family to support me. I feel in better health than I think I’ve ever felt. And that is just an amazing thing. I realize that I’m very human and I do have a chronic condition, but yet that doesn’t stop me from living my life. I think that gratitude is something that can’t be bought, it can’t be learned. It just rises from adversity. It rises from having to deal with a condition like hypothyroidism. You put your mind to it, and you just make the best of it."

Monique Ivan Woodruff, 45 – Diagnosed in 2000

"I’m treating my hypothyroidism with medication, different thyroid hormones. Some people treat with one type of thyroid medication. I treat with two because that just works the best for my body. I am also trying to eat as healthy as possible. I think that helps regardless of whether you’re hypothyroid or diabetic or whatever. I think it’s just good for your body and it helps the medication do what it’s supposed to do."

Marsha Engelhaupt, 37 – Diagnosed in 2010

"For anyone out there struggling with hypothyroidism disease, I would just say don’t give up. Just pay close attention to your body. You know your body better than anybody else. [Write] a journal of symptoms you’re experiencing every day, especially when you start your medication. Pay very close attention to try and figure out the balance of the dosage that’s right for you."

Lauren Bacon, 36 – Diagnosed in 2012

"Being diagnosed with any autoimmune disease, the idea of that can be really scary. And one of the things that I learned along the way was just learning to embrace it. Learn to embrace the treatment. There was nothing scary about it at all and it’s really easy to control."