A little orange pill.
BY SARAH ANNE HAYES
It was a little orange pill. A little orange pill, less than half the size of a pea. But that small orange pill felt much bigger than it was in reality.
After nearly six months of knock-down, drag-out exhaustion, I’d gone to my doctor. Six vials of blood and what felt like a bajillion tests later, the results were in — I had hypothyroidism. My doctor wanted to start me on a low dose of medication, and we’d reassess after six weeks to see if we needed to adjust the levels.
When I picked up my first prescription and stared at that little orange pill in my hand, it took everything in me not to burst into tears.
I started asking all the questions and “what ifs,” wondering what I could have done better or differently — if my diet had been different or I’d exercised more or not had so much soda, would it have changed anything? In the back of my head, I knew the answer was probably no, but that didn’t change the fact that I felt like it was my fault.
Like many people in our image-driven society, I like to seem like I have it all together. I’m a planner by nature who appreciates beautiful aesthetics and perfectly organized vignettes. I like things color coded, in neat little rows, tied up with a bow. And that little orange pill made me feel like, despite my best efforts, I had failed somehow.
After years of never having any major or long-term medical issues, I became one of “those people” — namely, the people who had to carry pill boxes with them on travel and down their medications on a certain timeline or under specific circumstances. Something about this made me feel broken, made me feel less than whole.
Over the next several months, I wrestled with frustration and sadness. I started googling if hypothyroidism was a condition that could go away. I was still deeply entrenched in the belief that my diagnosis made me less than, and if I worked hard enough, I could strong arm my way into having it all together again.
I’m not exactly sure when my attitude began to shift. It might’ve been when I talked with friends and realized my particular condition, and thyroid issues in general, are actually quite common. Several of my friends had them, and I’d never known. It might’ve been when my thyroid levels started to even out, and I started feeling energized again. Or it might’ve been when I finally realized there are tons of people I love and admire, who I’ve never once considered less than or broken, who also take some sort of medication on a specific schedule or under specific circumstances every day.
However it started, this is what I realized: something as small as a pill could never define your worth.
The truth is none of us have it all together. None of us are living the perfect life. We all have struggles and heartache and pain. We all have moments and situations in our lives that are different than we wish they were. We all have things we wish we could change and we all have things that bring us face-to-face with our humanity.
I don’t know what your little orange pill is. I don’t know what the thing is today that is making you feel broken, unworthy, or less than. Whatever that thing is, however tangible or intangible, however big or small, hear this today, sweet friend: it does not define your worth. It has no bearing on your value.
You are valuable and worthy, no questions asked. And no literal or figurative orange pill will ever change that.