Azahara Munoz knew something wasn’t right when she returned home to Spain two seasons ago to play the Ladies European Tour event there.
For some time, she too often felt exhausted.
She was beginning to struggle with anxiety.
And then her hair started falling out.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, I must really be stressed,’” Munoz said. “I just thought I was doing too much, that it was stress.”
Concerned over growing bald spots, Munoz visited a dermatologist while in Spain.
“I went thinking I was going bald,” Munoz, 30, said. “She told me I wasn’t really going bald, there was a reason for it.”
The doctor sent Munoz to an endocrinologist suspecting there was a thyroid problem. Bloodwork showed Munoz was suffering from Hashimoto’s Disease. It’s a condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, which can lead to hypothyroidism, chronic inflammation that affects the way hormones regulate body functions.
There was relief knowing the cause, but it took time to get the treatment right, to get the medication (Levothyroxine) and her diet right. She doesn’t eat meat anymore – no beef, chicken or even fish. She says that has also helped stabilize her condition.
Munoz, 30, struggled with her game as her health issues worsened. She failed to make the European Solheim Cup team last year, after making three consecutive teams. She also suffered through appendicitis at the end of last year, but she says she doesn’t know how much her health issues affected her game.
This season’s going better, though. Munoz finished second at the Lotte Championship last month, her first top-10 finish in a year and a half.
“I’ve been feeling so much better for the last four or five months,” Munoz said. “My bloodwork is more stable, still not great, but more stable, but I really am feeling good.”
Earlier this week, Munoz took to her Instagram account to share her struggle publicly.
Not even sure how to start. I never wanted to talk about it and only my closest friends and family knew about it. But it came out in my @lpga interview in Hawaii and I’m so happy it did. I feel like I took a weight off my shoulders! I never wanted to say anything because 1) I hate excuses for poor play (one of my biggest pet peeves) and 2) maybe I was a bit embarrassed?? Everyone always thinks of me as being so healthy and strong and all of a sudden I just wasn’t. Looking back now I realized I’ve had this for a very long time. But starting 3-4 years ago it just got so much worse. I struggled to get through the day!!! I was exhausted all the time, cold, anxious...I never thought of seeking help. It never even crossed my mind. I thought it was me!! And I had to fix it on my own. And being the stubborn person that I am, and also a hard worker, I kept pushing myself way too much. I guess my body finally had enough of me and this pic is what happened. I started to lose sooo much hair. I had bold spots everywhere. This was a super embarrassing moment and I hid it as well as I could. But now I’m thankful for it because this is the reason I finally decided to go to the doctor. Not until it was really obvious(other people could see it)that something was wrong w me, even though I knew all along something wasn’t right. So in September of 2016 I was diagnosed w Hashimoto’s Disease. It came as a little shock but to be honest I almost felt relieved because I could do something about it. Why was I so tired all the time?? So cold all the time?? Why don’t I wanna go to dinner w friends?? Or do fun things?? What’s wrong w me?? I was just so exhausted at all times. Specially after going through long practices and the gym, which I did anyways. I completely ran myself down. The reason why I wanted to write something is because not feeling good is not normal, feeling good is. So if any of you are going through something, which so many people go through different things, seek help. And seek help sooner rather than later. You know yourself better than anyone. Listen to your body. And please, don’t wait until it’s too late and it takes you so much longer to recover. So many people ha
“Nobody really knew about it,” Munoz said. “Only my really close friends and family. The reason I wanted to talk about it is that I know there are people out there suffering from this who don’t even know they have it.”
Since posting her story on Instagram, Munoz said she has become emotional reading responses, many from people struggling with symptoms just like Munoz did, people confused over what was happening to them. She said that’s why she decided to tell her story.
“I feel a little guilty, because I waited so long to talk about it,” she said. “I wanted to say, if you aren’t feeling good, seek some help.”
While Munoz wants people to know she is “feeling a million times better” and she’s “happier than I’ve ever been,” she relates to the struggles and confusion this malady causes.
“I kept thinking, `What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I want to go out for dinner with friends? Why do I just want to stay on the couch?’ Why don’t I want to do anything?’” Munoz said. “I have a normal life now, and I’m really active. I wrote about it more for people who are struggling and don’t know what to do. There are so many people who are not diagnosed, who don’t know they have it.”
Munoz said she hopes her story helps others feel as good as she’s feeling again.