7 Uplifting Self-Love Lessons From A Graves Disease Diagnosis

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7 Uplifting Self-Love Lessons From A Graves Disease Diagnosis Title Card With Sara at mshealthesteem.com throwing her arms in the air joyfully in the background

Hello Sweet Friends:

Do you ever struggle with self-love? Does it ever feel a lot more complicated than it seems? And you begin to wonder if that whole self-love bliss you see all over Instagram is even a real thing?

I feel you! In fact, the idea of self-love used to be so strange to me that it wasn’t even a priority. Until a Graves Disease diagnosis knocked me off my feet.

Autoimmunity gave me a crash course in vulnerability and self-kindness. And I realized that if I wanted to thrive I needed to learn to love and prioritize myself, flaws and all. A lesson I’m incredibly grateful for!

But, guess what! You deserve to thrive too. And that also means loving and prioritizing yourself. Whether or not you have autoimmunity.

It turns out that all of those self-love lessons from Graves, they’re pretty relevant for you too!

So let’s talk about those self-love lessons and how they can help you learn how to love your beautiful self-fiercely:

7 Self-Love Lessons From A Graves Disease Diagnosis

A child with colourful makeup wearing a shirt that says "Love Who You Are"

1. Self-Love Is The Foundation Of A Healthy Lifestyle

I know I’ve said this many times before, but it’s so important that it’s worth repeating like a broken record: self-love is the true foundation of a healthy lifestyle.

Practicing self-love is so much more powerful than simply focusing on creating a lovely lifestyle or discovering your healthy, balanced diet. Because without that self-love foundation everything kind of falls apart. It’s the driving force behind any lasting goodness.

When you love yourself fiercely and wholeheartedly you feel inspired to take care of your incredible self. You start having your own back. And you make decisions that benefit your personal needs.

All of which helps you build a healthy, balanced lifestyle that works for you (and helps to make you feel so flipping good). Self-love is the best foundation on which to erect a lifestyle that you adore. Otherwise things kind of crumble apart after a while (and aren’t overly fulfilling).

Someone making heart hands towards the sky

Plus self-love comes with some rocking health benefits. Check out what self-love does:

  • Helps us cope with stress and negative emotions
  • Supports our immune health
  • Benefits our cardiovascular health
  • Lowers health-related anxiety in chronic illness warriors (woohoo!)
  • Helps us keep our own best interest at heart

That’s one powerful foundation, isn’t it? Working on self-love is so, so worth it. Graves Disease diagnosis or not. 😉

Related: 8 Ways to Love Yourself Fiercely (Your Health Will Thank You)

2. Self-Love Is Not A Destination

A map lays open on the dashboard, the road is viewable through the windshield

While self-love is an awesome lifestyle foundation, it isn’t always easy. And you don’t exactly “get there.”

Some days you may feel wonderful and absolutely adore yourself. Other times you may struggle. It’s 100% normal!

Your relationship with yourself is just like any other relationship. It takes time, effort and care and there will absolutely be good days and bad days. And that’s ok.

It’s not about being perfect or living in total bliss all the time. That’s impossible!

Instead we need to know that self-love isn’t some destination you reach. It’s a continuous journey. A commitment to yourself. There are natural ups and downs. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about how we treat ourselves in our triumphs and our struggles.

Related: 3 Things You Need to Know About Practicing Self-Love

3. You Are Not A Burden

A woman laying in the grass making heart hands at the camera

I think we’ve all been there before – feeling like a total burden. Autoimmunity certainly made me feel that way!

Dealing with so many mental and physical health symptoms was a lot to take in. And finding out that I couldn’t be cured was heartbreaking. I felt like I had lost some of my value as a person.

Thankfully I had someone who helped to remind me that that simply isn’t the case. A reminder we all need from time to time.

Adrien (my now husband <3) and I had been together for a little over a year when I was diagnosed with Graves Disease. And we had just moved in together.

I was so afraid of being a burden to him that I told him he could leave me…

But he took my hand, wiped away my tears and told me that we were in this together. And we’ve been together ever since, through the ups and downs of autoimmunity and all of life’s surprises.

Adrien taught me that being sick never meant that I was a burden. He showed me that I am whole, worthy of love and deserving of support no matter what shape I’m in.

Sara at mshealthesteem.com smiling at the camera whilst standing in a lake, years after her Graves Disease diagnosis
That reminder really brought my smile back <3

You, my sweet friend, are also never a burden and are always so worthy of love. No matter what!

I know that there are certain things that make all of us feel like we sometimes aren’t enough, be it mental or physical health struggles, financial difficulties, emotional baggage or more. But that is simply never the case.

Our struggles do not define us. And they never decide our value.

So if you need to hear this and you don’t have someone with you right this second to hold your hand and tell you that you are indeed valuable, worthy of support and love and ridiculously enough just as you are in this very moment, let me do just that. Because you absolutely are! And you deserve to know that.

Related: 10 Powerful Life Lessons I Learned From Graves Disease

4. Your Weight Doesn’t Decide Your Value

A woman stands in front of a cement wall and plays with her hair

Hands up if you’ve ever felt the pressure to live up to society’s impossible beauty standards. Me too! And I never realized how much that affected me until my Graves Disease Diagnosis.

You see, Graves causes weight loss. And the treatment causes weight gain. It can be impossible to control. My body went through a ton of changes.

And, if I’m being honest, I struggled a lot with that.

During my first flare up I lost around 30lbs and then gained approximately 65lbs after 6 months of treatment. I felt incredibly insecure and hated what I saw in the mirror.

Today I wish I could go hug myself back then. I wish I could tell her that her beautiful, amazing body is fighting so hard for her. That she doesn’t need to be angry at her body or embarrassed by it. That the medication that’s making her gain weight is also saving her life.

An inspirational quote reminding us to work on self-love, part of 7 Uplifting Self-Love Lessons From A Graves Disease Diagnosis

Most importantly, I wish I could tell past me that each pound, each new pants size, ultimately DOESN’T MATTER. She is not defined by her pants size or her weight. All she needs right now is rest, support and love.

But I can’t do that. She’s almost 7 years behind me. So, instead, I want to do this in her honour…

If you’re in a similar boat, angry with your body, embarrassed by your weight, feeling like you’ve lost your value for whatever reason, know that you are still beautiful, amazing and worthy of love.

Your value is not tied to a number on the scale.

Your health is not defined by your pants size. And your amazing body is always fighting for you and deserves your understanding and love. ⠀

A woman stands next to a treet, smizing at the camera

Those negative thoughts I experienced are absolutely natural. If you’re experiencing them too, you aren’t strange. But you deserve to find a way to move past them. I can tell you from experience that those thoughts didn’t help me. They were a hindrance. And when I was ready to start working on loving myself I lost absolutely nothing.

Instead I gained relief, comfort and a better relationship with myself and my body. And one less heavy thing on a very full plate. I was finally able to focus on healing without anger or resentment towards the process. That, my sweet friend, was a big win.

Whether therapy, talking with your loved ones, positive affirmations, positive self-talk or something else entirely helps, indulge in it. You deserve a good relationship with yourself. And the scale should never have the power to take that away from you.

Related: 4 Reasons To Break “The Rules” And Love Your Cellulite

5. Purpose Comes From Within

Sara at mshealthesteem.com looking into nature, arms in the air happily, years after her Graves Disease diagnosis.

What’s your purpose? Does that question make you cringe? Goodness, I feel ya! But it doesn’t have to.

So many of us are taught that our purpose is all about what we do (typically for moolah). We are led to believe that finding your purpose means seeking something outside of yourself. Whether it be a career path, a volunteer project, a hobby… an external list of accomplishments you need to achieve in order to feel like you have real value.

But the thing is… when your purpose is an external achievement it can easily be taken away. (If it’s ever even found at all).

By a layoff, a health problem, a change of heart…

My Graves Disease diagnosis caused me to take a prolonged sick leave and change career paths. It was heartbreaking! My life plan seemed to crumble around me.

A woman in front of greenery looks to the right and smiles.

And I’m not alone in that experience! Life is a long, often random and unpredictable adventure. Things are going to change constantly for all of us, which can leave you feeling like you’ve lost your purpose very often.

And that feeling… that soul-crushing pain of “losing your purpose” can really hurt.

Which is a shame, because inevitable changes in life really shouldn’t leave you feeling like you’ve lost your value. Feeling worthless isn’t good for your well-being after all.

Ultimately, your purpose truly has nothing to do with what you do! It’s all about who you are.

And nothing can ever take that goodness away from you. Trust me, it’s so worth it to shift your perspective.

Related: The Surprising Truth About Finding Purpose

6. Sometimes Self-Love Means Getting Outside Help

Two friends playing on the swings and laughing

While it may seem a little weird to ask for help with self-love, it’s totally ok to seek guidance if you’re feeling lost.

There are tons of people in your life who love you wholeheartedly, as you are right now, flaws and all. 

And since your goal is to learn to feel the same way about yourself, seeking their guidance, advice and insight can be so incredibly helpful.

Humans are social creatures. Emotional and social support are necessary for your own mental well-being. And it’s ok to tap into that when you need it.

The people who love you would be happy to help you see all of the wonderful things that make you the incredible being you are. And hey, they might even have some personal tips on practicing self-love to share. How great is that?

Talking to a therapist or counselor is another great option!

Someone standing in a field, eyes closed, arms open with joy

Take it from someone who’s been there! Therapy can be life changing. And yes, it’s helped me with self-love (and given me some amazing self-care to tap into when I need it).

Therapists create a safe space free from judgement. Everything is confidential. And the relationship is unique to your needs. Including any help you might need learning to practice self-love.

It’s even possible to find an online psychiatrist.

BetterHelp offers affordable, private online counseling. They provide access to licensed, trained, experienced, accredited psychiatrist and therapists and match you with the right counselor. You could start counseling as early as today!

You never know, it might be one of the best steps in your self-love journey. Sometimes loving yourself means accepting that you need outside help. We all do. And that’s not only ok, it’s awesome!

Related: 6 Fantastic Tips On How to Reduce Stress from Psychiatrists

7. Love Yourself First

An inspirational quote reminding us of the importance of loving ourselves as part of 7 Uplifting Self-Love Lessons From A Graves Disease Diagnosis

Are you guilty of putting yourself last on your priority list? Of loving everyone around you so fiercely and leaving very little room for your lovely self? I’ve absolutely been there too.

I used to be so proud of myself for being selfless. I believed that love was something we mostly gave away. And if we were lucky we’d get some back from those around us.

I learned that I was totally wrong when Graves Disease knocked me on my booty.

Spreading love as thick as peanut butter is pretty marvelous! Don’t get me wrong. But you deserve just as much goodness from yourself as you so freely share with others.

In fact, you need it! Like I said earlier, self-love plays such an important role in our well-being. But it’s about far more than creating a healthy lifestyle.

A woman in a field with a flower crown and a bouquet

Self-love affects your relationships and plays a huge role in the people you choose to surround yourself with.

Dr. Bill Swann, a Professor of Social and Personality Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, researches self-verification and the human desire to be known and understood by others. (source)

And he has some pretty cool things to say about the importance of self-love…

Dr. Swann’s Self-Verification Theory shows that it all starts with how you feel about yourself. Once you have a firmly held belief about yourself you typically surround yourself with others who see you in the same way. Even if those beliefs are negative.

A low sense of self-value can lead you to feel drawn towards people who also don’t value you. It can make you feel like you aren’t deserving of happiness or a positive outcome. Even though you are 100% worthy of happiness and a positive outcome. (source)

A woman stands on the road looking at a map, the mountains can be seen in the distance

What can we take away from all of this?

Love really does start with you. It’s so important that you love yourself first. We are all worthy of self-love and self-acceptance. And it’s really important that you prioritize working on that.

Ultimately, learning to value yourself allows you to see that you also deserve to be valued by others. You’re more likely to make sure that your relationships are supportive and loving. You’ll see them in a more positive light. And you won’t force yourself to remain in an unhappy situation because you’ll know that you really do deserve better.

See how all of that goodness came from self-love? How awesome is that?

Related: 3 Remarkable Self-Love Tips From BTS Love Yourself

Final Thoughts

Someone smiles at the camera, eyes closed

Self-love has helped me make myself and my health a priority and is a huge reason I’ve been able to thrive in my with Graves Disease. It’s changed my outlook and has completely uplifted me.

And it’s also been a huge help when working through harder times. I think self-love was one of my most powerful weapons (other than modern medicine) during my two relapses. I can’t imagine how that would have gone if I hadn’t built such a powerful relationship with myself.

While I’m not exactly grateful for autoimmunity, I am grateful that my Graves Disease diagnosis taught me to love myself fiercely. It’s a beautiful gift I’ll carry with me.

And it’s something you deserve to carry with you too. You are so, so worthy of self-love.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! What advice on self-love do you have to share? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with us in the comments below.

Health and love,


Thought of the day: You are worthy of the love you so freely give to others.

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Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of www.mshealthesteem.com, where she shares her story of being diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease, and empowering herself to do everything she can to thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She writes articles on self-love, acceptance, wellness and nutrition. Join the Health-Esteem Family today and share in the journey.


  1. Reply


    August 8, 2019

    It can’t be easy having to live with Graves Disease, but it sounds like you have an amazing perspective on it! I agree that self-love is a journey!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      It definitely comes with some difficulties. I’m very lucky to be in a more stable place health-wise. Autoimmunity is a strange beast <3. Thank you so much for your kindness Carolyn! I really appreciate it :)

  2. Reply


    August 8, 2019

    You are truly amazing and your words are brilliant. I cannot fathom what you go through and I know it must be difficult but I’m so glad you love yourself through it and have a support system. I suffer from depression and anxiety and if it wasn’t for my husband I’d be lost. He helps me find the self love when I’m low.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      Oh my goodness, thank you so much for all of your kindness! Your words mean the world <3. I'm glad you have tons of support and love by your side too! it helps so much. You deserve it! I hope there's tons of self-love on your side too! Sending so much love you way!

  3. Reply

    Kristine Nicole Alessandra

    August 8, 2019

    I think self love goes beyond the occasional spa treatment or a trip to the salon. For me, self love is acceptance, it is being out best self for our own selves so that we may be able to share that love to others.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      Heck yes Kristine! While treating yourself to a spa treatment can be a loving act of self-care, it absolutely runs way deeper than that! And, like you said, it starts with self-acceptance and kindness. Love this wonderful thought! Thank you for sharing it with us Kristine <3

  4. Reply


    August 9, 2019

    You are such an amazing and a strong person to have overcome this. Continue being an inspiration to others and an advocate of the power of self-love. 🙂

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      Oh my goodness, thank you so much! You’re truly so kind to say that <3. Made my whole day! Kind people like you make the world brighter. Thank you! :)

  5. Reply

    Marcie W.

    August 9, 2019

    I have been working on self love for the last year and feel I have made a lot of progress. I agree that it’s a huge part of one’s overall mental health. Great post!

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      That’s so awesome Marcie! Eeee! I’m really glad for you <3. Self-love matters so much and we all deserve it. :) Thank you tons for sharing! Wishing you tons of goodness as you continue on your self-love journey.

  6. Reply

    Erin Knight

    August 9, 2019

    This are some amazing lessons from self-love. It is so important for our own well-being. I also learned to love myself so I can take care of others. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience of self-love.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      I’m so happy you learned that lesson too Erin! It’s ok for us to love ourselves first so we can love others even more fiercely. It’s a message that we all need to hear sometimes :). Thank you tons for sharing your thoughts and experiences too <3

  7. Reply

    emman damian

    August 9, 2019

    It’s really important to take care of yourself too. Self-love means giving yourself some space and time to recover.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      That’s beautiful advice Emman! We really do deserve that. I’m so happy you shared your lovely thoughts. Thank you!

  8. Reply


    August 9, 2019

    Self-love is something I’ve always struggled with. It’s something I’m working on improving.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 23, 2019

      I’m happy you’re working on self-love hun! That’s what matters. Struggling and so normal and it’s ok if you’re experiencing that. Self-love is an ongoing journey instead of a destination, so taking it one step and one day at a time will take you far <3. Wishing you tons of goodness on your self-love journey!

  9. Reply

    Ruth I

    August 10, 2019

    Thank you all these powerful words. I always think I am a burden, it’s not easy! I should learn to love myself more.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 22, 2019

      You’re so welcome Ruth! I think it’s so important that you know that your feelings are normal – so many wrestle with feelings like that (I certainly have). But I hope that you know that you are absolutely not a burden at all! It’s that inner mean girl talking. And while it isn’t easy, working through those feelings and working on self-love will be so, so worth it. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it too <3. We never have to go it alone!

      You make the world brighter! Sending big hugs and tons of love your way!

  10. Reply

    Astute Copy Blogging

    August 10, 2019

    Hey Sara,

    What a fantastic and inspirational blog post. One of the best I’ve read in ages. You seem to have so much wisdom on those young shoulders.
    Self love is really the foundation. Even the holy scriptures say ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’. Meaning you’ve got to first love yourself before you can effectively show love to others.
    I’m glad you’ve got a soulmate in Adrien on this journey. Two are certainly better than one.
    All the best for the future.
    And thanks again for sharing 🙂


    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 22, 2019

      Hello Pedro:

      You are so incredibly sweet! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m truly so glad you enjoyed the article and love that you shared your thoughts :).

      Self-love really is so important. And we all need and deserve it. Like you said, it starts with us. When we love ourselves we’ve got a ton more goodness to share. It makes the world brighter!

      Wishing you the best too! Here’s to all the goodness ahead.

      Health and love,


  11. Reply

    Shannon Gurnee

    August 10, 2019

    Self-love is something that we forget to think about. This is a great blog post. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 22, 2019

      It really is! I’m glad you brought that up Shannon! We need and deserve it so much <3. Thank you tons for reading and sharing your kind thoughts :)

  12. Reply


    August 11, 2019

    To take care of ourselves and give ourselves elf-love is very important.This is one post that really made me stop and think. Thanks.

    • Reply

      Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

      August 22, 2019

      I’m so glad you think so too hun! And really happy you enjoyed the post <3. Thank you so much!

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