Having a Graves Disease does not make you weak. Point blank. Requiring medical attention does not mean that you are powerless. An illness is not a marathon, it is not a test or a challenge and you do not have to prove yourself to anyone. In short… with Graves Disease treatment is necessary. The same can be said about any chronic illness.
I see the opposite sentiments regularly. Sometimes when I connect with newly diagnosed Graves Disease Warriors I am greeted by these types of ideas; there is often a need to defeat the disease and emerge victorious, to regain control and feel like you are stronger than the illness. Some even go so far as to forgo modern medicinal treatments, believing that they have the strength to beat this on their own.
I’m sorry to be a downer here. But you really don’t. And this is not a weakness. You are a mortal being and your delicate system is asking for help. Can you help yourself by making health-invoking changes to your lifestyle and diet? Absolutely! Those changes can play an incredible roll in your return to good health… But you are not a doctor (unless you are, in which case – props, thanks for saving lives you amazing person!)
If you have Graves Disease, you will need medical intervention.
In the early 20th century, when treatment options were very limited, most Graves Disease patients would have done anything for the options we have available to us today. Back then they were unfortunately largely left to their own devices. “(In the 1930s) a popular recommended treatment was rest” (source). The survival rate was poor.
Today those with Autoimmune Diseases like Graves Disease have doctors who can help us. While there is no cure, there are different options available to soothe symptoms and ensure that you don’t experience complications, like a thyroid storm (a rare yet life threatening complication of Grave’s Disease). And while things are different now, and your health is more delicate than it once was, things will someday be ok. Different, but ok.
I imagine that the desire to defeat the disease and rise victorious is not uncommon.
And I get it. I felt it. Your life has changed and you no longer know what to expect as you examine your path. It’s an unexpected and terrifying detour that you never intended on taking. It’s only natural that you would want to defeat this detour and return to normal. However, viewing this as a mountain that needs to be climbed or a battle that needs to be won only increases the pressures that have been thrust upon you.
I know all too well how painful it is to realize that you cannot defeat your illness; I was devastated when I finally had to accept that I couldn’t be cured. ‘Cure’ was a word I held onto for a couple of years after my diagnoses. It meant the world to me. And realizing that wasn’t possible was so incredibly difficult.
Understanding the true nature of my illness would have saved me from that emotional pain. I would have learned to accept that this is a permanent part of me sooner. And it certainly would have helped me to come up with a more realistic treatment plan earlier on. A plan that definitely includes a ton of self-love, a healthy lifestyle, and lots of whole foods…but a plan that also embraces the aid of two doctors, medication when necessary and regular blood work.
Optimism is incredibly good for our health but realism is also an important factor when dealing with an illness.
Incurable does not have to mean insufferable. However, choosing to walk this road alone, sans medical assistance, can lead you towards a realm of discomfort. One that you may not have to experience otherwise. I understand and champion the idea that we need to love and respect our bodies and do everything in our power to cherish and support our wellness. However, when a chronic illness appears, part of respecting and loving ourselves is providing ourselves with the best medical care that we can. And the other part, the more difficult part, is accepting and loving ourselves, incurable, chronic illness and all. It takes time, but you can get there. It’s a good place to be.
You are incurable, but you are not broken.
You may not be able to defeat this, but you are not weak. Maybe you’re feeling some heavy emotions (loss, anger, sadness, denial, fear… all of these and more are completely natural) but you never have to carry those feelings alone.
Things may be changing, but if you are fortunate enough to have a great team of doctors and loved ones who will support you on this journey, you are in amazing hands.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I do not place the pressures of perfection on my body. It’s a beautiful, biological masterpiece that tethers me to this world and grants me life. I love and respect it, even if it may not be perfect.