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Waves of Change: Coping With Symptoms

The symptoms of thyroid eye disease (TED) can cause you to guess and second-guess what might come next. If you ask me, this is perhaps the most challenging aspect of the disease.

Whenever symptoms arise, I find myself questioning if I did something to cause the resurgence. Maybe I ate something particularly inflammatory to my body, or I stared at the computer or TV screen too long. Maybe I'm just tired and need to sleep more. Everything is in retrospect.

Lessons from the waves

Well, the other day I was walking on the beach. I saw the waves coming and going. I listened as they crashed on the shore. And I was reminded that life is like that. Things come in waves. The good, bad, happy, and sad all seem to ebb and flow like the waves.

Symptoms of thyroid eye disease can vary

The same can be said for my symptoms from thyroid eye disease. There are varying degrees of severity and many different symptoms that all seem to come and go. This visit to the sea reminded me that nothing lasts forever.

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When I am experiencing symptoms, I don't need to retrace my steps, trying to figure out where I went wrong. Instead, I should be consoling myself and reminding myself that it won't last forever. The symptoms are mostly temporary, and if I can accommodate my eyes while they are uncomfortable, there will be a reprieve.

For me, being frustrated is natural while dealing with physical discomfort. Questioning the causes of symptoms and wondering when they will retreat is common. Anxiously anticipating the return of symptoms once there has been some reprieve is reality. Although I consider myself an eternal optimist, these thoughts and feelings have become prevalent. This, in and of itself, frustrates me.

Learning to go with the flow

I'll admit I am not a fan of thyroid eye disease. Having it, enduring these symptoms, and changing the way I live my life is all very exhausting. Saying these things out loud, even admitting and saying that I HAVE thyroid eye disease, has not been easy. It's almost as if I'm admitting defeat. When I say it out loud, it feels like I own and allow it. In fact, I never say, "MY thyroid eye disease." That's just giving it too much power.

My whole life, I have been able to work harder or get creative at something that didn't go well for me, and eventually, it would improve. I don't mind using a little elbow grease. I am confident in research, learning, and growing to improve upon something or reach a goal.

TED is different. TED seems to have a mind of its own. Thyroid eye disease doesn't care what I want, how hard I work to stave off symptoms, or how much I learn. My mind is having a hard time keeping up with that.

Reminder: there will be better days

I think I am writing this article to remind myself, as well as anyone else who deals with thyroid eye disease, that there will be better days. There is comfort for me, knowing that some days are just better than others. Through no fault of my own, this disease just takes over sometimes. My part is to hunker down, take care of what I can, and wait it out. That wave will go back into the sea before long. There is no use in leaning into negativity. It will not help to be frustrated or anxious.

The best thing to do is remind myself that there is a natural ebb and flow to the symptoms, endure them the best I can, and wait for better days. In the meantime, I'll wear my dark sunglasses to shield my eyes from bright light, along with a patch over one eye to reduce double vision. I will wear my wide-brimmed hat to protect myself from the sun and use eye drops frequently to add moisture. These will eventually help until my eyes calm down again.

The ocean has shown me that there will be better days. The waves may be mighty, or they may be soft and subtle, but knowing with certainty that they do come and eventually do go helps me maintain a positive attitude.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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