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How TED Impacted My Mental Health

I have always had anxiety. Since I was a kid, I had always worried about all the big and small details of my life. Overthinking a lot of things on a daily basis was not uncommon for me. Being diagnosed with thyroid eye disease (TED) upped my daily anxiety to a moment-by-moment feeling.

Amplified anxiety with thyroid eye disease

With TED, everything felt out of my control. I had always strived to feel as though I had some control over my emotions. But with the onset of this disease came a lack of control I was not prepared for. This sense of unease lasted for months.

Early in my diagnosis, every symptom I had was added to the list of things I was anxious about. My double vision made my reality scary and, at times, humorous when people would suddenly have four eyes. Anxiety would sit on my shoulders as I read a book, anticipating words splitting into two. Light became uncomfortable. The sun would blind my eyes every time I would walk outside. White light bulbs would make a room or a store unbearable to be in without sunglasses and a baseball hat.

The swelling around my eyes and their ever-changing appearance caused a lot of negative feelings. I no longer looked how I knew my eyes to look. My face changed. My cheekbones became more prominent. I looked in the mirror and no longer recognized the person staring back at me. All of it was too much to handle.

Writing as an outlet

When I get anxious, I write. Write out my thoughts, get them on paper, and try to understand them better. Or that’s what I used to do. When I was diagnosed with TED, I stopped writing or I would write around how I was actually feeling. My words were vague and delicate. I refused to acknowledge it. I was in survival mode, just trying to get through it.

A family friend suggested six months into my TED journey that I try writing down my feelings and what I had been experiencing. I’m a writer, writing has always been a creative and therapeutic outlet for me, maybe it would be good to do so or at least try. I wrote a lot of negative things because I was feeling all of the negative things because I was experiencing a lot of negativity from this disease.

TED gave me an awareness of my anxiety

It was not all negative. TED gave me an awareness of my anxiety that I would not have now had I not experienced it. I know my behaviors when I have anxiety and how I respond to change. I know that my anxiety comes in waves and that every big wave I have will eventually turn into another emotion. I have more patience with the steps that I take and how to breathe through the hard moments.

The more time went by, the more I began to recognize patterns in my symptoms and how I responded to them. I learned that every uncomfortable moment is temporary. I noticed my anxiety became less overwhelming. I realized that I will live through the hard moments which made me see I have more control than I think.

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