A festive Christmas tree is wearing a small smile and sunglasses.

Staying Joyful During the Holidays

As we approach the holiday season, I am inclined to reflect on how my eyes may be affected. With thyroid eye disease (TED), symptoms can come and go, sometimes depending on what is going on around us.

Additionally, every symptom can be experienced with varying degrees of severity at any given moment. So, I find being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best is my go-to attitude and therefore the best coping strategy I have found.

Being prepared for parties or unexpected guests

Let’s talk about holiday parties and gatherings. I love people, I love laughing, I love having family and friends join together, and I even love hosting.

When you have thyroid eye disease, you have to do things differently sometimes. I need to plan far in advance, which is fine when you are the one inviting others, but what about drop in visitors?

Having snacks on hand, and readily available is the answer for me. As an added comfort I keep the number of my favorite pizza delivery at the ready. When someone sends me a last minute invite, I try to have something easy to grab to contribute to the festivities.

While we are together, I am keenly aware of any symptoms that arise or are aggravated by the setting. Sometimes the lighting, people moving about, and driving can cause issues for me. So, I try to remind myself to take each gathering as it comes and make accommodations when needed. This might mean wearing an eye patch or forgoing eye makeup or wearing sunglasses inside.

Although this can be difficult, I find that if I just prepare myself with a quick explanation already at the forefront of my mind, I am good to go. ("I have thyroid eye disease, and it helps me to wear my patch/shades in some settings. Thanks for understanding.") Reminding myself that these are my people, they love me or I would not be with them is just the strength I need to make the necessary adjustments and enjoy the outing.

Holiday shopping

For holiday shopping, once again, I rely on planning ahead. I get a lot of the shopping done online. However, on occasion, I may feel the need to hit the mall or shopping plaza. I plan ahead for any symptoms I may have.

Going with a friend who understands my symptoms helps so much. My eyes do not always track together, so visually busy settings can be very overwhelming. Add to that the movement of the other shoppers, as well as an unfamiliar floor plan, and I will likely experience anxiety. This is where my buddy system comes in handy. I ask my friend to stay close to me, as I may need to grab their arm or the back of their shirt to help navigate through racks of merchandise or crowds.

If we are having to go in and out of different shops, the variances in lighting can cause a problem for me, so I usually keep my sunglasses on top of my head just in case.

Celebrating traditions: Not letting thyroid eye disease disrupt my joy

Is there anything more festive than driving around to see holiday lights this time of year? This is a fun tradition for all ages. I do not want to miss out, so I plan ahead. My number one tip for this is sitting in the back seat. My car’s rear windows are more tinted than those in the front, so those bright lights are instantly toned down for me. When I am in a moving vehicle or even sometimes walking, my eyes may have difficulty focusing. I keep an eye patch handy to put on so only one eye has to track the light displays as we walk or drive by. Problem solved.

I am working hard to live my normal life, celebrate traditions, and enjoy the season's blessings. Being prepared for what can be expected will allow me to have joy in all of the little moments and not let the symptoms of thyroid eye disease stop me or steal that joy.

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