Bridge the Gap
I walk through the store without pain from the light. I do not wear sunglasses or a hat. My eyes do not well up from imitation. I spent years shielding my eyes from the harsh light. Then the global pandemic gave me the excuse to avoid the stores altogether. The small things that would make my skin crawl no longer bother me. Writing these articles help me make sense of how much my life changed once I no longer had control of how my eyes functioned on a day-to-day basis.
Everything about my thyroid eye disease (TED) was blurry. Time was sluggish. My eyes were unstable and out of alignment. I lived each day by the mercy of how much I could handle the symptoms which were often overwhelming. I was uncomfortable all the time.
I always joked that I would not wish this disease on my worst enemy but it’s true. This disease flipped my life upside down and left me in the longest holding pattern imaginable. It was 3 really intense years that still feel quite blurry in my memory.
How I coped with thyroid eye disease
I have always had obsessive patterns when it came to movies, tv, and celebrities. I dealt with extreme anxiety by distracting myself with other people’s stories. Going down internet rabbit holes to find the most obscure details of other people’s lives to avoid dealing with mine. My TED journey took this obsessive pattern to the extreme.
For 3 years, I would either think about my eyes or stories written by other people. Or random celebrity interviews that I would analyze and theorize about. Anything in the world of celebrity entertainment to get my mind off of my own life.
Looking back, it was as though my coping strategies for my anxiety prepped me for all the highs and lows of TED. I already had a built-in way I dealt with feeling uncomfortable. So I just made myself cozy by distracting myself as often as possible.
Piecing things together
If this community had not reached out to me to write for ThyroidEyeDisease.net 2 years ago, I do not think I would have processed my experience with TED the way I have. Writing articles every month for this website has given me an opportunity to process what I have been through while sharing my story with others. It has helped me to heal.
I have found a community of other people dealing with this disease, a community I wish I had while I was in the thick of it but so grateful to have it now. I read the other advocate pieces and remember I am not alone.
The symptoms that used to rattle my days are not as rare as I felt they were at the time. I had no one to look over to and say, isn’t this double vision wild? Everything is 2 and my eyes feel like they are on fire. But now I do.
Reading the comments people leave on articles reminds me of what I was thinking when I was going through it. It can be a scary disease that few people understand but that does not mean you are the only one going through it.
How do you cope with TED?
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