Last Updated on September 24, 2023 by Anna Baumann
Graves Rage and Other Mood Swings
For most of my life, I think people would have described me as kind, caring, and annoyingly cheerful. I’ve been given nicknames like Snow White and Mary Poppins, and I always felt like those described me pretty well. But, thanks to my graves rage and other mood swings, people’s opinions of me changed. I couldn’t see it happening but it was made clear to me that I had transformed from Disney Princess to Disney Witch.
Coworkers feared me
I remember walking into a Hygienist’s room to tell her that the patient she was waiting for wasn’t going to make it in. This particular office didn’t do full lunch hours. So I thought she’d be glad to know that she had time to take a break. When she saw me she jumped a little and gave me a worried look. I thought maybe I startled her, so I asked if she was OK. She said she was fine, she was just afraid I was coming in there to “yell at her again”. What? When did I ever yell at her?
I’m Italian so I am louder than most people. But I’ve never yelled at anyone. When I asked her when it was she turned red, laughed, and said it was nothing. She was just hungry and went to take her break.
A few months later at our Holiday Party, I was chatting with some of my co-workers. We were talking about first impressions. One of the Assistants, drink in hand, said that she was terrified of me for a long time. I really thought she was joking. I laughed and asked what it was about me that was so scary. She told me that because I have “no filter”, I came off “a bit mean”. Once she got to know me, she thought I was very nice. But she stays guarded around me to see what “mood I’m in”.
My moods were all over the place
While I was in the moment, I couldn’t see it. But looking back, I was all over the place. Like when I broke down crying at the grocery store. I was making a bunch of stuff for Christmas Eve and had to pick up ingredients for my Caprese Salad. Basil was the only thing I couldn’t find, so I asked the produce guys where it was. One of them said, “Oh sorry, we’re all out of basil.” Wow. It hit me hard. No basil? You can’t have Caprese Salad without fresh basil.
I just stood there with my bulging eyes on the verge of tears. And I could see they were starting to panic; hysterical woman in the produce section! They both took off saying they would check in the back or call one of the other stores. I just walked away sobbing. Covered in crazy and sobbing because the store was out of basil!
I was unapproachable
On some level, I knew I was losing it. But I was too exhausted to figure it out. I kept making excuses. But this last incident is the one that made me realize I was out of control.
It was a typical day at the office and an Assistant came to me to ask if I could re-arrange one of the doctor’s schedules. He wanted one patient rescheduled and then a few others moved up to earlier times. I thought it was odd that she was the one asking me about this. He would usually come to me personally with a major schedule change. When I asked where he was she said he was in his office and “didn’t want to deal with me”.
Excuse me? She wasn’t ever the nicest person but now she was just being rude. Before I could say anything else she told me that he was afraid to approach me, and if I didn’t believe her I should just go ask him.
So I did. I went back to his office, closed the door, and asked him if he felt that I was unapproachable. He looked really sad, nodded his head, and said yes. And it broke my heart. I hadn’t been working there long. In fact, the office was a temporary job for me. But liked and respected my boss. I felt horrible because I really had no idea that he felt that way.
What to do about it
Diagnosis and Medication
After metaphorically putting a mirror in front of my face and doing a lot of honest soul-searching, I realized I had a problem. I decided that it must be something hormonal so I scheduled an appointment with my OBGYN. Then it was almost a year of confusion, delays, and doctor hopping. But eventually, I saw an Endocrinologist who diagnosed me with Graves Disease. By the time I saw her, I was in pretty bad shape emotionally and physically. She put me on an anti-thyroid drug called Methimazole. It literally saved my life.
A few weeks later I was at work and felt something I hadn’t felt in a very long time; calm. My stomach wasn’t churning and my heart wasn’t racing. It was so overwhelming that I ran to the bathroom and cried. It sounds crazy but, I didn’t know how bad I felt until I started to feel good again. Every system in my body going haywire was my normal. No wonder I was a raging maniac.
Take care of yourself
Once I knew that I actually had something, I paid more attention to myself. I tried some diet changes, got more rest, and did my best to avoid stressful situations.
I also treated myself better. Just little luxuries that make me happy like buying good tea. And getting hardcover books instead of paperback. Those things sound so trivial, but I’ve learned that little things become very big when you live with a chronic illness.
Find the silver lining
Graves puts our bodies through a lot. It’s hard but sometimes good things come from bad situations. Something great came from my rage. Now when someone is unfriendly or lashes out at me, my first reaction is compassion. Maybe they aren’t feeling well or they’re having a really bad day. Maybe they don’t realize how they’re coming off and they really can’t help it. It’s made me more sensitive and empathetic and I’m happy about that. I would have appreciated some of that myself. Maybe if someone had cared enough to look deeper, it would have prompted me to get help sooner.
I’m more self-aware which really helps me to think before I speak. I don’t get called Snow White much these days. But, no one has given me a reason to believe that I’m her evil Stepmother either so I guess that’s progress!
“Be Kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
Buy the hardcover book and cuddle up with a cup of good tea. <3