A Grave Way to Live
Updated: Jul 21, 2022
Part of the Grave Journey series by Chris Perry
“How long have you been in Germany, Mr. Perry?”
I have always found it interesting how we remember significant events. I find it easier to categorize my life in months. October is the month I enlisted in the military. December is the month I got married. April is the month I moved to Germany and the month my daughter was born. May is the month I deployed to Iraq. June is the month my divorce became final and met the love of my life. Now, July is the month I was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease - coincidentally, I happened to see @shannadelicacy’s tweet informing us that July is also Grave’s Disease Awareness month. Weirdly enough, January is also Thyroid Disease Awareness month. Who organizes these awareness months? I would like to speak to the manager.
“It is not serious, but I am concerned. These levels do not indicate any reason to operate, yet. Have you looked this up online?”
Graves’ disease is on Wikipedia and all the medical sites online and you will probably do what I initially did and assume the most severe symptoms are the worst. In my opinion, the latent symptoms are the most insidious because I can never know when they started or if they are gone. Listen to Your Eyes (@thyroideyes) is an organization which works to increase awareness of thyroid related illnesses. It was not my first source for information, but so far it is the best.
“Are you getting enough sleep at night? How about your appetite?”
For years, I have been gradually feeling more tired and gradually self-medicating on caffeinated chocolate, energy drinks, and coffee. A few years ago, I cut out casual drinking to improve my health hoping that would help with my fatigue - it did not. Instead of applying some thought towards making a connection, I simply shamed myself for being lazy. Concurrently, my palate has grown more restrictive. I am lactose intolerant, allergic to red meat, wary of heavy metals in fish, and I suspect I may have a gluten intolerance. My appetite is easily deterred and my relationship with food is “functional” at best.
“Otherwise, Mr. Perry, how are you feeling emotionally?”
Partially in a constant state of fear because my death looms over me with every waking moment. I live in constant regret and shame for escaping from my family, from my failures, and for the people I hurt. Partially in a constant state of anger because the world is unfair. Everyone is imperfect, but perfection is the top commodity. Despite how little I care about superficial people, I am still punished by their very existence. Partially in a constant state of shame because the memory of my failures is clearer and stronger than those of my successes. I compare, at least twice daily, of where I should be in life to where I am and each time the gap grows wider. The perfect version of myself is so far ahead, I am incapable of imagining the life he lives, the car(s) he drives or the places he visits. These three constants have been the engine of emotions all my adult life - now I learn it is because of a hormonal imbalance.
“Yes, Mr. Perry. This condition can cause high levels of stress. Other patients experience short tempers and seem to be quite moody at times.”
On my way here, I drove through rush hour traffic. I was reminded how much I loathed driving in the city. How stressful it was to simultaneously keep up with the pace of traffic, watch for pedestrians, notice the changes in traffic patterns, and reach my destination. The stress of driving in cities caused me to avoid living in them. Then I realized I was not driving in a city. This town has a population of twelve thousand. My reason to be irritated was illogical. With doubt introduced, I began to question all my past “irritations”. How irritated I was each time I visited New York City. Was that rational? How I prefer to wait at a rest stop for several hours rather than inch through a traffic jam. Is that practical? My desire to travel off-season or not travel at all. Was this behavior born from anxiety? Was this anxiety born from a simple hormonal imbalance? This revelation brings into question every major decision I have ever made: every time I gave up on a challenge or said, “I cannot handle this.” Turning my back on my family and all their stressors. Not finishing my undergraduate degree because of my obsession with having straight A’s. My decision to move to Germany because of the perceived stress of being a Black man in the United States. How many times have I perceived a situation to be an eight on the stress scale when in actuality it was merely a five or a four? How much of my life was affected by the symptoms of Graves’ Disease?
“So, I am not an asshole, doctor? I'm just sick?”
For a time, I kept a distance from others. I needed to break the cycle of befriending someone, getting familiar with them, then pushing them away with my issues. I wanted to save others from myself by becoming a recluse. For a few months after a terrible break-up, I stayed above a dingy bar in a dank room inside of a grimey building. I was fine there. I accepted that life as my continuum until death because getting close to someone would eventually end in one more person knowing how messed up I am. It was in those days I decided “a life alone” was what I deserved. I always believed that we are defined by our decisions, but now I feel the foundation by which I made so many decisions has cracked. As a result, I am currently doubting my heuristic techniques and questioning whether my mind is operating in a failed state. I wonder if this is the psychological break other people experience when they realize they are benefactors of an impartial society. This diagnosis has left me with more questions than answers. More doubt than relief. I am ashamed of who I was before, yet afraid to find out who I am to become.
About the Series
The Grave Journey series is a collection of works written by Chris Perry detailing his path to recovering from Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that leads to a generalized overactivity of the entire thyroid gland. It is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States.
About the Author
Born in Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Chris Perry travels the world as he writes for and manages the Grey Point of View. His hobbies include mastering the art of web design, navigating global news, and studying weapons of mass destruction.
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