Hi everyone! Maybe my experience may help?
I am sixteen years old now and I was diagnosed with Graves Disease when I was five years old. Needless to say my childhood (from what I can remember) was painful and confusing. I didn't fully grasp what my disease meant until I was nine years old. Since then I had done all the research I could and was terrified. I felt as if I was in this alone because my parents tried to downplay Graves as to not alarm me and I was the only one who wanted to get the thyroidectomy. I went through constant ups and downs on the medications but with no one agreeing on the thyroidectomy plan of action like I was, I had no choice but to stick it out until I was eighteen.
That all changed when I turned fifteen. My mom and I attended our first Graves convention and she was floored by all the suffering I had experienced in silence and all that I would experience later in life. By no means is this disease unbearable, although sometimes when I wallow in self pity like every teenager does it can feel that way. My mom and I FINALLY agreed that surgery was personally the best option for my course of treatment. Everyone is different and responds differently to different treatments.
Just before I turned 16, on June 26th 2013 I had my thyroid completely removed. It was a hard recovery, I won't lie I was in a lot of pain, but there was no part of me that regretted going through with the surgery.
I remember when I was a kid I got made fun of for having vitiligo, having a bulge in my neck, for crying for no reason, for being too hyper, for gaining weight out of nowhere, and when I was young it bothered me. Now? I'm stronger. It still stings when people criticize me about Graves side effects but I am secure enough in myself to let it roll off my shoulders. It was tough and probably always will be but something Graves gave me that is a great attribute is it gave me unwavering strength, empathy, and bravery.
One thing I struggle with now that some other teens/children with Graves may struggle with as well is that I don't know who I am without this disease. Adults sometimes reminisce about how they changed when they developed Graves but I don't know how I changed because I developed it before I even really developed myself. I have always had Graves and I always will, it is a part of who I am. Another thing that I have come to terms with–yet still internally battle over–is that Graves does not identify me. It may be in the fine print at the bottom of my identity but it is not the header or the paragraphs of my attributes below it. It is at the bottom for no one to see but those who I chose to tell and it does not define who I am. There's hope, I'm living proof of that. I do think teens/children with Graves need a stronger support system than what is available now so if anyone ever needs to talk I'm all ears.
I hope this helps and if now, thank's for sticking it out and reading till the end.