Missy Elliott Says She's 'Blessed To Be Here' Amid Graves' Disease Battle

Missy Elliott Says She's 'Blessed To Be Here' Amid Graves' Disease Battle

Missy Elliott is “super excited” for her first tour in 16 years. Out of This World - The Missy Elliot Experience will kick off on July 4. She told People that she is “hanging in there,” preparing for the tour as she fights symptoms of Graves’s disease, an illness she was diagnosed with in 2008.

“It’s full days, then I go home, and the work continues. But I feel good," Missy Elliott told People.

This is Missy’s first time headlining a show. She's going to be joined by long time friends and collaborators Ciara and Busta Rhymes. And she is on a roll following her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Game in November, where she became the first female hip hop artist to be inducted.

"This is an incredible time in my life as I am experiencing so many milestone 'firsts,'" the 52-year-old told ABC News. "Fans have been asking me to tour forever but I wanted to wait until I felt the time was right because I knew if I was ever going to do it, I had to do it big, and I had to do it with family."

Missy, who has struggled with Graves' disease for years, is also feeling healthier than ever. Here's everything she's revealed about her condition, including her symptoms and weight loss, and how she copes.

Missy was diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2008.

Missy first received her diagnosis in 2008, but only went public with the diagnosis when she told People three years later in 2011. Graves' disease is an immune system disorder that causes the overproduction of thyroid hormones, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says.

Symptoms include weight loss (despite having an increased appetite), a rapid or irregular heartbeat, fatigue, shaky hands, and trouble tolerating heat, the NIDDK says.

She lost weight due to the condition.

Missy revealed that she was diagnosed after losing an “extreme” amount of weight in 2008. “It causes hair loss, your eyes bulge,” she told Billboard in 2015.

Missy’s friend, rapper-dancer Sharaya J, told the publication that Graves' disease "started to change her way of life."

"There were physical changes, extreme headaches, extreme weight loss," she added. "What that does to a person, being a public figure and knowing people are looking, judging? That’s a tough thing."

Missy struggles with tremors and high blood pressure.

In 2011, she also shared that she began having tremors due to her condition. And she nearly got into a car accident because of them. “I couldn't keep the brake down and almost crashed," she said, per CBS News. Missy added that the tremors were so bad at one point that she “couldn't even use a pen."

She's also struggled with high blood pressure, telling Billboard, "My blood pressure was always up from just overworking."

The disease even took her ability to physically write songs, she told Good Morning America last year. "I remember Monica coming to the house one day, and I couldn't even hold a pencil," she said. "She wrote the lyrics out for me…I felt helpless."

She took almost ten years off to recover.

After her diagnosis, Missy stepped out of the spotlight for nearly a decade to focus on her health, returning in 2015 to perform at the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show with Katy Perry. Months later, she released her first single in years, "WTF (Where They From)."

Missy later told audiences at Essence’s Black Women in Music event in 2018 that she took some time off since her "nervous system had broken all the way down."

"I didn't come up in here in a wheelchair," she said, per ABC News. "Nobody helped me get up here. I'm walking...by the grace of God."

And, despite her fame, Missy is “most definitely an introvert,” according to People. She has also struggled with anxiety over the years, and did not mind spending time out of the spotlight.

“I’m shy,” Missy told People.

When asked how she reconciles her shyness and anxiety with her larger-than-life performances on stage, she doesn’t quite have an answer.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s one of those things I can’t really explain.”

Missy now manages her Graves’ disease with diet and exercise.

Missy “was on medication for a short while” but has been off it for “some time,” she told ABC News in a 2018 statement. Now, she said, she manages her condition with "diet and exercise."

That same year, she detailed some of the dietary switches on IG, including drinking more water and cutting out juices and soda, per Parade.

What is the main cause of Graves’ disease?

Graves' disease is the most common type of hyperthyroidism, per Mount Sinai. The exact cause of Graves’ disease is still unknown. However, researchers know it is an abnormal immune response that leads the thyroid gland to overproduce the thyroid hormone.

Researchers believe some people have a genetic predisposition to the condition, Yale Medicine says. Symptoms develop after exposure to one or more external triggers. Possible triggers for the disease include a variety of viral and bacterial infections, shifting hormone levels, and elevated iodine levels.

The disease is most common in women over age 20, but can occurr at any age—and affect men as well.

What is the life expectancy of someone with Graves’ disease?

According to Yale Medicine, most people are able to manage Graves’ disease with medication and other treatments. Some people are even able to go into remission for the disease, although it may be temporary.

Significant complications of Graves’ Disease like arrhythmia, heart failure or strokes can shorten an individual’s life expectancy. However, this is unlikely for people who manage their condition.

Other symptoms of the disease include development of a goiter caused by swelling of the thyroid gland, Graves’ Ophthalmopathy (eye problems), and thyrotoxic myopathy (muscle problems), per HealthMatch.

What other celebrities have Graves’ disease?

Missy is not the only public figure to struggle with Graves’ disease.

Wendy Williams announced she had been diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2018. She was already aware of another thyroid issue, but it was fans who detected the disease by pointing out her bulging eyes, Health says.

Fans noticed Graves’ ophthalmopathy in Wendy, a symptom that results from immune system cells attacking tissues around the eyes. This can cause inflammation and tissue and fat buildup around the eyes, which makes them look like they are bulging, MedPageToday reports.

Sia also announced she had Graves’ Disease on Twitter in 2010.

“I'm not crazy! I have graves disease! the shakes, the nerves. THE CRAZY!! goodbye thyroid. I will kill you with radioactivity,” she wrote.

President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush also both struggled with disease, announcing it in 1991 and 1989, respectively, per The Washington Post.

Missy is 'so much better now.'

Missy has been struggling to manage her condition for years, but seems to have finally gotten it under control. “I am feeling so much better now,” she told People.

She treats her illness with medication, diet and exercise, according to People and Parade.

“Every now and then you get a little ache in the leg or the knee, but outside of that, I feel good." she told People. "Every day I wake, I'm blessed to be here and in good health."

Glad you’re feeling better, Missy! I can’t wait to see you “Get Ur Freak On” on stage this summer.

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