Moms have been rallying around actress Jenny Mollen in the wake of her revealing Instagram posts about her suspected battle with Graves’ disease.
The 38-year-old star who is married to actor Jason Biggs initially sparked concern when she posted a picture of her looking extremely thin on April 14, and revealed a ‘giant bulge’ in her neck ‘the size of a golf ball’ prompted her to visit a doctor.
Then on Thursday she shared a shocking photo of her torso to show off her rapid weight loss just six months after giving birth, and detailed how a doctor suspected she had Grave’s disease.
Alarming: Jenny Mollen has taken to Instagram to share a shocking photo of her torso to show off her rapid weight loss just six months after giving birth
Family: The 38-year-old star is married to actor Jason Biggs and mom to son Sid, four and Lazlo, five months, pictured April 6
Full disclosure: On April 14, Jenny shared a picture of her side profile as she opened up about the health issues and weight loss
Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder which results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
Looked gaunt in the topless selfie, Jenny who gave birth to the couple’s youngest child Lazlo in October, explained she believes she is suffering from a ‘thyroid issue’ and added that she was still waiting on blood work to come back before an official diagnosis could be made.
She wrote: ‘I’m STILL waiting on blood work but my doc thinks it’s Graves.’
She also gave fans some insight into how she had been feeling, and detailed that she didn’t know ‘what it says about me that I got this thin and didn’t think there was anything wrong.’
‘If you just had a baby and have lost an inordinate amount of weight, feel like you are on cocaine, are suddenly heat intolerant, can’t stop losing hair, and think your husband is being a d*ck it might just be your thyroid!!’ she warned her followers.
Symptoms of Graves’ disease can include weight loss, anxiety/irritability, tremor in hands and fingers, heat sensitivity, enlargement in the thyroid gland, change in menstrual cycles, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, bulging eyes, red skin, and heart palpitations according to the Mayo Clinic.
And since making her ongoing ordeal public, hundreds of women have rallied around the star in the comments section of her Instagram page to offer their support and advice.
Instagram user @mkhid wrote: ‘I hope you know that just by sharing this you’re helping so many others. You will be ok, better than ok. But I’m following and pulling for you and sending many healing vibes your way’.
A sentiment shared by @nucleus346 who typed: ‘My heart breaks for you and the family. I hope and pray that the right team of people will surround you’.
Gaunt: Jenny took to her Instagram Story on Tuesday to show off her protruding ribs while waiting for a call from her doctor who suggested she may have Graves’ disease
Support: Hundreds of women have taken to Jenny’s Instagram page to voice their concern and support and also share their own thyroid battles postpartum
Easy mistake: One woman shared that it’s easy for busy moms to not make their own health a priority
Comfort: Others simply expressed sympathy and well-wishes
Username @katiemcook shared her own, similar story: ‘I was diagnosed with Graves/hyper last summer almost two years after having my third child. I now think back to everything I chalked up to just being part of “postpartum” – probably wasn’t. Started treatment a few months ago and although I miss the easy weight loss, the anxiety, tremors, heart palps and mood swings aren’t missed. It sucks though, affects a few parts of my life worrying about keeping it in check.’
And @coveredbridgefarmtable also took to the comments to share her own experience: ‘Found out I had Graves at 24. I lost 18 lbs in 3 weeks, thought my body was changing and I would finally be skinny forever! Then it wouldn’t stop! No more thyroid for me’.
@kristenlately7 said: ‘I needed this post today!!! I got my thyroid checked too because of all these symptoms and I have had numerous people tell me that I “need to eat” and “I’m too skinny”. they have NO idea what’s going on with our bodies and its hurtful! You are beautiful and I LOVE your realness’.
However, not all comments have been positive with some fans accusing the actress of glorifying an eating disorder.
Instagram user @rianawho wrote: ‘Showing the gland on your neck would’ve been helpful, people already know what a thin person looks like. You must be aware of what thinspo/proAna material is, and you must have known how this picture would be seen by your audience. I’m not a fan of people demanding apologies or post takedowns, but I respectfully ask that you at least consider what message you’re sending here. Especially if it’s in the name of health and awareness. Best of luck on your journey to better health, I’ve also been diagnosed with Graves, it sucks.’
Behind-the-scenes: Jenny pictured in October just after giving birth has been documenting her postpartum experience on Instagram
Rapid: The mom-of-two has lost a significant amount of weight since giving birth (pictured left in November 2017 and right in January 2018)
Loving mother: Jenny shared this snap of herself in a bikini with four-year-old son Sid on April 3
While @j.ool.z typed: ‘Wow. Maybe post a picture of your lump instead of deleting the picture with your neck. Even if you have lost a ton of weight and have thyroid issues there’s no reason for promoting thinspiration. You know your eating disorder is excited to be this small. I would know and it makes me feel uncomfortable and makes losers my respect. It’s clearly coming from a place of insecurity and not from a place of helping others or looking for support, but for attention, which by the way, you have.’
And @86everybody suggested: ‘I think you can get your point across with out showing your naked bod’.
Jenny also took to her Instagram Story on Tuesday as she filmed a video of herself laying down while waiting for the doctor to call.
Lifting up her pajama top to show off her ribs and hip bones which could be seen protruding through her skin, she also gave an update where she said that she called the doctor but did not have the best news.
The actress explained: ‘The assistant said they have most of the test but they don’t have one so they won’t get back to me until Sunday. I can’t wait until Sunday, sorry, you need to at least tell me.’
WHAT IS GRAVES’ DISEASE?
According to the American Thyroid Association, Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes over-activity of the thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism. This condition is also known as Basedow’s disease. It’s the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in the United States.
The disease, named for Irish doctor Robert Graves, is seven to eight times more common in women than men. It’s caused by a process that occurs in the immune system during which antibodies are created that cause cells in the body to work harder. They bind with receptors on thyroid cells and cause it to overproduce thyroid hormones, resulting in an overactive thyroid.
Graves’ disease symptoms
Most of the symptoms associated with Graves’ disease are caused by the over production of thyroid hormones inside sufferers bodies. Those symptoms include racing heartbeat, tremors in the hands, issues sleeping, weight loss, weakness of the muscles, neuropsychiatric symptoms and an intolerance to heat.
Graves’ disease may also be associated to inflammation of the eyes. It’s the only form of hyperthyroidism to include such symptoms. It can cause swelling of the tissues around the eyes and bulging, known to medical professionals as Graves’ ophthalmopathy or orbitopathy.
Only one-third of Graves patients are said to experience related eye disease. Only five percent of those patients experience severe enough inflammation to cause severe to permanent vision problems. Graves-related eye problems occur more often in sufferers who smoke.
Some Graves patients may experience a lumpy, red thickening of the skin on their shins. This is called pretibial myxedema and is usually painless and mild. Pain has been reported in some patients, however.
Other symptoms include nervousness, anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
What causes hyperthyroidism?
According to the NHS, Graves’ disease is just one of many causes of hyperthyroidism. It can also be caused by thyroid nodules, or lumps; medications containing iodine; high levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin in the body, which commonly occurs in early pregnancy, multiple pregnancies or molar pregnancies’ pituitary adenoma, or benign tumors in the pituitary gland; thyroiditis, also called inflammation of the thyroid; and thyroid cancer. Graves’ disease is the most common cause, though.
How is Graves’ disease diagnosed?
Upon hearing a patients symptoms, a general practitioner may administer a blood test to check hormone levels in trying to diagnose Graves’ disease, the NHS states. The test will check for levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone, triiodothyronine, and thyroxine. They’ll be compared with healthy levels and the doctor will proceed from there with their diagnosis.
Is Graves’ disease genetic?
Graves’ disease can be passed on genetically, though doctors and researchers have yet to be able to identify what the specific gene is for preventative screening.
Living with Graves’ disease
Graves’ disease can be managed with medical treatment. Patients should be treated first with beta-blockers.
There are a number of anti-thyroid medications on the market which doctors recommend in the treatment of Graves’ disease. Those medications do not cure Graves’ disease, but do help manage its symptoms.
Medication may not work for all Graves’ disease sufferers. In that case, doctors often recommend treatment with radioactive iodine or surgery. Patients who receive this treatment will then have to be monitored for under-active thyroid via frequent thyroid function tests. Should this occur, doctors will likely prescribe hormone tablets.