Missy Elliott, 52, is known as a talented rapper, but when she’s not making headlines with her music, she’s doing so for her health. The talented star has been open about being diagnosed with Graves’ disease in 2008 and has previously talked about how it’s affected her life and career. The diagnoses happened after she lost a large amount of weight, and it has affected her in negative ways.
“It causes hair loss, your eyes bulge,” she told Billboard in 2015. “My blood pressure was always up from just overworking.”
Missy’s friend, rapper Sharaya J, also talked about how the disease affected her when she first started working after her diagnosis. “It started to change her way of life,” she revealed. “There were physical changes, extreme headaches, extreme weight loss. What that does to a person, being a public figure and knowing people are looking, judging? That’s a tough thing.”
Find out more about Missy’s journey with Graves’ disease and the disease itself below.
Missy Elliott Diagnosed With Graves’ Disease
Missy was first diagnosed with Graves’ disease after she lost a lot of weight in 2008. “I was sick and I couldn’t even lift a pen,” Missy said about how the disease affected her, in a speech at Essence magazine’s 9th annual Black Women in Music event in 2018. “My nervous system had broken all the way down. I didn’t come up in here in a wheelchair. Nobody helped me get up here. I’m walking…by the grace of God.”
What is Graves’ Disease?
Graves’ disease is “an autoimmune disorder that can cause hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid,” according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH). The NIH also states that “thyroid hormones control the way your body uses energy” and because of this, they affect every organ in the body, even how the heart beats.
“Your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, causing it to make more thyroid hormones than your body needs,” according to NIH. This can cause a body’s functions to speed up.
How Long Has Missy Elliott Been Sick?
Missy started getting sick around the time she was diagnosed. One of her most serious pre-diagnosis symptoms was an involuntary jerking in her leg, and it caused her to almost crash her car, according to USA Today. TMZ reported that Missy received radiation treatment and medications to help shrink the thyroid gland.
How is Missy Elliott Doing Today?
“I was on medication for a short while but have been off it for quite some time now,” Missy said a few years after her diagnosis. “I manage the condition through diet and exercise.” She has also mentioned how she has keeps her diagnosis under control now, and continues to live a life full of gratitude.
Despite the long way she’s come, Missy has been open about suffering from other things, like anxiety and depression, but she doesn’t let it define her. “Now I’m fine with being like, ‘Hey, I got anxiety’ or ‘I went through depression,’” she said in 2018. “Even the biggest artist, or just the regular everyday working person, we all go through sh*t. We all do. And it’s okay to say, ‘Hey, I’m not okay today.’ Probably we would keep a lot of people around if we were that open, because we would be able to uplift each other.”
Missy also wrote an uplifting tweet to her fans, in Sept. 2023. “To those who feel defeated sometimes you just have to STEP OUT ON FAITH! Yes that’s not always easy but if you BELIEVE you have what it takes then you gotta keep moving even when them doors shut its ok it probably wasn’t 4 you you eventually another one gonna open that will be,” it read.