Three version of a woman just barely getting by, struggling, hunched over, okay, dull gray, tired, exhausted, to thriving

How I Got Glad Instead of Sad: My Ways to Cope During a Flare

Having a chronic illness is never easy and having one like Hidradenitis Suppurativa can be pure hell on earth. The chronic pain. The weakening mental health. The actual physical management of dealing with a flare. It can just be too much sometimes! So I thought, “Hey Selina! Why not share some of the ways you try to distract yourself from the hell that is HS?” So here are some of the things I personally do (*cough* happiness results may vary).

Look at and make memes... especially ones pertaining to chronic illnesses

I’m going to be blunt; I love memes. I love them so much. Not only do they make me laugh, but they make me feel less alone! I can scroll for hours through memes on Reddit or Instagram and they always make me feel better. They’re a great distraction from the pain and as I mentioned, they make me feel so much less alone because they show that other people are dealing with or feeling what I am. On Instagram, I’ll search through hashtags like #chronicillness, #hidradenitis, and #chronicpainwarrior. On Reddit, I love r/chronicpain, r/hidradenitis, and for non-chronic illness memes, r/dankmemes.

As you might already know, I also love making memes. It helps me cope and express my own personal feelings. There’s nothing like making a good meme after a bad doctor’s appointment or when I’m flaring. Making a meme is sort of like my diary entry and it helps me feel so much better by giving me a platform to vent. I usually will post my memes to my Instagram account and it also helps reading all the comments that make me feel less alone. Praise be the virtual Hidradenitis community!

Color and draw

A photo Selina drew of an octopus and solar system.

A picture I drew recently.

As long as my armpit flare doesn’t hinder my arm movement or my groin flare doesn’t make sitting hurt too much, I love getting lost in a coloring book or drawing. Time goes by so fast and it can be so relaxing and therapeutic. I love adult coloring books (and I still love my 300 page Curious George coloring book because there is no age maximum on Curious George, mind you) which have intricate patterns and designs. For people with touch screen phones, iPads, or tablets, there’s also free apps you can get where you can color in designs or free draw. Coloring can be creative, relaxing, and therapeutic. You’re never too old to color in a coloring book and never let anyone tell you otherwise!

Make a happy music playlist

So when I’m sad, I have the tendency to listen to extremely sad songs to make myself even sadder, you know, as one does. 'Fix You' by Coldplay is my total sad jam. However, I really need to not do that. So now, I have a happy music playlist that I try to listen to when I’m sad. In the playlist, I have a lot of songs from my childhood that make me feel nostalgic and songs that remind me of certain happy moments from my past. I read somewhere that when something good and happy happens to you in life, pick a song and listen to it a lot. That way later in life, anytime you hear it, you’ll be reminded of that moment.

There’s a quote from the movie Across the Universe that really stuck with me and I will always believe it: “Music's the only thing that makes sense anymore, man. Play it loud enough, it keeps the demons at bay.”

My personal current favorite happy songs:

  • Happiness by McFly
  • Spice Up Your Life by Spice Girls
  • Right Back Where We Started From by Maxine Nightingale
  • Move on Up by Curtis Mayfield
  • Unbelievers by Vampire Weekend
  • Where the Sky Hangs by Passion Pit

(PS: If you make a happy music playlist, share it with me!! I want to see your happy songs!)

I love to read!

Did y’all know I’m actually a children’s librarian in real life? I LOVE BOOKS AND I LOVE TO READ. I’m a firm believer that everyone can enjoy reading, they just haven’t found the right book or genre yet! There is absolutely nothing better than a rainy night, a cup of tea, and sitting in bed with a good book. Reading has been one of biggest coping mechanisms because it literally transports me anywhere I want to go and helps me forget where I currently am which is, ya know, sitting in bed in pain. Do I want to go to space or Victorian London? Heck, I think I’ll go to both since it’s better than being here in pain!

My favorite books:

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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