a person overwhelming another with words

A Disease Beyond Just Flare-Ups: How HS Can Cause A Dent In Relationships

I was in my early 20’s when I finally learned to correctly pronounce the tongue twister – Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Indeed, it was a relief to know that I had a diagnosis on paper, but it didn’t make my journey any easier. Over a period of time, puss-filled swellings kept popping up in my underarms. Surgical drain-outs, antibiotics, and painkillers were my go-to options as I looked towards getting effective and immediate relief. Every other month, I had become a regular visitor to hospitals, clinics, and various health care centers in the city. With every inhalation and exhalation, I grappled with excruciating pain trying to perform daily tasks. This lead to a steady rise in emotional distress making life harder than before. Sadly, I had even forgotten how to smile.

A deep impact on personal relationships

Humans are inherently social beings. Interaction is essential for our health and survival. If loneliness and social isolation are proven to be as lethal as smoking cigarettes, then I was at a bigger risk of impacting both my mental health and physical well-being.

I gradually began to withdraw from attending weddings, birthday parties, luncheons, family gatherings, and was even hesitant to go on a coffee date. I was determined to find something temporary that could prolong my pain-free days but in the process, it caused a huge dent in my social life. Being on a customized diet plan seemed feasible at first, but it had become increasingly difficult and exhausting to list the foods I couldn’t consume. Many were left perplexed and astonished when I told them that I couldn’t eat a banana, snack on nuts, or relish a vegan-friendly ice cream even if they were organic or homemade. I couldn’t provide a valid reason for my refusal as I had no clue as to why they caused inflammations. Some would even look at me with a hint of suspicion in their eye. ‘Could it be contagious?’ was their biggest fear and worry.

The atmosphere at home too had completely changed. Fun-filled, light-hearted dinner conversations had turned into serious discussions about diet plans, bandage dressings, weight loss, and pain management. Unknowingly, I had developed a tendency of veering a general conversation into one of health and wellness all the time. It had become a habit for me to give unsolicited advice on topics like the ill effects of consuming sugar, benefits of becoming vegan, or chewing food thoroughly before swallowing. Some people would patiently nod their head while others would get bored of listening to my lengthy monologues about mindful eating.

Getting back on track

HS had occupied a prominent space in my head thereby influencing every thought, action, and behavior which birthed a great deal of insecurities in me.

With every passing year, I silently watched my peer group flourish in their personal and professional lives. A sense of loss and worry had clouded my intellect. But I chose to wake up from this state of inadequacy and make a fresh start. Most importantly, I learnt to accept the harsh reality of life which has helped me to be at peace with myself. Skilfully manoeuvring our way through unpleasant circumstances and rising above them to accomplish a goal is an art that needs to be practised with patience and perseverance.

This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned while continuing to deal with HS.

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