a woman looking on at people hanging out

The Isolation Of Hiding My HS From People (Part 1)

I didn’t think about it too much the first time I felt a bump under my arm when I was 14 or 15. But I also didn't know how much bumps like those would later grow into bigger cysts and how that would affect my life down the road.

I think I was in my junior year in high school when I was in color guard in our school’s marching band. I had a friend named Megan, who looked over at me one day while we were stretching and told me that I had a hole in my arm.

I’d recently gotten one of my first boils at that time and it was itchy, but not too painful. It did, however, leave the aforementioned “hole” in my arm that Megan was talking about. But I didn't want to draw attention to myself so I put a Band-Aid over it and left it at that.

My HS kept getting worse

Years later in college, it got much worse and I didn't know how to manage it or what foods to eat or stay away from. Heck, I didn’t even know that food had anything to do with it.

I also want to take a moment to mention that in a lot of my articles, I talk about how difficult college was dealing with HS and diabetes. And believe me, it was! But college was also a ton of fun and a great experience. This just wasn’t one of those times.

Feeling so alone

There was a point where I got a huge boil under my arm, probably the biggest one I’ve had to date, and had to get it lanced. I already wrote an article going over that, so I won't take too much of your time elaborating on that now. But in a nutshell, I had a large cyst, went to get it lanced, came back to my dorm room and didn’t really talk about or process that experience.

The only reason my suitemate knew anything was because she noticed I was walking with my arm raised and that I was moving slowly and uncomfortably.

I felt so isolated. I also felt like I was in a ton of pain, but because that pain wasn't visible to people, I didn't feel it warranted anyone's pity or time. I wanted to stay locked up in my dorm room, preferably eating lots of carb-heavy meals and watching TV. And that’s exactly what I did.

Going to class became so difficult

If I was having a bad flare-up, I didn't leave my residence hall unless I was going to class. And there were a lot of days when I didn't even want to do that. Navigating my college major proved to be difficult as well. As it turns out, Theater Studies required a lot of movement and there were times I barely participated just because I was in pain.

Don’t get me wrong - there were definitely times when I slacked off in class, but not being able to simply stretch properly made me feel like I didn’t deserve to be in that field. We were also in very close proximity to other students and there are times when certain Theater classes required some level of physical touch. And I didn't want to get too close to my classmates when a boil had freshly opened up because of fluid and the occasional odor.

Even when I noticed my grades were slipping, I never told anyone what was going on. But that could only last so long.

Check back for Part 2 of this series!

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