Learning To Love Myself With HS (Part 4)
Last updated: June 2023
This one has been a little hard. As someone who used to wear sweaters and jeans all throughout the summer to hide my scars, I've come a long way. But I still have a really long way to go. There was even a point in time when I used to look at actors on TV and feel envious of the smooth skin under their arms. I knew then that I really needed to work on how I saw my body.
Accepting the scars on my body
I didn't like looking at myself for a while, but something I always remember is a quote by Maya Angelou that says, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Over time, I learned that the practice (and yes, it takes PRACTICE) of accepting the scars on my body and changing my perception of them would make a world of difference.
After the HS surgeries on my arms, I was left with giant scars under each armpit. Old wounds that closed now looked like burn marks on my legs. Parts of my inner thighs and groin area look like someone took a metal baseball bat to them, but I still can't change those things.
Changing my relationship with my scars
What I can do is make a conscious decision to change my relationship with my scars.
Scars tell stories of what we've been through. It shows that our bodies have had to overcome so much and we’re stronger for it. At least that’s what I tell myself. And this doesn't mean that I'll never feel bummed out by scars on my body every now and then. But I can choose to feel the bummy feeling and understand that I can still love myself with it.
We deserve love, happiness, success (whatever that means to you), attention, care and all that comes with human experience. Not just the painful parts.
Connecting with others
I didn't know there was a huge community of HS Warriors until I shared my story online. It’s so easy to feel like you’re fighting this battle alone, and after so long of dealing with HS alone, that isolation can start to feel comforting. Now I know how detrimental that isolation can be.
Once I opened myself to others, I found that other HS Warriors who’ve shared their stories helped me in more ways than I could know. Finding people like Jasmine "IVANNA" Espy (HS advocate and creator of the upcoming HS documentary My Gold Lining) helped make me feel seen, heard and understood as a queer black woman trying to navigate this disease. Other social media pages geared towards HS awareness brought new things to light for me as well.
Feeling less alone
Not to mention there can be a danger to going through the HS journey alone. The internet is, well, the internet, so there’s plenty of space for error and misinformation. And when dealing with a painful chronic illness, it’s possible for that misinformation to cause harm.
I didn't know that there were doctors who were committed to addressing HS or therapists who specialized in chronic pain. I’ve even found solace in just being able to say that I've had a bad day because of my HS and have people who really understand how I'm feeling.
All that makes me feel less alone and I’ve gained confidence in knowing that there are HS warriors in my corner.
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