Learning To Love Myself With HS (Part 1)
Last updated: April 2023
It’s been quite the journey navigating HS.
There’s a lot that it seems like HS can take away from you: limiting your mobility, dealing with the intense pain, managing drainage, etc. And for a while, it took my confidence too. Tunnels had formed under my arms, I had bandages everywhere on my body and most days, I just looked exhausted.
Throughout my HS journey, I had an important realization that the body I’m in is the only one I have. HS doesn’t define me, but it’s something that’s going to be with me for the long haul. So I figured it was best to start developing a healthy and loving relationship with my body now and learn to accept it and its “flaws”. And there are a few things that have helped me with that.
It’s easy to want to hide away from people and isolate yourself from the world during a bad flare-up, and that’s fair. But there’s taking time to heal, rest and tend to my HS and then there’s unknowingly or unintentionally pushing others away. There was a time when I didn’t understand those differences.
I wasn’t new to feelings of shame, but I think sometimes shame makes us act in certain ways to try and protect ourselves from the demeaning perceptions of others. How I felt about myself and my HS was reflected in how I treated myself and how I talked about myself. And it was easy to see that I felt ashamed of having this illness in the first place.
And because I’d come to terms with the fact that my HS wasn’t going anywhere, I had to start changing my mindset around it. How was I going to work on bettering my relationship with my disease to live a better life in a way that didn’t make me feel stripped of my confidence? (I use the word “confidence” very loosely. But oddly, having HS kind of helped with that too.)
Living with two chronic conditions
I thought about my diabetes. It wasn’t that long ago that I never used to mention even having it. Now, I’m fine checking my blood sugar and taking insulin in public. I have a sensor on my arm to monitor my sugars and people have asked about it. I simply explain to people what it does and most people leave it at that and move on with their day.
I no longer spend my time hating the fact that I have diabetes; I just do what I need to do to thrive with it. Realistically, if I’m dealing with something that’s such a huge part of my life, why hide it?
Don’t get me wrong; that’s MUCH easier said than done, but maybe I could learn to treat HS the same way.
Worn down, but still kicking
No two HS Warriors are the same and our experiences and severity of HS may differ, so please take what I say with a grain of salt.
Over time, I learned that even though my body may be a little beaten up from my HS, it was still much more capable than what I gave it credit for. It’s hard to get back up and fight when it feels like your body is attacking you. But I was willing to fight against my negative perception of my body’s capabilities.
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