Pain Is Not Normal: HS and Mental Health (Part 2)
Last updated: August 2022
In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of this series!
After getting the boil lanced
The following weeks felt very different. I noticed that I was more present in class because I wasn’t thinking about the pain or trying to find a comfortable seating position to keep pressure off of my arm. I wasn’t unintentionally grimacing at people when they talked to me because I couldn’t hide the fact that I was in so much pain. And I actually felt refreshed when I woke up in the mornings because I wasn’t tossing and turning all night trying to find a position that would allow me to sleep.
There was one night when I was in my dorm room, unable to sleep, and I decided to call my grandmother. After explaining to her how much pain I’d been in, she stayed on the phone with me until about around 4 AM praying for me and trying to soothe me. To this day, my grandma is still the MVP.
Life without pain, even if it was temporary, was so different from what I’d been experiencing the past few months. And I remember thinking: is this what people without HS live like? Because this is awesome!
Pain is not normal
I never thought about any of those things before because all of my attention was on not being in pain. But when you’re dealing with a bad flare-up, it may feel like it’s less about trying to enjoy your life and more about just trying to survive it.
Pain is not normal. Staying up all night in pain is not normal. Irritating your skin with gauze pads and tape is not normal. Trying to figure out how to strategically take showers is not normal. Constantly popping ibuprofen just to get through the day is not normal (and also probably not the healthiest remedy, but that’s what I did at the time).
What some people may see as an awful experience is simply life to us.
Mental health impact
This can impact our mental health a lot more than we think it does. That makes it all the more crucial that we take care of ourselves and tend to our mental health. It could be journaling, it could be consuming art in whatever medium you like, it could be moving your body (when and if you can), or it could be finding a support group like this one.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Personally, I’ve found that having self-care days where I turn my phone on “Do Not Disturb” and spend the entire day doing whatever I want (even if that means binge-watching Stranger Things… again) is helpful in moderation. Having those rest days, no matter what I choose to do with them, really helps me to put my mind at ease and warms my soul.
But by all means, do whatever feels good to you when you can. And be patient with yourself. They call us HS warriors for a reason, you know. So if you’re reading this right now and you understand the detrimental pain HS can have on your mind and body, please know how strong you are for continuing to fight.
When you need to vent about HS, who do you turn to first?