I was 18 years old when I first started presenting symptoms of a mysterious skin condition. Two years later, I was officially diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
During the two long years between the emergence of my symptoms and an official diagnosis, I was left to wonder, question, research, and hope for the best. The many doctors and specialists I visited prior to being diagnosed with HS had varying theories about what was going on with my skin, most of which were totally off-base. One of the first lessons I learned while dealing with this disease is how to be patient. HS has taught me that the answers are not always readily available, nor are they written in black and white.
My skin condition has taught me so many valuable life lessons.
HS has also helped me to remain strong in the face of adversity. So many people ask me, “How do you do it?” The simple answer is: I don’t have a choice. HS has helped me grow into a person who can handle just about anything. I am stronger because of my skin condition, physically and mentally. HS has given me the strength to not only fight extreme physical pain but also cope with severe emotional swings.
Additionally, I am braver. You have to have the courage to try different treatments when you’re battling an illness that has no cure. I’ve experimented with diets and all sorts of different approaches to wound care. If you want to figure out what works best, you have to keep trying new things. HS has taught me firsthand that if you never try, you’ll never know—so you might as well give it a go.
Thanks to HS, I am also a far more caring and compassionate individual. Before I was diagnosed, I was not nearly as empathetic towards others as I am today. Now, I see people struggling all around me, and I feel their pain. I also fully appreciate that a person who looks healthy for the most part might not necessarily be okay. Knowing that many people are secretly fighting their own battles, I can empathize with everyone I encounter day-to-day much more easily. I am kinder towards strangers and loved ones alike.
I’m more understanding, more empathetic, and stronger thanks to living with HS.
The final and most impactful lesson I’ve learned through dealing with HS is that you have to advocate for causes you believe in. When I was first diagnosed, there were no FDA approved treatments for HS and most doctors did not know how to help. Most of the advice I was given early on was downright incorrect. Over the years, I’ve developed an urge to help spread the word about HS so that others don’t have to face the uncertainty I felt at the beginning of my HS journey. I’m on a mission to help spread awareness so that the world is a less scary place for the newly diagnosed. HS has spurred my desire to become a resource for others, and, by extension, given me an authentic sense of purpose.