Friday, June 23, 2006

The Balancing Act

Sometimes it feels a little odd to write this blog. Is this navel-gazing? Is it really useful to other people? Is this too much self-exposure? What about all the other issues in the world that are so much more important than my own emotional struggle? And what about all the other subjects and interests that occupy my mind...writing, art, being outdoors, social justice, peace, etc.? We are all so much more than the medical conditions we face.

When I was a child, I told my mother about my sweaty palms and how I was scared to go to church or to a school dance. "Just wipe them off on your pants," she told me. Then she would try to reassure me by telling me how lucky I am compared with other children because I have a nice home and enough food to eat. Or how lucky I am because getting good grades in school came easy to me. She had a valid point, but unfortunately, I ended up feeling worse. I felt guilty for feeling bad about my sweaty palms--there are starving children in Africa and I'm worried about a little sweat? The result was that I didn't get the help I needed.

I've come to see the importance of balance when it comes to dealing with hyperhidrosis. You have to get yourself the medical and emotional help you need in order to live a full and happy life. You need to acknowledge and let yourself feel the emotions that arise in response to your condition, whether that be sadness, anger, or fear. And not to judge yourself for feeling that way.

On the other hand, it helps to look beyond yourself. To see and feel compassion for the struggles of others. It helps put your medical condition in perspective.
Perhaps you might even take action to help ease others' suffering. You might appeal to your Congressional representative to take a stand against the genocide in Darfur, a region of the African country Sudan. You might pray for the people of Iraq and our troops who are in so much danger. You might focus on your local community, volunteering to tutor a student.

I'm no Mother Theresa, but I do volunteer a few times a month at a local assisted living facility, visiting an older gentleman who is unable to leave the building alone. He likes to have visitors. He teaches me chess, and each week as I lose yet another game to him, I "build character." (-:

When I take the spotlight off myself, I find that my social anxiety (and the excessive sweat that results) isn't so bad. My sweaty palms are the last thing on my mind when I'm getting my butt kicked in chess! When we finish the game, we thank each other and shake hands. This must be what they mean by the expression 'healing touch.'


Catherine said...

I came across your blog yesterday and was reading through your past entries, and I just wanted to thank you. I'm 16, and I've had hyperhidrosis since I was about 4, although when I was younger, it never really bothered me as much as it does now. I go to a Catholic school, which means its compulsory to attend mass at certain times each year, and I end up dreading it, and trying to find excuses to not go. I don't think unless you have it yourself, that you can fully understand how it affects your life, and how nearly everyday I end up thinking about ways in which I can avoid situations in which I have to shake peoples hands etc. Even though I'm only 16, I found I could relate to quite a lot of your entries, especially the one, in which you recounted your experience when your teacher shook your hand and then him and your peers laughed, as I have found myself in situations like this quite a few times. For example, when one of my teachers decided that he would give us a lesson on "how to shake poeples hands" to give people a good impression, and was shaking peoples hands, and making fun of them and such, and I found myself sitting there, dreading the moment that he would shake my hand. Also teachers who thought it'd be fun to have "arm wrestles" or "thumb wars" or to demonstrate something by holding hands, and when I'm in a situation like this, it just makes it even worse. I also dread team building days, which involve many activities in which you have to hold hands etc.
I didn't even know that my problem had a name until last year, when I decided to research it. I think it made me feel more supported to realise I wasn't just weird and over-anxious or something, and that it actually wasn't my fault, and there were some treatments. It also made me feel supported, as people such as my dad, had never really understood or cared about how much it affected me, in my everyday life.
So basically, I just want to say thankyou for publishing your experiences..and for just giving me hope :) I think your blog is a great idea, to give awareness and support to people. So thanks xx

Mike L. said...

I do agree that sometimes we tend to focus a lot on our HH, but doesn't a starving child in a third-world country not focus on his stomach? It's what's causing us pain, not physical, but emotional pain. Not to try and diminish the importance of stamping out world hunger, but I believe this is in context of what you were saying (please correct me if I'm wrong). There might not even be any correlation, but I'm just saying that (for me anyway) having HH has been the bane of my existence.

P.S. I love playing chess and was in chess clubs (undefeated). Since that was the case, I always chose to be white. Reason being, I never wanted to play black because my sweaty palms would leave sweat on the pieces, more so than the white ones. *sigh*