Whether you have hyperhidrosis or not, you can probably agree that it’s no fun talking about sweat- especially when it’s your own. Sweating is a fact of life, but let’s face it- it’s embarrassing!
With hyperhidrosis, there’s nothing I can do to help the sweat. It’s a condition I have, and it’s not my fault. But I am not about to get into this huge conversation with every person I meet to tell them that.
I know from experience. When you start a conversation like that, it’s not just a simple: “I have hyperhidrosis”. Oh no. You can’t get away with it that easily. Many people have never heard of this condition, so whenever I start a conversation like that, it usually lasts 15 minutes or more. People are curious, which is great. However, what bugs me the most about these conversations is feeling like the person is not taking it seriously. I feel like they’re thinking, “It’s just a little sweat”. That’s one reason for this blog. It’s to show people how much more than “just a little sweat” it is. Hopefully you’re starting to realize that it’s as much psychologically hindering as physically.
Anyway, back to my story. I don’t want to tell every person I meet about my condition. So, I lie.
Two quick examples before I talk about something a little more recent that inspired this entry.
First- I once had a boss who loved to give high fives. I think that’s great…but for someone with hyperhidrosis, this is one of our worst nightmares. I noticed that he was a “high fiver” from day one, so I was a little bit on edge every time I felt a high five coming on. I was generally okay. Most times I would wipe most of the sweat away or change the high five to a fist bump. One day, I couldn’t do this. It came totally off guard, I had come in from doing some work in a different room. He high fived me, waited a few seconds, and then said, “And you washed your hands?” What could I say but, “Yup.” Okay guys, this is the dumb stuff that people with hyperhidrosis deal with every day. You probably think I am being crazy talking about high fives, and yes, as I’m writing about it, I think it’s pretty silly too. Until I remember how hurt this experience made me feel that day. It may be small, but it sucked.
Next- my hands sweat so much, I usually can soak through a pad of paper. One day, one of my staff needed paper and with out thinking, I offered mine. Oops. She said the paper was all wet. So, of course with out hesitation, I said, “I spilled water on it.” She accepted the excuse. In the long run, these things aren’t really a big deal, but it makes me feel angry and sad. I just wish I could be normal.
Finally- I recently had a terrible experience at work. I was being trained in a specific computer software I was unfamiliar with. I sat at my desk on the computer and the woman training me stood looking over my shoulder. Unfortunately, there was a lot of training that required the keyboard. Sometimes I don’t anticipate when I am heading into an awkward situation and this was one of them. My fingers were literally leaving puddles on the keys. And obviously she could see it, we were both looking at the keys! My heart was throbbing in my head, I could feel myself blushing, of course I was sweating more and more. My mind was racing, I had no idea how to lie about this one! Seriously, what would you say? I was trying to think of a lie that would explain why my hands were doing this. All I could come up with was, “Sorry, my hands are so bad today.” What?? What does that mean!? I have absolutely no idea what she thought and what she thinks to this day. How the heck do you explain that away? I’m so frustrated reliving it even now! Anyway, she didn’t mention anything at all. So that’s the end of that story for now.
I bet that for people with this condition, lying is much more common than you think. It’s just the easiest thing to do. If I want to tell a person I have hyperhidrosis, it’s usually a person I have known for a long time and feel comfortable with. I usually try to make this “talk” special because it’s something I don’t tell many people.
When I was first starting this blog, I was all enthusiastic about bringing hyperhidrosis into main stream awareness. I was talking freely about it on the subway in Manhattan to my boyfriend. He stopped me abruptly, confused at what I was doing. I never talk about this stuff in public. I said to him, “I’m okay with it now! I’m trying to come out with it! It needs to be done!”
Easier said than done. At Christmas, my own extended family spoke about my hyperhidrosis with me. This was mostly because I am planning on getting surgery soon for it- but more on that later. Some people knew I had it, some people didn’t. I felt “put on the spot” as my shaky, nervous voice described what I had been living with for the past 24 years. Believe me…it’s harder than you think. I didn’t want the spot light on me…especially for sweat.
If you have hyperhidrosis, I want to know what you have lied about regarding your condition. Please feel free to comment.
Thanks for reading,