Please welcome Sean from Pennsylvania to the sweaty tribe. He is a brave soul with hyperhidrosis who has chosen to share his sweaty story on mylifeasapuddle.com. Going public about our sweaty secret can be scary, but using our sweaty voices is the bravest thing we will ever do.
On what areas of your body do you experience hyperhidrosis?
Entire body (most troubling on face and torso)
How did you discover that your excessive sweating is a recognized medical condition?
I new something was wrong in high school but didn’t have any access to more info (this was pre-internet). Didn’t recognize it as a medical condition until I was in my late twenties.
How does your hyperhidrosis impair your daily life?
As I get older I realize that I have been very much in denial about how much this has affected my life.
I don’t think denial is the right word. I knew I had a real problem, I wasn’t able to fix it, but I wanted to believe that I could make decisions about my life without having to consider the effects of this disorder. I was “cavalier.”
I look back now and realize that, in some way, sweating has affected EVERY decision I have ever made about important things in my life and has pushed me to make some very poor decisions because of the lack of understanding about my own needs.
Do you avoid certain things because of your sweating?
Absolutely. My sweating is very tied in with social/performance anxiety. Any situation that causes me to be the center of attention or to feel “locked in” to a conversation or social situation is something I attempt to avoid. Ironically, I do consider myself to be an extrovert who desires a somewhat high level of social interaction. The conflict of these two interests is mind-numbing.
Do you find that hyperhidrosis affects your mental health? If so, in what ways and how do you cope?
Yes. Anxiety, depression and self-loathing are not healthy mental attributes. It affects my relationships, my ability to interact on a personal and professional level and to feel like is it worth continuing on with this vicious cycle. Self-medication has been a coping mechanism but has its own dangers. Physical exertion was a temporary mechanism but ultimately didn’t change anything. I can’t say that any of my coping strategies have ever left me feeling like I was gaining any ground on a mental level.
What treatments for hyperhidrosis – if any – have you tried?
Psychotherapy (enlightening but ineffective), ETS (surgical complications, slight improvement temporarily, ultimately not worth it), medicinal (Robinul, glycopyrrolate, propanolol, clonidine, a handful of anti-anxiety/depression meds) but all had such negative side effects that they were not worth the small benefits they provided. Lotions, antiperspirants, creams, etc. (like a finger in the crumbling dyke)
Is anything working for you to help you cope with your hyperhidrosis?
What’s the worst thing about your hyperhidrosis?
The embarrassing and relentless nature of it. Danger looms around every corner at every moment of the day. It’s like living life in a mine field.
What do you think is the biggest misconception when it comes to hyperhidrosis?
Not sure. It’s hard to know what other people honestly think about this disorder. My biggest misconception was that it would eventually get better on its own. It hasn’t.
What would you like to see in the future when it comes to treatments for hyperhidrosis?
I believe the ultimate cure for hyperhidrosis lies in a surgical or medicinal solution. All the dermatological treatments are simply a way of masking what is really going on with us. I was hopeful that ETS had the right idea but clearly that process has not been perfected. Somehow the connection between anxiety and the sweating response has to be interrupted or the escalating cycle of stress > sweat > stress more > sweat more will never be broken.
If you could tell the world only one thing about hyperhidrosis, what would it be?
I would tell the medical community that a real solution needs to be worked on. That the prevalence of this disorder seems to be on the rise and that there will be a lot of very negative side effects that arise as cases continue to grow.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about your sweaty story?
I think that outreach to teenagers is something that needs to improve. This is when everything started for me, and I didn’t have access to any resources to find out what was going on. Many teens are likely too embarrassed to reach out for help and are probably feeling very alone and confused even though they can google “sweaty hands” and find more information.
Do you have a sweaty story?
Do you have hyperhidrosis? If you’d like to be featured, please fill out the form on my Contact Me page. In the subject line, enter Guest Post. Not a writer? No worries! I can edit your story, send you questions to answer to create one, or you can record a video.