Throughout my life, I've often been mistaken for an unusually nervous person. Excessive sweating in chilled temperatures and low-key situations isn't normal, so, quite accurately, concerned citizens assume something is wrong. Perhaps I've received some bad news that's jeopardizing my future happiness, or maybe there's an elephant in the room that I am hesitant to release. The second assumption is correct, in fact, though I am no longer worried about the consequences of its freedom. Armed with an appropriate amount of serenity, I admit that I have hyperhidrosis, a condition characterized by excessive sweating in everyday scenarios. Yeah, it's awkward sometimes.
Before I complain about hyperhidrosis, I always try to find a way of dealing with it sensibly.
From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, I sweat periodically on my feet, legs, back, bottom, and underarms, for no apparent reason at all. If you perform a quick Google search on hyperhidrosis, a Web MD result offers the following definition: "Hyperhidrosis is a common disorder which produces a lot of unhappiness." And that's why I felt compelled to share my story, because it doesn't have to be so dreary.
In contrast to the many unpredictable diseases, disorders, and predicaments that one can find themselves in, hyperhidrosis is a blissfully predictable condition to "suffer" from. The symptoms are the same, day in and day out. I sweat more in large groups, so I prepare accordingly by choosing breathable clothes. I sweat the worst on my feet, so I sometimes bring a second pair of shoes. Public speaking spawns a particularly aggressive onset of sweating, therefore I practice and meditate beforehand. In this sense, the reliability of hyperhidrosis is rather dull. I think of it like a roommate whom I felt neutral about, then one day I learned that their presence was set to be lifelong, and it struck me as bothersome — but I stubbornly moved on and learned how to harmonize.
Admittedly, I didn't come to terms with this idea until my mid-20s; before that, I felt rather sorry for myself and troubled by the inconvenience of sweating outside of the gym. These days, I'm thankful that hyperhidrosis is not life-threatening, nor is it erratic in any way. There's really no need to think negatively about something that isn't painful or terminal.
But it is important to think, and come up with practical solutions to living harmoniously with hyperhidrosis. When I started dating my girlfriend seven years ago, she had a very proactive approach to hyperhidrosis. "What are you doing to help yourself?" she would ask me on a regular basis. As it turns out, there are many tips I've gathered along the way.
Change Your Shoes as Often as Needed to Feel Comfortable
With the severity of my foot sweat, I can transform a totally dry pair of shoes and socks into a sopping wet mess in a matter of minutes. And due to the fact that wearing shoes in public is encouraged, I find myself walking around in freezing cold shoes every day. Sometimes my feet are so cold in my wet shoes that I start to shiver, which makes me nervous, which occasionally makes my lips quiver. I combat those unwanted situations by keeping a second pair of shoes close by at all times. I used to think people would notice if my shoes mysteriously changed colors, but guess what? No one does. And if they do, they don't view it as anything out of the ordinary. Similarly with my clothes, I'll often change t-shirts and pants halfway through the day. Wearing fresh clothes is an absolute priority.
Don't Fault Your Friends For Not Understanding Hyperhidrosis
When I share with people that I have hyperhidrosis, there are two common reactions. The first is, "Oh yes, I sweat a lot too. It sucks." The second is, "Oh no, that's terrible. That must be so annoying to deal with." In the past, these conversations would drive me into a pit of despair, because I felt like no one understood the true trauma of hyperhidrosis. It's not just about sweating a lot during a workout routine. And it is annoying to deal with, but comments of that nature made me feel jealous that they weren't in the trenches with me. Then I realized that hyperhidrosis is not traumatic, and my friends are not deplorable humans for expressing themselves. They are simply trying to relate to me and be empathetic.
Take a Bath or Warm Up With the Hairdryer
When I arrive home from an outing, I'm usually wearing clothes or shoes that are somewhat damp and cold. One of my favorite ways to warm up is to draw a bath — it doesn't have to be a big to-do with bubbles and oils and scents, just a simple plunge into hot water will do the trick. For a quicker burst of warmth, I like to blow the hairdryer into my shoes and down my shirt. It's a habit I picked up from my girlfriend, who doesn't have hyperhidrosis, yet she warms up this way before bed almost every night.
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
I don't think of myself as an overly anxious person, but the anxiety that I do have stems from hyperhidrosis. I know I'm going to sweat, and sweating is embarrassing, therefore my nerves have been known to skyrocket. Something as simple as arriving late for an appointment will result in a serious sweating episode, so I make sure I am never late. Likewise, I prepare for daily events so that I am rarely caught off guard. If my day gets interrupted or plans change, I don't let these minor irritations get the better of me. Of course, some things are unavoidable — like, I often saturate a corner of my bed sheets with my foot sweat, resulting in their need to be swapped. If I walk around the house barefoot, there will be puddles of sweat on the floorboards. But I don't feel lousy when these instances happen, I just go about my day.
Know That Everybody Has Something They Didn't Sign Up For
This is a big one — the biggest, in my opinion. Everybody deals with something they didn't sign up for, whether it's physical or mental, temporary or permanent, visible or invisible. It's the baggage we come with, and there's nothing shameful about it. Before I complain about hyperhidrosis, I always try to find a way of dealing with it sensibly. Sometimes a complaint will escape my mouth, and my girlfriend will ask what I'm doing to help myself. It all comes back to that.
At 31 years old, I have yet to meet another person with hyperhidrosis. Given the statistic that two percent of the population have it, I know there's a community out there. Please, give me a shout anytime. The more the merrier, I say.