SweatBlock Scholarship Runner-up #4

Ashley, a student at Cal Lutheran, wrote a very personal essay about the effect of hyperhidrosis and excessive sweating on here social life in school. It’s a great reminder of why we here at SweatBlock work hard to get the word out about our product. The more people that can overcome the embarrassment and worry related to sweating, the better!

At runner-up #4, here is Ashley’s essay:

There are many different elements that can affect someone’s perception of themselves. Many times, a person’s level of self-confidence can be associated with how they look, how they dress, or how well they can do something, and if they feel as though they are not up to the standard that society has set for us, their self-perception can be damaged and they may have lower self-confidence. Excessive perspiration can be just as damaging to one’s self-perception as the above stated elements of self-confidence, though its effects are rarely addressed in relationship to how a person views oneself. I can fully understand the toll that excessive perspiration can take on one’s self-perception, because I suffer from hyperhidrosis myself. I began to notice my excessive perspiration in middle school, but I believed it was normal at that stage in my physical development. However, I soon realized that none of my friends experienced the same amount of perspiration that I did. My hyperhidrosis was localized to my palms, underarms, and my feet, but at times, it was very heavy, and quite noticeable to the people around me. I was never teased about it, but I began to believe that I needed to hide it because I was embarrassed by it and I did not want my friends to find out about it. I always wore sweaters so that the perspiration under my arms would not show, and when it got too hot for sweaters, I only wore black and white shirts so that the sweat could not be seen. I also shied away from interactions that involved my hands and I hardly ever wore sandals for the fear that my friends would see the excessive perspiration. It was also uncomfortable to wear sandals, so I always wore shoes that I could wear with socks. In high school, my excessive perspiration continued and my limited fashion choices, as well as my avoidance of any interactions that required my hands, became a staple of my life. I never felt as pretty as other girls because I could not wear the same things as they did, and I constantly compared myself to my friends, who I believed were so lucky to not have to deal with hyperhidrosis like I did. I was always self-conscious about people seeing my excessive perspiration, so I made sure to always plan accordingly, should I have to change shoes or put on a sweater. Sometimes, it felt like my excessive perspiration was the first and only thing people saw when they looked at me, and it made me very upset. I waited for the day that someone would say something or ask me about why I was sweating so much and finally, the question came, from one of the most innocent places. I was volunteering in an elementary school and I was playing a game with a group of kindergarten students when one of them asked me why my hand was so wet. I was in shock, but I played it off by saying that I had just washed my hands. After that, I knew I had to find a way to get rid of my hyperhidrosis. I eventually went to the doctor, who told me that I would just have to live with it. I knew that everything I did for the rest of my life would be tinged by my excessive perspiration, including wearing high heels for dances and work, holding hands with a significant other, working with students as a teacher, and even simple things such as driving and playing sports. I never realized how much hyperhidrosis had affected me until I was told that there was nothing I could do but live with it. At that point, my self-perception was at its lowest. I felt separated from everyone, because no one had experienced what I had, and I felt alone because I was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it, for fear that they would be repulsed by my condition. As time went on, I continued to live with my hyperhidrosis, but the condition seemed to intensify and when I moved away for college, I had had enough. I was starting a new chapter in my life, with new experiences and new people, and I did not want to have to hide any part of myself, including my hyperhidrosis. I went to see a new doctor and they informed me of a procedure that would help alleviate the excessive perspiration in my hands and underarms. I was sold right away and when the date of my surgery was confirmed, I shared my condition with all of my friends. Contrary to what I thought, they were very supportive and understanding, and they informed me that they had never noticed before. After I had the surgery, it was like I was a new person. My hands and underarms no longer perspire excessively, and many of the things that I once despised doing because of my excessive perspiration, became enjoyable for me. I could shake hands and hold hands, drive without the air conditioner blasting in the car, and I could wear any color shirt I wanted. All of these experiences sound simple, but to me, they were a part of the new me, who could do anything just like anyone else. The procedure did not heal everything, and my feet still sweat, but I have learned to be happy with myself and who I am, sweaty feet and all. In conclusion, I believe that excessive perspiration can greatly affect one’s self-perception, and I know this because I have lived it. I went from a self-conscious, embarrassed, and introverted person, to someone who truly loves myself and everything about me, and I would not change my experience with hyperhidrosis because it has been a part of my journey that has brought me to where, and who I am today, through its effect on my self-perception.