Living with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) can mean having limited energy, time, and bandwidth. You may find yourself needing to say "no" more often than you did before you developed HS. Do you have a tough time being direct with others about how you feel? It's not unusual to feel awkward or self-centered when turning down a request or an invitation. You may feel at the mercy of the other person's need.
Using "I" statements can help put you back in the driver's seat of the situation. An "I" statement directly communicates your feelings and sets a clear boundary, allowing you to focus on treating your hidradenitis suppurativa and managing skin symptoms like pain or recurring boils.
I don't feel like going.
I'd rather do something else instead.
I can't do it this week.
Whenever I attend that event, it takes me days to recover.
At first, you may feel vulnerable about using direct "I" statements when saying no. Your true feelings are exposed, and you may be judged for using HS as an excuse. "I" statements can also be freeing! You don't need to pretend or tell a white lie. It's ok to communicate directly about what you need.
Using an "I" statement is a way of taking responsibility for your feelings. You are not blaming or accusing the other person. You are being honest about your needs and making sure they are recognized.
Members of myHSteam shared some of their experiences with communicating directly:
"I'm the woman who usually smiles and says I'm fine and tries to spread inspiration to everyone, even when I'm ready for all this to end. Yesterday, I finally broke down. I just can't fake it right now."
"It's easier for me to deal with my illness when I forget that I'm the one who actually has it. I allow myself to see things from the perspective of a care provider for an HS patient vs being the patient who's forced to rely on others for even the most simple tasks."
"Even though I can't wear a tank top or comfortable shorts, I will not allow my HS to ruin my day."
Have you used "I" statements to set boundaries? How did it feel?
Share your stories about direct communication in the comments below or on myHSteam.