…is that some healing is both painful and embarrassing! But is it all worth it?
I wonder whether you can pinpoint when your medical or mental conditions began? Did they suddenly just happen or did they seem to sneak up on you? Are they more recent or have you ha them years? Perhaps most of your life?
One condition which whilst, relatively minor and sporadic, in terms of my physical health, is that of boils. I suffer something called Hidradenitis suppurativa which effectively gives me boils and open lesions on my skin.
Now in all honesty, I really couldn’t tell you if I have had Hidradenitis suppurativa ever since I was a child but I can tell you that I have had boils, off and on, ever since I was a young boy.
And whilst I have very few childhood memories, I can still recall the little blue tin that my mother always used to reach for whenever I would get a boil. (Which was often.)
This tin contained a thick often solidified putty like paste designed to treat the infection. Treatment involved the tin being carefully placed into a pan of boiling water so that the heat would soften the paste and reactivate it in some way.
After a while and once the paste was suitably softened and reactivated some of it would liberally spread on a gauze or linen pad in order to make a hot poultice and this was then firmly applied to the boil and secured in place.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? Trust me it wasn’t!
The fact is that when I say it was a hot poultice, I truly mean it was a hot poultice! And my father – who generally oversaw such things stood for little to no fuss when it came to expressing discomfort or pain.
“Stop crying boy! It’s only a bit of heat. If you want something to cry about I will give you something to cry about”
Are words from back then which were often used and which are still etched in my memory.
What made it worse was that boils are generally inevitably located in warm sensitive and often embarrassing places. As a smaller child having a parent apply a hot poultice to these areas doesn’t really embarrass you that much but as an older child trust me it did.
Add to all that the fact that whilst the paste itself obviously contained some qualities designed to attack the infection, it was the heat that was considered to be of great benefit in drawing out the infection and thus this painful and often embarrassing treatment would be repeated regularly and it all made for a very uncomfortable situation.
As cureboils.fastanswer.org states…
“A boil is patch of skin that has become infected and filled with pus. It is also referred to as a lesion.
Boils are generally firm to the touch and quite painful.
Most persons develop boils in the groin, buttocks or underarm area. When boils form in clusters, they are called carbuncles. Carbuncles generally form in and around the neck and inner thighs.”
Boils are painful and unsightly and additional to the pain and embarrassment that can be caused in the treatment of them they do often cause a great deal of pain discomfort to the sufferer.
Why am I sharing this with you on a blog which primarily focusses on mental health issues? Well because there is without doubt a lot of parallels that can be drawn from this physical health condition with some mental health conditions.
Not all mental health conditions are neurological or physiological. Some result of from life experiences and circumstances.
Just like the boil which happens when the patch of skin becomes infected and attacks us, situations can happen in life which can also infect and attack us.
Just as a boil is an area where physical poison can cause great pain and discomfort and try to spread to and infect other areas, so too can we experience areas within our mental and emotional health where poison can cause great pain and discomfort and try to spread to and infect other areas.
Sometimes, just as with what we term as ‘blind boils’ – boils where there appears to be no readily identifiable head or centre of infection – these experiences can be hard to identify, but the threat, the poison, the infection, and the fact that it could be spreading into other areas, is still there!
And thee are parallels that can be drawn and lessons that can learned from the treatment of boils which will help us in the treatment and healing of such mental and emotional wounds.
As I said, these boils often happened in the most sensitive and intimate parts of your body and having to bare them could be so very embarrassing.
Likewise, so many mental and emotional wounds happen in the most sensitive and intimate parts of our lives and having to bare these parts to others can also be very embarrassing.
Part of the treatment for those boils is that the poison needed to be drawn out and this led to some additional discomfort. How much discomfort often depending on how deep the infection was, how much poison was there, how much it had spread and (it has to be said) how intimate and sensitive the area.
Isn’t that the same with the treatment of some emotional and mental hurts?
It had to be done delicately and carefully so as not to leave scars or indeed infect other areas. Just as subsequent secondary conditions can result from our physical hurts or wounds, so too can they from our emotional or mental hurts and wounds and these need to treated also.
The picture above is one which embarrasses and distresses me somewhat not only as it is a picture of an intimate area, but because it is a picture of some of the scarring that I experience as a result of the boils and lesions that I still suffer with as a result of the Hidradenitis suppurativa I have.
And I share it with you because I truly believe this to be such an important issue and because I hope that as a clear picture of the results of physical infections it will also clearly demonstrate just how damaging emotional and mental infections can be in our lives.
I am a big guy, I am rotund and not as agile as some Additionally I live alone and have no partner. When it comes to those physical wounds and hurts in my intimate and sensitive parts, reaching them in order to treat and bring healing to them is often beyond my ability although obviously I do what I can when I can.
But when it comes to those mental and emotional wounds and hurts even in sensitive intimate areas, I am convinced that none of us need be alone and that they are not beyond our reach or beyond healing.
I am blessed with a strong faith, and a strong resolve not to allow the wounds and the hurts of my past to continue to infect and affect my life today or in the future.
Just as with the physical situation of those boils, baring and opening up those intimate, sensitive emotional and mental wounds maybe difficult, distressing, and embarrassing but it can be done. And what is more, I truly believe it needs to be done.
I started this post with the statement, “Often, What it boils down to is that some healing is both painful and embarrassing!” and I asked the question, “But is it all worth it?”
I end this post with the answer to that question.
“I am convinced that in the case where our mental and emotional hurts of the past are or could still be infecting and effecting our present and our future, Yes absolutely it is!”