For everyone battling that acne demon…
Acne isn’t a life sentence. It is, however, a major life obstacle that will truly test your inner strength. Unfortunately, mine tested me for about 8 years.
Severe cystic acne was painful. I remember those cringe-worthy moments when I’d accidentally touch my face and the pain would stop me in my tracks. That pain was miserable, but it wasn’t the worst side effect of having acne.
The worst effect was hating what I looked like so much that my self-value diminished to almost nothing.
I spent those years feeling incredibly negative about myself and praying that someone would just give me the damn cure. Many doctors tried to help, but it was always the same prescriptions; birth control, antibiotics, and steroids. None worked long-term. Accutane was out of the question because my kidneys couldn’t have handled it after I bombarded them with all of the other prescriptions. Mom wouldn’t allow it anyway because of the known brutal side effects. I’m grateful that she shut that down knowing what I do now.
Sadly, I still spent 8 years dealing with such low self-esteem that I avoided going to parties, school events, and I basically missed out on life. It was easier to stay hidden from the world rather than deal with the stares and questions about what was wrong with my face.
Yes, people shamelessly asked about it… a lot.
Year 8 of my spell with cystic acne was the year I decided that my skin doesn’t define me. The catalyst to this cathartic moment was in Wyoming at my mom’s laser medical spa. I was helping out behind the desk while my mom was talking to a customer about some laser treatment options. The customer looked at me and said: “Mmhmm if this laser stuff is so great then why haven’t you done anything about her face?”. I simply looked at my mom and said: “Yup, I’m going home”. I left in tears. That night my mom and I were supposed to go to a charity event but I refused to go, especially after that lady’s comment. About an hour before the event, my mom sent me a text that I have saved for 3 years now…
“I know that this is difficult and it’s hard to feel normal with acne especially when you’ve struggled with it for so long. But you have a personality that shines through any physical flaw. You have family and friends who want to be around you because you’re goofy as hell, smart, and kindhearted. People love you because of who you are, not what you look like. Personality traits like yours are rare and beautiful and you can’t rob the world of that by staying hidden. You’re coming with me to this event and you’re going to have fun. I promise.”
Reluctantly, I went to the event… and I had fun. I also made the choice to not wallow over something that was beyond my control.
After that event, every day felt different; like a weight had been lifted. I said yes to every party invite, every date, and I even started posting pictures of myself on Facebook regardless of the size of the planets growing on my face. It was also from that moment that my skin started clearing up.
Coincidence? I think not.
Through my experience and research over the years, I realized that finding inner peace and self-love is just as essential to your health as eating well or exercising. Through my education to become a Nutritional Therapist, I learned about how powerful the gut-brain connection is. I always preach that when your digestive system is stressed out, your brain will mirror the symptoms in its own way. What I don’t talk about often enough is how much of an impact a stressed mind can have on the digestive system. Both have to be happy in order for optimal wellness to be achieved. For those of us struggling with acne, aiming for that optimal level of health is the goal we need to reach in order to get the clear skin we’re dying to have.
In summary, it took 8 years for me to be happy with who I was and not stress about what I looked like. That’s a long time to wait to finally reach a stage of self-acceptance. I don’t want that for anyone else. If you’re suffering from acne, know that this is temporary and you’ll be a stronger person having gone through this journey.
It did take more than self-love for me to fully cure my acne. I also followed this regimen and still do:
– Switch to safe, non-toxic skin care
– Paleo diet
… basically, don’t put chemicals on your face, eat well, and fuel your gut with what it needs.