It's been a year since I returned home from volunteering in Nepal, a time that turned horrible when I had an allergic reaction to the food and broke out horribly with cystic acne on nearly 80% of my face. When I was there I had no control over the situation, I was living in villages and small towns and had little access to any kind of effective medical assistance. I can not even begin to explain the emotional/psychological toll this experience had on me, especially the feeling of helplessness, of not being able to do anything to help my situation and having to witness it grow worse each day. So, when I returned home I basically made it my life's mission to clear my face and then to do battle with the aftermath; the horrible scars left behind as a cruel, ever-present reminder. And so after clearing my skin, then finding a skin clinic and undergoing laser genesis, pearl resurfacing laser, micro needling and now a recent fraxel 1550, I have noticed some improvement, but not enough to keep me from falling into the the thought loops that seem to have taken over my every day. The anxiety that comes with constantly worrying about these marks and indentations all over my face. Just when I think I may have overcome it, just when I think today will be different from all the rest, that I will be able to get through it without thinking about them, or that I'm going to somehow confidently choose not to care...I am reminded, without warning, that my face is inferior...that in this world of beauty tyranny and impossible standards, I will never be "normal". As much as I want to hope that one day my face can be what it was before 3 months of volunteering overseas permanently changed it for the worse, the more logical side of me recognizes this is basically a pipe dream.
I usually try to keep these thoughts to myself, I never share them with others, and I'm sorry if others find this post depressing. But this is the only place where I feel like I may be understood.
I'm tired of no longer feeling normal.
I'm tired of witnessing the gaze of other's eyes fall away from looking at my eyes during conversation, and instead darting back and forth from scar to scar on my face, studying the imperfection and then returning the gaze back to me as if nothing happened.
I'm sick and tired of fighting, of constantly having to be strong and talk myself up before entering any social situation.
Let's face it, having acne scars is so emotionally and psychologically exhausting. And this is largely unrecognized.
And so, for those who are experiencing similar emotions, let me just offer you this one consolation: you are not alone. I understand your pain. I experience it every day of my life. My heart hurts as I type this, just thinking of anyone else having to live through this hell.
But know you are not alone, and I send you my love.