Just a little update for this month. It's a month since I finished taking Doxycycline. Finally tapered off after starting it way back in September last year. Tapering off as gradually as I did has definitely done the trick and I haven't broken out at all. Back when I didn't know any better, stopping antibiotics dead would always trigger cystic acne. So there's a little tip: always taper off antibiotics!
I switched to Cetaphil cleanser about a month ago. I'd never used it before but thought I'd give it a go as I was looking for something gentle and totally fragrance free. It's strange using something that doesn't foam, guess I'd just associated foaming washes with being something that would clean my skin the best. But I know that Cetaphil works because my skin isn't as oily as it once was and it still seems appropriately dry at the end of the day. That's a very welcome change because it takes away that worry of the oiliness visibly building up during the course of the day. Given how gentle it is, switching didn't break me out either which of course is a huge bonus. Love the stuff!
I started taking Zinc again now that the Doxy is out of my system. I quit taking Beta Carotene because it was making my skin orange. People kept asking me if I'd been on holiday. If you live in England where it's still raining and freezing cold in May, an orange tan is pretty noticeable! Beyond that, I was starting to look like an Oompa Loompa and that's not cool. It's about four weeks since I stopped taking it and my skin hasn't gone downhill but the orange tone has reduced quite a lot. Sure the Cetaphil has played a part, too. These days I'm taking, Zinc, Omega 3, Vitamin D and Pantothenic Acid. Got myself a little routine going and it's become habit now.
I still get the odd pimple now and then but they shouldn't really be anything to worry about and I I take care of those with Isotretinoin gel and Sudocrem. I still get the odd touch of eczema but I can keep that at bay by keeping the problem areas moisturised with Jojoba oil. On the odd occasion I've eaten anything which I know I'm intolerant of, I've been able to stop any potential reaction with antihistamines. It's nice to think that I've figured that stuff out and can keep those three aspects of my skin problems under control now.
I was having major problems with picking and over the last year I'd started becoming pretty obsessed with my appearance. Not in a vain way. It was the total opposite really and I just don't like what I see. Having acne made those feelings even worse. Now that I've worked on the things I could change and my picking and time spent in front of the mirror etc. is kind of in-check now, I can start working on accepting the things I can't change; beyond clearing my acne, there's not much else I could do to change my appearance so I've got to learn to like myself and learn to like what I see. If can put that behind me and not let it consume everything, perhaps I can be brave and get out there and meet new people. Either way, I'm free to do other stuff and find work, etc.. Already had a few interviews in the last couple of weeks so that's promising. Even if nothing comes of it straight away, I do at least feel I'm heading in the right direction and working on changing things.
All in all, everything's pretty positive on the skin front these days.
Finished my course of Doxycycline. Started that last September - feels like forever ago - and been tapering off of it for the last month or so. In the end, really slowed it down to roughly one pill a week, don't even think it will have been doing much by that point. Did the trick though because if the acne was going to come back with a vengeance, I know I'd have broken out by now. Lesson learned compared to previous courses of antibiotics, where I'd break out such a lot once I'd finished; always taper off rather than stopping dead.
These days, I just get the odd pimple. It's often now just a slight reaction to shaving, I find. Otherwise, there's no real pattern to it or cause behind it. I still maintain my regimen though and of course - vitally, I assume - keep an eye on my diet and make sure to avoid the things I'm intolerant of. Recently found that antihistamines seem to help in that regard and especially where my eczema is concerned. With the aid of that, I was able to eat pizza - I'm intolerant of melted/cooked cheese - and the antihistamine seemed to cancel out any potential reaction to that single portion. It's not technically the right the answer and I wouldn't think it feasible to place a side-order of antihistamines next time I'm in Pizza Hut(!), but it might allow for a bit of flexibility and at least mean I could treat myself now and then. Also found that I can take care of the areas where I'm prone to eczema with regular applications of Jojoba oil; just a little, every couple of nights seems to stop those areas from drying out and becoming itchy or visibly sore. All in all, these little discoveries are adding up and giving me majority-control over what my skin does. Happy with that because it's really all I've wanted to achieve for a number of years.
The next step for me is accepting who I am and how I look physically, flaws and all. It's hard. Really hard. I was so used to being broken out all the time that getting clearer kind of threw me off guard a bit. How I looked on the outside when my skin was bad seemed like a proverbial reflection of how I felt about myself on the inside. I suppose that's why I picked really, as a way of justifying how I feel. I've never had much self-esteem and the last twelve months really knocked the rest of it out of me. With my defenses totally down, the negative and self-deprecating thoughts have really done their damage. With or without acne, I just don't like what I see in the mirror and I simply cannot get around to believing that anyone else could like what they see of me either. It follows me everywhere and I usually just keep to myself and avoid people because I feel I'd be inflicting myself upon them and. Getting to be a bit of problem if I'm honest. I'm pretty sure I'm Dysmorphic and the obsessive degree to which I've picked my face in the past is also something I'm finding really hard to shake. I wrote about it at length on my Facebook page last week and kind of "came out" about it all. I don't suppose carrying all these self-inflicted feelings of guilt and shame around does me any good because I just ruminate all the time, so that was my attempt at opening up and letting them go. It was kind of therapeutic, I guess.
As far as the picking itself is concerned, I reckon I used to use all those negative feelings and channel them, then take it out on myself physically. I still have my moments and it seems like there are so many triggers; I could be bored, lonely, feeling down, anxious or nervous. All sorts of things seem to make me want to go to the mirror and just kind of zone out. I decided to go right back to the start with not picking and today is the fourth day I've gone without. Prior to that, I'd probably picked several times a day for the last seven or eight weeks. It was really getting out of hand. Hoping I can keep that in check and I'm going to take it one day at a time. Also going to see if I can work out what steps I need to take to learn to like myself and to accept who I am inside and out because, despite what I may tell myself, I do actually have the right to enjoy my life, be happy with it, and with the person I am, "flaws" and all.
Not much to report as far as acne goes; don't think I've had a notable breakout since I last wrote. Aside from the odd pimple, things are good. Been averaging maybe two new pimples per week which is a world away from where I used to be - several new pimples popping up on a daily basis - so I should be happy because that doesn't constitute acne and is pretty much where I want to be. I suppose I am happy with that aspect of things, but I'm really struggling to find perspective and I guess that's why I'm writing this.
Something's changed recently and I feel as though I'm in a different place, mentally. It's not good at all. I've spent so much time looking in the mirror and my appearance is constantly on my mind. I just feel horrible and ugly, with or without acne, I've been picking at my face a lot too. Not acne, but actually at my skin. Last week, I probably averaged a couple of hours each day, plus goodness knows how many hours just looking in the mirror. I've never done this before and I don't know why it's started. I've got five problem areas on my face at the moment but only two of those are actually pimples. Very tiny ones at that. The rest of it is from picking. I don't really know how to describe the results, I guess they're technically open wounds. They're not big, but just like if you happen to cut yourself; it's going to be open and bleed, then it's going to be inflamed and sore, then it's going to scab and heal. That's the process I'm going through with these areas of my face. I've picked at my nose, my chin, my right cheek, and tonight I've managed to pick a hole in my forehead from pretty much nothing.
I can kind of see where it stems from and how it's quite like how I used to respond to acne, but at least then there was actually something there. Now, it's like I'm causing the damage from nothing. The damage caused to my forehead is the perfect example: there was the tiniest lump of skin which at first I mistook for a pimple. It was nothing more than a tiny, tiny skin tag. It's been there a while actually, but tonight I just decided I hated it so I attacked it. What was probably totally unnoticeable to everyone is now a cut in my forehead with inflammation around it. Just as things were starting to calm down after a prolonged picking session last weekend, I've kicked it all off again. From what I've read, the compulsion to pick is known as Dermatillomania. I don't know if that's what I have, but I need to do something.
Generally, I feel totally trapped. Not just in terms of being sat indoors all the time and wanting to hide because of my skin, but it's like I also feel trapped inside myself. I don't want to be who I am and I don't want to feel so bad about myself. It's horrible and this is no life at all. I'm wasting it and I know it, but I keep repeating these patterns. I guess that's a source of frustration and maybe I'm taking that out on my face. It's the craziest thing because that's the polar opposite of what I want to be doing! Everything seems to have gone backwards for me. It's like I put all that effort into trying to get clear and I don't even know why. It ticks one thing off the list but everything else is wrong and I don't even know where to start.
Take away the acne and I still don't like being me. It's a constant feeling. I figured I could try and get back into work but I just can't do it. Nothing seems to be coming my way anyway and I haven't had a single interview in months, but even if it did, I don't feel like I can do it. It just seems so scary having to go somewhere, day after day, regardless of what my skin is like. That totally freaked me out in my last job and my resulting actions got me fired. I just feel like I'll make the same mistakes. The real world scares me. It's like I don't know how to enjoy it or how to be part of it. I feel alien compared to everyone. Maybe it's pathetic, I don't know. I just feel lost.
My problem now is, I think I want to ask for help but I don't know who to ask or what it actually is I want help with. It's like there's a bunch of stuff and it's all tangled up. Plus, I'm scared of what might happen if I ask for help. I'd like to talk to my parents about it but I wouldn't know how. Just thinking about it and writing it now makes me want to cry. I don't think they'd be especially understanding either. My Mum certainly wouldn't. Last year when I had some other stuff going on, she refused to discuss my depression or the resulting therapy sessions with me and said I had nothing to be depressed about. More than the lack of understanding, there's actually a sheer narrow-mindedness there which I just can't deal with because she manages to flip it around and take it as a reflection on her, then I actually get blamed for asking for help. I thought about writing it in a letter and giving it to my Dad or my sister, see if that gets the ball rolling, so to speak. The strange thing is that I previously saw my doctor about depression and he put me in touch with the therapists, so I'm not unfamiliar with approaching them, but this feels different somehow. I don't know what they'd suggest or where it might lead. I wish it would all just go away instead.
Even if I can trace a lot of this back to my time with acne, it's snowballed way beyond that and beyond my control and I don't know how to stop it. I feel like I need to get away and get some support somewhere, otherwise I'm just stuck in my room, proverbially chained to the mirror, feeling unable to go out because of how I look, feeling totally worthless. Maybe it's all ridiculously self-involved, but there's something causing me to act this way and damage my skin, and there's something causing me to constantly feel worthless. Putting all this here certainly is self-involved and I know everyone has their own stuff going on, so I apologise for that. I just needed to let it out. Thank you to anyone who happens to read, and sorry for the bring-down...
Occurred to me today that it's roughly ten weeks since I stopped breaking out so I thought I'd celebrate with a blog entry. Reading between the lines, it's Friday night and I don't have anywhere to go, so here I am!
As far as my skin is concerned, I've had one very minor breakout in that ten week period, around my mouth and chin, but it was mainly following irritation from shaving. Same thing has happened this week actually; I shaved a couple of days ago and a few tiny pimples appeared on my chin. Not worth worrying about and they've already reduced to nothing more than small red marks, but I'll probably still give a bit of thought as to how I might be able to minimise irritation and the formation of spots when I shave. Part of the problem may well be that I usually go two or three weeks without shaving so perhaps it's a bit of a shock to my skin when I do. I try and keep the skin cool and don't shave as close as I could in order to keep irritation to a minimum, but it doesn't always work out. Then the skin naturally produces more oil to lubricate and soothe itself, which isn't really what you want if you're acne-prone.
Things are still the same where the cycle of breakouts is concerned, in that I seem to have totally broken it now. By the same token, I'm still totally free of the eczema which plagued me for a couple of years. I'm maintaining things with my diet in relation to the foods I'm intolerant of and that's doing the trick. Surprising to realise how much of certain things you consume and it's only noticeable once you're making the effort to avoid them. For me, it seems that cooked dairy products are best avoided. The intolerance test I took said I should avoid boiled milk - specifically boiled, as opposed to milk in general - but it never said anything about things like cheese. Just like with the milk, it seems that I've an issue with cooked or melted cheese. Until cutting it out, I didn't realise how much cheese I ate and how much I relied upon it as a comfort food in various cooked meals. My worst nightmare has come true and it seems that I'm better off avoiding pizza altogether.
My parents, the lucky devils, are currently mid-way thought a Caribbean cruise so I'm home alone, fending and cooking for myself. I'd like to tell you that I've had lots of wild parties in their absence but that hasn't been the case. In fact, it's been incredibly quiet and kind of boring. I have however enjoyed being able to do things for myself, I've been cooking for myself and baking a few cakes and things which I don't often get to do. Nice to have a run of a kitchen because I really like cooking. It's been fun exploring the local market and shops as well, trying produce I don't usually have and experimenting with recipes I haven't tried before. Been eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh fish as well which can only be a good thing.
So my skin's going well and I'm all relaxed and stuff, but I can't really say I've made a great deal of progress in other areas. I haven't really been out much lately and I haven't been feeling especially confident for some reason. I'd had a potential date set up a few weeks ago and that fell victim to my insecurities. It was only a casual thing - a girl I know of from an online music forum was going to watch a band and she said I should join her - but still, I was pretty annoyed with myself that I fell into my old habits and bailed. Not only that, the minor shaving-related breakout I mentioned played a part because I actually made it worse in the days leading up to the date, then I used that to justify to myself why I shouldn't go. Old habits die hard I guess. I don't know, I just seem to get really scared around new people if my skin is less than clear and part of me refuses to believe that anyone could like me on a physical level if I'm even the slightest bit broken out. I guess it just bothers me so much and becomes such a negative focus for me that I can't see how people wouldn't view me in the same way. Stupid, perhaps. but it's a huge barrier I can't seem to get around at all.
Plus, as is always the way for me, it seems, it's never too long before someone pops up to make fun of me and that only serves to strengthen those insecurities about my appearance. I went to see a band on Monday and as I was stood at the front waiting for them to start, one of the security staff walked up and asked me if I was wearing makeup because my skin looked orange. Sometimes, the pigmentation appears pretty strong and my skin tone is uneven and can look kind of orange under certain light. That's thanks to several years of abuse with harsh cleansers and excessive amounts if BP during my teens. I don't wear makeup so I could say with confidence that what the guy saw was my natural skin and I told him as much but he didn't believe me. He asked me again and I insisted, but he still didn't believe me. Then he took a torch from his pocket and pointed it at me, shining the light towards my face so he could get a better look because the concert hall lights were turned down low. I didn't know what to say or do, I just stood there, surrounded by loads of people and feeling awkward until he got bored of looking and walked away.
What got me most was that prior to leaving the house, I'd checked in the mirror and felt that everything looked alright, then someone comes along and does that! It really threw me off and got me wondering straight away what the people around me might have been thinking and if they all saw what he saw when they looked at me. I've always struggled with how I'm perceived physically and I'm always preoccupied with wondering what other people see when they look at my skin. Moments like that don't help at all and all I can think then is, 'If people can still find reason to make fun of me now when I don't even have acne, goodness knows what they used to think of me when I was broken out all the time!'
Anyway, I shall end on a positive note and with a picture. As I said, aside from a few tiny post-shave marks on my chin, there's nothing going on and - the best bit - no active acne, at all! Overall, very pleased with how things are going. I'm finally onto my last pack of Doxycycline which I'm tapering off. Taking it every other day at the moment, then I'm going to reduce it to every three days, then roughly the final ten pills every four days or so. Then hopefully when that's out of my system, the diet changes and my supplement intake - plus staying away from the mirror and avoiding picking as much as possible! - will be enough to keep me pretty much acne free.
Thought I'd update as I wanted to keep track how long this clear spell is lasting. Of course, I'm hoping it's not just a spell and that it is in fact how things are going to be from now on. I certainly think I can maintain it for at least another four or five weeks until my course of Doxycycline ends. Not sure what will happen when I taper off and how my skin will react once the Doxy's out of my system. I suppose if it were anyone else, I'd attempt to ease their worries by telling them not to get worked up about something that may not even happen; to enjoy how things are and then deal with whatever happens, when it happens, if it actually happens at all. So, I guess I need to take my own advice.
Things started to clear up by mid-December and I was clear by Christmas week. That's carried on right until the present day, save for a few spots. I've had maybe five spots in the last five weeks, all of which have vanished without trace after a couple of days courtesy of an application of Isotretinoin gel. Considering that I would average more than five new pimples a day back when my skin used to break out all the time, pretty sure I can handle an average of less than one a week, although I must admit that I've raised my expectations a bit lately but perhaps that's to be expected. I suppose we're always looking for that little bit extra...
I've really stuck with the changes I made to my diet and I'm almost certain that those changes are entirely responsible for the fact that I'm acne free. I reintroduced a few of the things on separate occasions to see what happened and the only thing which triggered a reaction was a frozen pizza. I ate a frozen pizza the weekend before last and within a few hours, my eyes were sore and eczema reappeared on my eyelids, just how I'd had it for a couple of years straight prior to the diet changes. It stayed for a whole week so whatever was in that pizza which triggered, it then stayed in my system for close to seven days. I'm assuming the culprit was processed cheese. So, no more frozen pizzas for me! That was the only thing I reintroduced that week so I know for sure that that's one of the triggers and that I need to avoid it. That gives me confirmation. It's kind of cool in a way, knowledge is power and all that. I was surprised at the speed with which the eczema appeared though, that seems more like some sort of allergy rather than an intolerance. Can't help but love how weird and wonderful the body can be!
I'm keeping up with my supplements and this week I've also introduced a remedy that's supposed to help lift moods and aid depression, but that is of course a separate and ongoing thing. My skin getting better has certainly helped me feel better and my plan to then get other things moving, find myself a job and get myself out there is in place. I met up with an old friend of mine for lunch a few days ago and that was nice. I hadn't seen her since last August and it's even longer since we actually spent time together properly. It's even longer since I spent time with anyone properly, which goes to show how much I'd let my skin dictate things and how much I hid away.
We went to a bar where lots of local musicians hang out and I know of most of them because I used to take photographs at their shows. Again, that's something I allowed to lapse when I let me acne take control. After lunch, I walked with my friend to a meeting she had and then I was at a loose end for the rest of the afternoon. There was a time when I would have then gone home by myself, but this time, I decided to head back to the bar and get reacquainted with all those people I knew. Every one of them came up and greeted me like an old friend and remarked upon how they hadn't seen me around in quite some time. I don't know why I always used to put myself down and think that I wouldn't be welcome or that people wouldn't like me because it was me clear to me that there are people out there who do like me and who I could be friends with if I just make the effort to be around more.
I've even started applying for jobs and looking at opportunities, thinking about the future and stuff. For the second half of last year, my depression and anxiety were getting in the way and taking my focus so I never really felt bored as a result of being unemployed. I guess now that I've curbed the depression, that's making way for other things, hence the boredom. I suppose that means that, generally speaking, my mind is clear and now wants to be occupied. Making progress! I've applied - unsuccessfully, due to the high number of applicants - for jobs at two local supermarkets. I would never have even considered a public-facing role like that before, but now I think that's exactly the sort of thing that will bring me out of my shell.
My friend who I mentioned before is a writer and she always carries a laptop with her. When we were sat talking, she mentioned that she'd been dating and how she'd seen a few guys she met online. Nothing came of any of the dates but she seemed happy enough to be giving it a try. I didn't think much of it as I walked to the bar to buy some drinks, only to find that when I returned to our table, she was in the middle of writing what turned out to be a dating profile for me! I've tried online dating once before but did nothing with it. I figured I might as well have a look this time as I don't feel I've any reason to hide. Already found someone who lives near me and has similar interests and she seems nice. As I'm sure you can tell from my blog and posts on the message board, I can write for ages once I get going. That's something she's already noticed and she says she wants to find out if I'm as talkative in person, which I guess is promising. i must admit to having no dating experience whatsoever and have no clue as to the etiquette of online dating, but I'll see what happens. Watch this space...
I like how everything's coming together and I feel like I'm starting to give things a go and make the most of this window of opportunity I feel I have thanks to being acne free. Fingers crossed that it carries on.
I took a quick picture, just for posterity. Nothing to report at all. The odd mark here or there which might not even show up in the picture, but there's nothing active and no sign at all of anything forming, as was the case a month ago. Very happy.
My skin's been acne free for nearly three weeks now. Had just three spots during that time but they were isolated, super-tiny and each healed within a couple of days so I couldn't have cared less about them to be honest. What I like most is that I know for sure why my skin has cleared up and I know how to control it. That's always been the biggest thing and I guess that's what we're all looking for - the surefire way to control what it does so we can be happy with how it looks. It seems that my body is too sensitive for its own good so there are various foods it struggles to tolerate and that is what has been triggering the acne for goodness know how long. It won't have been the initial cause, but at some point it became the thing which kept the acne going. There I was, doing all sorts of crazy things to try and get rid of it, yet I was quite literally feeding at the same time. Oh well, live and learn I suppose!
I was chatting to someone here a few days ago who was telling me how they cleared up on Accutane once but, fast forward a couple of years, their acne is back so they're doing a second course. During that period when they were clear - "a window of opportunity", as we called it - they got things on track, built their confidence, moved to a new place, made new friends and found a partner. All those things are still in place and the friendships and relationship are all true and strong enough that those people wouldn't care about something as seemingly minor as acne anyway.
It got me thinking that my window of opportunity is essentially right now. Whenever I've been scared to try something, I used the acne as an excuse in order to justify not doing it; whenever I was afraid to approach people for fear of rejection, I always made an assumption that they'd reject me because of my skin, so I'd decide it was better to keep myself to myself until free of acne. Now, the root cause or the reason or the false justification - acne - is no longer there so I have no reason to think in the way I did. Sure, maybe there will be times when things don't go my way, but that's just life. Equally, perhaps there will be people who decide not to like me for whatever reason, but it's not realistic to think that we can all get along anyway, plus I could just see it as being their loss. I basically need to stop taking stuff like that to heart and just go with the flow instead. I always assumed I'd be able to work everything out when my skin cleared. I was wrong in that you have to work on yourself regardless, but I've got what I asked for now so I owe it to myself to move forward and make the things I assumed I'd be able to do once clear actually happen.
I started making the changes with my skin and decided to change my look a bit near the end of 2011. I wouldn't call it a resolution as such because I simply set things in motion and started making the initial changes so that everything else could then begin to fall into place as I go. Prior to making these changes, I'd agreed to meet up with fellow Org member, Kairasa for a day out in London. Before, I would have been wary of making plans several weeks in advance because I never used to like committing to things as I'd have no idea what my skin would be like by that point. I'd always worry that when the time came, I might not be able to face it and then I might end up bailing, as I'd done so many times over the years. I used the London trip as an incentive to stay focused on getting clear by the start of the new year and, as the trip to London was planned for the 3rd, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put those initial changes to the test, start as I mean to go on, and find out what it's like to enjoy something without having the slightest skin-related worry.
It totally paid off, Candice and I had a great day exploring London and it was lots of fun. Granted, Candice has had her own battles with acne so there would never have been any judgment there and she's not at all the type of person to be like that anyway, but all the same, when you're pretty much hard-wired to keeping your guard up around every single person you are in contact with, it doesn't matter who they are or what they are like. With that in mind, I'm so very pleased to say that my guard was definitely down the whole time and I never once felt self-conscious or insecure, even though I was in a new place and with someone I'd just met in person for the first time.
Hopefully I can build on this. It's a small step in the grand scheme of things, but the small steps are what will eventually get me to where I want to be.
Here's a picture of Candice and I in London, in a good old English pub, just after devouring two huge plates of fish and chips. Very nice it was, too!
Hey bloggers! I figured I would add one more entry in 2011, kind of round things off.
Been a strange couple of weeks, my skin’s been up and down but I’ve generally felt pretty rubbish in myself the whole time. I did get to thinking about making some changes and working on a new approach to stuff so I guess that’s a start. Of course, the hard part is taking action. I think I’m going to get a bit of a push in that area as I have my last therapy session tomorrow and then it seems it’s up to me to start putting what I’ve learned into practice. I don’t think it’s going to happen because a total lack of confidence and self esteem has me feeling constantly defeated and I’ve no enthusiasm or belief in myself to give things a go, so maybe I’ll have to see if I can get a bit of help with that. Think all I really need is for something to spark my interest or for someone to show me that I can do things and succeed. I’ll see what tomorrow brings and find out what other kind of support I can get.
Nothing planned at all for the rest of the month, apart from Christmas day of course. Can’t say I’m really looking forward to it. I just feel out of sync with everyone and don’t feel like I fit with the family. Just not in the mood for the small talk and questions about why I’m still unemployed and all the rest of it. I’ve always subscribed to the idea that it’s better to keep quiet if you don’t have anything constructive to offer. I’ve no idea where I got that from because it’s certainly not something my family believe. By contrast, they all have opinions and they all make sure they’re heard, even if it’s at the expense of my feelings. Regardless, taking a break and spending a few days at home will be a total non-event, given that I’ve been doing exactly that for the last five months...
The only thing I’m looking forward to at the moment is a trip to London two weeks today. Fellow Org member, Kairasa has come over to Europe from America for Christmas and she’ll be in London on the 3rd so I’ve arranged to go down there and hang out for the day. I reckon that will be fun and I’m sure we’ll have plenty of pictures and blog material for me to share. In the best possible way, it will probably be a disaster as neither of us know London. Let the fun and games begin!
After that, it's down to the serious business of trying to create a bit of a life for myself and seeing if I can get things on track. For all the things that have gone so very wrong for me this year, there have been lessons to learn and there’s probably more still which I need to find the point of. The biggest thing has been getting fired from my job, no doubt. There’s been a lot of guilt and shame attached to that and I’ve really beat myself up about it, but without that event, I wouldn’t have gone and asked my doctor for help. I think that's what has kept me going – this tiny thought that maybe things happen for a reason and that maybe things will work out eventually.
I’m not sure what I want to aim for and I’ve never really had any ambitions as such as far as employment and a career are concerned, so maybe it’s time to have a look around and see if there’s anything out there which gets my interest. Beyond that, I’d just like to be happy, whatever form that may take. Also, I’d like to have the confidence to go out and meet people and see if I can build myself a social circle or something because the loneliness is what has dragged me down the most this year. Then, who knows, maybe I’ll even have a go at approaching that most scariest of species known as women! Yeah, alright, perhaps best not to get ahead of myself!
I was thinking earlier today how I’ve been on quite a journey with my skin this year and I’ve put so much of that into the message board here. The support and advice I’ve received along the way has been awesome and, although I’ve stumbled several times, there’s always been people around to pick me up, offer a few kind words and remind me that I’m not on my own. That still feels kind of strange because for twelve years, I was in my own little world and I was the only one battling these things. People have come and gone in the time I’ve been here - got themselves on Accutane, sorted themselves out and moved on, or whatever - and although I'm still battling, it's a different path so I'm kind of alright with that. I don’t think I’ll ever get as clear as I’d like but I have learned lots of things which, all being well, might help me maintain something I can be reasonably alright with.
After making a few changes to my diet after I got the results to an intolerance test - I've cut out hot milk, spicy food, reduced the amount of yeast in my diet (no beer), and I've cut out all the rubbish I was eating at weekends - and three weeks in, the eczema I'd had for a couple of years has completely vanished. I think the changes have helped my acne as well, although it's kind of hard to tell. That's been much more stubborn over the years than the eczema so maybe it will take a little longer for the changes to influence the acne. Either way, I'm really glad I took the test and that I've gained a bit of influence over that aspect of things.
My most recent breakouts have calmed down over the last week and I did manage to reduce my picking after the disaster I blogged about a few weeks ago. I haven’t managed to avoid picking fully but I have known when to step away and that’s just as important I think. I’ve also changed my approach with my regimen slightly in terms of how I apply my Isotretinoin gel. I’ve always feared the initial breakout which is essentially on a par with one you might get on oral Isotretinoin, so I’ve never stuck to applying it to whole areas of my face on a daily basis as suggested. Rather, I’ve used it as an on-the-spot treatment for the last nine months or so. Over the last few months, the areas I’ve struggled to get to grips with have been my chin, my right cheek and sometimes my nose. So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been applying the gel to those areas on a daily basis as prescribed. It’s drawn some of the crap (technical term) out which did cause a bit of a breakout, but now it’s just rather dry. Looking a lot better though and what’s underneath that dryness is smooth, clear skin so that’s something positive from the new approach. I should probably do something about the dryness but I don’t know much about which products to use. I’ve never used a moisturiser that didn’t make my skin look seriously oily and I’m always a bit worried that whatever I use may clog my skin. Maybe I’ll have to do a bit of research and see if I can find something to make the results of my new approach to application a little more comfortable.
One final picture for the year, taken today. Aside from a bit of dryness on my chin, a few marks on the right which don’t show up too well in the picture, and the red mark also on the right from a big pimple which appeared out of nowhere last week, there’s not much happening and there's nothing active at the moment so that's good. I’d ideally like to keep that going over Christmas and certainly into the new year so that I can head to London and have a wonderful time without feeling insecure about my skin. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and hope for the best!
So, I’ve had a bit of a brainwave today. I’m not sure how that happened because I’m only usually good for one each year and I remember having one several months ago when I decided to make myself an awesome steak sandwich. Given that I can recall the occasion, it was clearly a brilliant decision on my part at the time. Now, I’m a little concerned as to what happens if I’ve gone over my brainwave quota. I’m hoping that my head doesn’t explode while I’m asleep tonight because I’d hate to wake up dead in the morning.
Anyway, about this brainwave... I’ve decided, after ten long years of long hair, that I’m going to get it cut. Its only function is to keep my ears warm and that’s nothing a decent hat can’t fix. In case you were wondering, the reason this qualifies as blog material is because it is the result of correspondence with a fellow member of the wonderful Org, regarding skin care, body shape, appearance, self-image, blah, blah, blah, I found myself agreeing with them that maybe I could get a haircut which might work better for me. I’ve always thought that it's probably an acquired taste anyway, especially where attracting the ladies is concerned, and as someone who has zero ability to do that, the last thing I need to be doing is falling into “acquired taste” territory. Not only that. I've found that I’m becoming more and more self-conscious about it, like it stands out in a negative way and doesn’t do me any favours in general, so I’d like to remove that particular source of anxiety. No idea what look I'd go with though and I can’t help but wonder if I’m destined to feel rubbish about my appearance whatever I do, but there's only one way to find out...
Reckon I also need to start working out a bit and eating better. I wouldn’t say I’m as skinny as a rake. Rather, I make rakes look positively ripped! I don’t suppose that really does me any favours either and I’m pretty self-conscious about that as well. Time for me to drop and give me twenty. Hmmm... that expression doesn’t really work when you’re referring to yourself. Anyway, guess I’ll have to dust off the dumb bells as well. I can see them from here, they’re over in the corner collecting dust, where they’ve been for the last two years.
First things first, I’m off in search of a pill which will take care of all this. Surely there has to be a pill which will give me a look I can pull off which has girls falling at my feet, give me skin everyone will be super jealous of, and a body Mr Universe can only dream about. A job which pays me stupid amounts of money to do nothing all day wouldn’t go amiss either. There must be a pill for this, like a multi-awesomeness supplement or something? If not, I’m going to have to get up off my backside and do it all myself, which sucks!
I’ve been given my orders by the aforementioned Org member: less chatting, more action! The rebel in me wanted to come and talk about it first though.
The biggest issue is my skin – always has been, probably always will be – and given that I’m struggling with that, I might as well at least try and work on these other areas. If there is one thing I have learned this year, it’s that I generally don’t like being me, and those feelings will remain no matter what my skin is doing. Plus, if I give myself something to work on, maybe that distraction will keep me away from the mirror because in recent months, the time spent obsessing over my acne and ultimately making it worse at every opportunity has been mental.
I’ll have to write myself an actual plan, set some targets and make sure it’s all feasible. Small steps, little and often. It could all add up to big changes. If I aim too high too fast, I won’t get there and I’d feel like I’d failed and so just wouldn’t bother. That’s how everything has turned out in the past. But if I be smart about it, maybe I can start to do things which change my appearance and body so that I start to gain some confidence in myself. The other stuff I’ve been focusing on where depression is concerned is obviously pretty negative in nature and, although it’s necessary to think about it and process it, sometimes the actions I take in that regard can just as easily make things worse. I don’t think any action I have taken in that area has actually improved things because it’s only caused me to dwell on things. That's my default approach I guess. So maybe if I leave it alone and be pro-active about other things, some of that negative stuff will start to work itself out and things might start to fall into place. Fingers crossed!
I can't be bothered to write, nothing especially positive to say anyway. So it's time for some pictures!
Not pictures of me though, I'll spare you that. Three consecutive blogs with pictures of my ugly mug is quite enough!
And this isn't acne related either because I can't be bothered with that either. Same shit, different day. I'd only end up repeating myself, repeating myself, repeating myself, repeating myself...
Here's what's happening in jolly old England. Well, here's what's happening in front of my bedroom window anyway. Nowhere near enough snow for a snowman, but I'm sure that will arrive at some point. Yay!
Here's Arnie the cat. He's mine and my sisters, although I only claim him when he's well-behaved. If he's been naughty and hiding in the Christmas tree, that's my sisters problem! Either way, he's super cute! D'awwww!
I lied before, there is one picture of me. This was taken last night at a Kasabian concert. The film crew shot it from the stage. I was down at the front with about ten thousand people jumping around behind me. Awesome. I'm well known for going just a little bit mental and pulling crazy faces when I watch my favourite bands, the best of which was when I saw the band, Airbourne - think I dislocated my jaw that night! In this one, I'm right in the middle of the shot, playing the role of someone who could probably open his mouth wide enough to eat the head of the person stood in front of them! My sister's in this shot as well actually, although the hand in the bottom left is covering her face.
Aside from one more concert this year - Def Leppard and Motley Crue on Tuesday - Billy-no-mates over here has nothing at all planned for the rest of the year. Or for the foreseeable future, for that matter. One of those sobering moments when I think, 'How the fudge did this happen?!' Oh well, maybe I'll find a bit of festive magic over the next few weeks and something/someone/boat-load of new people will come my way. Be bored out of my mind otherwise!
All set for Christmas, I've bought all the gifts I need. Also sent something cool to a pen pal in Canada, and even something to someone on the Org. There's a Secret Santa going on in the Lounge section of the message board. Can't tell you what I bought though or who it's for in case the recipient reads this! That particular package was pretty cheap to send to America. I did however go a little over the top on the gifts I sent to my friend in Canada and it cost me almost £30 to send, doubling the price of the gift! I reckon I'm going to start my own postal service, make a fortune! There were two large gifts in it though as it's her birthday close too Christmas. Ah well, only comes around once a year and I don't often get to buy gifts for people so that's nice.
Speaking of the Org, there's a great thread in the Lounge where everyone's been recording their voices. Fun to hear from everyone and listen to all the different accents. So far, I've been voted as having the best voice on the message board. Seems the girls in Australia and America quite like an English accent. Perhaps I'll have to move - I don't suppose my accent makes the same kind of impression in my home town, the girls have heard it all before... So, AyeAye, you're welcome to go and satisfy that curiosity.
Oh, and I've I've put my Christmas decorations up. Well, decoration. I have a small stocking with a picture of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turlt on it, had it since I was a boy, twenty years now. It's not Christmas until I've put that up!
This last week has been the slowest I've had in ages. Lots of tears as well, as silly as that sounds. Really hate how I manage to put my life on hold for my skin. That's nothing new of course, done it for years, but it just feels a lot worse now that I can blatantly see the damage it's done, what I've lost and what it's cost me. My skin's getting a little better compared to almost a week ago, but it's still nowhere near what it was before I destroyed it and it's nowhere near how I'd like it to look. I don't suppose it's going to be how I'd like it any time soon and, if my doctor is to be believed, I'm going to have to contend with skin problems throughout my adult life because it was never dealt with in my teens. Oh joy.
I took an intolerance test a couple of weeks ago and got the results today. Top of the list are yeast, chillies/spicy foods, processed foods/processed cheese and boiled milk. Carrots and bananas are also on there.
Now, I often have a hot milky drink at night and I can't help but think I've essentially kept my acne in business all these years. Same goes for the food; I will often have spicy foods at the weekend, and some processed, and there's bound to be pizza loaded with cheese and stuff. If my skin happens to be calm by around Friday evening, it's a safe bet that it will be a mess by Monday morning and that my eczema will also have flared up. I've said for years that there was a pattern to the breakouts, like clockwork each week. Now I know why.
The random and funny things on the list - not food related - include feathers, honey bees, rats, mice, hamsters, various types of tree bark and latex. So from now on, I guess I need to avoid insects, trees and furry animals. Standard.
I also had a nutrition test done and the various vitamins and minerals I am apparently deficient in include things I was actually supplementing at one point earlier this year, including: Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin D and Carotene. Thinking back, when I was doing really well with my skin in March and April, I was taking these as supplements. Then I got out of the habit and things eventually went downhill. I never really made any connection because any changes would have been masked by the antibiotics I was taking at the time. So, whether it be that I'm not getting enough foods with those things in, or that my body just doesn't make full use of them, it seems I need a boost. Stupid things is, I still have plenty of those supplements and vitamins right here with me. Perhaps my answer has been sitting in these bottles for the last eight months!
I can't help but feel a little aggrieved by the test results. After all, I do enjoy a good pizza but I think it'll be best to give that up. And I guess beer is another one, due to the yeast. Plus, I might never get to see how fast I can eat one hundred carrots. I've never thought about that until today, but I'm sure it would have been comforting to realise that I could do so if I wanted. But now, I may never get to find out if I'm a world champion at carrot speed-eating.
In all seriousness, I think it'll be tricky to implement some of this stuff as I can't afford to buy my own foods or alternatives to the things I need to avoid. My Mum does the shopping and cooking so I eat what I'm given. We've already clashed over this today as she told me I'm just being awkward. That's pretty annoying, a bit of support wouldn't go amiss. Can't seem to get any independence or a chance to take control of my situation around here. Frustrating that she can't see the connection between these things, my eating habits and my skin. The implication at home seems to be that they're so used to seeing my skin as it is that they just expect me to be that way. It's not exactly helping me to like myself, I must say.
That being said, if I can get to grips with and use the wealth of information I've received today, get back on track with the supplements and all, and most importantly try my best to pick as little as possible, that might at least allow me to have skin I can be reasonably content with. Can't say that I'm sure how to feel about the fact that my skin is the be-all and end-all and that I don't feel capable of making the most of life and enjoying it until I'm happy with my skin. I imagine people think it's very self-involved. As it is, I grin and bear everything, trying to get through as best I can and trying to avoid countless people I perceive as being superior in some probably totally illogical and paranoid way, intimidating, or likely to make fun of me. Quite how one gets around and indeed over a fear of people, I'm not too sure. My default setting is to feel inferior and like a target. I reckon people can sense that and so I essentially become what I'm suggesting I am and, if they just happen to be unfriendly people, they'll pounce all over that just for kicks.
These last few days, I've been thinking about support groups. I got to thinking that there are support groups for burn victims and one of the main reasons for this is that the person who suffers the burn and the physical trauma, also has to cope with and process the change in their appearance. It's logical to think that a change - especially sudden - would cause trauma as one would no longer recognise a particular part of themselves and identify with it. From that point on, who they are and their life could change in a negative way. While I would never compare myself to a burn victim in terms of the physical experience, and the degree of trauma, I honestly believe that for an acne sufferer, the psychological impact and the potential for resulting post-trauma is just as likely. I can certainly see elements of those things in myself based on the reading I've done: I struggle to identify with who I am on a physical level, I struggle to cope with what that does on an emotional level, it's near impossible for me to get a handle on what people see and think, I auotmatically belive they think less of me, and I struggle to find my own identity as I feel I have now been defined by this condition.
The searches I've done aren't leading me to find any support groups for acne sufferers. I can find groups relating to things like eczema and forums online where people are talking about the same kind of trauma because of that, so why no groups for acne sufferers?
It's all come to mind because of my group therapy - the way talking things over with people who relate can take away some of the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Plus, when it's something personal, to connect with people is such a huge boost. I can't even begin to say how much being part of acne.org has helped me and I would assume that the support and understanding shown would be so much greater if it were in person.
If I don't findsomething which fits that particular area, I'm going to look at groups relating to self harm and social skills, Just like with the trauma analogy, I can drawn several parallels between self harm and my approach to picking. The social side of things is pretty much just to stop me from becoming a total no-hope hermit. The strange thing is, I can sometimes cope with being around people older than me if my skin's alright or at least if I feel I have control of what's going on, but I fall to pieces if ever I'm around people my age or younger. If I'm with people who are maybe mid-thirties upwards and who are theoretically old enough and respectful enough not to say anything nasty or make fun, then I'm alright. Otherwise, if it's people younger than that or even younger than me, I'll want to get away from that situation for fear of being made fun of. It's definitely due to my learned behaviours from way back with the school bullies. Perfect example: I went to a concert yesterday and felt reasonably alright, enough to chat to a couple of people. One of them who I happen to have seen at concerts before had brought his son with him. The guy is in his early forties and his son is about twelve years of age. The whole time, I was trying to second-guess what his son was thinking and I felt insecure and paranoid that he would say something about my skin or make fun of me in some way. How messed up - feeling inferior and intimidated in a social setting at the age of twenty-sex by a twelve year old boy. Stupid.
Anyway, that's enough dribble from me, I'm off to find an alternative to a hot milky drink!
I'd really like to go back in time, please. I'm not asking much, just a week. This time last week, my skin was great and people even complimented me. Fast-forward to today and my skin is gross. I've picked it to pieces and made such a mess. All the work I'd done has been undone and all the hopes I had of things getting better have been destroyed, all by my own hand, literally.
I went to see Bryan Adams tonight. The show was fine but I didn't want to be there and hated every minute. My skin is so dry and very sore that every movement I make hurts. It hurts to smile. I swear, I could cry.
It's been raining this evening and the steps leading down to the arena car park were wet when I left the show. I slipped and fell down a flight of concrete stairs. Ripped my jeans and my jacket, cut my right arm, right leg and pulled my back. When I finally made it home, I decided I'd treat myself to some fish and chips as I hadn't eaten since lunch. Walked into the shop and what little money I'd had with me wasn't in my pocket anymore. It must have fallen out when I fell down the stairs. So I couldn't even afford to buy myself some chips.
One of those days when it would have been better to stay in bed. Hell, it's been one of those years!
I almost bailed on group therapy yesterday but I went along, kept to myself and just listened in. Glad I went because there's always something worth thinking about. Plus I started to think that the most beneficial thing is having people there who can relate. Got me thinking that when the group ends in a few weeks, I'd like to find out if there's something I can do which is more specific to my skin problems. Although the group listen to me and simpathise, I kind of hit a dead end when I explain because no one can directly relate to the feelings I have had as my skin's become worse and worse over the years. There must be something I can do which relates more to my skin problems and to my approach. Whether it be about dysmorphia or self harm - because that's essentially what I'm doing - there must be another avneue I can explore. There has to be because I don't know what to do otherwise. I've had enough of this and I can't see a way out.
I hate how this is all getting on top of me because nobody around me understands how I feel and there's pressure for me to go out and get a job which I just can't handle. Sometimes, I can't even bring myself to go out in public these days so work is out of the question. To be honest, it terrifies me and nobody around me who I hoped might support me even wants to listen.
I took a picture of what my face is like at the moment. My chin is dry and really sore, I made all the pimples there worse. My nose too, that's really red. There's a group of pimples on my right cheek which are kind of shadowed in the picture, they hurt quite a lot as well. Everything's just so sore and it's all my own fault. And to think I jokingly said that the picture I took last week was ugly. Now I really do feel that way. I do think that the pimples look worse close up but then I'm struggling to get a handle on it anyway. It literally makes my head hurt, constantly watching out to see if people are looking; always trying to second-guess what people might say or do; always trying to approach situations in a way which might allow me to cover part of my face or mask the problems. I think I'd happily wear a mask, if it was normal to do so. That would solve everything. I wish I could get away with wearing makeup and could feel alright with doing that, wish I could hide behind something all the time and conceal the problem. It wouldn't get rid of it, but it's not like anything I've tried is doing the trick anyway so it makes no difference.
That's me for this week, think I'm just going to lie low for a while.
Hey there, blog buddies!
Had a good week since I last rambled. Nothing amazing, but nothing bad has happened either so I can't complain. I saw Rihanna on Saturday and got some pretty cool pictures that night. I even got a hug from Rihanna! I saw Imelda May last night and got some good pictures of her, too. My portfolio is growing and I've got some real big names in there now. Quite what I do with said portfolio, I'm not sure, but I guess I've the rest of my life to figure that bit out...
In other news, did you know that pizza is now a vegetable? True story. I've always made sure I get plenty of vitamin P in my diet so I'm glad that my efforts are now being recognised.
Thanks to the wonder that is the Domino's Pizza app., I was able to order a pizza from my phone during the Imelda May gig last night. God bless Steve Jobs! Anyway, I collected my pizza as I walked home and proceeded to partake in its Pepperoni goodness. Having finished my pizza, I got home and sat and watched TV for a while. Then I went to have a wash before calling it a night. Sticking with my new, "must not pick and must not look in the mirror so much" approach, I didn't look in the mirror when I got home. We have a huge mirror in the dining room and I've been known to spend crazy amounts of time in front of it in the past, but this time, I didn't bother. So I tuned the bathroom light on and looked in the mirror... "Oh my f-ing Jeebus! What in the acned hell has happened to my face while I've been out?! This looks horrible!" It took me a moment or two to get over the shock, but then I finally realised what had happened. My enthusiasm with the pizza had resulting in me getting at least one slice-worth of tomato paste around all my mouth. Now, I have actually been called 'Pizza Face' in my time, but this time, I literally was! I'm sure that this, amongst other things, is one of the reasons I'm single; twenty-six years old and I'm still not quite sure where my mouth is. Safe to say that it's going to take a very patient woman to put up with me!
An hour or so prior to the pizza problem, I actually got sing on my favourite Imelda May track with the wonderful lady herself, in front of about a thousand people. She got me to do a bit of call-and-response on the last part of the song which we kept going for a minute or so. Great fun. Moments like that are the reason I always get myself in the front row at gigs, got to be where the action is!
Today, I saw a man with neon green dreadlocks. Quite enjoyed that.
I also did some Christmas shopping today. In fact, I'm almost done! Gone a bit overboard on gifts for a pen pal in Canada, I'm going to need a very big box to send them in. Not looking forward to the shipping costs on that one! Oh well, it's only once a year I suppose. Just hope she likes what I've bought! My family keep asking me what I want for Christmas and they keep shouting at me because I keep telling them there's nothing I want. Truth be told, I don't really feel like I deserve much. I mean, I've not had the best of years in terms keeping things problem-free for those around me and I've messed up a lot. I guess I'd just rather go unnoticed this time around.
The final thing I did today was to buy a foot-long tube of Jaffa Cakes. Then I decided to buy another one. So I now have two feet of Jaffa Cakes taking up space in the kitchen. About 120 Jaffa Cakes in total. Nom nom nom!
Right-o, skin update! Be warned, there's a picture of my ugly mush coming up real soon!
So, it's now nine days since I decided to make some changes and leave my face alone as best as I could. There's no way I'm going to manage not picking my skin at all, nor am I going to be able to totally quit popping pimples. Just not feasible to go from a thirteen year habit to nothing at all. But what I can do is give my best to limiting the opportunities I have and the damage I do. In the last nine days, I've popped only three tiny pimples. There was a time when I could have done that within seconds of getting out of bed in a morning, and then some. Yeah, totally gross. Right now, I have... wait for it... one spot. His name is Barry and he's sat in the middle of my nose. His favourite thing is basically to sit in the middle of my nose. He's been there for almost a week, un-popped, of course. His least favourite thing is when I cover him in Isotretinoin gel. He really hates that. I'm usually pretty happy to get along with everybody, but Barry and I aren't really getting on to be honest. I think he'll leave before too long but it's probably for the best. Besides Barry, I'm very happy. So happy, I find the time to rhyme. The results of not picking are so obvious to me, although compared to pictures I've posted in my gallery before, it probably looks like old news because I've always been too chicken to post pictures when I've been broken out. Some people think I've made it up. I've even received messages telling me that I've never even had acne and that I shouldn't be here. Yeah, I wish! But, perhaps this spotty friend ain't gonna be so spotty from now on! I'm mainly pleased with the discipline and the focus because I thought I'd slip up at the first chance. I'm now at the point where there's hardly anything to pick anyway. Sooooo hope that this carries on.
I haven't got the results of my food intolerance test back yet, probably have them at the end of the week. I was worried I'd have to give up things like pizza but that's not an issue because it's a vegetable now. In fact, I'm just going to put tomato paste on everything from now on. Before I post this, I'm going to throw some tomato paste on the screen, then I'll be the first person ever to compose a blog on a vegetable. Go me!
That'll do for now I reckon. End of entry hi-five!
I reckon this entry will be entirely acne related but don’t let that put you off – it’s going to be really positive, I promise!
A couple of weeks ago, I was in a really bad place mentally and I couldn’t put my finger on why that was. Suddenly, I was just feeling very down and low on energy. My face started breaking out and I let my mood influence how I approached my skin. The result of of that was pretty much a week-long pick-fest and I made such a mess of my face. I got angry at the results and actually carried it on to the end of last week as a result. So much so that I had intending on missing a concert on Saturday I’ve never missed a concert before, no matter what my skin was like, which perhaps goes to illustrate how low I was feeling. I’d paid for the ticket and would have been throwing away my money, but that seemed like a better option than going out in public. I virtually had to push myself out of the house but I did end up going to the show. I guess it was meant to happen because, even though I was late for the doors opening, I arrived just as a second entrance to the venue was opened up, allowing me to walk straight inside and take a place in the front row. I had a good night, let off some steam and escaped in the music for about one and a half hours. I never should have doubted that because music and live bands have always been the things I can rely on as an escape. So I will take note of that and never ever even consider missing a concert in future. Never underestimate the power of music, people!
I attended my second group therapy session for depression last week and we were given the task of thinking about the things we do in life which hold us back; any actions, thoughts, feelings or behaviours which prevent us from doing things we might like, ultimately contributing to depression. In most cases, the things which hold us back actually start out as a coping mechanism, but the over-use of that can eventually have a negative impact and be bad for you. For me, almost everything I ever do or think is directly influenced by my skin. The coping mechanisms were put in place thirteen years ago in order to get away from school bullies. They stayed in place and, although they’ve been adapted slightly over the years, I still avoid things and essentially have a fear of people and how they may view me and my skin. So I got to grips with the first part of the task and instantly knew what I needed to focus on. The second part of the task was to find alternative coping mechanisms which don’t hold us back. In order to get the most out of the exercise, I tweaked things a little and decided that there is no alternative for me, in terms of another way of coping, because I was not coping at all. As you may have guessed, picking my skin and popping pimples is a major problem for me. I’ve done it for thirteen years straight. It’s self-harming and essentially an addiction; something I feel I simply have to do. So to break the cycle and to clear up my skin, there are no alternatives. I just have to stop picking. I’m currently at the end of day three without picking and it’s going well. Hopefully, my skin will thank me eventually.
The third group session was today and I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to share my story and tell the group about my struggles with my skin over the years. That was something I had never done before. I’ve never talked to anyone at length about my skin and I’ve certainly never had an audience. So after a little recap of last weeks session, Annie, one of the therapists, asked if anyone wanted to talk about the barrier they had decided to try and break down and the alternative coping mechanisms they had started to put in place. I was in there straight away, “I’d like to share my story please.” So off I went, explaining that I’d started getting acne at thirteen and was bullied for the next five years because of it; how that was made harder because I was always the youngest person in the school year so I always felt behind and inferior in relation to everyone anyway; how, upon leaving school, I hid away and pretty much stayed at home for three years straight, suffering with what I now believe was a severe case of depression; how I lost all my friends, social skills, confidence and self esteem in the process; how my paranoia about my skin had me believing I was ungly and that everyone thought so, too; how all my anxieties about my skin and dislike of myself ultimately caused me to screw up and get fired from my job; how I was basically at rock bottom and now I'm trying to find my way back up.
Fair play, maybe that last part is depressing, but there's a point to this bit so we can let it slide...
Following what I suppose may have been a moving five minute account of my life story, I actually caused our other therapist, Sarah, to burst into tears! I stayed behind to talk to Sarah after the session and she thanked me for sharing what I did. That was nice. She said that even though we’d only met three times, she thought I seemed like a good person and that I’d already offered a lot of support within the group compared to most people who have taken part before. She’d apparently noticed that I walked into the session today looking noticeably happier and more open to initiating conversation, and that her observation made perfect sense to her when I had explained how my skin’s improvement also improves me mood. Perhaps that’s when the real me starts to come out. Hopefully that will happen more and more if I can keep working on my skin. Sarah described the thought that I’d suffered with acne for so long and indeed that I’d suffered with the emotional side of things in total silence all this time without talking as “heart breaking”, and that it was “unthinkable” that people who mattered would ever dislike me because my “qualities as a person blatantly outweigh a skin condition”. I was pretty happy with what I heard and certainly very pleased that I accomplished what I set out to. Plus, the responses were good and there was a lot of understanding everyone nobody could actually relate to these specific issues. That restores a bit of my faith in the outside world and it's no doubt going to be my first step towards seeing myself and others in a new light. I faced a fear and it really paid off. There’s a lesson there, I’m sure. I’ve a fair way to go yet and more fears to face, but perhaps they will pay off as well.
The way I've held myself back has certainly been the focus of my attention this year, to the point where it consumed me and I couldn't actualy find the strength to fix things instead of freaking out about them. Hitting that half way point - 13 years out of my 26, bothered by acne and denying myself pretty much everything as a result - really pulled me down. I never imagined all this would last so long. It was out into perspective even further a couple of weeks ago by one of our fellow bloggers who had talked with a friend about these things and they had both agreed without doubt that they would never allow their skin problems to hold them back and they couldn't see how anyone could do that. By contrast, I was reading that and thinking, 'I don't understand how you can not let it hold you back! I have no idea how it would even be possible not to be consumed by it!' It's taken people who post on these boards to show me that I went so very wrong for such a long time. It's also taken me most of this year to process all that stuff going back thirteen years. I'm pretty much there so now it's time to act, learn who I am, learn how to be happy being me, learn to live and love life. If we don't do that, it passes us by. To get to the end and have more regrets than memories would be a terrible thing.
As far as my skin and my regimen are concerned, it’s time for a new approach. I’m going to try and avoid looking at my skin at every opportunity. It’s a big problem and because I’m not working at the moment, I could easily clock up a few hours each day in front of the mirror, causing crazy amounts of damage to my face in the process. So that’s out. No strategies, I’m just going to walk away. Nice and simple. I shaved yesterday and afterwards, I walked away. That is the first time ever that I haven’t stayed in front of the mirror after shaving, under harsh bathroom lighting, and picked my face to shreds. Go me! I will pick my skin or pop the odd pimple at some point, no doubt. Perhaps it will happen in the next few days. If so, it doesn’t have to be a big deal. If I pop a pimple, I’ll do it right, clean it properly and treat it. Then, most importantly as a skin picker, I will walk away. Over time, I hope that the less I pick, the less my skin breaks out, then the less it breaks out, the less there will be to pick so it will continue to get easier and easier. Swapping those negative cycles for positive ones.
My core regimen is the same, I’m not changing any of that stuff because I know it works if I actually let it: Doxycycline, Isotretinoin gel as topical, and I use a wash in the morning and Manuka honey to cleanse at night. I recently started taking a Beta Carotene supplement and also added vitamin B5, vitamin D and fish oil into the mix. The extra dose of vitamin A from the Beta Carotene really dried my skin out and I was actually experiencing what I believe to be low-dose Accutane-like side effects. But that’s calmed down and I’m taking the recommended dosage so I’ve no great concerns. I’ll just keep and eye on it and see how I go.
I’ve also arranged to take an intolerance test next week because I’m certain that there are things in my diet which my body doesn’t process properly and causes my skin to flip out. I’m actually quite excited to take that and I'm looking forward to seeing what the results will be. As long as I can still treat myself to a pizza and a curry on the weekends, I’ll be happy.
So, that’s me for this week. I’ll see you in my next POSITIVE blog entry!
Been a very slow week, feeling ill and sorry for myself, struck down with dreaded man-flu. Nobody brought me any chicken soup either...
It was kind of convenient as I'd made a mess of my face and didn't really feel like seeing anyone or going out anyway. I know that's not exactly looking at the bigger picture in terms of what that represents, nor does it actually take care of the problem, but it seems perfectly logical when you're right there in the moment. I wish I could stop harming my face and causing myself this physical pain. I know it's a reflection of how I feel about myself and that's not a good way to be thinking at all. Even now that it's healing I still don't feel any better about it because I can still see what it represents and that's with me all the time.
Not much to report about my skin really. I made it look gross, it responded by breaking out a bit more, repeat cycle. That's pretty much all that's happened. I'm supposed to be going to see a band tonight but don't really feel like it. Fed up of going places by myself and feeling so out of place. Those kind of feelings were raised as a topic in a therpay session this week. That's the only time I've been out and I almost wish I hadn't gone. The group spent the entire session talking about how they sometimes avoid going out with their friends. I sat there with nothing no contribute, on the basis that I don't actually have any friends to avoid. After an hour or so, our therapist asked me if I had any thoughts on the matter and I said that I did not. When she asked why, the only thing I could reply with was indeed, "I don't have any friends to avoid". Safe to say, that was a pretty low point.
Spent a bit of time chatting online to a girl I've been getting to know since the summer. Probably shouldn't have relied on that particular form of communication because it's just another thing which allows me to hide away yet still feel vaguely part of something. Again, it seems perfectly acceptable in the moment. Anyway, I was starting to really like her and was wondering if I should do something about it, but then she sent me a message saying she needed to talk to me about this guys she's been seeing. She's trying to work out if he's into her as much as she's into him. Apparently I'm the best person to help on account of being "such a good listener". Hello, friend zone!
On a positive note, I replaced my broken PS3 with a new one. I haven't even played it yet, I just like looking at it because it's all shiny and new. Yes, I am in fact, a Magpie.
Bored. Bored. Bored. Bored. I have nothing to do. At all.
Feel about as low as I've ever felt today and I assume that's why as there doesn't seem to be an actual cause.
Could really do with finding some inspiration from somewhere because as it stands, I don't even have a reason to get out of bed in a morning. What's worse is, I haven't even got the enthusiasm to make the changes even though I know this is bad for me and life is quite literally passing me by. I really was kidding myself when I thought I could start getting things on track because I've actually no idea what I want to do or where I want to end up, or indeed what the point is. Back to the drawing board I think. In short... meh!
I saw Britney Spears in concert on Saturday. That was kind of fun. Turns out that's she's actually a pretty good dancer, I was impressed. Not that I'm really qualified to say what constitutes a good dancer, given that I'm about as coordinated as a drunken monkey. She didn't fall over or kick anyone by accident so in my book that's reason to be impressed. Can't really comment on the singing as she didn't do a great deal. I've just thought of another 'B' word: backing-track! Got myself a photographers pass and managed to get a few decent pictures so I was happy enough.
On Sunday, my sister and I were tasked with cooking a roast beef lunch for seven members of our family. Turns out that I'm really good at making gravy. We managed it and nobody has died from food poisoning so I guess we can call it a success. Whole load of effort though, seems far easier to reach for the pizza menus! Less washing up that way too. I did all the washing up, in case you were wondering. I can actually be quite domesticated when given half a chance.
Although there were no human deaths yesterday, I am currently bereaved. My PS3 died suddenly, right in the middle of me playing a game. Tragic. I did however enjoy taking it to pieces today in order to recover the disc which was stuck inside, the added bonus being that I didn't have to worry about putting it back together. That's impossible. You think you've fixed it and you put the lid back on, only to find that you've a screw left over and you're thinking, 'Oh crap, where the hell is that supposed to go?!'
So, new PS3 ordered, thus drastically decreasing the likelihood of anyone receiving any Christmas presents from me this year.
In other news, I've decided that shaving is pointless. I mean, I shave and have to put up with irritation and a breakout or whatever as a result, just to have to shave again a few days later. It's pointless. A total waste of time. Same goes for eating: I eat, I get hungry, I have to eat again. It's never-ending. Same goes for sleeping: I sleep, wake up, get tired, end up having to sleep again. I'm pretty sure it's some kind of conspiracy. I've no idea what or why, or even if there's any weight to my argument, but I'll try and get to the bottom of it and let you know.
I've just been in touch with faithgirl via Facebook, she asked me to explain why she hasn't been around. I'm sure her regular readers will remember that she was going away on vacation. Well, while she was away, unfortunately her house was burgled. (This entry really is about things beginning with B, isn't it!) One of the things which was stolen was her laptop so we might not see her around for a little while until that's replaced and she's just going to have to try and cope with the withdrawal symptoms.
In amongst all this, her two Huskies managed to escape and run away but they were spotted and taken to a local vets by a very kind soul and have since been reunited with their owner. I guess every cloud does have a silver lining.
Anyway, faithgirl wanted me to check in and say hello on her behalf, sure she'll be back online soon.
Not much happening, sat up on the middle-of-the-week hump known as Wednesday, although I did jump down off the aforementioned hump this afternoon to go to my first group therapy session. Today, I learned that you have to try and take a light-hearted approach to these things because spending two hours in a room with a group of depressed people can be a bit, well, depressing!
Mainly, I was just happy to have somewhere to go, a few new people to talk to. I miss that and feel pretty out of touch. I don't suppose I was ever really in touch, socially, but I miss having what little contact I did have with people when I was working.
It was nice to get to know a few people as well. We split off into pairs to make it a bit easier at first. I got talking to a girl called Michelle, kind of felt sorry for her in a way as she's the only girl in the group. I think we all went into the session feeling like we were the only ones dealing with depression and it wouldn't have been fair if she had felt kind of on her own in the group too, as all the guys instantly started to pair up.
I found myself feeling rather saddened by the stories I heard; each person in the group touching on their issues and the things they're held back from in life as a result. It upsets me to see people who aren't reaching their full potential when they clearly want to. The ironic thing is, I'm in the very same position! I don't know, I just feel this need to want to listen and help people, Kind of strange to be on the other side of that and let people help me.
I reckon I know the cycle I'm in, I know what my triggers are and I know what needs to be done to stop it. It's the fear of putting it all into action which stops me because I've no belief in myself. I kind of feel like my very own therapist once I start thinking about it, feel pretty connected to what's going on in my mind I suppose.
I reckon what I really need is a life coach; someone to bring out the best in me. I need Mickey from the Rocky movies. Rocky didn't have a clue what he was doing before Mickey took charge, he turned Rocky into a world champion. Not that I want to be a boxer, but if that just sort of happened and I become world champion, don't suppose I'd mind that.
What I also need to do is not give a shit about my skin. That's it, bottom line. Just not care about it because I can't imagine that anyone else really does. And anyone who does have an issue with it wouldn't be worth knowing anyway. That was proven to me in school by all the morons who decided to bully me about it. I should have realised at the time that they only mattered because I let them. They shouldn't matter anymore and I certainly should be letting the past hold me back like that.
It's easy for me to say this right now of course, my skin's looking good. Wait and see if it kicks off again, then see if I change my tune...
Not much else to report really. Oh, I've been tasked with cooking lunch for the family on Sunday. My sister's decided to invite everyone over, only I'll be staying there at the weekend so I've got to help cook. I reckon we should just order pizza.
The night before, commonly known as Saturday, I'll be taking pictures of Britney Spears. Her tour rolls into Sheffield and I decided get myself a pass and put my camera through its paces. Meh, something to do I guess...
For a while now, I have known that the condition of my skin is not the biggest problem I have to fix. The condition of my skin fluctuates pretty much week by week. Even now, with a good regimen and antibiotics, it still feels terribly unpredictable and I can’t always tell what it’s going to be like from one day to the next. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t care. The problem is, I care too much. It’s constantly on my mind; the first thought in a morning and the last thought at night; the reason I avoid things; the reason I hide away; the deciding factor in what I do or don’t do, every single day. I guess I have to accept that I’m doing what I can to control is as much as possible and that I just have to leave it alone. Instead, I need to put my time and energy into learning to live life and into learning to like myself.
The condition of my skin may fluctuate but, regardless, there is one thing which is constant: I don’t like being me.
I have a rough idea where the bulk of that feeling comes from and why I still feel this way after several years, but it’s only in recent months that I have come to realise that these feelings would be there even if I had the most perfect skin. My acne and my response to it may have been the initial cause, but my on-going response and the shockingly terrible excuses for coping mechanisms I have put in place during this battle mean that I have wasted every opportunity and every single one of the last thirteen years. That’s half my life, gone. What’s left at this point is just a shell.
I always thought that these feelings would go away when my acne did and that my life would become fulfilled. I’m not quite sure how I thought that would happen. I mean, nobody was going to randomly pop up on the day I got clear and offer me a job I actually liked; a group of fun and popular people weren’t going to suddenly appear and want to be my friends; I wasn’t going to instantly acquire limitless amounts of confidence and self esteem or appear attractive to people. I’ve spent all that time hiding away, waiting for a day that is simply never going to come. I can’t get that time back. I think I actually grieved for that and thought of it as an actual lost. It really hit me at the beginning of this year and, I swear, I’ve never felt pain and loneliness like that in all my life. I reached something of a crossroads and had to make a decision as to whether or not I wanted to live my life or give up on it completely. When it came to it, I couldn’t give up. I think it takes an extremely brave person to make that choice. Perhaps it means I’m not brave, I don’t know, but for whatever reason, I’m still here. Hopefully one day, I will find my purpose and know that I’ve made the right choice.
Because I refused to face up to my issues and I refused to admit where I’d gone wrong and that I needed help, I had to hit rock bottom before I received the necessary wake-up call. I hadn’t had any friends or a social circle for years, but I could just about manage to cope with that if I had a job and a sense of purpose. But, when I got fired from my job three months ago, that was the last piece of something which I had for myself, gone. Hello, rock bottom.
So, I asked for help and started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy a couple of months ago. For every moment when I felt like I was making progress with therapy, I still felt lost and so alone and I really struggled to see the point. I essentially thought to myself, ‘If I’m too scared to go out there and the world barely even knows I exist, what difference does it make if my behaviours and thoughts are negative or positive?
I figured I needed to take the therapy a step further to get beyond that so, next week, I am starting group sessions. I was excited about it but now, having received confirmation in the mail this morning, the thought of these weekly, two hour long sessions terrifies me. I just don't know if I can be brave enough to say these things to a group of people. I know that I have to do this because I’m being given a chance to fix these problems on a practical level and if I don’t take this one opportunity, I don’t know where else I’d be able to turn.
The thoughts about how I’ve responded to my acne and how I let it run my life and prevent me from doing, well, everything, have really been at the front of my mind these last couple of weeks. It’s always brought into sharp focus whenever I read logs here or when I read posts on the message boards from people, perhaps with worse acne than mine, who manage to accept it for what it is, treat it, and live their life regardless. These people have active social lives, perhaps a partner and maybe children, confidence, self esteem and life experiences. I don’t have those things. In fact, I have no experience at all where some of those things are concerned and can't imagine that I ever will.
Reading of how other people cope with acne made me see how I’ve got it so very wrong. Resery mentioned in her blog that she could not relate to the approach of letting acne hold you back from anything and that she had spoken to someone who also said that they had never nor would ever respond to it that way. It really breaks it down for me and shows me that most of this battle has been in my head. I haven’t been trapped by my skin, I’ve been trapped in my mind.
The irony is, I've always felt better by being part of the Org. Even if I couldn't help myself, there's a sense of purpose in at least trying to help others. But, it just hit me that all I've really done is tell people to do the opposite of what I do. It feels pretty hypocritical to be honest.
I hope the group therapy can help me. I hope they understand. I’m so anxious about it because whenever I’ve tried to talk to family about my problems, I’m turned away. There’s no help or understanding here. It’s embarrassing to them, it seems. My parents are certainly refusing to acknowledge my depression and the fact I’ve been seeing a therapist. My Mum constantly plays it down, as though it will all go away if she ignores it. By ignoring it, I feel she is essentially ignoring me. She refuses to talk to me about it when all I really need is someone to tell me it will be alright. If ever I try to point out the error of her judgement, I get put in my place and stupidly end up feeling guilty and like I'm wrong for wanting to speak up for myself.
I know for sure that a lot of my depression is based on my circumstances. My work life and social life and non-existent and I’m not happy at home. Clearly, these things need to change and I need to find the confidence to change them. I think I’d like to leave Sheffield and I doubt I’ll come back. This is the place where I learned all my behaviours and picked up all my anxieties. To move forward, I think I need to leave them and this city behind.
I reckon that’s about all I have to say. Rather than dropping this stuff randomly into the occasional blog, I figured I’d let it all out in one go. Purely for my own benefit I guess, help me figure some stuff out and let it go for good, hopefully.
If you read this and made it all the way to the end, you are awesome. Thank you.
The God of acne smiled on me this morning and I liked what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
The God of weather didn't smile on Sheffield this afternoon. It rained heavily so I didn't attempt to meet Alice Cooper before his show.
The God of rock - Alice Cooper himself - put on a great performance this evening which I really enjoyed: http://s1105.photobu...mview=slideshow
The God of merchandise appreciated that I didn't have much money and so didn't tempt me to buy an Alice Cooper tour shirt.
The God of good timing made sure I was just quick enough to catch the last bus home, saving me from having to pay for a taxi.
The God of social outings was in a bad mood and decided I should be punished for daring to go out and have fun.
The God of acne then conspired with the God of social outings to hand out my punishment for this rare occurrence, striking me down for my sins with an impressive collection of five - yes FIVE - shockingly large, gross and equally sore pimples.
...and because it’s so good to share and I’m kind like that, I’m going to share with you all the rubbish that is filling my head right now. That way, it becomes your problem and I’m free to get on with stuff I’m actually supposed to be doing and also retain important information instead of wandering around in a daze having forgotten what day it is or where I live.
The thing which has been on my mind the most is, sadly and perhaps predictably, my skin. Because its overall state seems to fluctuate and because I’m silly and allow it constantly dictate how I feel, my moods also go up and down more times than Tigger on a pogo stick. All gets rather tiring to be honest. I’m starting to turn a corner following my last bout of face monsters and the resulting self-inflicted wounds. Not the last ones I blogged about, this is another lot. Yeah, I did it again. I’ll learn one day...
Anyway, that’s getting better and I might even feel like heading out tomorrow afternoon to see if I can meet Alice Cooper before his show here in Sheffield. Got a front row seat for the show so I'll be there regardless, but I don’t suppose I’d feel like getting my picture taken with one of my favourite performers ever if my skin didn’t look so good. As it stands, I might try and get the picture....
In other acne related news, I’m going to jump back on the supplement train. I had a good amount of success when I was eating better earlier in the year and also taking extra supplements and vitamins. Can’t especially afford to buy them right now, given my current lack of money and employment (that’s another thought for another paragraph to follow shortly) but hopefully the ends will justify the means. I’m also going to give Beta-Carotene supplements a go. For some reason, I’ve been dwelling on the fact that I couldn’t get Accutane and I think that’s why I’ve taken a somewhat negative approach to being prescribed Doxycycline. It may well help in the end but right now I seem to resent it, I guess because it’s not Accutane. But I had a think about this and donned my white overcoat and got all scientific about it. I figured that Accutane is essentially Vitamin A, so if I can get an equivalent dosage of said acne-busting vitamin from the Beta-Carotene supplement, I may well be able to get clear skin that way instead. Bit of positivity, get stuck into that and let the Doxy to do its thing, be kind to my skin in the process and see how I get on.
The science bit started to hurt my brain after a couple of minutes so my mind began to wander. Apparently, excessive amounts of Beta-Carotene can cause the skin to take on a yellow colour. Sometimes, my skin looks a little flush and goes red. Red and yellow make blue. If the supplement and my skin tone mix and I turn blue, I could join the Blue Man Group! Or become a Smurf! I call these, “light bulb moments”; suddenly a whole new world opens up based on this single idea, owing to its sheer awesomeness. Smurfin’ heck! I really do impress myself sometimes.
What else... oh yeah, I’ve eaten a whole jar of peanut butter in two days. It’s out there now, it’s your guilt now, deal with it.
Speaking of Tigger (he got a mention earlier, if you were paying attention) I watched the Winnie the Pooh movie this afternoon. Made me happy. I’ve seen it three times now. Obviously, because I’m so cool like that. Never forget, growing up is optional. There’s a lot of drama in it actually. Eeyore loses his tail and, as you can imagine, that would be a stressful experience for any Donkey, fictional or otherwise. It all works out eventually, but it's touch-and-go for a while.
If it’s not a childhood cartoon I'm watching, it’s something romantic. Honestly, I imagine most people would be appalled by my movie collection. Having said that, you can’t beat an happy-ever-after.
I watched ‘Midnight in Paris’ last week. This is the bit where I declare my secret man-crush on Owen Wilson. I’d have enjoyed the film no matter who was in it. A romantic stroll through Paris with greats from the worlds of art and poetry. What’s not to like? Although, it will never eclipse my favourite Parisian picture, ‘Two Days in Paris’. This is the bit where I declare my crush on Julie Delpy, although I don’t really keep that one secret.
Speaking of the delightful Ms Delpy, everyone should watch ‘Before Sunrise’ and ‘Before Sunset’ because they’re awesome. My aim is to one day find myself in a real-life version of what Ethan Hawke experiences in ‘Before Sunrise’, although my version wouldn’t end the way the first movie does. But then, that would negate the need for the second movie. Or the need to tell the rest of my story, or whatever. I’d be a rubbish self-publicist.
I committed to talking about money and employment earlier so I guess I should tick those off.
Money: I don’t have much, please send me some, thank you. Job: I don’t have one, please give me one, thank you.
I think I needed to take a few months out in order to deal with the self-imposed shame of getting fired. I’m good at making myself feel bad. Seems like a conflict of interests really. My former employer already punished me for my madness, there’s no real need for me to do the same. I’m done with that now. Here, you take it. Plus I’m bored. Time to search the situations vacant and see if I can create a new path for myself. Anyone know the number for the Blue Man Group Recruitment Centre? The sooner I find work, the sooner I have money. The sooner I have money, the sooner I can start saving towards going travelling next year. I’ve always wanted to go to Canada and have a look around, so that’s the aim for next year. It just so happens that there’s someone I know of who has really helped me this year through the toughest period of my life and I’d very much like to spend some time with her and say thank you. She lives in Vancouver which, conveniently, is situated in Canada. As The A-Team’s Hannibal would have said, I love it when a plan comes together. Hopefully, that one will.
Right, that’s all my mental baggage unloaded and successfully distributed amongst all you bloggers. I’m off for a nap!
I'm going to get the acne-related stuff out of the way first, simply because there's not much to say and I'd rather focus on other things instead. New approach! All I've really got to complain about is the red mark on my right cheek. That's the pimple which came back for round two and I went crazy on it. It's not active now, just a red mark. I decided to put a bit of Manuka honey and Tea Tree oil on it to reduce the redness. I always find that works well. Plus I smell like honey now which is rather nice!
After last weeks wobble and a big emo breakdown about it at the weekend, I feel better about my skin now. I just wish I was stronger and didn't have a meltdown each time it decides to kick off. I read a post on one of the boards earlier from someone who said that the biggest step forward they took towards learning how to cope with the emotional effects of their acne was when they realised that they didn't have to care about it; they didn't have to put themselves down about it; they didn't have to care what others thought or said; they didn't have to let those people and their words/thoughts matter.
I've spent thirteen years holding myself back, fearing putting myself out there and not feeling worthy of anyone or of enjoying things. When I take the acne away and there are no excuses and nothing to hide behind, I'm looking at myself and thinking, 'How the hell did I let things get to this point?!' Still, at least I'm now willing to face up to it, address it and at least attempt to turn things around.
I guess there's probably a point in life where you finally feel comfortable and where you grow into who you really are. I've never even tried because I just accepted that I was what others said I was, even though what they said was horrible. Perhaps it's time to see if I can find out who I want to be and learn to be happy and comfortable.
Anyway, that's about it really, not much else going on. Also means there's not much for me to stare at when I catch myself in front of the mirror. Believe me, that frees up a lot of my time! Although, I have noticed that I could do with having a shave. I hate shaving and it's been a couple of weeks. If I could grow a decent beard, I'd do that and it wouldn't be an issue. But, truth be told, I don't think I'm especially manly because I can't grow a beard at all. It grows unevenly and is pretty thin, and it goes ginger. My Mum told me I look like a scruffy tramp. I don't suppose I need to wonder why my confidence gets knocked a lot, my Mum's never too far away to tell me that there's something about me she doesn't like. Charming!
I've spent the last few days cooking for myself at my sisters place and love having the run of a kitchen. Even if I say so myself, I am an awesome cook. I'm modest, too! Cooking for one is kind of crap though and I'm shocking at portion control so always do way too much, but all the same, I'm happy in the kitchen. I made the second best cheese steak sandwich ever for lunch today. Almost from scratch, although it never occurred to me that I could have baked my own bread. I'm not bothered what anyone says, baking is awesome and you can't beat fresh bread.
It was the second best cheese steak sandwich, only because nothing here will beat the one I had in Florida about eleven years ago. That thing was big enough to house a whole cow. It was epic. I've had dreams about that sandwich. I'll go to Philly one day and see if they can top it. I'm sure they can, they pretty much invented it after all.
I called my Mum earlier and asked what she was cooking for dinner. She said she was planning on doing steak and chips. Steak twice in one day? Go on then!
Aside from pottering around in the kitchen and taking care of Arnie the kitten, I haven't done much this week. Nothing much planned for the weekend either which is kind of lame, but it is what it is. I seem to get kind of down at the weekends because it feels like everyone everywhere is out and about with their mates and I don't really have anyone to go anywhere with. That sucks. Guess I need to try and figure out what to do about that.
I usually partake in a bit of online retail therapy to cheer myself up but I've no money at all so that one's pretty much a non-starter. Paul needs to find himself a job some time soon! Paul's evidently decided to give writing in third person a go! The one thing I usually avoid buying is clothes. I'm rubbish at that. Plus nothing ever fits me properly because I'm way too skinny. Everything's super baggy by default. If I wear skinny-fit jeans, I disappear when I turn sideways! It's a fantastic trick for parties. "Holy shit! Where'd Paul go?!" My wardrobe consists of hoodies and band T-shirts I buy at gigs. Most people go to the mall to shop. I go to music venues and arenas and stadiums! Time to buy some new hoodies for winter I think, time to put the summer hoodies away until next year...
Speaking of gigs, I'm going to see Alice Cooper next week. Given that my days are empty at the moment, I'm free to spend the day stalking the stage door in the hope of meeting the great man himself. Guitarist, Orianthi is currently playing in Alice's band and I'm hoping to meet her, too. I'm sure everyone will have seen her performing with Michael Jackson during the rehearsal footage for his 'This Is It' concerts. I had tickets for one of those shows but obviously, they didn't happen. She's a brilliant guitarist so I'm glad to have another chance to see her play.
In other random news, I downloaded a few demos for some new PS3 games earlier and I've struggled to play them. That in itself isn't especially newsworthy, but the fact that I couldn't really get into the games worried me and has me wondering why...I think I may be getting older. Not old! Just older. Is it possible to be too old for, or grow out of video games? There's a scary thought! I'm going to have to find something youthful and crazy to do in order to dispel these thoughts...
One more piece of random news before I go...
My sister was telling me of not one, but two of her male friends who have been on dates this week with girls they met on a dating site. I've used a free one before, for a little while, although I didn't put much effort in and kind of got bored. It seemed like a big deal at the time, although it appears that everyone's doing it these days. Oh, if everyone's doing it, that's alright then! Truth be told, I hadn't been overly keen to go back and update the profile with pictures and all, as I didn't really feel I had any which showed my skin in a decent condition. I didn't want to end up giving the wrong impression as far as that was concerned, winding up with a massive breakout before a date and ending up being seen as some kind of monster. But, I've been able to get a few decent pictures lately and I feel they're representative of how my skin now looks and should look going forward, give or take, so I don't think anyone would be in for any nasty surprises.
So anyway, I figured I could give it a proper go and see what happens. Never know who I might bump into, might find people with similar interests and things. Or it could just be loads of people trolling. We'll see... I haven't put much effort into searching the site as yet - too busy on the Org aren't I! - but I did receive a message from someone this morning. Nothing to get excited about though. The girl in question read my profile and has apparently decided that I am not real. I've no idea what that means, but that's what she said: "I've just read your profile and I don't think there's any way you could be a real person!" Erm... okaaaay... So there you have it. I'm not real, this blog isn't real, and amount of time you have spent reading this drivel wasn't real either. That's a bonus I suppose, given that it would be several minutes you could never get back!
I've been thinking... I began to wonder a couple of months ago if I was dysmorphic about my acne. I guess I am to a degree - I always think it looks worse than it does - but it didn't seem quite as black and white as that and I couldn't quite work out how to describe my approach to my skin. I think I'm starting to figure it out now though. I'm starting to see that it's not so much about the actual condition of my skin, but how I respond to to it, how I think others perceive it and how I fear they may respond to it.
I certainly have a major issue with how I think others see it. It doesn’t take much for me to convince myself that even a slight breakout is enough for people to be repulsed by the very sight of me. I know that’s not right and it’s certainly a very unhealthy way to think, but I just can’t seem to get passed it. I feel as though thinking this way is more detrimental than the acne itself could ever be, because the thoughts and the behaviours directly dictate what or I do. Or, as is often the case, they dictate what I don't do and what I miss out on. With every year since I first got acne at thirteen, the list of of things I have denied myself is ever-increasing, as is the list of defining moments we may experience through those key, formative years, almost as a right of passage. It's a safe bet that I haven't experienced any of them.
I always find that if I’m coming towards a social occasion or something and I know I have to make an impression, I start wondering about how my skin is going to be. In the days leading up to that particular event, I’ll be looking in the mirror and thinking, ‘OK, am I happy with how this looks and is my aim to maintain it, or am I unhappy with how it looks and is my aim to fix it?’ More often than not, I find that I want to fix it. Ironically, I actually feel worse if I decide that it’s looking good and I want to maintain it, because then I get anxious and start thinking about how it could always get so much worse in the days leading up to that event. Inevitably, my perception of even the smallest pimple which may form during that period is amplified so much that it freaks me out. Blinded by that and void of pretty much all rational thought, I always fall into the trap of thinking I can make it look better. Of course, once I've spent however many minutes in front of the mirror, that small problem will end up looking so much worse, as will anything else I happen to find.
Deep down, it’s probably connected to social anxieties and a fear of looking stupid around people or being embarrassed by the fact that I’m not really part of anything so wherever I go, I’m the odd one out who’s there alone. I’m starting to wonder if I consciously go out of my way to do what I do and I knowingly take myself to the mirror. I wonder if I do this so that I can give myself a reason not to go out there, giving myself an excuse not to face up to those fears.
I went through that same process of self-inflicted mental torture last week as my Mum’s 50th Birthday party approached. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; constantly wondering what was going on; constantly wondering if the odd pimple had faded any more; constantly having the urge to check my face and see if anything new was forming so that I could “take care of it” straight away and give it a chance to heal a bit before the party. It was fine until Saturday night when I decided to go crazy on it. I’d had a pimple on my right cheek a couple of weeks earlier which had scarred. I happened to run my finger over it last Saturday and felt that it was actually starting to form again. That was my cue and I turned it into a big red angry lump which protruded from my face. I also had a pimple in the middle of my nose which was starting to form.
Now, I already have an indented scar near the end of my nose from about ten years ago when I made a mess of another pimple. What started out as a tiny red bump on my nose was turned into this huge mess which scabbed for weeks because I pretty much dug a hole in my nose to get it out, hence the permanent indent. Strangely, I’m at peace with said indent because it’s very small and I kind of see it as this little quirky feature my nose has. I guess I got lucky in the end. There was clearly a lesson to learn there, but still I went crazy on my nose last week. I knew I’d end up with my nose looking all red and sore for the party the next day, but still I went and did it!
I really don’t understand what I get out of it. There’s no rhyme or reason and, to be truthful about it, it’s on a par with self harming. I mean, to intentionally cause damage to your own body - knowing what the outcome will be - that’s just not right is it.
Between making a mess of my face, not feeling like being around certain family members, feeling so self conscious, insecure and like an oddball, and getting grief from other family members about my lack of employment and an apparent need to, as they put it, “sort my life out” because I’m a “joke and it’s embarrassing”, the whole experience is one I’d rather forget. I am kind of used to it though, I spend most of my time thinking that experiences will turn out this way so I tend not to bother attempting to experience anything.
Where my approach to my acne is concerned, whatever happens, whenever it may be, I simply can’t avoid popping a pimple if I see one. It’s a major problem for me, really. I know it’s gross, I know I shouldn’t do, I know it damages my skin and probably keeps the acne forming which of course is the very thing I don’t want to happen, but I just can’t seem to stop. If I’m going out and I look in the mirror, if I see a pimple, I have to pop it. I could be seconds away from walking out the door so I'd know it wouldn't be the right time for several reasons, but I always end up doing it. Many times, I’ve done it right at the last minute, gone crazy on it, then almost been brought to tears when I've stepped back and seen the damage. It was probably the case that I thought it looked alright beforehand and would have been reasonably happy to go out. Then, just seconds later, it’s a total mess and there’s no way I could go anywhere.
This was always a major issue for me when I had a job, either with regards to leaving the house in a morning or if I happened to go to the bathroom during working hours. Plenty of times I would end up being late because of it. Plenty of times I would end up making a mess of my acne and, if it was near the end of the working day, I’d leave early to try and start repairing the damage as soon as I got home. Obviously, your employer’s not going to stand for that and they’re certainly not going to understand the reason or see it as valid. In the end, that’s why I got fired. I’ve stopped punishing myself for it now, but I don’t want to hide behind any excuses I tried to make in order to save my job or shift the blame. It was all down to me, all my own fault and I carried on doing what I was doing even though it was bad for my skin and knew that eventually, once they decided they’d had enough, my employer would boot me out the door without a second thought. Five years of good service, thrown away for nothing.
When I woke up this morning and looked in the mirror to see if there was any progress following a few days of pretty intense topical application, I was very pleased to see that the mess I had made of my nose and right cheek has all but gone. It’s scarred a little, but that will fade soon. I’m now back to having next to no acne. My guess is that the Doxycycline is helping speed up the healing process and will reduce recovery time. I also use Isotretinoin gel as a topical - Accutane in gel form - and that seems to kill pimples straight away. If I put plenty on, they sometimes vanish over night as if they were never there to begin with. Indeed, for all the mess I made of my face on Saturday, to look at it now, you wouldn’t have a clue and you’d think I was making it up.
As I have done countless times over the last thirteen years, I've sent myself on the craziest of emotional roller coaster rides these last few days, just to get back to where I was this time last week.
I wish I knew how to stop doing this. It’s not a cry for help and it’s not really an admission either, I just wanted to write this down. Even if it’s just for me and nobody feels like reading all this – I wouldn’t blame you! – I’m wondering if I might start to find the answers as I process it.
Whatever, I guess I should be happy that things are getting back on track where my skin is concerned and I should see if I can let go of the insecurities the last few days have raised that I can get back to where I was this time last week. If things continue to improve, I may even post some new pictures next week. Not because I’m vain and like taking pictures of myself – far from it - but there’s someone I’d like to have my picture taken with. Here he is, my new cat, Arnie! Technically, he’s mine and my sisters, but I’m pretty sure I’ll become his favourite.
I’m staying with my sister at the moment and I’m thinking maybe I’ll just stay here more and more until I’ve moved in for good without anyone quite realising. Certainly happy to mix things up between staying here and being home with my parents. Having the variation is nice and I’m happy to be doing stuff for myself so I guess we’ll see how things play out.
Where Arnie’s concerned, I can't actually believe how cute he is and how well he's settled in. He’s sixteen weeks old now and was given to an animal shelter after only a few weeks because he had cat flu and his owners at the time had other cats so they didn't want them to catch flu as well. To say that he hasn't had the best of starts, after just two days with us, he's walking around like he's been here forever, already got into a routine, found his favourite spots to hide and explore, it's really nice to see. He's even figured out that if he runs from the lounge into the dining room and doesn't slow down, he can slide all the way across the laminate flooring!
I've never really been the biggest fan of cats to tell the truth and didn't have many pets as a kid so this is all new to me. My Mum's phobic of pretty much all animals and I guess I learned from her behaviours and learned those anxieties from her when I was a kid. For example, I really struggle not to panic around dogs. To start with, I just went along with getting Arnie because my sister wanted a cat and I said I'd help out while I stay at her house. At this rate, I'll be wanting to move in permanently, simply because it's so cool having Arnie to take care of! My mood's not been great in recent months, struggling with depression and all. I haven't had much to do and I've felt very lonely for quite a while, but having Arnie around gives me some kind of purpose and knowing that he appreciates me taking care of him - he already follows me like a shadow - is really nice. My biggest insecurities seem to be about being judged by people instead of being liked of getting affection, so getting the amount of affection Arnie gives without judging me or anything is doing me so much good. I never anticipated that.
Given that I was asked to create a blog, assured that not having much to say - or only having negative things to say, as the case may be - didn't actually matter, here's a blog.
Despite not having much to say, I kind of felt like there's been a lot going on in my head this week and it's starting to bother me. Every now and again, stuff seems to build up and I don't leave much space to actually think properly. I feel like now is one of those occasions and, with nobody around to vent to, I figured I'd write it here. Need to put this stuff somewhere and it's probably best that I send it out into cyberspace and let it go.
Come tomorrow, I'll have been taking Doxycycline for my acne for three weeks. I've had two and half weeks of good skin. The last few days haven't been very good at all. I've always known that I was on a knife edge where my emotions in relation to my acne was concerned and the last few days have confirmed that. Having broken out on the left of my face, the right of my face and on my nose, I freaked out and made it so much worse. I also went looking for other things to pick at and essentially undid all the progress of those first two weeks in about five minutes flat. Sometimes, I really do hate myself for responding to my acne like this.
Today was my Mum's 50th Birthday and we had a party with the family at our house. I tried to stay out of the way as much as possible. Although my family love me, and I them, I wouldn't say that I'm especially connected to my elders; the ones I would go to for support and advice; the ones with more life experience who know things. Fact is, no matter how much experience they have, not one of them has ever suffered acne and every one of them has always gone to great lengths to point out that I "didn't get a face like that" from them. Kind of sucks really, I can't even remember when I last felt like I was really a valued part of the family. Can't really remember when I last felt like a valued part of anything... Plus, these days, I only end up fielding awkward questions about why I got fired from my job. Seems everyone has an opinion and everyone knows best. I just end up sitting there and taking it. Pretty lame really.
Feelings like this always seem to kick in after something good happens. I'd enjoyed the first half of the week, my skin was good, I was feeling happier, and I'd had a great response from local media about some pictures I took at a Katy Perry concert on Wednesday: http://s1105.photobu...mview=slideshow
But then my insecurities and self doubt kick in and I start to think that whatever I'd done wasn't very good and that it represents something I rarely do because I can hardly ever bring myself to go out and enjoy these things. It's almost as if my mind fights against me and pulls me back as soon as it notices that I'm feeling good.
I guess I'll call it a night, perhaps best not to keep this one-man-pity-party going for too long. But, as self-involved as it may be, I've let it out now so I'll try and move on. Here's to some positive future blog entries!