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.