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Time To Change



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.


Sorry you're having such a hard time Paul. I think you're right that the depression you feel is partly based on your insecurity in yourself. It's pretty stupid for someone untrained to try and give you advice with this, because they don't know what you're going through, but I think you've realised yourself that a change of perspective is needed. Getting a job will definitely help with that (you might stop putting yourself down), have you started to actively look?

You're obviously unhappy, but all the things you said that are making you feel that way are under your control, which I think is a good thing, because you have the potential to change/manage things :) The self-esteem issues that you've described (and that have also come through from your [very lengthy :P] posts) seem to be unrelated to acne, and seem to be holding you back because you let them. It probably sounds too harsh, but from what I've read you're a very intelligent and articulate person, so you've obviously got things going for you.

I think the therapy sounds like it could be really beneficial, and being brave enough to realise you need help is half the battle. And hey, what have you got to lose? No one's going to judge you there because everyone'll be in the same (glass!) boat.

Finally, don't be too hard on your mum. It'd probably be really hard for her to admit that you're not coping to herself, because in a way she might feel subconsciously responsible (it's the guilt gene that almost all mothers have, haha). She's not ignoring you, she's ignoring the guilt. Most of us are ostriches when it comes to this stuff... The cool dark sand is so much more appealing than the hot bright sun ;)

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Hi Paul, well it seems that you've reached a turning point and I'm very relieved. As unblvbl mentioned above, you are intelligent, and articulate, and I'm going to add kind, but you seem to have been the least kind to yourself over the years.

Depression is a hard thing to cope with and getting professional help is of course essential, and you are getting that which is good. But a lot of 'therapy' comes from inside....and you really really need to push (and when I say 'you' I actually mean all of us) yourself into doing things that initially seem uncomfortable. Thats the only way that we can grow as a person. 2 years ago I forced myself into a public speaking club which to me was the worst kind of torture (and still is but is less so) but I've met the most amazing and interesting people, two of which I've become quite friendly with. These are the types of things that we have to force ourselves into doing to firstly get out of the house, and secondly meet other people (which makes us realise that the world doesnt revolve around us and how we feel) and thirdly to put ourselves into uncomfortable circumstances so that we know we can do it which in turn improves our self esteem and confidence.

You have many talents Paul, and it would be wonderful to see you show them to the 'real' world, rather than just the 'org' world :) (but you can't leave us entirely! That wouldn't be nice ;) )

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hey! ill start by saying a group of cool popular people DID appear ! who do u think WE are LOL!! :D

and i can totally relate with alot of what you said, i used to be suicidally depressed for many yrs and saw no point in life. what ive learnt for myself over the years is that circumstances will always change and go up and down.. but ( and im not preching im sharing from my side so feel free to ignore hey) for me, when I found a personal relationship with God, I realized He is the ONLY one or thing that never changes, so that has been my answer i was looking for, instead of trying to find my hope and joy in things, jobs other broken people etc etc, I find my hope and strength in Him and my life now has purpose only Thanks to Him. Again i do not like imposing my opinions on others, but just wanted to share a bit of my own journey there...

Secondly i want to say, we are all human and I can totally relate to your insecurities, Ive also let my skin often determine how i live and later realized its not just about skin, its more, it becomes a way of life, blocking others out just incase you get hurt again and often using skin as an excuse. i still sometimes battle as over the years as i got hurt i built up a defense with people and still battle to let everyone in and to be all social. sometimes i look at my hubby and he can just talk to anyone, im still awkward and shy around people, even though people wouldnt always know this and may think im rude or something as i just battle to go up to new people etc


well done Paul, what you said about being hypocritical - we all do it. We can often see the way for others but somehow in our own lives get stuck in a rut... and as you wrote this I can see an acceptance you have started to have- You are special in that you have been able to share here with all of us about your heartache and struggles and that, my friend is a BIG first step.... Go to that group therapy, if for no other reason but to push yourself to mingle more.... you know at first things are always scary, but we do tend to adjujst pretty quickly and then think - wow now that wasnt as BAD as i imagined itd be. You have alot to offer people, try not to hide away. on that note as well - do not stop encouraging. You have a gift of encouragement... use it....

I often feel like i cant offer much when i feel like i suck, but its often in being there for others and giving of our selves that we begin to see a new side to ourselves and also tend to realize lifes more than just about ..me....

Ah dude if u stayed in SA we would so have u over for dinner hehehe, where are ur fellow bloggers or .orgs in ur area? try set up get togethers hehe :) i think as you get more social, even if its juts pure torture and hard work to start - you will also start feeling better. Youre definately not a shell - You have ALOT of heart and like me , it seems you are a fighter... so many times back in the day when i wanted to take my life, I just couldnt, its like no matter how low i got, ive always had this little glimmer of hope that someday things would change and something in me wanted to keep fighting. and now I am in a different place, a very different place, but this only in the last 6 yrs... Keep at it, trust , hope and keep sharing.. it will happen. ill be praying for you paul.

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