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!