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After Acne - Confidence Building



On Tuesday I went for my post-accutane check at the hospital. I had to do my regular pregnancy test, where as usual my mam decided to strategically slip in her usual joke of "imagine if it came back positive-it'd be like you were Mary having Jesus", while teenage boys were sitting beside me. Yes, remind me of my non-existent relationships in front of all these people, that's cool. Also, the nurse gave me a thin tube to pee in. I just stared in confusion at him until he said "oh, sorry! I was thinking about male samples." and he gave me a cup. A male pregnancy test?...we are trusting our health with these people lol.gif

My Doctor said that if my spots keep appearing like around Christmas I'll have to go back on antibiotics for 3 months before being considered for accutane again, because it's routine. I know it's a way of avoiding unnecessary side-effects from accutane, but i know antibiotics don't work, I was on them for years, so surely it would be worse for my health to be on them for 3 months followed by months of accutane? Gah. It annoys me how things have to be followed precisely by the script with accutane, even when it might not be the best course of action.

My Derm suggested I get counselling (in a nice way, not in a 'you're crazy, get out' way). I mentioned how my confidence is still bad and she said she'd write to my doctor about it. In a way it would be nice to talk to someone, but I feel I can predict what they're going to say and I know it won't help: 'You need to push yourself", "get out of your comfort zone", "focus on the positives". Not that that's bad advice, but I've already tried to do that and it only works in the short-term, i.e. if I push myself to go out when I feel down, I fake confidence on the surface for that one event. It doesn't change anything internally or in the long-term. I feel I've managed to push my surface/fake confidence as far as it can go. For example, today I splashed my face with warm water, shoved on some tinted moisturiser and a bit or mascara and threw my hair in a messy bun and left for school. That would never happen before accutane, where I'd spend ages on washing my face, putting on foundation to cover my spots and doing my hair so I could have it down to cover my face as best I could. I think I've made a huge step, I never thought I'd get here, especially doing it on my own (with the support of acne-org of course!) I felt quite good today considering, but I think that's because my insecurities were blinkered by the fact that I had a 2hr exam this morning, so all my stress was attracted to that. The exam went quite well considering I still seem to suffer fatigue since being on accutane, meaning my memory was crappy. Also, after the exam someone out of the blue said "Renn, your skin looks really good", which made me feel more secure. Nobody had mentioned my skin since wearing the tinted moisturiser to school, and seeing as it was such a noticeable leap from the foundation I was beginning to think people weren't mentioning it because they could see scars or something but, yet again, I overreacted.

So anyway, I feel like today I've achieved/learnt something. I now know I can tie my hair up and the world won't end tongue.png I don't have to feel that I have to cover my face anymore, and I should just learn to not care what people think or say about me.

General skin update: I Did have a spot between eyes (again) but it popped (it looked like an inflamed blackhead). I have a painful cyst just below my ear which should be ready to pop tomorrow. Still have red marks which, when irritated or when I haven't gotten enough sleep, can look quite bad.


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That's progress right there. Just those little things - and the world not ending, which I guess is a big thing - can help towards changing your perception of yourself and how you think others might react. Even with the odd spot or a red mark or whatever, there's no reason for people to react one way or the other. Generally speaking, everyone's minding their own and going about their business to stop and pay that kind of attention, and the one person who did take the time paid you a compliment, which is awesome! For what it's worth, they're right - your skin is looking really good. smile.png

As far as talking to someone about confidence building, counselling and so on is concerned, I'd suggest giving it some thought. I've only got good things to say about my experience with it.

I totally get that approach of preparing yourself in order to try and be confident for one specific event, in a temporary kind of way in order to get through it. I guess I've always been like that although never quite managed to put my finger on it and you've just described it exactly. I do it that way for gigs and things - it's one night and I can get through it. It's almost like some sort of survival thing so I don't suppose I truly relax and retain something that I can use in other situations going forward.

So I'm guessing that rather than just find those temporary fixes for a given situation, you'd essentially be looking to retrain your way of thinking or find techniques so that you can put something together and create a new approach which you can use all the time until that pretty much becomes your natural way of being? That's the kind of thing I stumbled upon when doing cognitive behavioral therapy.

I went to my doctor when I was at breaking point and that wasn't specifically about confidence or how I felt about myself, although they were parts of the overall problem. I was at a point where I couldn't actually see a reason to carry on; my employer decided to fire me instead of support me and give me a chance to put right my wrong-doing; my family quite openly told me they were ashamed of where I was at in life; I had nobody else to go to and nothing to pick me up. In the end, for a while at least, the only person I had to talk to was the therapist based at my GP's surgery.

I went to my doctor out of desperation really and I now wish I'd gone a lot sooner. A simple appointment which lasted maybe five minutes, in which I asked for information on what help was available that didn't include medication, she explained the cognitive therapy to me and sent a referral straight to the relevant department. About four weeks later, I had a call from the therapist asking if I'd like to set up fortnightly appointments - hour long sessions where I'd get to talk about how I felt and what was going on, get to the root of those feelings and how it was influencing my actions, or lack of, as the case may be.

I'd kept all that stuff to myself for at least thirteen years - pretty much since my acne started - and I'd never talked to anyone about it before. Not a single word to anyone, ever, but within a couple of weeks, I was talking to the therapist about my acne when she was sat just feet away and looking right at me.

Some people are really cynical about these things, given that the therapists are just doing what they're paid to do, but as far as I was concerned, she cared, listened and wanted to help. Not only that, I felt like she could help and that I was actually going to get somewhere.

Once we'd established that I was isolating myself and had unintentionally become even more isolated after being sacked, she suggested that I consider doing similar kind of sessions in a group setting. I jumped at the chance and honestly, it's one of the best thing I've ever done. It was so empowering to sit in front of a group - people who start out as strangers but to whom you soon start feeling connected to - and say, "I have major issues with my appearance because I've struggled with acne for thirteen years, it occupies my thoughts all the time and it's taken away all my confidence and self-esteem". It just seemed to flow and it felt so easy to do because it quickly becomes apparent that it's a safe environment and that the more you share, the more they have to go on and the better they can help.

Even though the aim of my CBT sessions were to begin tackling depression, we always got back around to discussing confidence and self-esteem, especially in group because we could all relate. In fact, if I were to share with you the collective experiences of the group, I'm certain you'd read them and constantly be thinking, 'Wow, I do that as well! I feel that way too!' We used to be sat in group,

CBT can be used for so many things and it's ideal for tackling confidence and self -esteem issues, social anxiety and things like that. In fact, I'm probably going to look into something targeting those things more specifically for myself soon. You probably would hear some of those cliches you mentioned, but it's kind of like an occupational hazard I think because the therapists and counselors are fully aware that it's not as simple as that so they'll never tell you just to "get out there" and leave it at that. "Getting out there" would probably be the aim and hopefully the end result, but they'd break it down first in order to look at what holds you back, why it holds you back, and what kind of strategies you could put in place to get around it. They'd also look into any symptoms of distress or anxiety in those situations and help you learn techniques to cope with those as well.

I was just about to suggest some points of contact and use the phrase, "To cut a long story short", but looking at what I've written, I'm way beyond that! I really aught to put my ability to write for ages to good use - if I figure out how to write something actually worth reading, could make a fortune! lol.gif

All I was going to say was, if you search online for NHS Choices and look up the therapy services, you'll be able to get an idea of what's out there and what's accessible to you locally, assuming you haven't looked into it already, of course. There's also the IAPT programme - Improving Access to Psychological Therapies - and that will also tell you about what you can access locally. It's an initiative designed to make it all easily accessible on the NHS via our GP's and it works.

I've said it before but I still think your Mum's a legend. Her timing is pretty impressive, you have to admit that. tongue.png

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Thanks for the kind words Paul, and the advice too. I learnt about CBT last year in psychology, but I had a look in more detail on the NHS website and it sounds like something I should do. I have a lot of the symptoms of anxiety, facial tics, sweating and racing heart. Also, one of the examples given for distorted thinking is something I do all the time (If I'm having a bad skin day I feel like people hate me/are ignoring me). It would be nice to be able to just vent to someone, even if they are just doing their job. I'd go see the counsellor in my school but I'm scared in case someone sees me coming out of her room and spreads rumours and stuff (I go to a bitchy, all-girl school). I'm going to have a look at the IAPT thing, thanks for the link! For now I have a mass of work to do, after weeks of exams :( SIGH. By the way, I really appreciate the support people give me on here, so a big thank you :)

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No worries, any time. smile.png

I'd forgotten all about the 'distorted thinking' thing. Or rather, I'd forgotten the terminology. I'd been like that for years without knowing what it was or that it was an actual "thing". Made progress with it in group but kind of let it slide since then as I've fallen into some of my old habits of avoiding stuff again. Seems like the work really starts when the sessions finish because we have to put it into action. Rather, I've slipped back into some of my old traps and those feelings about being ignored/disliked/hated/laughed at are creeping in again. A little less this time because my skin's improved so much since I initially started the therapy, but they're still there and holding me back. I'll have to get it in check.

The facial ticks were another thing for me actually, although I wasn't aware of it until my sister pointed it out. We were at a gig a few months back and this guy pushed into us without saying excuse me or anything. It annoyed me and I composed myself in order to point out his ignorance as he went by. Apparently, as I did so, my sister saw me twitch below my left eye. Then just before Christmas, I got angry about something and shouted at someone. My sister was there and she said, "I knew you were going to face up to them just then because you twitched. I've seen it do that before, when you shouted at that bloke at that gig." I don't actually feel it so, for all I know, it could be happening quite often when I'm out socially or talking to people.

Pity you don't feel able to see the counsellor at school. Ideally, you should just go ahead and do as you wish without caring what people think, but I absolutely understand how it's not that simple and how it might not seem viable. It's not totally impossible though so don't dismiss it completely if it could be an option. If not, sure you'd be able to access the same kind of service via your GP.

All seems kind of similar to some of my experiences and if you'd be going down a similar route to the one I've taken to begin tackling things, you know where I am if ever you feel talking about it would be of use, happy to listen and help where I can. smile.png

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