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I'm 22 years old, and my acne is causing me to fall apart. I've been treating it since I was 16 years old, and like most people on these boards, I feel as though (and probably have) tried everything under the sun. My skin is so sensitive that when I use my prescribed topical creams, sometimes my face gets so dry that I can't even apply my makeup. I start to get so depressed, that I will do anything to get rid of the dryness.. even if this means avoiding the world for 2 days so that I can sit in my room with lotion slabbed all over my face. I am seeing a therapist, who I actually don't believe to be helping at all. She has completely perfect, flawless skin and is someone who has probably had skin that way her entire life. When I talk about all of this to her, she just nods or says "I bet that's frustrating," and I can tell that even though she wants to, she just can't possibly understand. Because I have tried to treat my acne for so many years, and tried so many things, I KNOW that one day I'm not going to wake up with clear skin, and that I'll probably never find a medicine that will completely correct this problem, so I need to find a way to live with my acne... or to not let it completely control my life. I just don't know how.

My acne is ruining my relationship with my friends and family. I always turn down my friends when they want to go out because I'd rather stay home with my acne cream on, or my face will look so bad that evening that I couldn't bear to go out with them. Not to mention they all seem to have perfect complexions, so being out with them makes me feel so bad about myself. I stress my mom out because she knows how depressed I am, and I feel so bad about that. She has enough to worry about, and I wish I didn't make her worry about me as well. She prays that my skin will get better, she told me that, and it completely breaks my heart.

When I do have to force myself to go out to work, or to see my boyfriend, it takes me hours until I am pleased enough with my appearance to be able to leave the house. I will apply my makeup and everything wont get covered correctly, so I'll wash it off and try again. Then it will look too oily, because I applied too much lotion underneath, so I'll wash it off and try again. Sometimes this will go on 5 or 6 times until it looks decent enough that I can leave my house. And I'm well aware that this overwashing is probably making things worse, but when I'm in these moments, I can't stop myself.

Then, there's the picking. I tell myself I'm not going to pick, but then at some point I'll be out somewhere and look into a bright mirror, or my hand will brush my face and I'll feel the bumps or scabs, and in that moment... It seems like there's nothing in the world that can stop me from going into my room, setting up a mirror directly underneath my lamp, and picking off everything I can see. I guess my mindset is that if I pick everything off, it will look better, or be easier to cover up. When in reality, most of the time, the spots that I've picked will start to pus, and nothing will make them dry enough to cover up with makeup. Then, the next morning I wake up with bright red/brown scabs, which makes me completely freak out even more... especially when I have to get ready and go to work.

I actually took a leave of absense from work for 3 weeks because of my face. I didn't have a choice, because I was about to be fired anyway. I sit in a cubicle all day, so luckily, I don't have to interact face to face much, but when I use the restroom and look into the extremely bright lit mirrors, I FREAK. Sometimes I will even wash my face in the bathroom at work and try to reapply my makeup, but the lights are so much brighter than the ones I use at home, that I can NEVER get it to look right.. and I end up just leaving work early without even telling my supervisor, or any coworkers. I sneak out the door so that no one sees me.

The hardest part of all this is trying to maintain a relationship with my boyfriend. I've been with him for 8 months, during which my skin has looked HORRIBLE, had a good day here and there, looked moderate, etc. But when my face looks terrible, I can't bear to see him. This causes me to lie and make up excuses about why I can't hang out. And if somehow I do work up the courage to see him, I try and make sure the room we're in is dimly lit... if we're going out to eat I try and get a table that is NOT near a window, and if possible, I try and only hang out with him after I know it's going to be dark outside, so that I don't stand the chance of him seeing me out in the unforgiving sunlight. He's never mentioned anything about any of this, and has never said anything to me about my face. I've also never brought my face up to him, and I never could. I feel so bad for him. He didn't sign up for this... and I often feel like he deserves a carefree girlfriend who is up for anything, who could go hiking in the middle of the day and go swimming.. not a girl like me, who known exactly when the sun is going to set and which restaurants have the best lighting.

Someone please, please, please help me...... I would love any direct messages or replies to this post. Any words you have would be appreciated. I'm kind of desperate here.

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I've gone through similar things in terms of how I behave and the things I do to try and cope with my acne. It pains me to think that others are going through this and you genuinely do seem to have reached a point where you don't know what to do.

It does seem like you have some potentially positive things going on which could be great and you should focus on that. Your relationship with your boyfriend, for example. He would have raised the subject by now if he thought that your acne was a problem in your relationship.

There's no way a guy would go 8 months and not say anything even vaguely related to it, regardless of whether or not you've raised the subject yourself. With that in mind, it seems to me that he doesn't really care about your skin in the way you think he would,

But, there may be a point where your behaviour makes him think that you're not interested anymore. Clearly that isn't the case, but you would need to figure so that I doesn't get that wrong impression.

If you've been able to raise the subject with your therapist, regardless of how helpful she isn't or isn't being, you should be able to find the strength to discuss this with your boyfriend. Remember that he will want to be there for you and will want to help. I certainly think that if I were lucky enough to be in his position, I would hope that my partner would share their problems with me because I would want to reassure them and help them in any way I could. And hey, the fact that you met someone and had the confidence to put yourself out there in the first place means that you do have the attributes to get through this bad spell. Keep that in mind. Focus on it and build on it.

I'm not saying it's the right thing to do and I can't justify it, but you will find many people here who have let friendships slide because they made excuses not to go out and so on. I too have done this and have done it for several years. As a result, I don't usually have anyone to hang out with. Please, please don't let that happen to you.

I probably sound hypocritical, but your friends should see right past this sort of thing and enjoy you for who you are. Even after the way I behaved and the friendships I lost, I still believe that the friends I had would have seen past my problems. I just wasn't strong or brave enough to go out there and show that it wasn't bothering me. I wasn't brave enough to just live my life, and now I have to find a way to get it back. Again, please don't fall into that trap.

As far as your skin is concerned, I think you already know what you need to do. If you can change the way you approach applying your makeup and so on, and how you treat your skin, and let go of some of those essentially compulsive habits, it will do your skin and your mental well-being the world of good. Believe me when I say that because I have experienced just how good letting go some of those things can be for your skin and for your stress levels. I used to spend hours each day in front of the mirror, usually picking or popping everything in sight. Admittedly, I had a slight relapse at the weekend, but for the last couple of months my skin has looked good. As someone who has had constant weekly breakouts from the age of 13 to 25, to be able to say that things have looked good, and indeed that I went 3 weeks recently without a breakout at all, is amazing to me. It stayed clear like that because I stayed away from mirrors as much as I could. I stopped obsessing. I tried my best to stop picking. I started taking supplements, eating better, relaxing and essentially tried to stop punishing my skin. For the well-being of my mind and my body, it had to be done. The fact that it improved my acne was of course a huge bonus, and the incentive I needed to try and keep my approach going.

I understand that the habits are hard to break. They become part of our routines and they're not easy to let go off at the first attempt. It certainly seems to me that the routines you have are consuming you at the moment. But I can tell that you recognise that you need to make the changes. That's the first step and it can only get better from here.

I know they're only words, Courtney, but I do hope all this helps in some way. You know where to find me if ever you want to vent, more than happy to listen.

:)

Edited by PaulH85
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I'm starting to fall into compulsive habits too. I've been reading a book called feeling good about the way you look by sabine wilhelm. I feel like what I need to do is actually set some goals and plans for changing my compulsive behavior step by step and keep getting back up and trying again no matter how many times I slip up. I'm having trouble breaking the habits, but I think keeping up the effort will be worth it. Maybe it would help you to set up a plan with your therapist in which you gradually work to move away from compulsive behaviors. I know how bad it hurts to slip into behaviors like that and hold yourself to such a high standard, my heart aches for you that you are going through this both with the acne and the emotional effects.

Some people try worry beads or something to keep their hands busy for the picking. I like to pop things, it's hard for me to wait until it's ready, even harder when I keep looking in the mirror.

I know it sounds cleshe but if you could talk to your friends and boyfriend about what's really bothering you, it might actually improve your relationships and give you some needed support. I think a lot of us are a little insecure deep down inside and have a tendency to personalize things, if they don't know what's going on, they might have a tendency to think your avoidance is about them.

I'm so so sorry you're going through this. I wish I could make it go away.

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Courtney,

I do the same things...I am getting married in 2 months and I have tried all kinds of things, and my face is still not clear. My fiance has been so understanding, and I drive him crazy talking about my acne all the time. But it is on my mind all the time and I don't know what to do. Its too late for me to take accutane also now and be clear for the wedding. Well I just have come to terms that most likely I am not going to have perfect, flawless skin. I am using topicals and it has made my acne from moderate to mild and I will have to use heavy makeup.

If your acne is bothering you so much, talk to your BF about it. Of course don't talk about it all the time, but let him know if you cancel some social outings etc. its not b/c of him but b/c of your acne. If he loves you, he will stick around and then you will know he is a keeper. :)

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