For the past five years, I suffered from adult acne, and not just the “oh, look, I have a teeny tiny spot” kind. No. The type of acne I dealt with was the angry, “I’m taking over your face with my roots” kind.
Having adult cystic acne is debilitating. It's painful, both physically and psychologically. I went through periods when I wouldn't leave the house for days because I couldn't bear being seen in public. My confidence dried up. I'd wear crazy amounts of makeup, bright scarves to cover my neck and jawline and I suddenly developed an OCD-style scrubbing addition in an attempt to clean my "dirty face."
The reason my face suddenly become a volcano of cystic, angry, hormonal mess five years ago? I quit hormonal birth control and took control of my endocrine system. (Hello, hormones! Nice to finally meet you!) For all of the scars I'm left with — both emotional and physical — quitting the pill was the best decision I ever made. In my opinion, the torture was worth it.
I'm also a firm believer in the effects of internal heat and how dousing the fire with a bucket of water (literally) was what kick-started the healing process within my body.
So I write these tips for everyone and anyone suffering right at this moment or wears the scars from their period of suffering. I've stood exactly where you are and I wished (really, really wished ... and cried!) that someone understood what I was going through.
1. Look up.
I know you’re thinking, “Woman, why would I want to hold my head up high when it’s the very thing I’m ashamed of?!” Well, for the simple fact that it is your head.
I used to walk around looking at the ground, afraid to make eye contact. I hid my face from the world and therefore unknowingly hid from the world’s kindness and support. I blocked people out and felt very lonely as a result. Catching people's eye and greeting them with a smile makes you feel amazing and I’m a firm believer of you get what you give.
Shine your light, regardless of your scars. There's something to be said for moving with grace and confidence. You really are unlike anyone else.
2. Look at yourself.
I mean really look at yourself in the mirror each day, not just to find the next big zit to squeeze either (and really, don’t squeeze your spots).
Stop telling yourself you're ugly. Stop feeling frustrated by your skin. Your face is amazing and unique. Smile at your reflection like you would smile kindly at a stranger. Your skin will get better. Your eyes tell the story of you and stay the same as you age, get acne or even heal from acne. Look at you, beautiful!
3. Go natural.
Throw away the chemicals and crazy creams, the lasers and pills. Go natural. Your diet is your number one priority. Your skin care regimen is your other priority and you can bet your life you don’t need half the crap sitting on your bathroom shelf!
Oil is what you need. It sounds counter-intuitive because your face may already feel like an oil-slick, but trust me, oil fights oil.
4. Show yourself some kindness.
Treat yourself like you would a stranger with the same issue — with compassion. Something that worked for me was repeating the following mantra whenever I looked in the mirror or felt scared to go out in public: I am healing. I am kind to myself.
Sounds a bit new-agey, but it really did take the edge off the bitterness I felt toward myself.
5. Acknowledge how far you've come.
What do your scars represent? For me, my acne and my scars represent the journey to living a cleaner, hormone and drug-free life. They also mark the first step of my spiritual journey, my interest in food as medicine, homeopathy and working through my baggage. It’s a small price to pay for feeling connected to my body and feeling at peace with my mind and soul.
Your ability to take your pain and turn it into a lesson of compassion and self-love is right there.
For me, feeling my hormonal fluctuations, ebbs and flows allowed me to understand myself better; it unlocked a little door inside me. I see my scars as marks of strength, mental resilience and a sign to keep going in spite of the flare-ups and healing crises.
6. Trust that time will heal.
Your skin will get better as you get better and find more balance in your life. Sometimes time will heal physical scars, sometimes it won't. But emotionally and psychologically, time will heal. Right now, my scars are fading and it has taken years. But I'm healing.
7. Know your worth.
Don't let your problem skin fool you into thinking you deserve less: of people's time, attention, love, treatment or effort. Sometimes when your self-esteem has taken a hit, it makes you more vulnerable to people who would look to exploit you. Your keen, internal radar will sound off when you meet these folk. You just have to listen.
Dating? It's about being beautiful and honest about your scars and attracting the right quality of mate. With time, physical scars don't matter when you're in love with the right person.
Always check in with yourself to ensure you’re getting what you deserve: the best.
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