Acne Controlled My Life Until I Realized I Am More Than My Skin

acne controlled my life
Photo by ShotPot

I never thought I would let my acne control my life, but it has.

Over the years, I said no to friends, dates, opportunities, and performances because of my skin. I have sat inside on one too many Saturday nights and cried myself to sleep because of how unlovable and disgusting I felt.

I have kept silent about my inner world and put on a face of makeup to cover up my battle scars. And I have been rejecting myself over and over again because of something I can’t fully control.

In the end, it was the very idea of wanting to control everything in my life that caused me to develop acne in the first place.

Ironic, isn’t it?

If you have struggled with acne, you know better than anyone how consistent acne can affect your mental health and self-esteem. And, if you haven’t, you may have gone through a similar experience or seen how it has affected someone close to you.

I feel that acne has this surrounding stigma that links uncleanliness or bad nutrition to its main cause. However, a person can do everything they possibly can to clear their acne, and still, it doesn’t go away.

This is when we must question the mainstream narrative around acne and what it means to have “perfect” skin in the first place. Is the incessant search for clear skin just another one of society’s unattainable beauty standards? I think it is, and I think we can change that.

For me, acne is more than just the outer appearance of the skin. It’s also the leftover scars, stress, anxiety, and depression that goes along with it.

So, where to begin?

My skin story started in college. I come from a family with a history of adult-onset-acne. However, up into my late teenage years, I never experienced extreme breakouts. I would usually get the normal hormonal pimple on my chin around my time of the month, but nothing more than that.

But when I decided to go off birth control and start a vegan diet, I noticed my skin changing rapidly. I was also freshly in college and started drinking coffee to keep up with my ever-expanding workload and never-ending stress.

Looking back, I put a lot of this unnecessary stress on myself. No one asked me to stay up late or to wake up early to get work done. But as most students know, this feels like the only way to succeed in a culture that glorifies self-sacrifice and “hustle.”

After a few years of battling ongoing breakouts, I found myself with energy levels that were lower than low. I was also developing anxiety and depression as a result of my skin.

It wasn’t until I tried every medication my dermatologist threw at me that I knew something deeper was going on. I had tried every topical acne cream that ever existed and even went through three rounds of different antibiotics. However, the acne always came back.

I even got so desperate for clear skin that I went on Accutane for three weeks while living in France. I had a severe allergic reaction to the medication and had to stop immediately. Looking back, these medications only gave me false hope and never got to the root of what was causing my acne in the first place. Like a bandaid, they covered the wound, but they never actually healed the underlying problem.

Maybe you, too, can understand my pain and confusion. I was often left thinking: why do the doctors not know how to help? Why am I stuck in a cycle that never ends?

True liberation came when I released my attachment to my acne. In doing so, I learned to embrace radical self-acceptance for the state of my skin, no matter what it looked like.

This started with little actions that turned into big steps forward. For example, I began to wear no makeup when going out in public. I began to use gentler cleansers and products on my skin instead of those harsh acne-targeting products that only strip my skin of its natural oils. I even started to take all-natural supplements and reduced my stress levels through meditation and yoga.

I’ve learned that it’s never a perfect journey, but it is progress. And when I learned to detach my self-worth from the appearance of my skin, I found a new sense of freedom in my life.

One supplement that really helped me was Magnesium, which helped balance out my stress levels and mood swings. I was initially astounded that my skin responded almost overnight to this one simple change. In the end, everything shifted for the better once I learned to embrace and accept myself as I am, even with acne and imperfections.

Maybe you’ve never had acne, or perhaps you have. All I hope is that whatever you are stressing over right now, you can see how it all serves a purpose and your soul’s evolution. All experiences are pushing you to love yourself unconditionally.

Looking back, I now know that if I never had severe acne, I wouldn’t be as resilient, compassionate, and understanding as I am now. I would never have learned to not associate my self-worth with a reflection in the mirror.

With surrender, compassion, and a little bit of love, I learned to accept my acne.

So, let this be your reminder that you are so much more than skin. You are a beautiful soul having a human experience. In the end, when we put life in that perspective, everything seems transient.

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