by Olivia Rogers
After reading a report by the British Skin foundation stating that around 20 % of people who suffer with acne have thought of suicide, I decided to piece together this article about my own personal battle with acne and self-esteem. My skin has and always will be a major insecurity of mine. I was one of the many teenagers whose life was affected by their skin. Most common between the ages fourteen to seventeen, most young adults will have suffered acne at some point in their life. My skin problems started when I was about 14, but at that time, strangely enough, I didn’t care about how my skin looked. I was at that innocent age when I thought people wouldn’t even notice or care that I had bad skin. It was when I was at the end of my fifth year at secondary school that I began to develop a complex surrounding my skin. I remember the moment vividly; I was sat with my friends getting ready to go out and I saw their clear ‘perfect’ skin and I felt awful about myself, I felt disgusting and worthless. From that moment I was determined to clear my skin.
The most awful thing about my skin was firstly that it was genetic; my father and both sisters had suffered with acne but what was most annoying was the fact that my skin problems were mainly a result of hormonal fluctuations. This meant that despite how many ‘miracle’ products I used (and trust me there were a lot), I would wake up most mornings with some sort of eruption of zits on my chin, and for anyone who has suffered with acne this is very disheartening, especially after blowing £30 on skin products. My battle with my skin has been a long one, and when I had decided to tackle my skin problems five years before now, it was very hard to not see an improvement, but I thought at least I could assure myself that I was trying. However, I would say that my determination to clear my skin turned into an unhealthy obsession extremely quickly; I would smother my face in strong benzoyl peroxide solution to the point where it would leave my face with red dry patches for weeks; I would aggressively exfoliate in the hope that I might not wake up to a spot covered face.
There were the days where my skin made me too anxious to leave the house. And when I was at university, I would be embarrassed to go into the communal area, with the fear that my housemates would deem me ‘unattractive’ because of my spots. I put this anxiety down to the people who were close to me (who in fairness were only trying to help) commenting on my skin, it made me think: ‘If my family think I have bad skin then what about those who don’t have to love me’. This was the attitude I had carried around with me from the age of sixteen until the end of my first year at University. What I found most surprising about the British Skin Foundation survey was that over 50 % of acne sufferers have suffered verbal abuse from family and friends.
My skin only started to get better when I decided to go on the contraceptive pill* and within a few weeks I noticed I no longer had breakouts as frequently. The most assuring aspect of my skin clearing was the fact people noticed; a few close family friends of mine after a few months of being apart commented on my skin almost immediately, which boosted my self-confidence. Of course, I still have days when I’m insecure about myself as that’s just part of being human. But I don’t wake up every morning worrying about what my skin will look like, and after nearly five years, it’s a massive relief. What I learnt from my experience is to be resilient and to not let insecurities dictate my life.
For more information on the British Skin Foundation survey go to, http://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/
*I went on the pill as it works for me; I am not in any way promoting it as a sole solution for acne sufferers*