I developed faster than my peers. I started to grow hair in inconvenient places at a very young age. My breasts began to bud early. I got my period at age 8. My growing slowed down when I was in grade 6 approximately. I was a ball of baby fat, hormones and existential questions. I had to wear glasses and it was evident that braces were in my future. A pretty picture indeed.
At age 11 I got acne.
At this age my body was trying to figure things out. Where to put the baby fat, where to put the all this hair. And now red bumps and black dots appeared across my face. My self esteem took a great toll. My peers were skinny, hairless, clear skinned creatures. I was a freak. We tried different products. Proactive worked for a while and then stopped working. Eventually my family doctor prescribed Differin gel for my back, clindoxyl for my face.
My grandmother had her struggles with acne. I remember looking at my grandmother’s face when I was younger and not understanding all the indents and holes. Now I know they are acne scars. And my mother also has battled acne well into her adult years. I remember seeing her poke and pop.
And I suppose this is what began my newfound destructive habit of picking at my skin. Habits are funny things. It starts with a temptation and then it turns into something you almost have no control over. Aristotle was right. But popping spreads infection, irritates and breaks the skin. Causes scarring. Still this is something I had trouble with for years and still have trouble with. It’s like an addiction. Self mutilating and yet hard to stop.
Overtime the pimples became less frequent. By 15 years of age, and right around the beginning of high school, my skin cleared up. There is nothing I could really pin point it to. They just stopped. I enjoyed four years of virtually flawless skin. But they came to a close too soon.
University was a new chapter in my life filled with new pain and new joy. And to my immense displeasure, new acne. My acne in university was the worst that it was ever been, large, red almost cystic. Grade 3 acne It was a reason I didn’t want to get up in the morning and go outside. I just wanted to stay hidden away. I was disgusting. Ugly. It made me feel undesirable in my relationship. How could I be loved if my face was broken? I felt alone. I longed for someone to tell me that I was beautiful, regardless of acne and that I was going to get through this. Instead I was full of shame for popping another spot. A cycle.
But then the eight months came to a close and I came home. Perhaps it was a better sleeping schedule. The fact that I was eating properly. The reduction of stress. Immediately the acne was less harsh. We went to the family doctor. I went on Mynocyclin and clindoxyl. The Mynocyclin didn’t help much. I saw my gynocologist and along with birth control, I got a referral to a dermatologist. Finally, a specialist could help me out. The birth control helped my skin a lot but initially gave me a bit of trouble emotionally. The dermatologist now has me on a 1.2% clindamycin and 0.025% tretinoin gel. It has worked very well but makes my skin extremely thin. Any pressure applied immediately shows as a red mark. Any picking will tear my skin. I suppose this is good to discourage picking. People have mentioned accutane but I really don’t want to go on it. I’m too scared of the side effects.
I still struggle with acne, with popping my pimples. I get insecure. It is physically and emotionally painful. Yet I pray that I can overcome this. I wanted to share my ongoing issues with acne because, like all difficult things in life, I believe this has a purpose in my life to make me stronger. It is through trials that our true character is revealed and we can take advantage of these things for self improvement. I have seen the negative effects of my lack of self control and how lack of self control in one area can spread to other areas of your life. I’ve also seen how preoccupied I am with my appearance, how easily frustrated I can get etc. It is painful but necessary to identify these character flaws in order to grow in virtue.