My life turned upside-down and inside-out when I became plagued by cystic acne.
It appeared on my back, upper arms, chest, neck and face.
It all started with a couple, boil like bumps that appeared on my back, which occasionally occurred throughout my life, so I didn’t think too much about them.
Little did I know… those pumps would mark the beginning to my dead end path of self suicide.
Within a matter of a week from the initial onset of those bumps, they began to multiply in a manner I have never experienced before.
They emerged at such rapid successions, I barely had a moment to actually process what exactly was happening, let alone have a fighting chance to combat them.
They were literal monsters. Every time I looked into the mirror, I would tell myself it was just a nightmare and I’ll wake up soon, as it felt just like a horrible dream when all your teeth fall out.
I felt utterly helpless to fix the situation.
After about two failed months of attempting to manage them on my own, I finally realized I needed to see a professional when they started to take over my face.
I never woke up from this nightmare.
I met with several doctors, including two specialists. I saw two different female dermatologists, who both left me far more defeated then before I met with them. Their ability to listen and hear my voice were slim to none. Upon, with their treatment suggestions being more worthless as my obsessive googling.
They offered such uncomfortable vibes, as they both spoke to me in such an arrogant and condescending manner. They lost my trust within minutes of meeting them and I know they had no true intentions or an earnest desire to help me. I felt that sick feeling in the pit of my being when one of them suggested a use certain skincare items, about $300 worth. But, here’s the most twisted part- they were sold at none other, then… their office only and of course they were completely out of samples for me to try out first.
What a disgusting ploy to make money off vulnerable and desperate people in this state because they know most would be willing to ALMOST do anything to fix it.
How did I, as a patient, clearly know this was far deeper than just needing a stupid new skincare regimen? Also, she gave me a topical antibiotic to use because she KNEW it was Staphylococcus. Yet, I told her I already got it checked for staph and it came back negative for it, plus I already used the antibiotic and it didn’t work. I was almost crying, as I explained my frustrations with her, but she completely disregarded what I said and literally said- “well, go ahead and use the antibiotic while we wait for the lab results and I’ll call you to let you know if you need an oral antibiotic.”
The second I go into my car, I gripped the steering wheel and screamed myself into a heartbroken wale of frustration.
I had to wait so long to see her and she was the second of the two, so my hopelessness escalated exponentially
She was worthless.
And, in case you were curious- the results came back negative for staph, and she told me I should come back and to keep using the antibiotic in the mean time.
I don’t think I had ever felt so much anger towards another human being, as I did her. Yet, I still held my tongue and treated her with respect, but I definitely never saw her again.
She may have crumbled the little hope I had left in me, but I wasn’t going to allow her to take my dignity and values.
I’m over it now and I let it go.
I will never forget the shame they made me feel.
As for all the other doctors in between seeing them, none of which discovered any definitive solution. There were so many suggestions that they all seemed to think it could be, like a staph infection, possibly hormonal, maybe hair folliculitis, or just severe acne, and one believed it to be initiated by an allergy.
Although, In the end, the one who thought an allergy seemed to be the closest and most accurate. Interestingly enough, he was actually an ER doctor that I saw. I went to an ER because it started to literally spread before my eyes and it terrified me, but it was on a weekend. He was the most thorough and compassionate of all, aside from my GP. When I think about him now, I get teary eyed because how much he showed he cared. When he first saw me and did a quick glance of my skin, he even said, “you know, I’m here to deal with serious or life threatening issues?” Then, before I could even respond, it was as if he saw how bleak and distressed my soul had become, and he said “but, it’s ok, I understand why you came and how this can make you really concerned.” He did some blood work, and he closely examined my body and found I had several patches of eczema and he completely argued against it just being staph.
I will never forget how validated he made me feel.
This was around the time I started to rely solely on my general practitioner because I hadn’t actually gone to him for my acne yet.
But, eventually he told me I really need to see a dermatologist and there isn’t a lot more he can do. So, I shared my experiences with him and openly told him everything and how I felt. He did what only a genuine and honorable doctor would do, he stood by me and became greatly invested into helping me, as he did everything he could possibly do and beyond. He even went down all my rabbit holes of suggestions and ideas that I read about. He remained opened to every possibility.
I informed him of what the other doctor suggested, regarding it possibly being an allergy, so he did a comprehensive allergy tests and an additional extensive blood test, to check for any deficiencies or possible undiagnosed illnesses…etc. The lab results came back showing a couple of unknown allergies- dairy and egg white, but everything else came back perfectly normal.
I will never forget the respect he made me feel as a patient.
Sadly, I made a weak attempt to be grateful for at least having good health. Unfortunately, I focused on the disappointment of still not having an exact answer. The lack of getting any closer to any closure, marked the beginning of my downward spiral into utter despair. I felt nothing but haunted at the sight of my own face, I wanted to scream in horror.
I HAD to fix this!
I woke up every day tormented inside.
Every time I looked into the mirror I would constantly visualize God pointing his finger down to me, as he yelled the words “my child, be cursed!”
I felt cursed.
Not a single oral or topical medication made any noticeable difference.
After I reached a year of enduring this, a whole new host of issues started to arise. My body reacted terribly, internally and externally, from the accumulation of ingesting so many various medications, supplements, and vitamins, while using a wide variety of skin care treatments in such a short span of time. Essentially, my body reacted like it was being poisoned and it lost the ability to appropriately function at the capacity it once knew as “normal.“
I felt like I was fighting an endless war, but losing to every battle along the way.
I was physically and emotionally depleted.
Due to the mess I created, my mission was annoyingly interrupted and became forced to shift my focus entirely on rebuilding my body back to its natural state. But of course, I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t hoping deep down, that maybe this was the answer I needed to fix my skin.
I could barely grasp what having hope meant anymore.
I turned to an all natural and holistic approach. I was already conscientious to what I put on my body, but lacked the knowledge of being fully aware of the actual ingredients into the stuff I used. I fell into the trap as an ignorant consumer and automatically trusted the marketing labels.
With that, I completely liquidated my makeup, every single useless skincare item I ignorantly collected, and any medication, supplement, or vitamin I may have been taking.
The amount of money spent on things related to my skin- with no exaggeration, it’s in the thousands. Ha
I did a tremendous amount of research to learn all the harmful chemicals to avoid in cosmetics and skin care. And let me tell you, those industries are so dirty and their “natural” labels can be so deceitful.
But, I will go deeper into all of that in a future blog.
Though what you put in your skin is important, what you put inside your body is far more important. So, my main priority became restoring my inner ecosystem, so I replenished my gut with probiotics and nutrients, by only ingesting them through natural resources, such as food and fermented drinks.
Also, I don’t do drugs or drink, so those things were quickly eliminated as possible triggers.
I eventually regained my health and stabilized everything, to where I at least felt normal again.
As for my skin, it barely changed.
I was left in a moment of limbo, “now what?”
The burning question still fueled my fruitless quest… what’s causing this horrid cystic acne attack?.
There remained only one more thing to try.
My diet. There was still a lot of habits I needed to change .
I completely changed what I ate. I significantly cut my sugar intake and began to strictly stop eating any egg, dairy, and gluten. Removing gluten was out of my own curiosity, as I don’t have a gluten allergy.
My first attempt was half-ass at cutting dairy and egg when I found out about having an allergy.This time, I didn’t allow any leeway in digesting any of these items for at least an entire year. I started with removing dairy and egg first, then progressed to eliminating anything with gluten. Not eating dairy, still to this day, remains as the most challenging part of everything I tried, but the most beneficial. I didn’t realize how much dairy intake I had daily, as I almost had it in some way with every meal and snack. Grocery shopping was the most tedious and exhausting part, having to read every single label of every single thing. I’m not complaining about it, but I want to express the depths of my actual dedication.
Here’s a side note I’d like to share, as this will come in handy later, I had such a pathetic “poor me” and “my terrible life” attitude because I couldn’t eat cheese…
How ridiculous right?
There are people that are literally starving to death and I was complaining about that.
It makes me sick inside to know how foolish I was.
In the end though, my devout dedication actually offered a gleam of hope and the acne on my body cleared up.
Yes! My body acne completely cleared!
Not eating dairy and egg completely cleared my back and the gluten eliminated my eczema and some weird small acne like rash clusters I would on my neck, chest, and arms.
It was a well worth milestone to reach. But, my face…it refused to budge.
At this point, you may be wondering why the heck am I sharing this story?
Because…not only had this became my entire life for over two years, but it’s a tale of a transformation I would have never anticipated for at the beginning.
Please, hang tight!
I promise, this story is not an invitation to my pity party.
But, for now…
In case you didn’t process what I said above- it literally became my entire life!
In the midst of my worst nights, I found myself accidentally awake til dawn, from excessively staring in the mirror and obsessively dissecting every bump, even when I had to work. Countless hours of my life were spent slaughtering my face, with an unimaginable vengeance or watching hundreds of YouTube videos of people sharing their experience and how they fixed it. My heart boiled into a silent rage and frustration, as I dwelled on every let down of the next best thing.
The acne dictated my entire life: what a wore, where I went, and how I felt.
There were moments, I would just sit there and cry uncontrollably, pleading to God for a healing or that he reveal the answer to me.
I was willing to do anything it took!
It felt impossible to ignore it and gayly skip along through life.
It felt impossible not to touch it, every time I walked pass a mirror, I had such a strong urge to touch it. I imagined it felt like a recovering addict trying to resist the temptation to use, when it was right in front of them.
Oh, but the wonders of mirrors… They were nothing, but a constant reminder of how hideous I felt.
I have truly never been so emotionally invested into anything in all my life.
Kind of pathetic, right?
The lack of sleep.
Lack of hope.
Lack of self worth.
The Lack of will to live with this.
And the lack of desire to leave my home.
It all left me feeling so alone and disassociated from life, like I was outside of myself.
It brought an onset of severe anxiety every time I left my house- every time- either for work, to go in a public setting, or forced to socialize with anyone in any way, including my family.
I hated waking up every day.
I lived shackled to frustration, anxiety, hopelessness, and absolute despair.
The stress of always knowing it was there, especially closely talking face to face to people, would cause the most anxious impulse to put my hand over my face or to touch it, in attempts to cover it.
Every area of my life began to spiral out of control because I neglected so much of my surroundings.
My entire sense of self became utter chaos.
I wanted to just shut down. I put myself into an extremely dark state of being.
Trust me, I know full well .
I’m fully aware that it could have been worse.
I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking?
Am I right?
But, in the moment of the situation and the way I allowed myself to succumb into total hopelessness, it felt like the worst possible thing during that time.
Yes, I know, I could have been diagnosed with a type of cancer, any kind of fatal illness, or a million other possibilities that are far much worse than acne. As much as I knew this and would continually try and convince myself of it, it simply didn’t help.
It didn’t help, nor change the fact that every time I looked at myself, I was forced to face massive painful bumps across my face and body. Some swelled up so bad, it would disfigure that area for months.
I discovered trying to do this doesn’t lift you up or help you accept the situation you’re in, as others seem to believe it does.
It’s a false understanding of how the human brain works. Downplaying your experience by comparing it to others that may have it worse, absolutely does no justice in aiding you to overcome what you are feeling or felt during your experience.
I developed the most unhealthy fixation on it and harped on it every hour of every day.
I excessively read everything and tried everything you could possibly imagine, to even doing nothing at all, and even beyond.
Except, I wouldn’t allow my vanity to justify taking accutane or birth control-in the case it was hormonal. I find birth control much more frightening then acne could ever be, but this is also another topic for a future post.
One day I came up with a possible solution.
Eventually, but so late in the game, I started to analyze every part of myself internally.
I grabbed an imaginary shovel, and excavated every part of myself. I dug into all that I am and all that I used to be, in search to find any unresolved pain, guilt, anger, bitterness, or any inner conflicts that I may have been harboring.
I wondered if had done something terribly wrong or treated someone in a way I shouldn’t have? I saw myself as an empathetic caring person, who consciously made an effort to treat people with respect and love, but maybe something evil lurked within me that I subconsciously rejected to face.
Perhaps, I deserved this?
I dissected my heart to it’s core.
Reevaluated myself entirely.
Am I too prideful?
Am I unknowingly vein?
Am I shallow?
I convinced myself to be brutally honest. At least, at the time I “thought” I was doing as such.
I definitely had moments of being too proud throughout my life, but it’s the kind of thing you often experience with certain moments, but overall I didn’t see myself as prideful person.
I don’t think I was a shallow person or focused on my appearance too much…
Don’t you love the irony in that statement now?
I became a girl who took ten minutes to get ready, to taking two hours to get ready.
I’ve never felt comfortable with makeup piled on my face, as it just wasn’t me. Still, when I have to wear it, I feel so unnatural and trapped with an identity I don’t identify with.
I feel like an imposter.
No matter what anyone wants to claim- Our face is the very first impression when meeting someone. It can reveal everything, your personal story and your expressions can tell it all.
I must have missed something… every route I took, my still acne remained.
After everything failed, with all my hopes to fix it, I began to feel utterly broken.
I kept thinking of the guys I hurt in the past and wished they could see me now. I found some solace to imagine them being pleased that I no longer had a pretty face.
I felt more broken and lost then ever before.
In turn, isolation became my best friend. Doing family meet ups or anything became upsetting and uncomfortable experiences, as I felt obligated to go at times, even though I just wanted to be alone.
I totally isolated myself and avoided being around anyone, as much as I could.
It ruined me.
It destroyed everything good within me.
It defeated my spirit.
It turned my heart into ugliness.
It damaged every part of my life.
Actually, the truth is…
I allowed it to ruin me,
I allowed it to destroy me,
I allowed it to make me ugly
I allowed it to defeat me and damage my life.
In hindsight, I had an absolute choice on how I could have responded to it. I managed to leave behind all the things to be grateful for and all the beautiful life that surrounded me.
I gave it all the power to consume every part of my being and who I inspired to be.
I allowed it to kill me.
The state of mind I crawled myself into became unreachable and I no longer felt any sense of comfort in anything. My existence felt useless and annoying.
In short, I became nothing, but a loathing self-obsessed, compulsive drama queen, with not a single ounce of joy within me…
I had a false comprehension of joy.
The saddest part to me in all of this- I once viewed tribulations in life as a blessing to challenge who I was, as they would always reveal aspects of myself where I need improvement.
Let’s be real here.
NO ONE spiritually grows and evolves into a better person while life is going perfect and smooth.
We need trials to grow.
At the time, I convinced myself I wasn’t equipped to deal with finding any positive side to the acne, let alone create room for personal development.
That was my lost indeed.
At this point, I only gained a profound empathetic understanding and compassion for others with skin disorders.
At the very least, I desperately wanted to discover a profound purpose to retell a refined story of hope. I wanted to get rid of it and be one of those people who share their journey, to offer ideas and suggestions for healing, to help others struggling.
I wanted a reason!
I cried one night when I thought about teenagers having to endure this. The most sensitive and pivotal time of our lives are during our youth. Our developing minds and delicacy of our hearts makes us more susceptible to experience life long emotional damage. The strength we build through maturity just isn’t there yet and life’s unfortunate events can feel like the end of our world. So, I couldn’t even remotely imagine going through something like this during that fragile time. I learned how detrimental it can be to your emotional well being, and you could only understand that, if you have gone through it.
Trust me on that.
I wish I could help everyone that has to go through this. I thought about trying to set up a support group of some sort. I believe encouragement and understanding from others going through the same situation can be much more powerful.
There is definitely not enough emphasis or help out there regarding the emotional impact acne can cause.
I used to brush my friends off when they mentioned their acne and told them “it’s ok and barely noticeable, especially when you put your makeup on…”
I would have wanted to punch me in the face! What an annoying response, as I wish I had known better. I would have been more considerate of their feelings and actually listened to them and tried my best to bring them any sense of comfort.
I could have never fathomed the depths of emotional and physical scars that are left behind, by seemingly trivial bumps
To be continued…. there will be a part-2 in a couple of days.
The better half of this tale will signify the most crucial part of this “war.”
The discovery of the ultimate healing, that had been waiving blatantly in front of me, the entire time.