Going Beneath The Surface: Treating Acne's Psychological Damage
Image Source: Into The Gloss
It’s 6:30am. My alarm is still going off, and before I’ve had a chance to hit “snooze,” or even crack open my eyes, I’ve already run my hands over my face to see if any new uninvited guests have found home on my skin overnight.
Having persistent acne is debilitating. It's painful, both physically and psychologically. I can't even count the number of times I've skipped out on events (first dates and family birthdays included) in lieu of sitting at home, crying and feeling like my body was totally out of my control. Over the past two years, I’ve made a concerted effort to not let my control me or stop me from living my life, and I’d say, it works about 80% of the time. Yes, I’ve found a concealer that does wonders, but beyond that, I’ve incorporated a lot more than just product into my skincare routine. Enter, self-compassion.
1. Validate the Psychological effects of acne
Validating your experience is the perfect step-one for an effective self-compassion practice, because the struggle 👏 is 👏 REAL 👏 my friends.
It is OK to be mad. It’s OK to be frustrated. You’re not overreacting, it’s your experience and it is real. Sometimes, when I vent to my non-acne-suffering friends (the privilege 🙄) I often hear, “it’s not that bad!!” or “relax you’re the only one that’s noticing it,” which can really make you feel crazy at times.
Some ways to deal psychological effects of acne, and practice validation? You might want to try journaling, or just a simple self-dialogue in the mirror (read: Mirra 😏) : “I have acne and it is hard.” Write or say what is true and authentic to you.
2. Acne Pain: Know You’re not alone
One big gripe that I have with the acne industry is that the pain associated with acne, both physical and emotional, is often minimized. Dealing with acne is not just about covering it up, or zapping it away. We also need to address the fact that having acne can often feel shameful and even lonely at times.
But you are not alone - far from it. Did you know that 40-50M people suffer from acne just in the U.S.? (1) While the media can often distort that fact, try googling ““celebrities with acne”, and you’ll see that even adorned celebs like Kendall Jenner to Bella Thorne don’t have picture perfect skin all the time.
Additionally, social media can be a friend or enemy, depending on how you use it. There are a number of social media accounts dedicated to sharing people’s experience with acne - try searching for #freethepimple on Instagram and you’ll find some gem accounts.
3. Give yourself the gift of time
Guilty of racing through your night-time routine in order to avoid the mirror or get to your Netflix a little faster? Try taking a few deep breaths and carve out as much time as you need to get ready for bed or mentally prepare yourself for the day. Ways to slow down your routine? Try giving yourself a facial massage, put on your body lotion in a way that feels relaxing and kind, brush your teeth intentionally and mindfully. (Here's 30 ways to practice self care on a budget). While it might feel a little unnatural or narcissistic at first, the mindfulness that you add to your routine can really improve your relationship with your body and mind.
Acne or no acne, you’re HOT
If you have low self-esteem as a result of acne, or just have any insecurity of any kind (does that make…all of us?🙋🙋) making self-compassion a priority isn’t always easy. It’s hard to force loving yourself when, in reality, sometimes, you just don’t. But there’s a reason why it’s called a “practice,” it literally takes PRACTICE. With a consistent, mindful self-compassion practice, you’ll get there.
And food for thought: putting too much pressure on loving yourself all the time kinda defeats the purpose. It’s OK if you do the above and you’re still mad, angry and frustrated. It’s normal. It takes time, and some days are harder than others. Having acne is a journey (meaning there really isn’t a final destination). Just remember that the act of self-compassion will only bring you closer to the Truth: acne or no acne, YOU FLAWLESS BABY.