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Acne Awareness Month : Dealing with Acne : My Thoughts, My Experiences and My Battles

To begin with, Acne is an insensitive maniac that will not just affect the tone of your skin, but also encroach your confidence, demean your self-esteem and compound your emotional stress, sometimes exacerbate your psychological imbalance.

You need to understand that I am not here to share tips with you on how to cure your skin of acne. I am yet to figure it out. And, as much as seeing those unwanted sprouts on your skin may be irritating and frustrating, you, like I am trying to do constantly, have to figure a way to accept that they are a part of you, and when they break out, you may have no choice but to let them take their course. Why? They do not make you any less beautiful, even if that is how you believe they make you feel.

When I saw Tolulope Solutions’ vlog some months ago about her struggles with acne, her experience resonated with me. She spoke about her appreciating those who had been giving her recommendations and she hoped she would continue to lumber on, until she gets her desired results.

I am sure some would think that she is not making efforts. Meanwhile, she has tried a lot of products, and she has had to become picky eventually to avoid damaging her skin any more. I recalled she mentioned that regardless of the unwanted and infamous attention that comes with acne, all she wants to do is breathe and not allow that affect her. I must confess that the idea that there is more to enjoying life than becoming sombre because of one’s face is a relief. She did not leave out that she once mentioned there was a point in her life that she prayed for healing concerning acne— I share the same with her. In life, when people do not see your face all smooth and sheen, they will assume you are not trying hard enough to do the needful. Some often associate acne proliferation on one’s face to one living an unhygienic lifestyle. Just like some people who are blessed with clear skin look down on those with rough skin like they are not trying. I was once at that life-altering precipice, and hoping that my face will be as clear as day became a daily prayer until I got fed up. For me, it does hit home and I pray that it gets better for us all. I tried expensive remedies and made ceaseless efforts but my skin would not just look great at times. Ask people who have acne to share their experiences, I bet none of them would have it so easy.
Acne messed up with my childhood and teenage years. To describe me, once you start saying that ‘light in complexion girl’, the next attribute to add is ‘that girl with pimples’. I remember how I had to spend hours as a child when internet started becoming a thing on things to try. Random discussions aired in my secondary school about those who had to live with acne, and what they had to do, and most of my mates would stare in my direction. I would wish the ground would open and swallow me up. My self-worth and esteem plummeted. It triggered every negative impact I could ever imagine, even to the point of self-doubt.

Just so you’d know, I tried different skincare products here and there. I avoided some foods, I remember quite a painful experience where a friend made me feel I was very picky and irritable just because she brought some friend snacks for me from a party. She didn’t know what I was struggling with. I was even scared to consume anything fried or acne-triggering meals that I read about in different articles. It was a horrible experience. I loved plantain but avoided it. At some point, I heard that milk triggers acne; I became conflicted on how to cease consuming edibles that comprised milk since most of the stuffs that I eat had milk in them.

I was psychologically traumatised. Acnes dealt with me to the point that I shuddered at the thought of having to take a glance at myself in the mirror, and any inadvertent contact with any mirror-like surface left me with chills for days. I am not confident about my face. Then in OAU, I would never sit in the front of those small buses (korope) for fear of seeing what I looked like in the mirror. My first attempt at stealing a look in the mirror was in my final year in school because I never loved the reflection of myself.

I practically expunged pictures from my daily desires. I could not stand having to gaze upon a reflection of myself, or some image of me staring me in the face, riddled with those tiny sprouts, like a field littered with unwanted growths. Have I totally overcome the trauma that comes with being taunted for having acne on my face? Of course, not! My using a mirror has seen some flexibility, and now I take pictures now and then. I started taking pictures actively in my third undergraduate year in school and even now if I have my way, I won’t take pictures but I have to sometimes because of my brand and other reasons. I look at the mirror now but not just any type and I can go days without looking at the mirror. The changes that my face has witnessed notwithstanding, the spots, although visibly gone, leave their marks on my skin— now, I have an uneven skin tone and suffer hyperpigmentation.

Sigh. Growing up, my experiences with acne dealt a severe blow to my self-esteem so much that I considered myself ugly. I was body-shamed, living with name-calling became a norm with me. I was dubbed ‘the lady with acne’ (of course, I was a lady with acne, but did anyone have to rub it in?). Others would whisper that despite being fair-complexioned, I was the ugliest in a group of ladies. Do you want to know the worse experiences I had with video recordings? Argh! I did mention I abhorred anything that included my seeing or showing my face, but when it was necessitated, I had no say in the matter, and the few ones that I participated in. I have come to live with judgment— imagine people telling you to your face that acnes have commissioned a permanent residence on your face. And so, my insecurities before a camera or camera-like medium tripled. I became so self-conscious that I reject opportunities that required video-sharing or video-oriented content. I have had to decline offers from different organisations requesting video files on gender-related issues.

Now that I reflect on my seemingly unending battles with acne, I wish I could blur out that part of my life. It was a badge I had to wear albeit with vulnerabilities and insecurities for ages. I just must confess: humans without a trace of acne on their faces may never know how lucky they are.

Should I burst the bubble you are in now in an attempt to address the elephant in the room? Yes. I have seen a couple of dermatologists seeking consultations and treatment recommendations. I did complain to friends that none seemed to ultimately rid me of acne. I will be doing these experts that I saw a great disservice if I did not add that they did their best to help me fight my acne situation.

Acne, as a skin disease, affects more than people’s appearance. Like it did with me, it does take a toll on one’s emotional health. Heck, it has even been validated that people with acne sprouts can develop depression, low-self esteem, poor self-image, decreased quality of life, anxiety, and the fear of being unwanted. I will be lying if I told you I have not been in any of these aforementioned situations before.

So, hey, despite these badges that you wear on your sleeve—scratch that—on your face, it is normal for you to desire a better skin tone. It is not uncommon for you to want a face that is as smooth as your friend’s. It is not an impossible wish to want just what everyone wants— a clear, acne-proof face. YES. It is not bad if it takes a while. It does not mean the universe does not love you if it does not happen overnight like you wish.
But for as long as it takes you to fight your battle with acne, never look down on yourself. Accept it, even as you seek to rid yourself of these unwanted sprouts, this skin defect. You cannot allow yourself slip into a state of depression. Your acnes notwithstanding, you are still beautiful. You have to accept that nothing will chip off your beauty. Not acne. Not any other defect, bodily or otherwise.

What facial or bodily defect are dealing with that is depriving you of the joys of this ephemeral life? Would you like to share? After all, admitting one’s status is the first step towards salvation. I will like to read from you.

Adewuyi Roseline is passionate about the girl child. Growing up, she had a lot of questions about her identity. She is on the journey to ensure that young girls rise above limitations, smash stereotypes in their communities.

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