Over a year and a half ago, I started posting on Instagram. Back then, I was in a really bad place mentally. As a few of my friendships had broken down, I felt very alone. It was also the beginning of the first COVID lockdown, and that added to my isolation too. That’s when I began to branch out and post pictures of my skin to Instagram. Soon after, I made my page public, and I started using skin-related hashtags like #acne and #rosacea. By this time, I had developed a ''this is me, and if you don’t like it then whatever...” mentality, I had begun to get positive feedback from other people with skin conditions, and even companies started to see me. People began to tell me how happy they were about my account because it made them feel less alone about their skin condition. I also began feeling less alone.
At first, I thought that feeling this way was perhaps selfish. While I don't wish the condition on other people, it’s good to know in any situation that there’s someone else who feels how you feel. It’s always nice to experience things together and to share advice. So, from there, I began to share my story.
When my rosacea first started, I was around 19. I thought it was just a rash or an allergic reaction, but when I went to my GP, they said it was just acne. They didn’t tell me that it was rosacea, and they prescribed me a multitude of acne medications. When I was finally referred to see a dermatologist, he prescribed me a cream. I think my skin got used to it though, and eventually, it didn’t work. A year after the rosacea, I started to notice that spots and lumps were appearing on my skin, but it was more so the redness that was a massive issue to me. The spots would come and ago.
Around this same time, I was also in a very toxic relationship, I was living with the person, and they were not warm at all towards my skin condition. As the conditions got worse, they didn’t make me feel confident, and they didn’t help me through. Instead, they always made sure their view was heard. I remember a situation where we were traveling to a family member’s house, and at the time, I was having quite a big break out so I didn’t have on makeup. They started shouting at me in the middle of the street, “Why have you not put makeup on? I’m sick of seeing spots! You think I enjoy looking at them!?” Hearing things like that did not help my confidence. I didn’t know much about my skin condition, and somedays, my skin was so textured that makeup just wouldn’t sit on my face properly.
When the makeup couldn’t sit properly, sometimes I’d have an internal breakdown. If I was due to see friends or family, I’d make excuses as to why I couldn’t go. The rosacea and acne made me very reclusive. I went into my shell. So, even when I went out with makeup, I constantly wondered in the back of my head if my skin texture looked bad.
Despite these experiences though, I actually haven’t been back to the dermatologist. I’ve decided to prioritize accepting myself over finding a treatment. If I can’t find a cure, that’s fine, and if I can, that’s a bonus. Most importantly, I’ve become a lot more accepting of myself, and I’m able to go outside freely without covering my skin.
Before I came to this point, people used to tell me, “Try to ignore it. and take every day as it is.” However, I definitely wouldn’t ignore your feelings about a skin condition. I try to embrace it and love the parts of me that exist now. The main thing that helped me do this was simply going outside. At first, I would go to the store or to a family member’s house without makeup, and eventually, I started going to work without makeup too! Now, I’ve been going to work for over six years without makeup. I realize that I don’t have to get dolled up, cover my face, and hide away anymore. It’s best to embrace yourself because as soon as I did, I started to realize that it’s okay. To this day, I still get stares, but I always try to have patience, to be settled within myself, to remain calm, and push on.
I just want to enjoy life, and I try to do the things I love. Everyone has hard days, but in order to move forward, you have to embrace yourself. Do the things you enjoy even if you have to do them alone sometimes. Whether it’s going to the cinema, taking a solo trip, or just a relaxing bath every Sunday, you have to take time for yourself. I try not to overthink my actions and embrace life. People with acne and rosacea get a lot of judgment around things. Even when it comes to food, I feel judged after treating myself in moderation to takeaway or a treat. But regardless of people’s judgment, we mustn’t regret the simple things, and it's lovely to concentrate on enjoying them.