The worst thing for me was when my mom mentioned my zits in the morning
Charlotte, 26 years old
"At some point I made a conscious effort to stop picking at my skin as much. That helped."
It started gradually when I was around 14. Then at some stage it suddenly got a lot worse. I had zits on my face but the rest of my body was fine.
It was always worst in the morning. I didn't really want to get up and go to school at all. I hardly dared look in the mirror. I used to get up really early to try to cover my spots with foundation and concealer. That probably just made me look even worse than before.
I found it really hard to cope with
Sometimes when my skin was particularly bad my mom would say things like, "Look at the state of you!" That was the worst thing for me. Especially if I had just spent hours covering everything up and thought it wasn't that noticeable anymore. That ruined everything. It made me want to just crawl back into bed again. My brothers and sisters teased me a lot too.
What made things even more difficult for me was the fact that my skin changed at a time in my life when I really cared about my appearance. I felt ugly and unbearable to look at. It was really hard to cope with.
It's not just that your skin looks bad, but you can feel the pimples and infections the whole time too. You're constantly aware of them and can't forget that they are there. I had infected zits under my skin that became hard so I couldn't squeeze them. They made my skin feel tight. They didn't hurt much, but I always knew they were there because I could feel them all the time.
I couldn't leave my zits alone
Things like swimming were a nightmare for me. I always made such an effort to cover up my zits. I didn't feel comfortable going swimming with all the concealer on my face. Or then, when I was a bit older, and I stayed the night with friends, and boys were there too, I would always sneak into the bathroom so that nobody would see me. I somehow had to try to make myself feel like it didn't look that bad anymore.
One big problem was that I couldn't keep my hands away from my zits. I constantly tried to squeeze them. I simply couldn't stop, which made things worse. I really did it a lot for quite a long time. I couldn't control myself, even though I knew it would make my skin worse. It was like a vicious cycle. I usually squeezed my zits in the evening. The next morning they would be even worse because they became more infected overnight. The infection normally goes away after about two days, but if I pick and squeeze then it takes four days. That's something I found out after a while.
I went and got different things to treat my zits myself, like mud masks. I did get the impression that they helped, but not for long. I also used alcohol-based solutions to stop my skin from becoming infected. At first it helped, but then my skin got even redder and really thin. I should have gone to the doctor really. I should have asked what I could do myself, or what I should try to avoid doing.
I felt like there was something wrong with me
I was very lucky to have a lot of close girlfriends and a good group of friends. My attractive friends got all the guys, of course. I wasn't particularly self-confident anyway. I couldn't really be myself because I felt like there was something wrong with me. But my friends really helped me through those times. They built up my self-confidence. I was important to them and was always a kind of agony aunt. They used to come to me for advice if they had problems.
I never went to the doctor about my zits. The thought never crossed my mind. I just didn't want to talk about it and didn't actually want to see a doctor. That would have meant talking openly about my problem, and I didn't feel able to.
At some point I made a conscious effort to stop picking at my skin as much. That helped reduce the number of inflamed zits. I tried to be more careful. I told myself that I would at least wash my hands before, use a clean towel, and just generally think a bit more about what I was doing. You often see something in the mirror and before you know it you're at it again . . . Having some kind of ritual for squeezing zits was very important for me. Trying to stop it completely is unrealistic, I think. The main thing is not to do it every day, but perhaps only once a week, and to leave inflamed zits alone.
Sometimes my skin got better for a while, for example in the summer. The sun and salty sea water would almost clear up my zits within a week, which made me feel very happy and glow with confidence.
Other things in my life became more important
My skin started improving around the age of 20. Nowadays I can stop myself from squeezing zits because I don't want to look worse the next day. But when I had my son I stopped completely because I simply didn't have the time to spend hours in front of a mirror. Other things in my life became more important.
If I hadn't had zits I guess I would have been more self-confident earlier on in life. But unpleasant things make you stronger in a way. I think that other problems and crises don't get to me as much nowadays because of what I went through.
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