Acne is one of the most prevalent skin conditions in the United States, affecting an estimated 45 million people. If you are one of those 45 million, it can be hard opening up about how much your skin bothers you, especially to someone who has never been afflicted with a spotty complexion.
You feel like someone who has clearer skin just isn’t going to understand what it does to you, that some days it takes over your whole life and dictates every thing you do and every decision you make. It makes you cancel appointments, avoid answering the door, wear makeup every waking moment.
It’s hard to tell anyone that. Admitting that your acne bothers you so much will just shine a spotlight on it, right? Or maybe you think they’ll call you silly for letting it bother you so much.
You probably do feel like it shouldn’t bother you as much, but it does, and that just adds shame and embarrassment into the mix. So telling someone just how much of an impact your skin has on you is hard to do.
But I want you to know that hiding it, bottling up all that fear and anxiety, is only making it harder on you. Not only are you trying to hide your face, you’re trying to hide your emotions. You’re doubling your struggle. Dealing with acne is one thing, but hiding that struggle just makes it twice as hard on you. Suppressing that anxiety only gives it more fuel and it will eat you up.
Now, you don’t have to tell everyone about it, just one or two people who are truly important to you – a partner, a friend, a parent. Someone who you know wants to love and support you, who can help you on this journey. No one can help you if no one knows you’re struggling.
Below are some tips to help you take the first step.
Decide what you want to say
There is no right or wrong way to go about telling someone something that makes you feel vulnerable, but it helps to think it through just a bit so you don’t feel so nervous when you do. You don’t have to come up with a complete script, just the basics of what you want to say. Think about how dealing with your skin has affected you, why you want them to know this, what it means to you to share this with them.
Decide when you want to say it
Deciding to tell a loved one is one thing, actually doing it is another. You’re probably going to still want to avoid actually having the conversation, but don’t wait for the “perfect time”, it doesn’t exist. You’re going to be opening up and feeling vulnerable, so it’s never going to be comfortable, but as someone once told me – most relief is found on the other side of an awkward 10 minute conversation.
Just pick a time in your mind – tomorrow after dinner, Sunday when we meet for coffee. Whenever works for you, but don’t keep putting it off. If you keep avoiding it, tell the other person so you’re accountable. “Hey, I’d like to tell you something after work today.”
Tell them what you want from them first
Someone who loves you will probably want to “fix” the problem for you. Therefore, they are going to want to give you advice, or even try to down play your feelings – “I don’t see what the big deal is”. (They only do this because it hurts them to see you hurt, and they don’t know how else to help.)
Let them know you aren’t looking for help as much as you are looking for support. Ask them to just listen if that’s all you want.
Don’t expect them to fully understand
In fact, they may not understand at all. They likely see you entirely different than you see yourself, so it won’t make sense to them. It may be hard for them to understand why your acne affects you so much, because they see you as amazing and wonderful, and your acne doesn’t change that.
They may not “get it”, but that’s ok. They don’t need to know why it bothers you, just that it does.
Point them to this article
I’m ok with initiating the conversation for you. Send them this article and tell them you’d like to talk to them about this. It can help ease you into the conversation, but also prep them. Hopefully it helps you both understand this is something many people deal with. Emotional struggle because of acne is real, and that’s ok. No one has to go it alone.
And if you’re still not ready to share how much your acne affects you, share it here. Post in the comments (anonymously if you like) just to get it off your shoulders. I’ll always listen.
Until next time.