The Hidden Side Effects of Severe Acne – Depression, Anxiety & Low Self-Esteem That Ruins Your Life

L severe cystic acneThis post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Have you read my Acne Story yet? It’s two separate posts about my 17-year-long history battle with severe acne. Cystic acne. Nodules, pustules, and papules. Acne that itched like hell. Acne that was physically painful. Acne that was inflamed, angry, and covered 90%+ of my face. Stubborn acne that wouldn’t go away no matter what I did, not to mention the simultaneously-occuring eczema-related skin conditions that were just as impossible to get rid of.

If you haven’t read those two posts yet, I hope you’ll check them out! In those blogs, I explain how I finally figured out what was causing my skin problems, how the eczema and acne were actually related, and how I finally got clear!

Trust me, my acne story isn’t the story you’ve heard a million times before.

L severe cystic acne

I intentionally wrote my story for those of you who are (or have) suffered like I did with acneic skin. Maybe you’ve also been suffering for years on end, tried every over-the-counter solution, every natural approach, and even been to the dermatologist without getting any answers or any results.

If that’s you – you’ve seen my pictures by now. You know that I know how you feel!

And as I was writing those two posts, something else occurred to me. I left out a HUGE and IMPORTANT part of the story. I didn’t mean to leave it out, but there just wasn’t enough room to do it justice.

No, this huge, important part of the story needs its own post.

How Acne Was Ruining My Life

Today I want to share with you about the hidden side effects of acne. The invisible side (oh, the irony!). The dark side that doesn’t get talked about enough.

The depression. The anxiety. The shame. The embarrassment & humiliation. The hopelessness.

The way acne comes in and destroys every precious ounce of your self esteem.

The way severe acne disfigures you in such a way that it becomes almost impossible to look people in the eye.

The way acne stops you dead in your tracks. You can’t bear to be seen in your current state, so you make excuses not to go out.

The way you no longer recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror. In fact, you avoid that person at all costs.

The way friends, family, and perfect strangers keep offering you unsolicited advice on how to clear your skin, and you accept it with every bit of grace you can muster, but inside – your spirit is crushed again & again.

If you’re brave, you may confide in someone else about how the acne makes you feel, and how people’s constant comments make you feel – but they can’t really, truly understand, because they’ve never been where you are.

Acne kept me from making friends and having new experiences

If you’ve read my acne story, you’ll know that I’d had acne since I was 13, and it didn’t ever fully go away until I was 29. You’ll also know that my acne had started as something I considered normal teenage acne, and that after lots of treatments including antibiotics, it eventually erupted into deep, painful, disfiguring, itchy, cystic acne.

When my skin was at its worst, I was in college… the time of life that you should be making new friends, trying new things, having lots of fun, right?

But instead I was miserable. I was so embarrassed of my skin, I could hardly face the world or behave as a normal, functioning human being.

At church, people would come up and start making casual conversation about my skin with me after the service. They wanted to know what I’d tried and make their recommendations. This humiliated me and embittered me.

Instead of making friends and having new experiences, I was hiding in my bedroom, sleeping my life away in depression.

Acne kept me from pursuing romantic relationships

Acne made me feel unworthy. Unworthy of love, and especially the romantic type.

I remember when I was at the height of my cystic acne, experiencing a level of breakouts most people will never understand. I was dating someone long-distance at the time, and I went to see him for the weekend.

After driving 2 hours to his house, I arrived to discover I had forgotten my makeup bag at home.. I felt my stomach drop. And then I began berating myself for being so stupid and careless. At that time, there wasn’t anything worse that could have happened to me.

I was also a college student – which is to say I was absolutely broke! I drove to the drugstore and spent $40 I didn’t have to replace the makeup I’d left at home, because I couldn’t let my boyfriend or any of his family members see me without it.

My boyfriend was never mean about my skin – he never said a thing! In fact, he was great, even if he ultimately wasn’t right for me. But just imagine the deeper impact my bad skin was having on my relationship.

If I couldn’t even show him my real, honest, physical face, how was I ever going to share any vulnerable side of myself?

I couldn’t. I didn’t.

Acne kept me from pursuing my interests

Like most young people, I had been a teenager with a lot of dreams and a lot of ambition. Even when I had moderate acne in my early teens, it didn’t keep me from having fun, having friends, or expressing my creativity in whatever way I chose.

But by my twenties, when my skin was the worst it had ever been, that changed.

For the longest time, I had wanted to have a Youtube Channel and become a beauty vlogger. I would record & upload videos, eager to discuss makeup, beauty, and fashion. But when my skin got so terrible, I abandoned ship completely. How was anyone ever going to trust the girl with such terrible skin to recommend products or share her fashion?

I had no interest in showing my skin in photos or on video. Even Photoshop couldn’t fix the problems I was having.

From time to time, if I felt like my skin was doing better, I would try to go back to Youtube and make another go. But ultimately, I abandoned this dream because of my acne.

Acne made me a victim

All day long we’re talking to ourselves in our heads. Speaking to ourselves and listening to our stream of thoughts.

And my self-talk was the most hateful, negative, unforgiving, harsh words I could muster – constantly. I told myself things like.. You’re ugly. Your skin is awful. No one can stand to look at you. No one will ever love you. You are unworthy. You will never make it through this. Acne is your forever reality – it’s never going to change.

That constant narrative of negativity was drowning me, but I was so used to it that I didn’t even recognize it. And I let it eat me alive, keep me down, keep me small, keep myself hidden. Until my acne became a crutch and a safety net and an excuse to quit bettering myself, to quit trying.

Something had to give.

How Acne Made Me a Better Person

I don’t want to end this post on a negative note, but for some of you – I’m sure you have told yourself the same exact things I was telling myself. I’m sure you have been in the pit of despair, lost in the darkness of your skin condition. And I want you to know that there is hope.

I remember when my skin was awful and I was constantly researching for the cure. I told myself at that time, “If I ever figure it out, I am going to freely shout it from the rooftops incase it’s the thing that will help someone else.”

If you want to know what my cure was, it was something called fungal acne. And I have tons of posts on this blog and on my Youtube channel all about it.

I was so tired of getting unsolicited advice, but I was even more tired of trying all these supposed “cures” that didn’t do anything for me! It still blows my mind that in 17 years, I never heard mention of fungal acne even once! Not from a dusty old corner of the internet, not on the forums, not in any holistic eBook I purchased, and not from a single dermatologist.

It took me 17 years to figure out what was causing my acne, but I finally did. And the truth is – I had to start working on my mental health long before I ever cured my skin conditions. Acne made me who I am today.

  • Acne forced me to take mental health seriously
  • Acne taught me to be resilient
  • Acne gave me empathy for others
  • Acne forced me to grow outside my comfort zone
  • Acne has allowed me to share my story with others
  • Acne has allowed me to help others get clear skin

In the end, acne has given me a platform on which to speak, share, and help others through my own vulnerability.

If you’re in a dark place right now – I want you to know that you are loved. You are worthy, and you are capable of pursuing your wildest dreams – clear skin or not. I’m here for you! If you need some encouragement, reach out to me on Instagram, Youtube, or in the comments below.

And finally, I dare you to share your acne story in the comments section of this post. Allow yourself to be seen & vulnerable! I promise – it is going to help you, and it is going to help others.