I wanted to say up front that I don’t want to upset people, or cause offence, with this post. I’ve wanted to write about denial for a long time but I have struggled to word it in a way I’m happy with because I was worried about upsetting someone. So I’m just going to write it as though I was talking to my sister or my friend: sometimes tough love is what we need.
So let’s start with the facts. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition. If someone is trying to sell you a product or a routine that ‘cured’ their rosacea, they are lying to you. I see so many charlatans online, selling hope to desperate people and it makes me furious. I have actually banned the word ‘cure’ in my Rosacea Facebook group because I believe that false hope is dangerous.
I do believe that many people can get their rosacea under control with a lot of work. I would say that I have flare ups on average twice a month now, and these are usually a result of something unavoidable like stress. I have underlying redness from broken veins, which means my skin is more pink than other people’s on a day to day basis, but the actual burning, itching, pulsing flare ups are few and far between now.
And when I tell people this, they always ask me how I’ve got to this point.
I think a lot of people focus on getting rid of rosacea and returning to their ‘normal’ life which causes a lot of issues. They spend so much time and energy dreaming about their old skin, how they didn’t appreciate it at the time, and so getting back to that point is their ultimate goal.
Many people come to me wanting a silver-bullet-cure and they are often upset when I tell them that my rosacea is under control because I continue to live every single day with my rosacea in mind. I spent years finding my triggers, I changed almost every aspect of my life (thinking about diet, temperature, skincare, alcohol, work, psychological effects… the list goes on and on). I truly wish I could give you one skincare routine to copy, or one supplement, or one item of food to cut out, and you would be healed. But it’s not that simple.
Denial is a completely natural, and sometimes essential, way in which our bodies protect us but it’s only ever meant to be a short term state while we get used to something new. I get hundreds of emails and messages from people who have just been diagnosed and are overwhelmed, upset, lost. They’ve been given a huge list of potential triggers and their first reaction is ‘my life is over, this list has everything I love on it… I’m not doing it.’ I had the exact same reaction. I was a 21 year old at university and I refused to accept that drinking, diet, sleep, stress, skincare all had an impact. I wanted to enjoy my youth and saw rosacea as something I could ignore until it went away. SPOILERS: It didn’t go away.
I’ve spoken so much about the psychological aspects of rosacea and how much they have an effect on us. Even after years of working on my triggers and lifestyle changes, I still had a mental block when it came to my rosacea. I still had those moments of ‘why me?’, I would still look at old photos of myself and cry, I still had a small voice in the back of my head saying ‘imagine if you woke up tomorrow with a clear face…’ This is nothing short of torture. I was actively injuring myself by continuing with this mentality. How could I begin to heal my face, if my mind was stuck in the past?
There was a certain freedom in drawing a line under the face I had as a teenager and accepting that I might never have perfect skin again. I’m not saying just accept your skin and give up trying to change it – but instead of working against chronic skin issues, time, and genetics I was able to start fresh from where I was: I looked at my skin in its current state and tried to work out how to get better from there. As with most things in life, you cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you deal with it.
I think when it comes to rosacea (or any chronic skin condition or illness), denial can be our way of trying to take away its control – ‘I don’t care if white wine makes my face purple, I’m drinking it anyway. You’re not the boss of me!’ But really, that’s a false sense of control. The only way to take control of your rosacea is to befriend it… learn everything you can about it… and then take it down from the inside.
Having said all of this, I know that I had to reach that point where my skin was so bad, and my rosacea was affecting me so much, that I put it on a tipping scale with my lifestyle. Which upset me more: My skin? Or the thought of overhauling my life? At some point that balance will tip and every blog post I write, every photo I post, every story I share from others is here to help you when you reach that point.
I hope you found this blog post helpful – if you did I would really appreciate you sharing it on Facebook, Instagram, twitter, email, Pinterest, carrier pigeon, smoke signal, or snail mail. Every single time someone shares my content it could reach a new person who needs help, who feels lost in this condition, and it means the world that you are all here helping with that.
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