What is OCD?
Many people are aware of the mental health condition of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) a disorder that occurs when a person gets stuck in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. These obsessions are usually unwanted thoughts that bring upon distressed feelings.
OCD and the Skin
Now normally we associate OCD with someone obsessively washing their hands, opening doors, and checking if things like the stove have been shut off. But when it comes to OCD it doesn’t just end there. When you have OCD the compulsive thoughts can be about anything including the skin.
After research and my own experience obsession over the skin has been referred to as Acne Dsymporhia and in even more extreme cases is called Dermatillomania. This disorder involves extreme skin picking that results in lesions. I myself never experienced this but did experience Acne Dysmorphia, where my thoughts were centered on my skin and worrying about it where it caused me emotional distress. It caused me to not want to go out and not want to look in the mirror but at the same time obsess in the mirror. Obsessively checking my skin and feeling if I had any blemishes or bumps.
Living with OCD can be quite exhausting and make it a struggle in terms of focusing and concentration, but is possible to overcome. There is medication for OCD which can be the same treatment used to treat anxiety. Some have found success with medication, but for some and from my experience it was not the answer.
It actually gave me more anxiety, made me feel numb at times, tired, and heightened suicidal thoughts. But this was my experience and everyone is affected differently. Counselling, exercise, meditation, keeping busy, and using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are effective tools to use to treat both anxiety and OCD as both maintain a relationship. My skin obsession was caused by stress and anxiety and a mindset that was hard to get out of. It took me about 8 months to overcome. Self-compassion, and realizing my blessings and being grateful were huge ways to look at things in a different perspective. It was my obsession that was making my skin worse and acne, hives and bumps were taking over my life. I was missing out on life.
Some other tips to help stop OCD behaviours are to stop seeking reassurance, to not let thoughts maintain a power over you, and to accept your unwanted thoughts and then try to move onto something else. When you come to realize that maybe that thought is inaccurate then you won’t react to it as much. Not reacting with fear and panic to thoughts is very important. Thoughts we have are just thoughts and not always accurate or reality. Our minds can play tricks on us into believing things that are in fact not true. Something I learned from Youtube videos by OCD recovery coach Ali Greymond. Her videos were very informative and helpful. She also struggled with OCD and continues to provide support online as well as with books.
I am writing this to all those out there who suffer with acne. For myself I’ve had acne since my highschool days. It is something I’ve tackled with till this present day. It is something that is frustrating. It may not seem like a big deal, but it can really affect a person emotionally in a negative way. It can put a damper on the way that you look at yourself. Inevitably, it can cause insecurity and anxiety. The more we stress about it, focus on it, and pick at our acne, the worse it gets. The only way we can get past it is to embrace it.
I believe it was the singer Lorde who said that acne gives character. I loved hearing this and found it to be so true. More recently I had a friend from work also say that once a person is beautiful they always are and acne won’t change that. People are not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside. We have emotions, personalities, and intelligence and that is a huge part of who we are as individuals. At the end of the day no one is perfect or has perfect skin. These celebrities or models we see should not reflect how we look at ourselves. Half the time they are photo shopped or loaded with makeup. In my opinion I wear more makeup now than I did before. I used to believe it was wrong to hide my acne with makeup and it did make it worse, but now I don’t wear the makeup to hide. I wear it because it gives me confidence and to heighten my beauty.
Most of the time acne gets better and scars fade and usually once we get older it gets better. Most of the time it has to do with how we take care of ourselves health wise, what we eat, and are stress levels. For some it doesn’t have anything to do with this. In addition, we all have different skin types so some of us don’t have to worry about getting pimples. There are literally millions of remedies for acne and different things work for different people. I know for me for sure it has gotten better. I still get it but not as bad.
Overall, we should never look down upon ourselves, because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how others look at ourselves, but how we look at ourselves. We should embrace our imperfections. Half the time people don’t even notice or pay attention to it. Acne is obviously something that many people have; others have it worse than others. Mine was never super bad to begin with, but when I was going through anxiety it was pretty bad. I know for myself I just had no confidence about myself. I avoided looking at myself in the mirror. But now that I’m coping a lot better with my anxiety and no longer experiencing it as bad, my acne has gotten a lot better.
The main thing is all about confidence. People who have big personalities don’t worry about blemishes on their face. We live in a society where looks are the way we judge people. Our faces are the first thing that people see so of course we are prone to look at people a certain way. But I think now we are moving away from superficiality and focusing on personality over looks, well at least I hope we are. All in all, I think we are moving towards a time where people are becoming less judgmental. Of course people still focus on beauty and looks, which is notable but I believe that we should never bully, ridicule or judge people who have bad acne.