May 19, 2014
My once-flawless skin is now covered with scars, traces of an acne breakout I’ve undergone for the past two months. In the age of social media, we don’t often share the downsides of our daily lives. We see hard bodies, beautiful vacations, happy children and perfect marriages wondering what’s wrong with our imperfect lives. We compare ourselves with others who freely share their success and hide their failures in marriage, weight gain, depression or facial defects. After all, when we expose a supposed weakness, we become vulnerable to challenges that make us feel defensive. While life trials are painful to experience, no one can make you feel shame, guilt, unattractive or weak without your consent. If you can live your truth in the firestorm of others condemnation, you can become your own hero.
One morning a few flesh-colored bumps appeared on my forehead. This was surprising for someone who never experienced acne in the past – not even in her teens. A few days later several other bumps would appear. Even though many pimples were extracted during facials, more would pop up the next day. My skin was perennially red, inflamed and in pain. I didn’t know how to control it.
While I routinely applied topical medications, washed my face thoroughly, used natural remedies and saw an esthetician, nothing would cure the breakout. Instinctively I knew, however, that focusing on superficial symptoms wouldn’t stop the internal cause for why the breakout began.
I remember distinctly when the challenges originated. Personally, we were in the process of moving. Professionally, I was on writing deadlines and building the NEM campaign all while managing my elderly care homes and operating my household. Physically, I sustained an injury that left me unable to move my neck or apply any impact on my body. After months of no rest and another round of public criticism, the weight of my world started collapsing around me.
Stress has been a silent cause of weight gain, constipation – and now acne – in my life. The trauma you feel internally will always manifest externally, whether it’s how you look, how you act or how you create the world around you. Every morning is a constant struggle to feel gratitude despite seeing physical remnants of a recent past teeming with stress, depression, anxiety and fear.
Years before I had children, I underwent a similar struggle – only this time, it was my weight. When I took hormones to correct the two-year loss of my menstrual cycle, it resulted in weight gain. My body was also changing – and storing fat – from years of disordered eating. When I was 25lbs overweight counting every calorie and exercising twice a day, I failed to see any physical success for several years. My lack of results reflected prior years I spent depressed, often measuring my self-worth with how I looked. I knew my body’s equilibrium needed to re-calibrate and find safety in a spirit that would love, accept and nourish it. So even though I didn’t feel beautiful, I believed that I was. Even though I didn’t feel strong, I said that I was. Most of all, even though I didn’t look outwardly fit, I knew in my heart, that inside of me lay a beautiful, strong and fit human being that will one day ‘show the world.’
So I put away the scale. And today, I put away the mirror.
If you look at something every day hoping to see change, it won’t change. Unlike the lies hidden in infomercials, advertisements and even the pictures of your friend’s Facebook page, change doesn’t happen instantly. It starts with acceptance – a realistic, often painful, tally of where you’re at – and a desire to change it. Once you create a plan of action, don’t dig into the details or press too hard to hasten the process, like a pimple, it will inflame, become agitated, and take longer to heal. Life always gets harder right before it gets better. I learned this lesson the hard way several times in my life and I’m pretty sure God will make sure I re-learn it again when I forget to find daily balance.
Never in a million years did I envision being the May cover model for Shape Malaysia.
This image was taken in January (before my breakout, obviously! haha)
Some inside images…
These are a succession of camera phone shots of my forehead. The first shot was taken in March.
As you can see, it got pretty out of control!
Me! This was taken on the Big Island, Hawaii in 2005.
It’s always humbling to look back at your journey.
Despite feeling tired and unattractive, this man makes me smile.
I didn’t want to go out to his surprise dinner but I ended up finding
a decent dress and concealer! LOL
Mother’s Day Tea Party at Christian’s pre-k class!
He painted my nails and made me a hat and bracelet.
Follow my on Instagram for more daily pics!
You are still beautiful & inspiring.. acne & all!
Your strength and humility is contagious.
Thank you for sharing! You are beautiful, intelligent, tenacious, and inspiring! We all have things we don’t like about ourselves. I am particularly self conscious about my “bat wing” arms right now BUT in the end, I decided I don’t care what others think. I have an amazing family, my health, and my life. So I wear my sleeveless shirts with pride and remind myself that I have lost 5″ in my arms!!
Hi Maria!!! I follow you for a long time, but never commented. Your humility is contagious.
I am a physician, and I’ve seen a lot of times you kinda saying that we wouldn’t be really needed if people would exercise and eat right. Which I partially agree with.
However, I would encourage you to go see a dermatologist. At our age (I am assuming you are also in your 30’s) acne is not that common anymore. You could be suffering from something called Rosacea instead. It is related to the intake of some spicy foods, but if it is indeed rosacea, there are some other things you must do to prevent it from happening again.
I am really sorry for being so intrusive, but I really love you, think you are truly inspirational.
I am just hoping I can provide some guidance, for a change (instead of you guiding me to a healthy lifestyle)
Maria, you’re my girl! You’re inspirational and you will over come your stress! Take it easy. You’re beautiful inside and out. God bless.
About a week ago I had used a drug store foundation while at work I had felt a burning like sensation on my face the next day I had a pimple rash mess on my lower chin cheek area. I have been using vichy acne wash and it helped clear it out and used the hydration cream and my face is almost back to normal in one weeks time. You said you did it all but if your up to trying something new give vichy a try . I hope your face clears up and thank you for your honesty as always.
Hi Maria…i am a new follower in your blog. R
I really admire your life style. I read about your journey and it has inspired me so much. Your honesty to reveal your insecurity behind your achievements was really amazing. Breath in Breath out dear. You get over it soon. Nothing is impossible. God Bless!
I had a very similar experience and was left with terrible scars. I was always embarrassed and didn’t go out without makeup. I finally took the plunge and went to am esthetician to see what they would recommend. After 4 microdermabrasion treatments I almost back to normal and didn’t have to use any harsh chemicals. I just wanted to share and let you know there is hope!
I really enjoyed ur post and u couldn’t be more right on. I work in dermatology and I think you may have a condition called Pityrosporum Folliculitis. I can’t tell for sure, but it’s worth seeing a derm in ur area because its easily treatable with topicals. Regardless, u look beautiful but I know we are so hard on ourselves 🙂
I had a similar breakout and nothing worked to clear it up. I then tried washing my face with Nutribiotic grapefruit seed extract and it cleared up in 3 days! This extract has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. I highly recommend it!
Where can I get the nutribiotic grapefruit seed extract?
I’m 26 and I seem to fight pimples and blackheads on a daily basis. My esthetician said some are caused by clogged hair follicles. I love what you stand for and how real you seem to be. Thank you for your posts!
Hang in there! Our bodies sure act weird sometimes. There is always some sort of twist or turn that comes about as the years pass and things change. That being said, your attitude will get you through and I love your new bangs! Way to rock it!
Maria, do you drink apple cider vinegar? I find that its great for cleansing your system and clearing up acne. Mix 1tbsp with water and drink any time of day. Also, apple cider vinegar diluted with water is a great toner and antibacterial when spread directly on your skin. Try it!
I have struggled with acne on my scalp beneath my hair for many years. Antibiotics only worked when I took them and I developed an allergy to the most effective one. Various shampoos had some impact but not as much as I wanted. I finally tried acupuncture which has actually worked to my surprise and delight. I have almost no breakouts on my scalp now. Please consider it.
Maria, thank you so much for your honesty. I’m sure stress is the main culprit behind the outbreak, but I’m wondering, have you changed your shampoo? some leave a film on your skin that doesn’t let your skin breathe and blocks pores. I adore your stories, you are so empowering. Thank you!!!!!!!
You’re a real deep thkrnei. Thanks for sharing.
I agree with the above poster. This looks like pityrosporum folliculitis.
HAHAHAHA You don’t get paid to be thin!? So you’re not compensated for hawking GNC you just do it out of the kindness of your heart. Sure.
The statement “no one can make you feel bad without your consent” is victim blaming and there’s a reason REAL psychiatrists who went to REAL college don’t say that to their patients. Besides for someone so undeterred by criticism you sure remove comments saying anything other than worship and adoration real fast.
Stop saying you work a FT when you just sit around waiting for old people to die. You’re not that important get over yourself.