Today’s Sunday Snippet is from the health, self-help, educational, inspirational book Acne: Just Another Four-Letter Word by Aarti Patel. It was published by D2 Books and is currently available as a Paperback, ISBN 978-0996775915, published on 07.19.18 and an eBook, ASIN B07FPMBDBX, published on 07.18.18. Acne: Just Another Four-Letter Word by Aarti Patel is suitable for all readers but it is aimed at people aged 12 and above.
Synopsis from Acne: Just Another Four-Letter Word by Aarti Patel
Reclaim your life from acne.
Are you tired of wasting money and time on creams, pills, supplements, and diets that don’t improve your acne? Maybe you’ve been dreaming of the day when a miracle product will appear that’ll actually work. In the meantime, you’ve been frustrated by the ongoing battle with your skin and having to revolve your life around breakouts.
What the skincare and medical industries don’t tell you is that the mind is a powerful tool that can help you defend your skin against acne, as well as boost your confidence and self-image. Why spend another second changing your whole routine around for acne when you can mentally and practically walk away from it, starting now?
Acne: Just Another Four-Letter Word is a book that will show you how to do just that. You’ll learn how acne is not only a physical symptom, but also a bully that you can stand up to using a unique mind-body approach. Step by step, Dr. Patel explains how to separate your identity from acne, strengthen both your skin and social boundaries, and take back control of your life. Your full-time job shouldn’t have to be tending to this four-letter word. Start writing your goodbye letter to acne today.
Chapter 1: Meet the Real Face of Acne
Message: Every person who deals with acne knows something important about this skin condition that no one ever talks about. The mind and body are both involved. We want acne to be just a physical symptom so badly, but anyone who’s had chronic persistent breakouts knows that we not only “have acne,” we also live it and think about it all the time. First thing in the morning. Before bedtime. Out in social situations, and even when we’re interacting with those we know well at home. All of a sudden, acne is not a simple physical symptom. It’s a word that carries a lot of weight in our lives. It becomes our way of life. Our full-time job then becomes finding a fix for acne.
It’s a desperate mission, and I know this from experience. I’m a naturopathic doctor now who works with patients dealing with acne and other chronic health issues. Once upon a time though, I was a teenager and eventually an adult who was always trying to run from the red and irritated bumps on my face. Wherever I turned, there they were.
When I was a year into college and couldn’t take it anymore, I asked my mom to take me to the dermatologist. A specific combination of pharmaceutical treatments helped out my situation, and the prescribed topical medication cleared up my acne during my late teens and early twenties. This was a good time for my skin, but the medicine rose in cost each year and I was also starting to wonder: Where did the acne go? It may seem a strange thought from someone who was so desperate to kick acne’s butt, but I felt suspicious about chemicals that could immediately wipe away my body’s symptoms. I had always been interested in health, and this magical disappearing act of acne didn’t seem healthy or natural.
Once insurance stopped covering the prescriptions and I started living life without them, I was met with a horrifying sight in the mirror. Underneath the surface, my skin had retaliated and the acne was worse than ever. Rather than clustering around my cheeks with an occasional bump on my chin, the new colonies of acne set up their homes everywhere. Even on my forehead. I was in my mid-twenties at the time, and it was not a period of my life when I wanted to deal with acne again. I missed my “perfect” skin, the kind I had enjoyed before I hit my teenage years. The kind that pharmaceutical drugs had made superficially possible.
My new life’s purpose became fixing my skin. Like many people dealing with acne, I tried drugstore acne products, natural treatments, and homemade concoctions. I stopped eating foods that allegedly made acne worse, and I scoured the web for highly reviewed skin care lines. Often when you’re determined to solve a problem, your options should become clearer, but the more I searched, the more hopeless I felt. “I’m doing all the right things,” I thought, “but it’s not making any difference!” In fact, my skin was getting worse over time as my frustration grew.
Still, I kept on researching about acne, day after day. Eventually I turned toward a career in naturopathic medicine because I knew acne was affecting my health on more than just a superficial level. I wanted to find out what was going on at the root of my symptoms, and one day I hoped to help other people who were going through what I was going through. But first I had to help myself. The question was: What was I really going through? What does anyone go through when acne takes hold of their life?
We are led to believe that the biggest challenges we’re facing involve things like hormones, clogged pores, and bacteria. Other common words we hear related to skin changes include: sebum, comedones, comedogenic, cysts, sebaceous glands, T-zone, inflammation, hair follicles, and the list goes on. Why is it important or helpful to know about all this scientific stuff? To a large extent, it isn’t. People who are struggling with non-stop acne don’t need to fixate on the nitty-gritty microscopic view of their pimples any more than someone with digestive upset needs to think about their mucosal lining and rugae. If you don’t know what all these words mean, they’re not important. The point is, knowing the terminology and the physical aspects of the bumps doesn’t open doors to healing and resolving acne symptoms.
Medical experts, estheticians, nutritionists, and even T.V. commercials will tell you the opposite. They will imply that the more you know about your skin physically, the closer you are to stopping your acne for good. But they haven’t found a cure using all their knowledge! With all the modern science and technology available today, if the experts had found a real solution to acne, we would have heard about it by now. Sometimes, pharmaceuticals and expensive skin care products can temporarily clear or alleviate symptoms while you’re using (and paying for) them consistently. However, from my own experience and talking to patients about theirs, relying on any substance, whether chemical or natural, can become unsettling. We can get sick of being dependent on a crutch, annoyed at the time and cost involved in our regimens, and superstitious that if we quit the products, we’re sure to be at the mercy of acne forever.
I’d like to avoid extremes and mention that acne treatments and products can be somewhat helpful toward bringing about clearer skin and alleviating self consciousness about breakouts. The skin care lines, cosmetics, and treatments we try can serve as a bridge toward getting us from point A—of uncontrollable acne—to point B, where acne is improved and not a huge focus in our lives. The problem becomes though, most people are not satisfied with using products as just a practical tool, and rather they are on the hunt for a permanent cure that doesn’t exist out there in our world.
Because products seldom solve the problem, the main message that experts have for their patients or clients often boils down to the following: It’s somehow your fault for failing to keep the bad bacteria away and not maintaining perfectly balanced hormones. If only you had a gluten- and dairy-free diet and stayed away from all processed and inflammatory foods. By the way, you’re allergic to everything in your diet. If only you meditated regularly. If only you quit coffee and sugar for good. It’s too bad you’re not good at reducing your stress level down to 0. And unfortunately, your filtered water is not pure enough. Most likely your home environment is too toxic for your skin to be healthy. Finally, fruit is bad for your skin. I’m not suggesting that any of this is true, but my patients have come in to their first appointments upset that their health care providers had been giving them all of these messages. No joke.
Do you buy all of that?
I tried to follow recommendations like these when my acne was severe, and nothing clicked. Worse yet, the changes weren’t sustainable for the long-term. Even if your food sensitivity test shows that you’re allergic to everything under the sun, how long can you tolerate abstaining from all those foods in your diet? If you’re constantly vigilant of toxins in your environment, what’s to prevent you from going overboard and becoming hypersensitive and even anxious around all stimuli and molecules in the air? I personally couldn’t maintain such a flawless and clean lifestyle and during my short bouts trying these methods, my skin didn’t clear up or seem happier. In moderation, healthier habits did help me feel good overall. But my skin’s response was not remarkable.
I’ve had patients who, prior to seeing me, overhauled their whole lives “correctly” as recommended by various health providers. Not only were these individuals still getting acne, but the lifestyle changes were also creating more stress than patients had felt when they were only dealing with breakouts. And with more lifestyle stress comes more skin stress. In certain cases, patients reported that their acne had only gotten worse with drastic changes to their life, even with those changes being supposedly healthier.
Much of the time the main triggers behind chronic acne are not physical ones like hormones, bacteria, sebum, or clogged pores. Yes, these are all part of the string of events leading up to a pimple or a breakout. But first, something has to start this chain reaction. In other words, the physical features are the effects, not the root causes of acne.
By treating acne like it’s only a physical phenomenon, we’re ignoring a simple but important fact—the body and mind exist together. Acne is shaped by our thoughts, our emotions, and also by social influences all around us. The high expectations and pressures that we face, ideals we’re trying to live up to, and the drive to be perfect in this world all affect our skin. When we open up the door and head out into the world, the first thing people see and interact with is our face. Our skin is the boundary between us and the world. It’s not just physical in nature, it’s environmental and social as well.
We need a new playbook for acne, one that doesn’t revolve around restrictive and stressful lifestyle changes. We also need a more creative approach that doesn’t turn “solving the acne problem” into a way of life or a full-time job. People may try and convince you that this rigid mindset is the only way to get rid of our breakouts, but I haven’t seen it work well yet. Do you really want to focus on acne all the time?
The truth is, acne is just another four-letter word. And when you boil it down, this vulgar little word is also just a bully.
What do I mean by this?….
Acne has a mean and nasty little personality, and it’s trying to steal your energy and attention for itself by pushing you around.
Let me start by sharing a metaphor. Imagine that you are walking down the street and someone shoves you down to the ground. They start calling you names and disrespecting you. You get up and try to walk away, but this person follows you and keeps criticizing everything about you. They are not giving up. What would you do next? Would you invite them into a fancy restaurant and try to make them happy by ordering a five-course meal? Would you start paying them compliments and getting on their good side in the hopes that they leave you alone? Would you invite them to your home and rearrange everything there to accommodate your new guest? If you do all of that, it seems like this menacing person will stick around for good.
Acne is like that unwanted guest, and when we start flattering acne by changing our lives around for it, it actually gets comfortable and plans to stick around. This four-letter word is a relentless bully that is trying to run your life and tell you what to do. It curses you out on a daily basis and proclaims that you’re weak against it, unable to do anything to make it go away. It gets in the way of things that you want, such as social interaction, putting yourself out there using your talents, and standing out as the unique person you are. It is trying to convince you that pimples are the most important thing in your life and that you should spend all your time getting to know them and solve them. It tells you that you are wrong and that you need to fix who you are. Wrong in what way? Just wrong. This little obscene word is being mean to you.
The mainstream health and skin care culture tells us to keep feeding the beast of acne by spending all our time and resources on appeasing it. Why are they giving us the runaround? Because they don’t have the answers. The less people know about something, the more answers they provide about it. Have you noticed that? During my personal and professional experience treating acne, I haven’t found one single answer either. I don’t believe one exists for this symptom. But I have tried a different approach to handling this bully that gives skin a real chance to be healthy and clear. I’ve seen it work for myself and for patients who are open to doing one thing:
Standing up for themselves.
It’s time to take back our lives. When we work around the clock for acne, we’re playing into its hands by becoming invisible. It wants to overshadow you so that you fixate on it constantly. Eventually, all you see are the breakouts when you look in the mirror. You catalog where they are, how long they’ve been there, what products you’ve tried on them, and even how the pimples feel on a day to day basis. You might care less how you’re doing than how your bumps are doing. Over time, it becomes more and more difficult to see yourself clearly for who you are. You wake up to acne, you go to bed with acne. Is this what you want?
Unfortunately, the acne solutions out there today are encouraging us to live in this manner. They add fuel to the fire of an already stressful lifestyle and mindset that stem from having acne. The skin care regimens, diets, and expert recommendations put acne at the center of your life and have you revolve around it. You spin around, and around, and around. And you arrive at the same spot. It’s a tiring process that never acknowledges just how much acne is pushing you around. The acne solutions out there just shove you around even more.
Are you ready to leave the stressful safety of this hamster wheel and face the four-letter bully itself? The goal of this book is to help you do just that. No more running, no more hiding, not just from pimples, but from any influence in life that is feeding acne. By glaring right back at acne and making it clear that you’re not going to put up with it, you unleash your innate potential for health and healing. The natural intelligence that your body already has for health is more powerful than any product, supplement, diet, and even pharmaceutical out there. And unlike acne treatments that are marketed as quick fixes, your body’s own potential to promote clear skin costs no money and creates long-lasting change.
This post was submitted by the author Aarti Patel
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