The content of the following post is very honest and possibly disgusting, especially for those of you who have never suffered with the same problem. My usual reaction to potentially embarrassing personal problems is to ignore them and thus not allow myself to be embarrassed, but I've decided to gather my thoughts on this subject. Thank you for your understanding.
I remember a boy asking me why my nose was all shiny when I tried putting Neosporin on a zit to make it heal faster. Or all the times someone asked me if I had bumped my head. I can't forget the times I've been told my face was bleeding, and the times that I've sat in public with a strategically-placed hand that was supposedly supporting my chin really putting pressure on a bleeding zit and then later rubbing a moistened finger there in hopes that there wasn't blood smeared on my face since no mirror was nearby. What about all the times I mentally berated myself for not having any cover-up on me? Or the airport security asking if they can take samples of my benzoyl peroxide?
I have zits. A lot of them. Enough to make a humiliated adolescent kid hide from people. And it's a daily part of my life. One zit's getting ready to surface while another painful, underground, never-to-surface one on my chin is making smiling painful, while another is finally fading into a scar, and another is plaguing my lip, and yet another is going for round two, which is even bigger than round one if you can believe it--and on my crooked nose that already sticks out enough to bring attention to it. Zits. On my face. On my neck. On my shoulders. On my back. On my chest. (Yes, wearing swimsuits is a nightmare.) Nary a picture goes through my iPhoto without me wishing I could edit all the blemishes out.
I've had this problem since I was around 12. That's half of my life now. These zits aren't going away; they are something I have to live with.
I have used annoying creams that bleach everything they touch (great for pillow cases and pajamas and shirts and scarves and for that nice bronze look you were hoping for) and the gels that you have to refrigerate (let me tell you, putting that gel in your fridge where your roommates can see it is a really great feeling). I have tried the medicines that upset your stomach no matter what you do, the ones that you have to take on an empty stomach and two hours before eating, and those that can make your teeth turn yellow. I have tried toothpaste, aspirin, heat packs, ice packs, face scrub, Cetaphil, over-moisturizing, over-drying, no chocolate (though it wasn't for that reason), and everything else you can suggest.
Though the medicine I've been on for a while now has taken me from a hideaway teenager status to a cover-up user teenager status (and back to the hideaway if I quit for even a few days), the fact of the matter is, nothing really works. Some dermatologists don't believe you when you say you've used the cream regularly. Some refuse to say the words "zit" or "acne" and change all of your sentences to include the replacement word "complexion." One dermatologist (who must have known it was hopeless) suggested that I marry someone with good skin so that my kids could have hope. But doesn't that make you feel sorry for the dope who gets stuck with the girl with the bad skin? And how does said girl secure and not scare away fabulous-skinned guy?
Paradoxically, the obvious and distracting redness that is all over doesn't stop people like me from playing with zits. They itch. They hurt. They ooze. They peel. They stick out.
So this has brought me to debates with myself. To pop or not to pop? I had one friend who claimed that she had never popped a zit in her life, and she had fabulously clear skin from what I could see. Another friend had horrible acne in high school and it was absolutely disgusting to see the biggest, ready-to-pop white heads you've ever seen that didn't get popped. I always wondered what happened to them--would they eventually pop themselves, or does the body very slowly re-absorb the goop (while everyone else is grimacing)? I've thought about these two friends' examples a lot. But I'm not either of those people.
I wish I could at least find the happy medium. The happy medium where I only pop the ones that are in danger of disgusting other people with their whiteness or blackness. (And supposedly those ones will get better faster if they're popped.) This happy medium would also involve completely leaving everything else alone to do whatever.
I have put signs on my mirror. I have tried to stop myself every time my fingers go to my face, shoulders, back, or chest. I have bribed myself with great awards and set daily goals. But half your life is a long time to have a habit. And when I compare this habit with addictions, I find that yes, picking zits is my unhealthy way of dealing with life. I pick more often when I'm stressed, and when I need to think, I pick without noticing.
I think I'm going to keep trying to quit. Maybe a public announcement of this goal will motivate me. So, people. Give me some advice. Spill the beans about zits.