Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Uncomfortable in my own skin

It’s a 'down day', admittedly, but that’s how I feel.

If you’ve read this blog for any time, you’ll know that I am painfully (and I use that word deliberately) self-conscious about my weight/size.  But now I have additional uglyfying things to pull me down too.  There’s a reason all this has hit me at once and I’ll come to that in a bit.

I was pretty lucky with my skin as an adolescent: only a very few, occasional spots.  But I’m making up for it now.  I’ve had psoriasis for about 15 years – mainly on my scalp.  Psoriasis is when skin grows too quickly, forming silvery or red raised scaly patches – that’s not a scientific explanation but my best approximation of it.  That means that, on my head, you don’t see it but you do see what can look like enormous lumps of dandruff.  I also got it behind and in my ears.  Of course I’ve been self conscious about that, but have told myself bracingly that it’s not so bad.  Then I started to get patches on my legs.  This mostly happened in the winter when I was wearing opaques nearly every day and when I had bare legs in the summer, it would clear up pretty quickly.  Until it didn’t.  Now I have multiple patches on my legs, mostly angry red.  My husband thought I’d been badly bitten at first, but I have some very large patches.  I’ve seen the dermatologist and had various creams prescribed but they don’t get rid of it totally, just sort of fade the patches and new ones form frequently.  It will soon (hopefully) be bare leg weather but I don’t want to bare this.  I’m trying to find longer skirts to wear to work, but clothes are tricky for me at the best of times. 

Then at a foundation trial at a beauty counter, the assistant asked what I do about the ‘redness’ on my face.  Reader, I hadn’t really noticed it much, but I had a close look at my skin and there is was.  Because of the way I feel about myself, I have become adept at applying make-up or drying my hair without actually looking at myself (because I find that distressing).  I mentioned it to the dermatologist and she said it looked like rosacea and gave me (another) cream.  It doesn’t seem to have helped and the condition seems to be worsening.  If I have a drink, particularly, I flush up massively.  I’d told myself that although I could feel it, it probably didn’t show.  Until I was at a work drinks last night and it was commented on.  I went to the loo and I was glowing like some sort of neon sign.

Now, I don’t have it particularly badly – I knew someone once whose cheeks looked like they’d been grated and I know you can get pustules with it, whereas I just get a few spots.  But the cumulative effect of my weight, my skin (legs and head (and arms to a lesser extent)), and my scarlet face just feels too much to bear (or bare).  Like psoriasis, rosacea isn’t ‘curable’.  And it deteriorates with time so it’s only going to get worse.  I’ve got my first thread vein on my face – the first of many more to come.  It’s a particularly bitter realisation, as once I got past the teenage years of wanting to be tanned like everyone else, I’ve never minded being pale (I am very pale!) and have quite liked my skin.  There are so few things I like about myself that I feel pretty rubbish that this has been taken away.  In fact, I can’t think of anything else I do like about myself.  I like the colour of my hair but nothing else about it, for example, and that’s the only other thing and it’s with rather a lot of qualifiers. 

In an attempt to focus on silver linings, I had thought I would find aging easier than most.  Because I haven’t been attractive (except for a very brief time which spanned ages 16-19), I didn’t think I would feel aging as acutely as someone who has been pretty or beautiful.  I hadn’t calculated that I too would deteriorate – just from a much lower starting point.

I guess it’s the same as the strategy I have for my weight: damage limitation is probably the best I’m going to manage.  And just because I don’t achieve much, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try or that I should give up entirely.  All this is making me increasingly introverted though: I really don’t want to go out with anyone other than my husband or my closest friends.  A work social occasion is very difficult for me, increasingly so, I dread them and feel terrible about myself at the end of them.  There is nothing so lonely as feeling alone and the misfit in a group.  I suppose that the latest one has taught me something: don’t drink any alcohol, no matter how tempting.

In not entirely unrelated news, I am at my halfway point in my ‘stone off in 2 months’ campaign.  Admittedly tomorrow is WI day so I’m predicting a maximum of 2lbs off.  Quite a long way off the 7lbs I’d hoped for.  You’d think I’d be used to this, but I’m not.


Seren said...

Well, I've met you and I know that you are beautiful but of course, I realise that it is what you feel about yourself that is important here, and the opinion of others won't influence that.

I honestly have no useful advice to give with regards skin issues but is it worth trying alternative consultants and products? There might yet be an answer.

I completely understand how you feel though. I suffered badly from facial hyperhidrosis (sweating!!) for years. Couple that with a weight problem and well...I always felt like the sweaty fat girl. It does make you introverted, terribly so. The problem is mainly fixed now but I think the key thing is that other people notice a lot less than you give them credit for and, equally, those that do are probably not making any sort of moral judgements.

Please keep your lovely chin up. And have a wonderful Easter weekend.


amy said...

May I say that I don't think it's possible that you were beautiful from "16-19," and then suddenly were not. Many commenters on this blog have attested to your inner and outer beauty. If I remember correctly, you have said in the past that this is the only time period during which your father paid a lot of attention to you and seemed proud of you. You have attributed this attention to your looks at the time. Is it possible that it was because your father was attentive, you felt attractive? Conversely, is it possible that you attributed his periods of inattention to your perceived unattractiveness?

Peridot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peridot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peridot said...

Thanks Seren and have a lovely Easter yourself!


Peridot said...

Well, it's certainly a theory. And I can see how you came to it. But actually it was the only period of my life when I was slim! It's as prosaic and uncomplicated as that. And as difficult too.

Peridot said...

PS And trust me when I say that Lesley and Seren are just being kind! Bless their cottons...!

amy said...

Please just be kind to yourself. I know it's much easier said than done, but please try.