Yeeiy! It’s yet another week. I am truly grateful for the gift of life. How are you fairing? Please do not give up yet. Even in these tough times, be willing to stand alone when you need to. Keep going.
Thank you for your feedback on Dr. Pamela Njuguna’s blog post last week. It is evident that it served as a therapy for women who have been struggling with acne. All the comments were personal. Some of them left us feeling very miserable. It is really a tough world for women out there. I know this journey too well and I am glad that we are opening up about our struggles and speaking about them. One of my girlfriends in Cardiff, Tshepo Mapanyane, originally from Botswana shares her journey battling adult acne. Here we go. Get some tissue papers, you might need them at some point.
I have been planning to start my own blog as long as I can remember, but somehow, I never get started. I write a column dubbed “Voice Woman” published in the biggest selling newspaper in Botswana; Voice Newspaper. So you would imagine, getting started will be easy for me, right? I keep second-guessing myself. I am not sure what my blog will be centred on, and so, I find myself procrastinating and postponing.
That said, the only thing I knew is, if I were ever to start blogging, it will be raw, candid, real and simply ME. A dear diary type/style that would allow me to tell my truth. Never in a million years did I ever think that my first blog post would be centred around a subject so real to me yet scary. This is simply because I wasn’t decided if I was ready to talk about this yet. Ironically, I have written about it on my column, though in relation to other people. However, I also believe that, sometimes, the best outcomes in life are the ones not planned.
Last week, I read Dr.Pamela Njuguna’s (our beloved residential doctor) blog post on acne, and when I finished reading, I literally broke down. Writing this piece had me teary as I think of the last few months of my struggles battling with adult acne. The Friday before the post was up, I received my dermatology referral letter, and it reads in part;
“You have been added to the waiting list, and you will be contacted in due course. If your condition deteriorates, please contact your referring practitioner.”
Numerous doctors later with each one having received my plea for a referral, I am not sure which one finally filed my request. Secondly, I am not sure if my skin could get any worse. I feel like it has gone through it all, and now, it feels like I have hit the worst of my rock bottom. So when I got the referral letter, I wasn’t sure if I was relieved at finally getting it or simply stunned by the fact that I still have to continue waiting.
Since October 2019, I have consulted with six doctors in the UK and three doctors from Botswana regarding my skin woes. What started off as an unusual, uncommon and unsightly rash progressed to a few spots which I quickly pointed out to my General Practitioner (GP). I can only assume that (though the doctor had not indicated this to me) they probably thought I was a little crazy to be overly concerned with a pimple or two. Hence they only treated the rash on my face. I tried to reason with the doctor that I needed treatment for both the outbreak and the pimples. This is in addition to the medication I am on since I was long diagnosed for chronic urticaria (itchy rash usually an allergy due to food, pollen, insect bites or chemicals.)
You know what, it feels like overnight, I have three skin conditions I am dealing with, each making the other unbearable. It’s not just the painful, burning and itchiness that one has to contend with, but now we have the scarring that Dr. Pamela Njuguna spoke about in her blog post. I thought through seeking medical intervention early enough; I would be avoiding the worse. Unfortunately, lady luck was not on my side. Unlike being in Botswana, I have truly survived the frustrating health system in the UK. I realized that this is an overwhelmed system with COVID-19 worsening the situation and so, only priority cases can be attended to and unfortunately, skin problems are clearly not considered life-threatening despite the emotional turmoil they bring with them.
Captured eloquently in her piece, Dr. Pamela Njuguna touches on the severity of acne to a point where one’s situation can evoke ill feelings such as low self-esteem and in some severe cases, lead to depression. I know this too well. For several weeks now, I struggle looking at myself in the mirror, let alone taking pictures. Those who know me well enough (Patience, you are my partner in this) know how much I love taking photos. I have had to defer exciting opportunities as I could not bring myself to bare my face on camera. I simply could not recognize myself anymore. Then, I have had to deal with the panic that my skin might not clear anytime soon. But how and when did all this happen?
As I receive compliments accompanying the airing of a new TV programme currently beaming on the National Broadcaster in Botswana (BTV), one that I wrapped up ahead of my coming to Cardiff, I cannot help but think how fast things have changed. I miss that beautiful, smooth, and brightly smiling woman on camera. Although deep down I know I am still the same bubbly, outgoing, passionate, and positive girl you see on TV, I find it really hard reconciling this truth with the onslaught breakout that won’t let me prosper. While people are excited about the easing of the lockdown rules, I find myself in a panic as the thought of seeing people terrifies me.
The most draining thing for me is the fact that I feel immense pressure to explain that which, I, myself do not understand. I do not know why I am having this awful breakout, yet I obsess about it. I have caught myself one too many times going through pictures of the first few months upon my arrival in Cardiff as I mourn my smooth, clear skin. The truth is, it has hit me hard as I recognize the immense pressure, we put ourselves through to attain perfection, and the realization that one’s perfection can be changed overnight is really devastating.
- So while I read the comments following Dr. Pamela Njuguna’s blog post, I realized, I am not alone. This is a journey for many of us suffering from adult acne. Well, I personally need lots of encouragement through this journey. So I felt like by sharing my journey, it will ease the burden of those struggling with skin problems. Hang in there; you are not alone. I believe that there will be better days ahead.
#IAmChevening and this too is #MyCheveningJourney.Follow me on Social Media