Kimberley Johnson: ACNE SUCKS!!!!!!


Kimberley A. Johnson
This photo was taken circa 1996. My acne was mild but would flare up from time to time. By looking at this picture, you wouldn’t guess that I was suffering from it as much as I was. It has not been retouched. I chose this photo because it was a headshot that I used for work. Most people never knew I had a problem.
When I was in junior high, there was a boy named Kirk in my class. Kirk was a bit overweight and had acne. He was experiencing the throes of awkward puberty. Many of my classmates made fun of him. I wish I could say I was not one of them but I was. I was thirteen and though I should have known better, I didn’t. I said something to him about the acne on his face and I can only imagine how that made him feel. I have thought about him and my harsh words over the years and wished I could take them back. I hope that somehow, my stupidity and words did not stay with him.
When I was in my early twenties, I started getting adult acne. I noticed that there were these really hard cysts on the side of my forehead by my hairline. I had no idea what they were. I figured they would go away and they did. But within a short period of time, I started breaking out regularly. Not just one pimple here or there, I would get several at a time. I would pick at them and leave scars that took months to fade. The new ones would pop up and my face was covered in either fading marks or cysts.
I was just embarking on my acting career at the time and hadn’t started to audition. I was studying, so there was no real threat of my acne holding me back. But it was awful for me. I was a beautiful young woman who had always struggled with my looks. I blossomed when I was fifteen and had a certain comfort level with the fact that even though I never felt beautiful, I knew I was to others. The acne ripped away the small amount of self-confidence I did have.
I didn’t dare date anyone for fear that I would be rejected. I cried a lot and learned how to cover most of it with make-up. As long as no one was too close to my face, it was hard to tell I had a real problem.
My acne was never severe. It’s described as mild to moderate. To me, it was severe.
I got a cold and stopped drinking milk or having any dairy and noticed that my face cleared up. I wondered if there was a correlation and sure enough, when I incorporated dairy back into my diet, the acne flared up. Taking dairy out was not the cure, I still broke out but I noticed about a fifty percent improvement. I have also met people who break out from citric acid (that would really suck but if I was allergic and broke out from it, I would not have it in my diet).
I was on Ortho Tri- Cyclen birth control because I’d heard that it cleared acne. It did. While I was on it, my skin was beautiful.  The downside was I gained about fifteen pounds.  I never liked the way birth control pills made me feel and decided to go off.
I have used a lot of the products on the market with little success. When I was thirty-two I discovered Clindamycin Phosphate which is a prescription topical antibiotic gel and it improved my skin drastically. It’s a preventative gel that I still use once a day under moisturizer. At forty-three, I get an occasional pimple but I can live with it and not cry.
Once in my acting class, I was in front of everyone with my coach who had no idea I had an acne problem. He saw me up close and said very loudly, “What’s wrong with your face????” I wanted to DIE! My best friend was there and scolded him as soon as she got a private moment with him. He felt terrible. He just had no idea. 
I often think of Kirk. Sometimes I have wondered if I got acne because I made fun of his. I wonder if my words echoed in his brain for years as my acting coach’s did in mine. I doubt your eyes will ever find these words but if they do; Kirk, I am terribly sorry. Not because now I realize what it is to have acne. But that I was such a naive girl who didn’t give a thought to how my words might really hurt your feelings.
Having acne really sucks but there are a lot of ways to combat it now. There is no one thing that does the trick for everyone but trial and error can help to at least diminish some of it.
Copyright Ark Stories 2011

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