Tracy McCullough, author of Ultimate Secrets to Acne, is a brave woman.
Not only does she share her story. Not only does she offer up solutions. She posts her pictures.
I’m not sure that I could have done that when I was visited by the acne monster.
That monstrosity stuck around for a decade, pre-internet, and with force, so I could relate to her words entirely. I remember like it was yesterday.
“Every day it was all I could think about. I ran to the mirror every chance I got, hoping maybe it was just a dream.”
As I read this book, I was transported back in time. To when I was fifteen.
I didn’t talk to anyone until they talked to me. Even then I couldn’t make eye contact. I walked with my head down, staring at the floor. I hated leaving my room.
The shame of bad acne is horrendous, all encompassing. And almost incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t experienced it.
It’s like a snake that curls up inside you, twisting tighter and tighter around your intestines, lashing out and biting you inside every time you catch sight of yourself in the mirror.
You feel you look so disgusting, your self-hate projected on to your outside for the whole world to see and pass judgment on, or worse, pity.
Oh, the pity made me rage.
Against myself, against the world.
When you have bad acne, you wonder how anyone can look at you, talk to you, employ you, love you.
Acne affects every move you make and causes you to withdraw from the world.
In my case it was to one inside my head where I was beautiful and admired, hero and savior. My imaginary world was an escape from a real one that was unbearable.
It takes a long time to get over that kind of experience if, in fact, you ever do. A basic insecurity persists, especially if scarring occurs. You can often tell a former acne sufferer by their scars and superior makeup skills. At least, I can.
And forget boyfriends – who would ever want to date you? A good job – who would want you serving their customers, or to share a cubicle with you? A future family – really? You don’t want to burden anyone else with this kind of experience. And how would you bear it to pass your acne genes on and see your child go through *this*? This.
Oh yes, self-disgust is overwhelming. Trust me on that one.
That’s why I admire Tracey so much. She’s put it all out there. She’s not hiding. She’s putting her (very pretty) face out there and showing you.
Her book reads like a friend giving you all her best advice about how to help your skin. She explains how it got like that and what you need to do to make it better.
And she does it with the authority of someone who has been there and done that. The enormity of her recovery means that she is inspirational and she offers hope where there may previously have been none. She has succeeded and so, by following her advice you should too.
Gosh, I wish I’d known that. Been able to take control instead of wait and suffer until it went away – which it did, after a decade, and then the problem simply moved to another part of my body. And on.
And there lies another important point. This is health advice – advice about how to improve your overall health and functioning. Yes, it does work to improve acne but this is bigger than that. It is a way to affect the whole of the rest of your life.
Because if you are suffering from bad acne, you are sick. The state of your insides are showing on your outsides. And you need to take a systemic approach to a systemic problem. You don’t just have acne, you are systemically sick.
Conventional advice doesn’t work
And it is for this reason, as those of us who’ve trod the path she has know, conventional advice simply does not work well enough. If at all.
Recently I watched some teens on stage. They were acting, singing and dancing, belting our their songs as they threw their arms wide, their faces high and proud.
I was in awe. Their confidence was overwhelming and I teared up. What I would have given for that kind of amazing teen experience. So different from the one I had. The one full of shame.
It breaks my heart to know there are kids, and adults, who aren’t as lucky as these teen actors. Who *do* still feel the shame and the hopelessness I felt. Because it is unbearable.
Tracey’s book would have been a lifeline to me and brand new information. The idea that acne must be worked on from the inside is one that is still gaining traction. Not much has changed there for over 35 years.
She tells her story. She offers us pictures. And in so doing she bares her soul.
Her story is inspirational. As is her advice.
If you suffer from acne, or have a child who does, I recommend you buy her book and check out her website. Her book is part of the Harvest Your Health Winter Sale that is going on January 3rd – 6th: 50+ books for $39. Seriously. You can’t afford not to.