Friday, 15 June 2007

#32 Stress Test

STRESS. That overused, overheard, overexcused phenomenon. Well, I've got it. I've been keeping a skin diary. Yes, self-indulgent I know, but on the advice of a leading dermatologist I have been recording the multitudinous fluctuations in my skin and it's been, well, illuminating. There's me thinking it's the product formulas, the clashing experimentation, the air-conditioning, the pollution. Well, it's probably a bit of all of those, but more than anything, it's my own, uncontrollable blood-bubbling. Yesterday I had several melt-downs. I had four hefty deadlines in one week and as I'm going away for the weekend, I was working 15 hour days in order to get everything done. I was as tightly coiled as an 80s bubble perm and despite the fact that I have not had a single blemish for over a month, I woke up this morning to a landmine of a forehead and dotty, angry cheeks. This is no coincidence. My skin diary last showed similar activity after a series of hair-pulling, heart-aching arguments with the hubby. My skin has become a map of my emotional misdemeanours - spots flagging up the pain or panic I've gone through the day before. I've long known that my hormones are at the bottom of this pimply pile and that their misbehaviour is provoked by my inability to control my reaction to the 'stress' in my everyday life. The thing is, I hardly ever get stressed, but when I do, it's an insane, heart-pounding, dry-throat, hair-pulling sort of feeling. It might only last a couple of hours, but it's something that I really can't control. Something that I've had to accept as a part of my modern, manic, deadline-driven life. Something that gets cortisol - that maligned 'stress' hormone - flying around the bloodstream. The same hormone that is often found in heightened levels within the bloodstreams of acne sufferers... and so the vicious circle goes round and round and round, because if you have acne, you're likely to be pretty damn stressed about it.

So, what's the answer? Ignore it? Hope for the best? Seek more medical advice? For me, I'm trying all of the above. I'm popping pills to calm, eating things to strengthen and have also been 'stuck' a couple of times in the hope that something interesting will show up in a bloodtest and explain why I've been having my mood and skin yo-yos for the last six months. I'm lucky though. I have a lovely, young, smiling GP who listens sympathetically and agrees with my stress/cortisol/hormone/spots theory. She doesn't think 'stress' is a dirty word. In fact, she's even prone to it herself. A simple admission, but one that took the weight out of the word and left me feeling a lot better about everything. Which, as us stress-sufferers know, is a strong start indeed.

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