Anxiety, depression and being obsessed with your skin

Written by on June 8, 2007 in depression & anxiety with 17 Comments

What a terribly sad story. Rosacea can be an all consuming disease and there is definitely a danger in becoming obsessed with your skin. The struggle to look normal can be too much for some.

Please everyone realize that other people really aren’t as interested or worried about your skin as you are. If you feel you aren’t coping with your anxiety or feelings about yourself then please be brave enough to see a doctor and ask for some help.

Your mental health is just as important as your overall physical health. Also, please be encouraged that there are some wonderful treatments for rosacea out there, you just need to reach out to find them.

From: This is London, from the Evening Standard: Train suicide of woman depressed by her wrinkles

A woman who became depressed that she was losing her youthful looks committed suicide by lying down in front of a 90mph train, an inquest has heard.

Amanda Barr, 44, had become obsessively preoccupied with the condition of her skin.

….

She would not even let her partner of 13 years kiss her on the cheek for fear it would inflame her rosacea, a skin condition causing redness, the Norwich jury hearing was told.

Mr Thirsk said Miss Barr’s obsession with imperceptible skin blemishes had snowballed since their relationship started in 1994 and it became apparent in the months before her death that the problem was a psychological one.

But she refused medication for her problems in case it made her skin worse.

Her rosacea was actually nothing more serious than a “slight red mark” on her face, he said, but she was unable to keep it in perspective.

“She felt it was huge and that everyone was staring at it and saying: ‘Look at her!’ She became very, very obsessed with it, really, and the way she looked.

Mr Thirsk said his partner would not even walk ten yards to the bins from their front door for fear of the wind inflaming her skin.”

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Read more about: depression & anxiety

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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17 Reader Comments

  1. ERIK says:

    Wow! What can I say? Poor lady, the worst about skin problems is whe you realize you have no control over them. That happened to me many years ago, I am 28 know with possible rosacea on my face, great! When I was a teenager like 14-15 I may get one or 2 big pimples that bugged me 4 a while but I don’t remember being that depressed about my face like I am now. I always had oily skin and people used to tell me: you are cute but have oily skin, is that a compliment? What me made really mad was people telling me why don’t you do something for that oil as if I wasn’t doing enough. I remember feeling OK having acne free oily skin because I really was all that bothered by the oil while the skin was clear. Then when I was 20 I started to see a couple of cystic acne on the sides of my forehead that were not responding to BP meds I used since high school so I went to a derm which injected me the FABULOUS CORTISONE yeah right. It was the 1st year but then it leaves redness and marks because I would get the same pimple in the same place. To make the long story short I even used ACCUTANE which made feel ridiculous afterwards cuz I was thinking OH MY GOD what am I going to do when I’m acne free?!! Duh, I only made my skin not oily for a while and I got less breakout later.
    After that I used Murad in 2002, which even out the skin tone but was to harsh sometimes (to expensive 4 the not amazing results) Then in 2004 I used Proactiv which failed in 2001 probably bc I didn’t follow instructions, and after a couple of bleached tshirts and pillowcases I was 90% clear 4 more than a year and enjoyed life. It was great not worrying about yopur face but the honeymoon was over in 2005 cuz I felt a little burning on my nose area (beginnign rosacea?????? probably) I switched to their sensitive salicilyc acid line and used it 4 a year or so but its not as good as the original. Now since 2006 I am getting flushing of the face, pimples pustules in the nose cheeks and chin that Im sure are rosacea. My derm was no good and kept prescribing Differing 4 the acne that I was getting back and never really diagnosed Rosacea. I hope that tomorrow I can go 2 a cousins office, he is a derm but was sick today. He was the first that treated me back in 2001. I am so depressed, pushing 30 and not being able to clear my skin 4 good. I feel I only accomplish things when I am clear but when Im not I feel like nothing matters but my skin. Its terrible, and I ask God for help. Sometimes relatives are no good cuz they tell u that great ??? Why dont u go to a derm???? Why dont u treat ur face?? Like u r doing nothing already. I wish I could control my skin like I control my allergic rhinitis with a pill and a spray once a day. Please some advice and prayer will help. God bless you!

  2. Kayla says:

    I am a rosacea sufferer and I would like point out to those who are not aware, that just because the skin is only pinkish, does not mean it isn’t painful. What you see on the surface is often only an indication of what is happening underneath. At times, this pain can be debilitating.
    It is often helpful to read inbetween the lines and regarding the above article about the UK woman who took her own life, I have the feeling she was suffering real, physical pain.
    Rosacea is one of the most under appreciated medical conditions there is.
    Personally, I experience several types of discomfort. Heat, tingling, burning, pain and severe neuropathic pain. This might, or might not be accompanied by terrible flushing of long duration.This can lead to further damage, including facial swelling. If the initial discomfort/symptoms are not brought under control promptly, they can quickly escalate out of control and once this happens it can be extremely difficult to put into remission again.
    I take antibiotics and I undergo IPL treatments at regular intervals, which until recently were working very effectively. Rosacea did not rule my life, but I was careful to avoid triggers. For some time now I have been going through the battle again, to get the disease under control. At times I feel great despair at the constant pain. It just goes on and on…..and can intensify at the least trigger.
    The comment about the UK woman not walking to the bins in the wind, for fear of her face becoming inflamed, sounds reasonable.
    Someone who lacks knowledge and has no desire to understand, could deem this type of behaviour as ridiculous. Shame on them. There is no excuse for such ignorance in this day and age.
    Many people on the rosacea forum speak about the negative impact a burning face has on their intimate relationships, as standing next to another person can be like sticking your head up close to an oven.
    Other suffers might only experience persitant basal redness with no accompanying pain.
    It is hard to say how much the UK woman focused on the visual aspect, but I bet she didn’t like it. None of us do.
    However, to say it was obvious her problem was a psychological one is completely ludicrous and unprofessional.
    A point of interest, some of the worse offenders are doctors, including dermatologists.
    This is commonly known by most rosaceans and it proves a source of frustration and suffering as they seek out and gravitate towards the few medical professionals who really understand the disease thoroughly and who bring relief to hundreds of people.

  3. Joseph says:

    Hey Kayla and Erik…just want you to know that I’m with you on this stuff…i’ve suffered through both acne and rosacea and whats worse to me is that I only got it later on in my early 20’s after it seemed like everyone was already over it. Its not as bad for me now 8 years later but it still bothers me and when people say not to worry or who cares about it…i just think that if it was their own problem they wouldnt be just saying that. It is a real problem and it affects people in so many ways that you can only try to understand if you’ve been there yourself. Anyway just wanted to say keep the faith to both of you and if you ever want to discuss this topic we can always email. take care!

  4. Brendan says:

    I am 41 and my univited buddy rosacea has been keeping me company since I was around 11 years old. I was obsessed with it, especially the blushing thing, when in high school. I would ask teachers to plese not ask me questions in class because I was so embarrassd about my pink glow. I would run past girls when I saw them appoaching on the footpath. I even hibernated in my bedroom for an entire Summer holiday because of it. I was only slagged about it twice in my 5 years of high school so I guess others didn’t really care or notice it as much as I thought they did. It can be exagerated in the mind of the rosacean as it was with me.

    I still have it but have learned to let happiness and the search for happiness be my master, not my pinko/red mask. Black and Asian people have even commented to me that they have met white people before but never a red one! Maybe I could get a job as an emergency runway beacon at an airport for those foggy nights (:

    I have had laser/IPL treatment, I forget which one and it really helped a lot. I also watch my diet (no sugar, spice and a lot of things which I find so nice). Sleeping with a fan pointed at my face really helps as well.

    Reading others experiences has helped reduce my self pity and feelings of isolation. I hope that my experience helps others too. Any advise or tips are greatly welcomed. My e-mail address is kilross@hotmail.com

  5. Jane Trewella says:

    Hi, I have suffered with Rosacea since I was very young.
    I am now 45. I started off in the early days with the old copper vapour machine which was awful. Once a month I would undergo this and would need to take time off work because of the accompanying blistering. I have tried various treatments on and off over the years, nothing really consistently because I have found that I am indeed obsessed by my skin. I am now afraid of having things done. I am booked in try some treatments with both both IPL and V-beam in March, but I find the following days so difficult to cope with. Home, isolated and having a face that is so consumed by constant heat. I can’t sit, lie or do anything, just walk around waiting for it to subside a bit. I could write a whole book about my experiences. It is important to have people to understand what it is really like, because unfortunately, unless you have it, no-one does. Yes, the problem with intimacy is a HUGE one. So huge it has kept me alone because I just find it so difficult. It goes on and on and on…….

  6. katelynn says:

    im 17, and suffer from rosacea since i was 13 and it has caused me intense depression and ridacul from class mates. but that is nothing compared to the pain sometimes i cant even smile because of it, my mother doesnt understand. today i was to go to coffee with a boy but im here in my room hiding because my face became inflamed again its like hell on earth

  7. micheal says:

    hi im 23 and suffered from acne and now have seborrhoeic eczama, i started breaking out at the age of 15 and since then have been up and down with my skin as well as my moods. i tryed loads of antibiotics as well as micro dermobration creams lotion e.c.t. so roaccutane was the opition i took. after that i prescribed it to myself for a few years on and off from the internet. and 8 years on im back to square one. I have developed a issue where when i have good skin im happy and bad skin im not. so my moods are up and down depending what mirror i look in if you get wat i mean lol. ive lost g.f jobs friends and family over it. and i started crying yesterday as i dontwant to go on feeling like this. i even went to the dermatologist but to be honest he just gives you new stuff to try.
    ive got a good carrer a amazing g.f great family even a resible finaincial status. but i feel i dont want to live anymore! as i cant live a normal life!

  8. Brendan says:

    I know what a pain in the ass rosacea can be. Mine actually became less noticable when I got into my mid twenties so it can fade out over the years. I am pretty sure it’s because I became more relaxed about it and life in general that made my skin calm down. I still have it but less than before. Food is a huge factor. Every rosacean MUST check out what foods and conditions trigger their skin. Alcohol, spicy food,chocolate and all SUNSHINE should be avoided. Although I do sometimes enjoy a drink, I cut down a lot. The sun is the worst though, even one minute, yes 60 seconds, in the sun makes my skin go bright pink for hours, horrid! I wear a hoodie in ther Summer (I get some rather odd looks (: I block out the sun with a newspaper or magazine sometimes. I don’t care if strangers stare as I would rather that then be bright pink. Different people are affected by different foods. Do a google search using the words rosacea and food. You will find lists of different foods that are common agitators. Try avoiding some of the common agitators for a while a see which ones affect your skin. Soda’s trigger my skin too, I love soda! It’s not fair!! (: Oh and drink loads of water every day. Chin up all! Life is still good

  9. Mike says:

    I am still trying to cope living with severe neuropathic
    rosacea for the last 8 years now.
    I have had rosacea since about age 24 and it has just
    continued to progress over the last 20 years.

    I also avoid the sun at all costs because of the heat and
    and the uv rays that contribute to skin ageing and skin cancer in this harsh aussie climate.

    I now use a sunbrella for heat reduction when i have to go outdoors, as well as it being UV protective. I dont
    use suncreens for some time now either, as i dont trust
    them and they also irritate my skin and other ones are
    hard to apply to my very delicate facial skin.
    I dont bother with broad rimmed hats much now as the
    heat from the sun is still just too much when the sun is lower at certain times of the day.

    It is often very difficult living with this horrid, relentless
    condition and it is certainly very easy to become very
    preoccupied with it, to the point where it becomes all consuming and dominating every aspect of one’s life.
    For anyone to say that any psychological problems
    that arise from this painful scourge are easily treatable is either an ignorant fool or simpy just plain uncaring.

    My heart goes out to all my fellow Rosaceans, including
    those that have posted in this thread before me.
    I can identify with everything each one of you have
    said in your posts above.

    Patience, perserverance, persistence..hopefully one day just peace and no pain!

  10. Jane says:

    It’s Jane back again. I had a really horrible day today. I find cars really hard to cope with when you are a passenger. I had a major flush today because of being in a car with no circulating air. That triggered off my anxiety to go through the roof and it took me ages to calm myelf down when I got home. Is IPL better or laser do you think? I think it is the deeper feeder vessels which need to be addressed. I just don’t cope well after treatments emotionally. I have tried to explain this to everyone who I have consulted in the past for treatment. Once you walk out the door, that is where the real battle begins. Does anyone agree with that?

  11. Mike says:

    Hi Jane

    I can totally identify and empathise with you.
    Overheated cars from sun and hot aircon are
    big triggers for me for flushing and so i dont
    go out much in them except when i have to.
    I cant drive anyway so im always a passenger and try to
    stay on the shady side or in the middle in the back when i can and put my hat up to block direct sunlight
    when its coming in at a lower angle.

    I still use a sunbrella every time i have to go outside
    to help keep some direct overhead radiant heat off
    me, but in Austalia its very hard with warm to hot air
    one moment and cool to cold air the next, both inside and outside.. both day and night.!

    I have had two laser treatments with the candela v
    beam laser which is supposed to be good but it does
    not seem to have helped me much, if at all, about 5 years ago. I did have the copper vapour laser done back in 1991, but a very mild patch test only.
    I had the v beam done for free at the time, as the dermo did it in the hosptital but then no longer .
    I would have to pay for any further treatmens in his
    clinic which i think is wrong, as its purely on medical
    grounds that neuropathic rosaceans have it done in the end and the any cosmetic beneft is an added bonus.

    I still have to ascertain all the pros and cons of lasers
    and IPL teatments and whether one is really any better
    than the other. there are so many variables involved
    and i wouldnt go to any one except a doctor/dermo well trained in it.!
    Not these often incompetent & ignorant other people in the beauty/cosmetic salons & clinics.

    If you would like my email, then please let me know.

    best regards Mike Briggs

  12. marmaladegal says:

    Imperceptible blemishes! Well, that’s not what my rosacea looks like. I bet hers didn’t either…and I bet it didn’t feel “imperceptible” either.

    The condescending tone of this article made me so angry, and it was a relief to hear my fellow rosacea sufferers tell the truth about what it is really like to live with this disease…it can be very limiting and painful, not to mention disfiguring. I used to be outdoorsy but now I have to avoid the sun as much as possible. I used to love car trips but now my face starts to burn and itch and turn bright red and bumpy unless the AC is going full blast right on it. And I recently developed severe ocular rosacea, and I am terrified of losing my eyesight. I wake up several times every night with my eyes so dry and gritty that I cannot open them. The drops are not helping so I am facing surgery.

  13. Mini says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I, like the rest of you, feel the pain of that woman. It is so sad and hurtful. I have been struggling with rosacea and sebhorric dermatitis for 10 years now. As you all know it is sooo frustrating. I have fallen into depressions and am currently in a depression again. I have tried anything and everything. It has gotten better but I still have my bad days. The cold weather makes it really bad. I am sooo exhausted and pretty much losing faith because nothing can cure these horrid chronic diseases. I feel sooo paralyzed. The worst part of it all is that I triggered these diseases by doing electrolosys. But I can’t do anything about that now. I really hope and pray for all of us that one day there will be some cure out there. I dunno how much longer I can continue living like this.

  14. Jo says:

    Hi everyone,

    I feel so sorry for anyone who has to live with this disease. I know firsthand what it can do to you both mentally and physically. And I agree with the above posts that mentioned that unless you suffer from it, you cannot truly know what it’s like to try to live with. I started having serve flushing episodes as a 15 year old sophomore in high school. My face would literally swell and you could feel the heat from my face. My classmates and friends would look at me with absolute horror and constantly ask me what was wrong with my face..Why are you so RED? Oh my god, your face??! It was so horrifying and traumatic pretty soon I was trying to avoid ANY events that might cause me to have another episode. The consequences from it are so numbered that I cannot even begin to scratch the surface. It made me have intense bouts of depression and I cut off any social events and would make so many excuses to avoid doing class presentations etc. That is not the kind of person I am/was.. But I became that and I sometimes wonder what kind of person I would be today if I didn’t have this disease. I still suffer from the feelings of hopelessness. I have tried to stay positive and honestly, reading these posts from you all helps me because I know that there are people out there that have gone through this and who truly understand what it is like. Lets hang in there together

  15. Mitzy says:

    I have severe Rosacea. I burn all day long. It is so uncomfortable I can’t stand it.
    My Rosacea started when my husband got called up for Iraq. The rosacea is horrible. It has ruined my life. I’m too tired and exhausted. I have fibro also. I have anxiety/panic attacks everyday. My face burns all over the skin. I’m always on fire feeling. I have flushing. It affects everyday and second of my life. I wish this stress did not do this to me. I tried the meds. They just make it feel worse. So I don’t put anything on my face from the doctors.

  16. Christine Liu says:

    I chanced upon this website when i am searching for articles on depression. I am scared after reading this article because i can see myself in this poor lady’s shoe. I am really afraid that sooner or later i will follow her step. I have lived for 22 years, but i have not enjoyed even a single day of confidence and happiness. My skin problem started off with pimple-prone skin to oily, large pores, rosacea condition. And what’s worst, i have inherited body skin problem (black spots of pigmentations and scaly skin.) Because of this i always wear long pants, never in my life have i tried wearing shorts. My self-esteem is gone, i refused to go out cause i hate to see ladies with good skin i hate to show myself infront of the public. As a result, i have not much socialise, no friends, no love. To make matter worst, i have a body that perspires easily like hell with the nose perspiring showing so droplets always. I dont know in what way does i look like a lady? I am really depressed, i saved money on food and daily expenses just to spend it to seek for cure but it end up i am just a stupid fool for letting people sucks my money and made my face worsened. I literally give up hope, my mum always tell me that i will be cured but i know its impossible, i will never turn pretty and confidence in my whole life. Sometimes i try to console myself, of course, i am not the most pathetic soul in this world, but i dont know how to carry on my life with this type of inner self. Moreover, my family’s problems add on to my sufferings, what is family’s warmth? Fighting? Quarrelling? I hate it when my parents insisted i should study well but never even bothered how depressed i am. But i guess nobody understands. Why am i born? i am really afraid that sooner or later i will let depression take over me and end my life, i hate living in this world but i dont want to hurt my family even though i hate this family. Contradicting right? Is there an angel in this world? Really i dont mind shortening my life if i am given a chance to taste the feeling of being confidence, pretty, love and family’s warmth.

  17. Nicolas says:

    Hey Christine, hang in there. Like you, there are many of us that have become angry at this condition for taking over our lives. But, as you can tell, a whole lot of us feel the way you do. Try to find solice in realizing that the people that truly undertsand you, perhaps the only people, reside in these forums. I’m convinced our appearance is never going to change. We have to change our mindset. We have to accept the way we look, even if we’ve been ridiculed, even if we still are stared at and talked about. You have friends, look for them in rosacea forums.

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