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Rosacea…When Bad Skin Is A Sign of Mental Illness

Rosacea…When Bad Skin Is A Sign of Mental Illness

“Do you have a good dermatologist? I mean a really good dermatologist?”

A female co-worker had pulled me aside, peered grimly at my face and waited for a response. Pride died quietly inside the caverns of my being.

My answer was short. “Yes, I do.”

I continued to work, hoping the subject would drop.

She pushed ahead. “I mean, how long is this going to go on?”

For a moment, I blinked in disbelief. A generous portion of tactless, insensitive gruel had been dropped on my plate.

This woman was unaware of the struggles I faced; antibiotics, gels, creams, and endless doctors’ visits. She assumed a horrendous case of acne was to blame.

It was Rosacea; the manifestation of a deeper, more serious condition…Complex-PTSD.

The National Rosacea Society states that “emotional stress is reported to be one of the most common rosacea triggers.” (emotional stress |

My psyche had raged against my dermis. I was shocked.

I had managed to hide the emotional turmoil for more than a year. Buried deep inside an internal, seemingly dormant volcano, lava had quite literally bubbled to the surface.  Eruption was imminent.

I remained polite, yet tight lipped, when my co-worker pushed the name and number of her “qualified” dermatologist into my hand. I saved the tears for later.

This was not the first uncomfortable and intrusive encounter involving the state of my skin.

A previous visit with my drycleaner had left me embarrassed and deflated. The clerk suggested numerous homemade remedies for my imperfect complexion.  I wanted clean clothes, not unsolicited medical advice.

Complex-PTSD is an illness that can have numerous physical side effects. While outwardly battling visible symptoms, I secretly fought impalpable demons.

Rosacea caused embarrassment. I felt conspicuous and unsightly, especially when my job brought me into public view. I found it difficult to socialize and concentrate as people indiscreetly stared at the lumps and bumps on my fiery red cheeks.

While my pores continued to burst forth one heinous creation after another, my employer prepared for a company-wide award ceremony.

Annual sales ratios had been calculated. My department head called to inform me that I ranked as a “top performer” in the Retail Division.

Forever the master of disguise, I excelled in the workplace. My personal life was an insufferable closet of secret skeletons.

Sales Representatives, belonging to this elite category, would be honored at dinner party in a function hall. An appointment had been scheduled for a head shot, so my photo could be projected on a jumbo screen while I was presented with an award from the CEO.

To quote Alanis Morissette, “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?”

Raw, red, covered in painful pustules, cysts, blotches and burst veins, I begged to be excused. I was mortified and refused all photographs. I looked like I had gone ten rounds with a meat grinder.

Although I was allowed to provide my own “pre-rosacea” photograph, the ceremony was obligatory. I showed up, faced my co-workers, gracefully smiled and accepted the award.

Years of denial along with unmanaged, untreated symptoms were finally catching up. Other health problems quickly presented and it became even harder to maintain normal daily routines.  Mentally and physically, I struggled to keep up the charade.

A month later, my doctors would not allow me to continue to work.

My face was sore, swollen and painful to touch but the emotional agony of mental illness was comparatively worse.

Eventually, I stopped caring about my appearance. Depression tightened its’ grip. I was numb to any concern about personal vanity.

I took steps to remedy my skin, but the rigorous undertaking of emotional healing was front and center.

Oftentimes, mental illness is an invisible disease…until it leaches out like infection from a wound. Disguised as other ailments, these maladies are warning signs of deeper, more complicated problems.

The mind/body connection is real. When you are mentally unwell, the physical wiring starts to short circuit.

Today, my rosacea has improved. Seeking mental wellness continues to be a bumpy and treacherous journey, much like an odyssey through a bubbling, cavernous lava field.

Once you accept the disturbance is there, navigating your internal volcano becomes clearer. Magma and ashes are part of the process.  Even after eruptions, the mountain is usually still standing.

And, it helps to have a therapist…I mean a “really good” therapist.

© 2018

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Pitfalls…Why Traditional Deodorant is Bad for Your Health

Pitfalls…Why Traditional Deodorant is Bad for Your Health

Eating Clean by Amie Valpone has completely changed my understanding of how toxins play a role in our everyday lives. From pesticides to preservatives, these substances are present in our food, personal care products and homes. Eating Clean is not just a book about food but an invaluable resource on detoxifying your home, your body, your office, your life!

Toxins and Your Health

Realizing that health is more than choosing salad over fries, my husband and I embarked on a well-being overhaul…which included our armpits!

One of the first changes my husband and I made was switching to an all-natural deodorant.

Ok, ok!  Stay with me here!  We are not hippies, we do not smell and yes, you can find a product that actually works!  Here’s why we ditched the mainstream brands:

Traditional deodorants found in the aisles of your drug store or supermarket contain ingredients such as:

  • Parabens
  • Aluminum
  • Triclosan
  • Artificial Fragrances
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene glycol
  • BHT

These elements are being absorbed into your system every single day! They are suspected to increase your risk for cancer, disrupt hormones, cause allergies, endanger a developing fetus…the list goes on.

Don’t believe me?  Do your research.  It’s shocking the information you will find about the dangers of personal care products and how little FDA regulation exists for the potentially harmful ingredients used to make them.  In fact, other countries have much stricter regulations regarding chemicals in beauty care products.

Your Largest Organ

The skin is your body’s largest organ. It’s porous and absorbs what you put on it.  If you wouldn’t eat something, why would you want to rub it on your skin?  Eventually, those toxins will end up in your blood stream, organs or lymphatic system.

Would you eat Aluminum, Triclosan, or Parabens? No?  Well, even in small doses, over time, these additives can have negative health impacts when used in your daily beauty routine.  Developing fetuses and babies are especially sensitive to these harmful chemicals. And, as a woman, I also don’t want to be slathering chemicals under my arms which are right near my breasts.

One of the resources I use to help determine the safety of a personal care product is Amie recommends this web page in her book, Eating Clean, and it is truly valuable and educational.

Try a Few!

As far as deodorant goes, everyone’s body chemistry is different. You may need to try several products before you find the one that’s right for you.  Make sure to do a 24 hour patch test on the inside of your forearm before applying a new product.  This will help prevent allergic reaction to ingredients you may not have been exposed to before.

Natural deodorants prevent odor but still allow your body to sweat. Guess what?  Sweating is good!  It helps your body to release toxins and stay cool.

Personally, I purchase and use a product on Etsy by Treefort Naturals called Natural Coconut Deodorant Cream.  It contains: Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Natural Baking Soda, Mango Butter, Essential Oils of Tea Tree and Orange and Beeswax. Or you can try any of the recommendations in Amie Valpone’s book Eating Clean or on her website

My husband and I have not only changed our deodorant; we buy more organic produce, make our own cleaning products, filter our water and read labels for potential toxins in food or personal care products.

Find out how safe your beauty products are by visiting  This database rates the safety level of personal care and beauty products.  Type in the brand you are using and find out exactly what you are putting on your skin.

Eating Clean by Amie Valpone is so much more than “eating” clean. This book has become an essential reference, a go-to resource, a health “bible.”  Check out Amie’s website, for more information regarding health related topics.

Stay tuned for more posts on the efforts my husband and I have made to create a healthier life!


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