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Alexis

Completely Torn... FB ruining my life

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Like many of you, my life is controlled by my facial blushing. It consumes my every thought and prevents me from living my life the way I want to. I have slight rosacea and fair, sensitive skin, so it does not take much for my face to turn bright red. Within the past few days, I have had some especially bad blushing episodes where the people around me have asked me if I'm okay because my face is so red. But this isn't abnormal for me; my blushing is so bad that rather than being made fun of for it, the people around me typically express concern. I feel like this is almost worse, as it indicates that my face must be turning REALLY red. Because of all this, I have been feeling extremely depressed recently.

I will be graduating from college in May, so I feel like this is the time for me to really do something about this problem before I enter the work world. I have had issues with FB since I was probably around 11 and it just keeps getting worse, so I do not want to suffer with this problem any longer. I have already tried anxiety medications like Beta Blockers and Xanax, but these are more fast-acting and do not last long enough each day to fully help. I tried SSRI's in high school/beginning of college, but they made me lethargic and decreased my libido immensely. My next step will most likely be CBT, but for some reason I'm not very confident this will help. I think it could definitely address the root of the problem, which is clearly social anxiety and low self-esteem, but I'm nervous this isn't enough.

That's why I've started to consider ETS, although I feel like it is an extremely unrealistic option for me. The biggest problem is money -- I've heard it's extremely expensive and rarely covered by insurance. Another huge issue is side effects... I'm really freaked out by some of the horror stories I've read about. And then the third problem is my family. I cannot even imagine telling them, as no one else in my family deals with this issue in the slightest (I'm not sure I've even witnessed any of them blush), so I doubt they'd understand or support me in this decision. I also don't even know where I would go for this procedure, as I haven't been able to find anywhere in Boston that performs this procedure (it seems Mass General does but only for hyperhidrosis... thinking about calling them anyway).

Anyway, I apologize for the long post but it did feel good to get it all out. I haven't confided in anyone about this problem because I'm too embarrassed, so I'm really glad to have found this website. I know I didn't really ask a concrete question, but I would just love some advice or general words of wisdom from anyone who has gone through the same thing. Feedback on CBT, ETS, and maybe even meds that are helpful would be greatly appreciated. I just don't know what to do about all this!

Thank you so much!

Edited by Alexis

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I understand how you feel completely, both how the problem you have is affecting your life and the difficult choices you are juggling with. 

Regarding medication I have written a list of possible alternatives to try here: http://esfbchannel.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/4110-medicines-that-cure-blushing/#comment-34961, but it sounds to me that you have tried everything that is to try. 

I share your skepticism regarding CBT. I have myself tried it. I do not believe it is possible to stop blushing, especially when you have a reddish skin in the face from the beginning (I have something similar). For me, if I feel something (have a strong emotion), it is shown in the face as increased redness (and the sensation of increases heat of the cheeks for myself). At least for me, whether I feel strong emotions, like nervousness or excitement, it is shown in the face as increased, dark redness of cheeks. CBT is about facing what you fear, getting used to it, not caring and not being afraid of it anymore. I tried taking "not caring" somewhat to an extreme, but there are two problems with that. First, going around not caring about anything is kind of like going around like a machine or dead inside, you need emotions for a good well-being and for experiencing life. The second problem is that it is not possible to not care (and not blush) during super stressful situations (for me that is for instance giving a presentation). Then the sympathetic nervous system takes over, and it simply is not possible to not go red, no matter how much you try not to care about the situation. However, if I should give one tip about CBT it would be this: I made the mistake of going in to this, with the hope it would stop blushing completely. As I explained, I do not think that is possible. If you however go into CBT with the goal of accepting that you blush/have red skin and not caring about it to a degree that it do not hold you back in life, that might be possible. Then you go into it with an achievable goal, and you may be successful at it. Especially if you combine therapy with an SSRI, again, you will most likely still blush, but maybe learn to just don't care that it happens. 

ETS is unfortunately one of the few options left to try. There will most likely be better solutions available in the future, but the question is how many years until that will happen. 

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I completely understand how it can affect your life.  Blushing held me back socially and professionally.  I was always afraid of potentially being in the spotlight or getting attention.  When I considered ETS- about 20 years ago- it was only being done in Sweden.  I finally did get the procedure done in 2010- and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I was able to cut back on anxiety medication (Klonopin) and actually feel more confident about myself- which was so foreign to me.  I do understand your concern about the cost...  For me the procedure was $10,000 and that was 7 years ago.  Insurance may cover procedures for people with Hyperhidrosis- but not facial blushing.    I have listed the doctor that did my procedure:

Dr. David Nielson, MD
Call (877) 837-9379 Toll Free
http://www.hyperhidrosis-usa.com/drnielson.html

You will see a lot of nightmare stories on ETS and the above mentioned doctor.  Remember- there are many success stories like myself.  You will not see as many successful stories posted (unfortunately) because people have moved on with their lives.  Always do research and please let me know if you have any questions.  Best Wishes!

 

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So good to hear a success story on here. I'm having ETS next week for facial blushing, and am scarred mostly due to the scaremongering happening in forums. Did you have T2 and T3 cut?

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