It's been a while since I've updated, and that is because there is nothing really to update on.
Which is a good thing!
I have clear skin now, so I've just been clear, and thus no real update!
I am extremely HAPPY that the Accutane worked. I am 23, and I started getting acne since I was 11 years old, so for half my life I never saw a clear face, my real face. I would skip school when I felt like my acne looked too awful. I didn't let myself really be myself around people, because I was always scared people were judging my acne and not me. I took on this self-depricating thought that my acne is my life. It felt like I was the only one with acne, and this penetrated a deep sense of inadequacy in me thinking there must be something further wrong with me if I'm the only one who has this. There was never anyone I could relate to, I did not have acne.org at the time. All I had were just tears coming out of my eyes everytime I looked at the mirror just frustrated and just begging God that this would go away one day. Everything about my personal routine felt calculated: there was specific ways I did my makeup, specific ways to style my hair that would cover most of my face, berets worn to cover my forehead, and almost always, sunglasses. I don't know if there's an anxiety disorder related to acne, "acne anxiety", but if there is, I definitely had it.
So now that I have clear skin I feel extremely happy that finally there is nothing holding back my spirit from shining through. I do not mean to brag, and I am not the type, but this is something I've never enjoyed in my life, and when I did have clear skin as a child, I did not know that I should be enjoying it. So now that my skin is clear I almost always instantly get tears in my eyes when I remember how awful it used to look.
However on the bright side, having acne did teach me valuable lessons that I think I wouldn't have learned so well had I have not suffered from my skin condition. Acne taught me that a person's value is not based on how nice they look, I value personality over looks any day. It taught me to not be shallow, to see past people's appearances, and to never judge people based on how they look because sometimes they can't help that they look that way. Suffering from acne also taught me there is more to life than just how we look, that we are a mere packaging for something that's greater on the inside.
Now, everytime I see anyone in public with acne I always want to gently approach them and tell them what worked for me because it was the ONLY thing that worked for me, so I feel like I've been in the pits more than anyone and have the authority to offer advice. But I've been in that situation where you get advice and want that person to shut up. So all I do is just wish the best for them in my head and hope they stumble upon a cure. If anyone asks for help though, I always offer it as I think it would be unfair to withhold information and experience, as well it satisfies this superstition I have about 'good skin karma' lol.
Am I happy that I don't have acne anymore? Yes!!! YES!
Am I more comfortable with the way I look?
This is because I still carry a lot of the anxiety that I used to have. I still go out in public with my sunglasses on, not wanting to be noticed and not wanting attention. Now I think it's perfectly fine to not want attention, I support modesty in character and dress, but I guess what I am still getting used to is just adjusting to feeling comfortable in my new skin. How crazy is that!?
Now that my skin is clear I have discovered that under all those pimples there's a beauty spot I have (who knew!) on one of my cheeks. I also have a little bit of scarring and a very faint redness still as the Accutane is still leaving my system.
The dermatologist recommended I now start getting my face lasered, specifically the Fraxel laser. I made the appointment, had the money saved up, but about a month ago after doing research and looking at pictures and reviews, I decided against it. It probably didn't help that I saw a "skin lasers gone wrong" documentary prior to, but I didn't feel comfortable doing it anymore, so I cancelled.
The scars that I have aren't too too bad given the hell I've been through, but I am now looking into alternative treatments. I don't want to be too abrasive with my skin anymore, I don't think you can use "nurture" and "laser" in the same sentence. Oddly, I find my acne scarring to be like war wounds, so if anyone ever points them out (which hasn't happened), I'll be happy and proud to share my story about acne and how I overcame it. It's taught me I am so much more than the condition of my skin, something you really have to believe when you're going through the suffering of being covered in pimples. Mind over matter, so hard to accept and believe, but well worth it. I believe having acne stopped me from becoming a snobby person, using my looks to get further ahead of people, and of course it protected me from being superficial.
For anyone wondering, I started Accutane May 1 2011 at 40mg daily for 3 months (or 6 months?) and then tapered down to 20mg daily the last 2-3 months. I ended Accutane around January 2012. I am still on the birth control (Alesse 21 day). Within a couple days I noticed a difference in the moisture (err, lack of it!) of my skin, and I think around the 2-3 month mark is when there was noticeable difference. I was a lucky duck on Accutane, as my acne didn't get worse before it got better (IB [initial outbreak] they call it), just since starting it always got better. Pheewwww, something finally worked!!
I will upload more pictures into my album, I took pictures very frequently so I could track the difference. Sometimes during a moment of weakness, I think my skin looks bad and all it takes is for me to look at an old picture and I remember to stop whining and be very happy with the successful outcome.
Before I end, I just want to quickly mention that my diet and skin regimen is very simple, I stick with what works and am not one of those people that does product rotations, maybe sometimes. I use Burt's Bees everything, it's natural, and it works, and it's not harsh on my skin. Another great soap is "Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps" (100% all natural, organic, non-GMO). My face moisturizer is the pomegranate serum by Desert Essence. I started using it while on Accutane, and because I've had no issues I have just stuck with it. I added an eye cream by Kibio, and today I purchased a face moisturizer by Kibio (an all organic, very pure line). I use very simple products, nothing like oxy pads, Cetaphil, Neutrogena, nothing like that. Just too harsh, and I'm sorry, if a moisturizer has alcohol listed in the ingredients how is it going to moisturize if alcohol dries you out! (I'm having a flashback of my dad wiping a cotton pad on my 12 year old forehead doused in pure alcohol).
I get very nervous after I go out for my runs, as I come back all sweaty and gross and just envision clogged oily pores. Those are the only times I exfoliate, a gentle exfoliator by Burt's Bees, and maybe I'll do that one to two times a week. For someone that had such bad acne I really don't do complicated or high-maintenance things, I truly think I can take things easy now.
As for my diet, I actually went vegan when I was on Accutane, and now I am "veganish", meaning I will sometimes eat things with eggs/dairy in them, but I won't actually purchase cheese or eggs myself. I never liked cow's milk, so I stick with healthy alternatives like almond, and my favourite being coconut milk. I do not eat junk food (very rarely) and I guess if we are going to impose labels, I'm vegetarian. But again, I'm on the cusp of being vegan still because I don't cook with eggs or cow's milk or butter. I use egg replacer, other milk, and Earth Balance (you'll never tell the difference!). I did notice my acne was aggravated by dairy back in the day. A few months ago I actually gained a lot of weight (about 12-15 pounds) because I developed poor eating habits. I will save the story on how I gained the weight because it's very repulsive, but I am happy to say that I've actually lost all of it and more because enough was enough!! I also hope this serves as a lesson to anyone who equates veganism/vegetarianism with automatically being healthy. As with any diet, it has to be taken seriously and good effort has to be made.
If you have any questions, just comment and I would love to help if I can! If you are suffering from acne, please consider Accutane, have hope, don't let your confidence sink because of it. It caused me a lot of pain and it makes me sad that there's others that suffer with the kind of emotional pain I had, so I am here to chip in and offer support however I can.