Believe me, I never in my life thought I'd be making a post like this; a kind of "success story." That kind of thing was for other people.
But years later here I am. I'm not completely out of the woods yet. But I'd say I'm at the treeline. So I learned some things that may or may not help you. All I can say is what worked for me.
For some context, let me just say it was bad. Who knows exactly where I fall on that spectrum of suffering, but I distinctly remember one kid describing my face as the worst he had ever seen.
Let's start with the practical stuff.
Is accutane a good idea? Possibly. I was a classic case. I had red, inflammatory acne everywhere. Accutane ended the breakouts, but it reddens your face really bad. I noticed it reddens your face even in areas you weren't suffering acne. The redness then takes a LONG time to fade. For me it was about 2 and a half years (counting the time right after I finished accutane), and it's still kinda there to this day. Yeah, that's a lot of days. If you find a product that works well to clean up and prevent your breakouts, go with that and consider accutane a last resort. But it does get you results in the long run.
How do you make the redness fade faster? Honestly, it fades so slowly that it's very difficult to determine what works and what doesn't. I remember any creams the derm gave me during that redness period did not do anything except use up your money.
Make sure to moisturize, especially after you finish accutane. A dry face will make it more red in my experience.
RESPECT THE SUN. The people on these forums are right. Do NOT go out in the sunlight and think you'll be fine. Use sunscreen, wear hats. Otherwise you risk extending the fading process. Plan ahead and prepare for the outdoor things you've gotta go to.
I did a 30% glycolic acid peel and glycolic toner for a few months. I did not notice much difference if any, but it probably did help fade things a little. Experimenting with different products like these is not a bad idea, just be careful to follow directions.
Ultimately I settled on using oats as an exfoliant/cleanser, then lemon juice as a toner. Things were fading so slowly that I figured why not just go with the cheapest, natural option. This worked the best for me. Oats are an excellent anti-inflammatory. With the lemon juice I started just squeezing some juice onto a cotton ball, then later resorted to just rubbing the lemons themselves on my face. Remember to be extra wary of the sun after using lemon juice though, and keep in mind that lemon juice can cause a few breakouts. IMO the fading on the redness made those few breakouts worth it. Anyway it does really help that these two products are dirt cheap.
Now onto what's just as important if not more so: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS.
I know what it's like. You just stare at the same thing in the mirror over and over, day after day. You think "How is this even possible? How can a person even live like this?" You see waves of clear-faced people every day, nonchalantly crossing your path as if they've never had a problem in their life.
Yeah, it sucks.
Well, I don't have all the answers. But I can ask you this:
What are you going to do about it?
I don't say that to irk you. I say that because those 5 years of being hardly able to show my face in public were the most productive years of my life.
If you're forced to avoid social situations like the plague, suddenly you have a lot of time on your hands. How will you spend it? Feeling sorry for yourself? Do NOT go down that road. You're only making yourself MORE miserable.
Spend that time getting really good at something. Maybe it's learning and perfecting what you want to do as a career. I used what I felt as fuel to my fire, my passion in life. Start putting in the work now. Learn all you can. Whether it's painting, writing, mountain climbing or whatever, get serious about it now.
Just say **** it to the fact that you can't have the life you want right now. Stop caring about that. Instead, start building your life up towards where you want it. You can't control how your face looks. So focus on what you can control.
For instance, I didn't start exercising until about 2 years ago. Before that, my face was so bad that I thought "what's the point?" Big mistake. I should have started sooner. I'd be much closer to where I'd want to be right now. Working out and eating right will also help your face's appearance, so do it. (research it to make sure you're working out the right way too)
This all takes a lot of willpower. It's difficult. But building up your willpower will prove incredibly useful to you in life. You may experience a temporary glimmer of happiness by taking it easy and giving up. But in the long run, you'll be far happier with who you are if you push yourself. Your future self will thank you.
Lastly, I want to mention that if none of this had ever happened to me, I wouldn't feel nearly as strong a connection to the suffering of others. The same goes for you. Empathy is something to be valued. Remember that.
I wish the very best of luck to you all.