I guess we all had clear skin at some point in our lives, but for me, I simply cannot remember a time in my life when I could look at myself in the eyes through the mirror or not have that voice in my head asking, "Are they looking at my acne?".
I am a healthy nineteen-year-old student, and have battled with acne since the age of eleven.
My acne started in grade school and would happen primarily throughout my T-zone, especially around my chin and upper lip. I would slather clearasil on and the pimples would fade and or go away. In high school, I continued using clearasil spot treatment on my T-zone and my light acne would be very manageable.
In the tenth grade, I got contact lenses for rugby. I remember driving home in the car with my new contact lenses in and I caught a glimpse of myself in the side mirror. I thought I looked like a monster. Red marks were all over my face - was I really that blind before, or had I never 'really' looked at myself in the mirror...
I went to my family doctor and she prescribed me clindoxyl gel. The clindoxyl gel was my life saver from the tenth grade up into my first year of university. The majority of my skin was clear and I would only get 1-2 pimples around my period. Nonetheless, whenever I would get those pimples I would be self-conscious and embarrassed - why though? I could not control my skin
After my first year of university I decided to stop using clindoxyl gel [was this my mistake?] I went to the Body Shop and bought tea tree oil and the tea tree oil blackhead scrub. My skin had never looked better. I felt so confident, I was waitressing at a downtown restaurant and felt really good about myself. I even went to bonnaroo without one speck of makeup!
Things all started to change in August of 2010. I found out I had not made the grade to get into my second year program. I was super stressed and moody, I fell back into a depression that had started during my first year in university. My skin was breaking out above my eyebrows, upper lip and chin. I felt ugly and took out all my frustration on my family and friends - or anyone who had the confidence I so desperately longed for.
I went back to my family doctor. I was crying about how tired I was with losing my battle to acne. She yelled really loud and told me my skin was not remotely bad and I should feel lucky to be healthy - I felt so ashamed of my complaints about something so superficial. She prescribed me minocycline and said if it did not work we would do the accutane.
As I write this now, I'm kicking myself wondering why the hell did I even complain - my skin was not that bad. My advice to anyone - DO NOT GO ON MINOCYCLINE. I put so much hope into this antibiotic, I was on it for four months and for nothing. Immediately when I started my skin started breaking out in places I never had, my cheeks, my jawline, and even my upper arms. I was so embarrassed and literally hid from my room mates. I skipped so many classes because I was so ashamed of my skin. I would pray, light candles and even wish every night at 11:11 for clear skin.
During my four months on minocycline I rarely went out and didn't drink much, I did smoke lots of marijuana. Towards the end of the fourth month, I decided to come off from the antibiotics. I was having sex again and the antibiotic had changed my vaginal discharge and I could not get naturally lubricated.
I started taking zinc supplements which definitely helped clear up some of the spots on my cheeks, but I was still breaking out. I was so self-conscious around the boy who I really liked. I wanted to be the old kind of girlfriend I was and able to sleep next to my partner without makeup and be able to swim and shower together.
In January 2011, I went to see my first dermatologist. She was very nice and immediately told me, "look, you should just try accutane". I was insulted, I had never thought my acne was severe enough for accutane. I started crying in her office and she started pushing expensive chemical peels on me.
It is June 2011, and I am having the worst breakout I've ever had. I have cysts on my left cheek and all along my jawline. I have white heads on my chin and forehead - I am ready for accutane.
My 2010-2011 school year had been plagued by my embarrassment of my skin. I wouldn't leave my house, I would lie about being sick, I would skip classes and engagements and I would let my relationships fall apart because of my frustration.
I go to school away from home and have decided to take the fall 2011 semester off. I am going to move back home and complete my accutane cycle there. I know it may sound that I'm letting my acne win the war, but I want to be in a stable environment for the side-effects, especially depression. I want to take some time away from school to be completely selfish and put my health/ well-being before school, friends and a social life.
I want my life back.
I want to look in the mirror and feel beautiful. I want to stop wishing/hoping/ praying and start being proactive about my life - not with you, pro-active topicals , hehe.
I love my school, friends and boyfriend here, but I know that going home to take this journey is the best decision I've made in a while.
- Dermatologist appointment at the end of june; work out all my blood / pregnancy tests
[also, I am looking to get an IUD inserted, rather than use birth control any comments?]
- start accutane in the middle of august
- become an assertive character in my own life
I will keep you posted on everything that goes on and my accutane journey, so much love and support on this website