Hi if you are reading this! If its not obvious already by my blog title, I am on Accutane. I am a little late to the blogging game in my Accutane journey, as today marks Day 11, and this will be my first entry. Before I update you on the current state of my skin, let me get you up to speed with my life.
I am a 22 year old female, just graduated from college in December 2013 with Bachelor's degrees in both Accounting and Finance. I have moved back home in order to take the certified public accounting exam, before my work start date in August. In addition to studying for the exam, I wanted to use this transition period to really work on myself. In college, I was going out three to four nights a week, making poor food choices and not exercising at all. It was time for me to take a step back and "settle down", if you will.
Up to about four-five months ago I had a little less than near perfect skin, if that makes sense. Nothing drastic through puberty, the occasional pimple here and there.* I should mention I have an anxiety disorder and am a constant picker (it wasn't diagnosed until junior year of college, but in hindsight, I can see the signs). The constant touching of my face, in my opinion, was the only reason blemishes occurred. I would really make a mountain out of a molehill. This caused me to try out Proactive off and on for years, which satisfied my skin. I was pretty clear up until my junior year of college. I started to accumulate a few pimples close to my chin and jaw. Me being the perfectionist that I am, I decided to go to the dermatologist. My doctor prescribed me the standard BP, but also Doxycycline. My stomach didn't take too well to the Doxycycline, and my skin showed improvement within the first month, so I ended up discontinuing my Doxy use. I credited my skin improvement with epiduo, so I was content with just using that. Little did I know....
I stopped any regular appointments with my Dermatologist, because my skin was back to how it was. If I did have a blemish, what left I had of topical creams I used. A year later, I ran out of these creams, and I was left with nothing to combat the occassional blemish. Well, they began to accumulate, so I decided to go back. My dermatologist prescribed more topicals, and I went on my merry way. I ended my senior year of college May 13' (I call my additional semester my "super senior" semester, as most of my friends graduated in may) with great skin, a good internship for the summer. Life was going great, that I stopped taking my anti-depressants, with the consent and supervision of my psychiatrist, I was on them for about a year, and had impeccable skin, which I could attribute to the SSRI use. Anyway, summer went great and I received a job offer from my internship, but towards the end, instead of having smooth and silky skin, I would have small bumps on my forehead, and a tiny amount of jaw/chin acne.I should also note during my internship, coffee was a necessity. Before I would drink MAYBE a cup a month? My heart would race, so I would try to stay away from the stuff. Only desperate times did I drink it (work, finals week), but by the end of the summer I was drinking about a cup a day.Back to my skin, I wasn't concerned with these new pimples, so I just used a little bit of makeup, and thought nothing of it. As my super senior semester began, I continued my coffee drinking, my skin didn't get worse or better, but in my opinion it became necessary for me to wear foundation, and I even switched to the heavier Bare Minerals to cover what little I had. You know the same story, a pimple here and there, but these took longer to go away. It wasn't until the end of the semester that I became worried. I was going out, eating bad, and not keeping up with exercising. I knew the end was soon approaching, and that I would be returning home to a social-free, drinking-free, and healthy living lifestyle, so I could suck it up until graduation. As I left college, I told many of my friends that I would be entering hibernation, because in reality I wanted to be fit and healthy, and just focus on myself. I wanted to spend my weekends at home with a good book, and not worry about who was going out with who that night. I even deleted my facebook, because I wanted to be off the map for a little while. I think I attribute this change in lifestyle to my anxiety. My social life has always been cyclical, where for six months at a time all want to do is go out and have a good time. But then the next sixth months I would rather stay in a watch say yes to the dress. So, this new need for hibernation did not surprise me, but it was necessary to rid the excess out of my life and I went in embracing it.
At the end of my college run, I was displeased with my skin. I thought that by cutting out drinking and fast food, and incorporating regular exercise into my daily routine my skin would clear up, so I was worried but I not too worried. I had made a dermatologist appointment, thinking I would get my typical topicals, and once again, be on my merry way. However, this acne was different. It was not responding to the topicals I had left, and I ran out, so I resorted to the various Proactive products I had left over from my teenage years. My skin was responding to that either. I started to get pimples first farther up my left jawline, which was an area clear of acne for 22 years. I had one cyst, and the picker that I am, tried to pop it before it was ready. Needless to say the cyst hurt, and made itself clear it was taking up residency, and invited some friends to hang out too. Then I started to get a couple pimples on my right cheek. Nothing major, but they weren't responding my any topicals. This when I started to get down about my skin. I was self conscious enough to have my mom pay for the touch ups on my COLLEGE graduation photos. The whole time I was thinking, I'm too old for these pimples.
So,I graduated college, moved back home for the holidays, then took a weeklong trip to visit my friend in Missouri. My dermatologist appointment was scheduled for the day after I arrived home. During the trip, my skin got progressively worse, and I would often steal my friends prescribed topicals. But each morning I woke up to four or five new blemishes. They were accumulating in the most distinct spots, on my left jawline and right cheek...wierd. By the end of the trip, I just wanted to be home to get to my dermatologist. Unfortunately, our flight ended up getting cancelled due to a huge snowstorm. I finally got in to my dermatologist a week later, and by that time I had 3 or 4 pustulating cysts on my jaw line, and crop-like acne on my right cheek. Both areas hurt. I was still popping, but each day more and more pimples were coming, spreading out to areas my fingers did not touch. My dermatologist within seconds decides that I was a candidate for Accutane, but due to the fact I am female and the need for blood work and a pregnancy test, my dermatologist started me on birth control (YAZ) and minocycline (Solodyn). I was new to both birth control and mino. If it were up to me, I would not have wanted to be on birth control, as during my time at home I wanted to lose the 20 lbs I gained in college, but I knew there was a chance for me to grow some boobs and it was necessary for my skin to get better, so I decided to move forward.
The silver lining in this process, up to then, so that I did get some boobs! I went from a 34B to a 36C (and still going I might add). However, my skin was getting worse at an exponential rate. At this point, I got a few cysts and pimples on my right jawline (not as serious as the cysts on my left, but they made their presence known) and then one smaller cyst on my left cheek. At this point I came up with a ton of jokes about my right cheek acne whenever I talked about it with my best friend and my sister, but deep inside this was heavily affecting my self-esteem. It started to look like a statistical regression, scatter plots with only a few outliers, and the acne really started to contour and highlight my high cheek bones.
Anyway...it had been a month since I had been home, and my friends were starting to wonder what I was doing and wanted to hang out. At the time I didn't want to because I knew it would involve drinking/eating bad, and at I had lost about 8 pounds clean eating and exercising at home. I didn't want to ruin my progress, so I always got out of it.Finally, the day I had been waiting for finally came.
On Friday February 14, 2014, I went to get my lab work done for my Dermatologist appointment that Monday. On Monday I got the greenlight for Accutane, and due to Walgreens being "ratchet" (I have no other way to put my dislike for their pharmacy), I started my first dose on Friday February 21, 2014. This was a pivotal derm appointment though on my acne journey. It boggled my mind why this was happening to me, crops of acne and cysts, when only a few months ago my skin was normal. My doctor had told me that it was hormones, and that she didn't get her acne until she was 27. This was the day I decided to learn as much as I could about acne and the disease.
After receiving Accutane, I was fully prepared with Aquaphor and Cetaphil. I was ready to combat this, and 4-6 months would be here in a flash. I started reading various forums (thats how I found this), and watching youtube videos of accutane current users and survivors, I wanted to learn what I was up against, and to really see at what month/week I would find my light at the end of the tunnel and see skin improvement.
For the first week, there was no obvious improvement. In fact, the crops on my right cheek increased in number/size/ and pain, as well as what was on my left jawline. As the number of pimples increased, by self esteem and confidence decreased double time. I actively avoided speaking to my friends, in hopes they wouldn't ask me to do anything in public. I had one part of the CPA exam on February 26, and would avoid studying at local coffee shops because I didn't want even STRANGERS to look at me. Why should I care about strangers?? But I did, and still do.
It wasn't until the second week of Accutane (so like, a few days ago) that my family had started to notice how much my skin bothered me. I tried to keep my head held up high, and it helped that I had my exam on the 26th to keep my mind occupied. But once that was over, each night up until last night I had cried myself to sleep. I was/am discouraged by my skin.
Today marks my 11th day on Accutane. Looking back on my life, acne journal so far, I can honestly say I will never judge someone based upon looks again. I don't know their life, or what they are struggling with, and it is my biggest fear that people will judge me negatively based upon how I look. This has been a huge adjustment for me, and each day I am learning that beauty is not just on the surface, but of what is inside us. Today was a better day though. Even though I am learning to love myself no matter what I look like, it is also helpful I am starting to pick up on some tips and tricks to keep what confidence I have. Tip #1- Don't look in the mirror once you have gotten out of the shower, applied moisturizer, and BP---all of these three things, especially combined, makes everything redd and inflamed, and not pretty. Luckily, my dermatologist prescribed me Aczone, which helps with redness and inflamation. This makes me more comfortable looking in the mirror.
After reading the previous (or all) paragraph(s), you are probably thinking, wow, this girl is kinda vain. While I don't entirely disagree with you, you need to understand I am a young adult growing up in a society where looks matter, especially for a 22 year old female who is supposed to be "in her prime." I also got dealt some pretty sucky news, unrelated to my skin. Since I moved back home, during my self-improvement/hibernation period, I decided to make appointment for the specialist doctors I neglected to see when at college (eye doctor, ob-gyn, and dentist). About two weeks ago (when my quasi-depression started), my new eye doctor (I used to go to an optometrist, but now I see an opthamologist) told me a have a scratched cornea from contact wear, and that I will essentially be a glasses wearer for the rest of my life. I have had bad eyesight since 4th grade, and it wasn't until freshman year of college I was able to wear contacts. This was when I started to get attention from the opposite sex. I associate my glasses with my ugly middle/high school, pubescent tweenage self. Getting this news was another huge blow to my confidence. I have since then decided to take the high road with my glasses-- I'm just gonna have to rock it, its fine, I can do it. I still wear my contacts when I work out, but I will NOT be telling my doc that. Sue me.
So here I am, the girl who fights for her happiness, despite the setbacks each new day (and pimple) brings. I am going to try to keep up with this blog as much as I can, definitely once I week. Although, its kinda therapeutic, so I would expect at posts two or three times a week. If you are reading this, I appreciate it, feel free to comment/ share you experiences/ offer up advice to those of us still in the rough patches. If no one reads this, thats okay too. I will also keep my posts shorter than this, and maybe I'll post a few photos.