I don't know why I didn't start a blog sooner- probably because I was hopeful enough to think that my acne would have been cleared again by now!
I had my first outbreak when I was 22. It started around my chin (a combination of closed comedones and cysts) and spread down to my cheeks and up to my jawline. Before then I'd always had perfect skin, if slightly on the dry side. I even remember once wishing that I could get zits because I watched the episode of My So Called Life where Angela Chase delivers this big existential monologue about a pimple, and though I didn't necessarily want to be Angela Chase I definitely wouldn't have minded having a best friend as cool as Rayanne Graff. The universe is cruel sometimes anyway because I definitely got those zits I wanted.
I tried countless skincare products and regimens, spending hundreds of euro on LaRoche Posay and Kiehls that just irritated me even more. I let the condition of my skin deteriorate for several months as it became angrier and more inflamed, convinced it was something I must be doing wrong, hoping I could fix it myself. Eventually I realised I needed a bit more help and paid a visit to my GP. I was prescribed Duac cream by my local GP and my skin had cleared entirely in 6 weeks and I noticed an improvement almost instantly.
I enjoyed about six months of perfect, blemish-free skin before my acne started to return. Same areas (chin, jawline, cheeks), but slightly more aggressive- a combination of blackheads, whiteheads, cysts and nodules. Nodules are the thing I hate most about my acne. I would trade every nodule on my face for an unsightly whitehead. My nodules are large, and hard and sometimes they throb on my face so I'm aware of them even when I'm being incredibly disciplined and self-restrained and not running a hand over the lumpy topography of my face hoping that it's magically corrected itself overnight. Anyway- I returned to the doctor and was prescribed another tube of Duac cream but this time, it did absolutely nothing. I went back and was prescribed a three month course of Dianette and Differin gel. The Differin gel did absolutely nothing for me- if anything I think it clogged my pores, but the Dianette had me cleared almost completely in two months. The only thing that remained were some very tiny closed comedones around my chin and forehead. I went to a dermatologist who prescribed me a three month course of Tetralysal and by the end of the course my skin was perfect.
I was apprehensive coming off both Dianette and Tetralysal- I had finally gotten my skin under control and I wanted it to stay that way. After I was med-free I enjoyed two short months with clear skin before my acne returned for a third time and worse than ever before. In a state of panic I ordered more Dianette online (my medical bills had been stacking up) and took them for a month, with little effect. Then, I started getting muscle spasms in my limbs. Panicked, I decided to go to the GP again who took me off Dianette. This was probably one of the most crushing moments of my acne struggle so far. In my head, Dianette had been my cure, the pill that returned to me the smooth, soft face I had taken for granted throughout my adolescence. Now it was being taken away from me. I knew it wasn't a long term option, but I knew it had more longevity than antibiotics, which I saw as a short term fix to what now seemed to be becoming a long term problem. My GP put me on Minocin and prescribed me Isotrex Gel (0.05%) and told me that I was probably a candidate for Accutane. I've accepted this, despite my anxiety about the possible side effects (particularly the joint pain because I love walking and running a lot). I have an appointment with a new dermatologist in January and I don't know what the outcome will be but I think I'm going to push for the Accutane. In the meantime, I'm going to start detailing my struggle on Isotrex and Minocin daily.
I genuinely never thought this would be something I would have to endure, but there's something comforting about knowing I'm not alone in it. I know a lot of people have skin much worse than mine, but I also know that as much as we can empathise with each other, our struggle is unique to us. Emotionally, I suppose I have the same issues as most acne sufferers. I cry a lot. I feel disconsolate when I put my face on my pillow at night and it hurts. My heart sinks when I'm applying my Isotrex gel and it hurts to touch my own face. I feel disheartened when I apply make up for a night out and the only thing it does is make my face look like a lumpen mask that flakes and cracks a few hours later. I cry because I know this is consuming me every day and I don't want my acne to rule me, or define me. I feel guilty because I'm certain my obsession with my skin is affecting my relationship, even though the only thing my boyfriend says to me is that he understands, and he thinks I'm beautiful regardless (I am incredibly lucky to have him).
It's my 25th birthday on February 12th and my goal is to have experienced some form of improvement by then. I also want to stop wallowing and feeling sorry for myself and try to fight this in the most positive way I can. I'm not a naturally positive, sunshiney person (in fact, I have one of the most effective bitchy resting faces you've probably ever seen!) but all I can do is try. The alternative is to let acne rule and I'm an incredibly competitive person so I don't think that's an option