I am writing this blog for myself mainly, but if anyone reads this and finds it helpful in any way that's a bonus, A brief description about me: I am 25, female and live in the UK. Even though we have the wonderful health system in this country, my GP actually suggested that I go and see a private dermatologist as a matter of urgency because my skin was getting into such a bad way and I have now started scarring quite badly all over my face (no area is safe!) and my back and chest. Getting referred to a NHS dermatologist would, I was warned, take months, I am incredibly fortunate to currently be in a situation where I could do this and so last week I saw my dermatologist for the first time.
By the time I saw my derm I was on week 8 of using Differin 0.1 cream (personally I feel that differin did more harm then good although I did get some positives such as smother areas of skin) and Tetracycline (Lymecycline) 408mg tablets which the GP has prescribed a few months previously. These worked for me in the past but I think I developed a resistance to them as they stopped working. I had read all the horror stories about the 'tane and the idea of going on this drug absolutely terrified me and I made this very clear to the derm. However I couldn't deny my skin was getting worse, I had been fighting with my acne using a range of prescribed and over-the-counter treatments for years and my skin was affecting me mentally really badly. Not to mention I am 25 years old and just plain old fed up with this shizz, ya know?
Anyway my derm, although concerned with the amount of active pimples on my face which include inflammatory acne, was more concerned with the amount of scarring and how it was affecting my overall appearance. He 'graded' my acne as severe because of this. As it stands today I have about 20 actives on my face (a mixture of whiteheads and inflamed whiteheads), enough blackheads to build a life-sized blackhead sculpture of myself although thankfully these are small and not very noticeable.. apart from to me as I am constantly analysing my face in anything reflective.... and more actives on my neck, behind one ear (why god of skin, why?) and then more on my back and chest. He straight out told me that the state of my skin was starting to cause disfigurement and something drastic needed to be done.... that was a tad alarming!
Reluctantly I have agreed to a course of the tane because I can't look people in the eye anymore due to the feelings I have about my skin. My self-esteem is non-existent and I can't bare the thought of another summer holiday with my lovely family where I refuse to have any photos of myself out of feeling ashamed about my appearance, HOWEVER where it gets a little (A LOT) complicated is that I already have three, yes all good things comes in threes... yeah right, chronic illnesses. I have endometriosis stage 4, adenomyosis and a bladder disease. This means that I am already in chronic pain, have chronic fatigue and could find the side effects to the tane really quite damaging. However as someone who already lives a limited life from illness, having acne on top (which impacts me massively) and the chance to do something about it is something that I at least had to try, Because of my illnesses my derm has said that I am going to start on a baby dose of 'tane for two weeks (5mg) then move up gradually to the 20 mg dose that theoretically someone of my size (64kg) should start from. By four weeks, providing everything has gone OK I will be on the 20mg. This is to manage side effects and any issues that arise from my illnesses and this really strong drug.
Because of my illnesses I already have a massively restricted diet as this helps me to manage my pain levels. I mainly follow a plant-based diet, but I also don't have: gluten, sugar, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and meat of any kind. I only drink water (because of my bladder disease) but when I am feeling quite adventurous (sarcasm here people) I venture out into having a hot water. Rock and roll. Now that I am taking the 'tane I am eating even more cleanly and am also going to be using my juicer a lot more as I do find that this helps with pain/ fatigue so it can't hurt this either. Agreeing to go on a course on accutane is a decision that I haven't made lightly and it is literally my last option available to me. In light of all of this I have tried to be as prepared as possible for what may be to come.
I have started following people's blogs on here and on Instagram to pick up hints and tips and products that people are using, I also know first hand from my two months with Differin that there will be dark days that feel hopeless so I have recorded a few personal statements down in a book to read when things feel really bad. The types of things I have written are to remind me why I chose to do this and the place that I have started from. The fact that I can't look people in the eye at the moment is one of them. Or the fact that when I sit next to someone I am paranoid that they can see the bumps under my make up and will think I am some sort of disgusting troll baby or something.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared, because I totally am. I kind of feel like it would be quite naive to underestimate what this drug is capable of. You just have to read some of the threads on this website to see how badly it can effect people. In a way I think my other illnesses will help my on this 'journey' (eurgh what a cliche word!) as I have been forced to manage with restrictions and develop ways of thinking about things in a more positive light. However this is only day one.. I am sure the accutane vets out there will be thinking that I know nothing... Jon Snow..
I am also ridiculously terrified at the prospect of having a nosebleed. I have never had a nosebleed in my life. I can't imagine this is a nice experience otherwise there would be some sort of nosebleed experience shop where everyone would want one. I especially don't want one in public. I really need to stop thinking like this though... it's not what normal people do
Right so enough waffling (to myself anyway as I don't think I am going to get any readers.. which is a bit weird if I am just talking to myself)... yesterday I took my first dose of the 'tane at dinner (5mg) and this morning I started on the antibiotic erythromycin 500mg as my derm is really worried about the initial breakout scarring my skin even further. I was worried about the antibiotic making me feel quite sick but actually I feel fine, so that's lovely. On top of this I also take Acidophilus (which is a probiotic) to bring some good bacteria back into my body from all the anti B's, a vegan supplement and magnesium tablets. I have also heard that drinking water helps with the dryness so I will drink even more water to try and ease this. I feel kind of prepared I guess, I have bought some cetaphil moisturiser and will also try out the face wash, some carmex lip balm and I have aqueous cream on standby for general dryness. I am also going to invest in some eye drops and nasal spray to ward off the nosebleeds.. they can royally fluff right off.
Right so I think that's enough self-indulgence for one day. I think I am going to update this once a week and post some photos and hopefully I can learn a few tricks myself to help with this and will share them on here too, Oh I also should mention that I will be doing a moderately low dose over a longer period of time (8 months to 12 months depending on how things go) so although I will probably be in a different boat to most people, I am sure we can all still help each other.
I hope everyone is having at least a quieter acne day today, with no under-the-skin buggers that hurt like a beast straight out of hell here to ruin your whole week.
P.S the scarring looks a lot worse in real life.