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IchhasseAkne

Some reflections on my pre and post acne scars self

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To briefly summarize what I have posted in other threads:  I took two course of accutane, the 1st Jr year of high school when I first got cystic acne that seemingly came out of nowhere; and the second Sr year of college.  I took the 2nd course of accutane because the acne slowly but surely came back on my face and I did not have the best skin care routine for in between the accutane courses.  I did not know of this site or much else on where to search for the info and thus went through so much of what so many of us have gone through: tried numerous topicals, antibiotics, etc.

After my second course of accutane, I was feeling at the highest point in my life thus far (and possibly the highest point ever now that I have some perspective looking back).  My skin was totally clear with very minimal scarring and I was graduating from a technical college and about to start internships and work.   For reasons, I mentioned in other threads, I was not really interested in dating until my mid-20s.  The irony is that even after the 2nd course of accutane, my skin was only clear for about 2.5 years and then acne slowly started coming back.  As usual I went back to the Derm to get put on all sorts of stuff like antibiotics, adapalene, differin, etc.  Those things all seemed to be work but eventually stop working after a few months....  As my looks got worse over the course of the past few years (mid 20s to now, I'm 30), I became more interested in dating!  Needless to say it has been tough for me these past few years.   I have some pretty bad scarring that I am trying to get fixed and my new breakouts are mainly controlled today using a generic store brand version of the acne.org regimen.

I truly know the pain that many of you feel daily in your battles with adult acne and scarring.  When I look back on the past 4-5 years, I try to see the positive ways in which my adult acne has humbled me:

  • I may have become just another "good looking asshole" if my skin stayed as clear as it was at the end of my 2nd accutane course.  I certainly had some personality quirks and beliefs that may have led in that direction.  I could have become more self-centered and even narcissistic.  However, today, I have much more empathy for people that deal with adult acne/scarring and also with easily seen physical disfigurements.  Furthermore, since such physical conditions usually cause mental health issues, I also can empathize with people who have mental health conditions as well.
  • I never really would have improved my diet if my face and skin had remained that clear.  For many years in my 20s, I was eating a typical western diet filled with pizza, fried chicken, sugary treats, soda, alcohol, etc. with only the smattering here and there of healthy foods.  These days I am going strong on a commitment to a dairy-free, paleo and gluten free, low Glycemic Load diet that I started more than half a year ago.  I can't say that it has directly helped in reducing any new acne (since I concurrently started the acne.org regimen at that time), but I can say that I really do feel it has improved my overall health.  I allow myself a cheat day every month to two months though for stuff like pizza because it is so tough to avoid!
  • I don't sweat the small stuff anymore such as road rage from other drivers, traffic jams, broken item in a delivered package, etc.
  • At my last CIT procedure, I mentioned to the nurse how it always seemed to me that Drs and Derms especially always had the best looking skin....  I asked her if she knew any Drs that had or have adult acne and she couldn't think of any.  Without sounding too blunt, it is safe to assume that most people that become Drs come from privileged backgrounds and thus can probably afford the best skin care.  Anyway, it got me thinking that perhaps a Dr who actually have lived through conditions in the field he wants to specialize in may actually be better able to relate to patients with those conditions....   I know that it is a long shot for me since I am probably too old to start med school, but the thought has crossed my mind.

Anyway, I just wanted to mention some of the positive ways in which my struggle has changed me.  Please feel free to comment if you believe that your struggle has also changed you for the better. Edited by IchhasseAkne
corection changed "was" to "was not" and bolded it

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Cool topic.
I agree with you that we tend to have more empathy because of our acne journeys. Well, I guess it seems to go two ways... either empathy or resentment and distance. Hopefully most people experience the first one, or at least come through the resentment eventually and then have more empathy.
To add in my experience regarding what you were saying about Drs: my GP when I was 16 and suffering from acne told me that when he was younger he suffered from bad acne, so he understood how bad it could make you feel.
My female GP that I saw recently (over 10 years later) told me that the only thing that cleared up her skin was being pregnant, and that since having her children her skin has been fine. I decided those long term side effects were just too much for me ;)
So... some Drs have had skin problems. I mean, I think it's more down to genetics than skin care, but I guess you could also argue that being from a privileged background you may be more likely to have great genes because your ancestors have been successful and had the opportunity to breed with good looking people? It's very tenuous...
If you want to become a Dr (never too old!) then I'm sure your journey would make you a better one :)

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I love this post :) I'm all about looking at the positives of what's going on! I think looking at the positives is a choice not to suffer. Let's face it-even while we are attempting to treat our acne, it's a long process that we can't snap our fingers and just make go away. So we can either hate it and suffer, or try and find meaning! By the way, I am upper class and even I don't have good skin. Having money doesn't guarantee you clear skin even though you have financial access to everything out there- my acne is just super stubborn. Thanks for your thoughts.

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On 3/4/2016 at 4:57 PM, WittySock said:

Cool topic.
I agree with you that we tend to have more empathy because of our acne journeys. Well, I guess it seems to go two ways... either empathy or resentment and distance. Hopefully most people experience the first one, or at least come through the resentment eventually and then have more empathy.
To add in my experience regarding what you were saying about Drs: my GP when I was 16 and suffering from acne told me that when he was younger he suffered from bad acne, so he understood how bad it could make you feel.
My female GP that I saw recently (over 10 years later) told me that the only thing that cleared up her skin was being pregnant, and that since having her children her skin has been fine. I decided those long term side effects were just too much for me ;)
 


I def agree that those are the two general paths that adult acne sufferers can take.  It is only human to feel resentment, anger, and bitterness early on, especially after having tried so many things over the years to get rid of one's acne and/or decrease one's scarring...  I believe that simply with enough time (and maybe research and exposure to the lives of other people,not only in one's own city, state, or nation, but people around the world)  most people will realize that they aren't helping themselves by being bitter and negative about their situation.  During this transition period, they can likely develop greater empathy for others as they come to an acceptance of their having one of the most difficult to treat physical conditions.

I, as well as the other members here who are 30+, can certainly still say that there are still times when I feel down about it even though I have mostly arrived at the state of acceptance over the years.  I mainly feel a bit angered at medical science and how it is still not advanced enough to prevent adult acne in the first place or easily cure the scars that many of us have after we stop (if we stop) getting active acne...  If there is any way for us to organize something, I think we have to do it for the sake of our mental health - many Dr's still don't believe that adult acne and scarring can lead to mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, BDD, OCD, suicidal ideation, etc.  So many of them it seems do not take adult acne as seriously as other conditions which can lead to physical disfigurement.

 

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I'd say here in the UK there has been a big awareness push over the last 10 years (ish) about mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. Actually I'm pretty sure that depression is now in the top 3 diagnoses made by GPs each year (possibly even over diagnosed now tbh). So I think here there is more of an understanding around the mental health issues that can accompany other problems than there used to be. Nothing is perfect though of course. And as you can see above, I have been pretty lucky with my GP's understanding. I'm afraid I don't know enough about the healthcare system in the US to know how different attitudes might be there.

In any case, I definitely don't underestimate the impact of having free healthcare in this country in terms of mental state. While it is frustrating for me to have tried many different medications over several years, but I cannot even imagine how much worse it would be if each of those failures was costing me a lot of money, and the added anxiety not knowing if insurance would cover the next thing etc. (not dissing your guys' healthcare system or anything, I just imagine the cost issue can easily cause extra anxiety)

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Man, I feel you! I don't know what's worst: acne --> perfect skin --> acne -->scaring VS acne straight to scaring. I did have a full year of perfect smooth scarless skin (accutane) after having terrible cystic acne for the first time, and not a day goes by that I don't recall that time with sadness. In that year I also think I had a "good looking asshole" phase, but I guess that's just what that extra self-confidence after feeling like crap for so long does to you. It quickly faded and I became the most outgoing, helpful and friendly version of me that I've ever been. Sadly though it didn't last, so when the acne came back I became badly scared, BADLY. I'm now an introvert guy even though I wish I wasn't, I tend to stay at home a lot, get up late and enjoy life a lot less and I wish it weren't so. I keep thinking how I should have done something different, like staying forever on accutane no matter the consequences. I'm with jensweetone, money wasn't an obstacle to my skin, genetics were. Maybe if I hadn't had that smooth and clear time of my life I wouldn't constantly look back with regret.
Anyway when it comes to other people I only resent those whose physical complexes are the sole reflection of their terrible habits. On my second breakout I did everything from extreme diet cuts, exercise, topicals and even a second accutane course and it still didn't work for me it saddens me to watch people complain about being fat, having acne or striae (the kind you can avoid) when they don't make the least effort.

Sure, I guess I'm a very humble person, but it may have 10% to do with acne scars and 90% with the way I was before having them. What acne scars left me with, for sure, was a self-conscious personality which I try to fight everyday with little success.

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On 3/5/2016 at 3:24 PM, jensweetone said:

 

On 3/4/2016 at 4:57 PM, WittySock said:

Cool topic.
I agree with you that we tend to have more empathy because of our acne journeys. Well, I guess it seems to go two ways... either empathy or resentment and distance. Hopefully most people experience the first one, or at least come through the resentment eventually and then have more empathy.
To add in my experience regarding what you were saying about Drs: my GP when I was 16 and suffering from acne told me that when he was younger he suffered from bad acne, so he understood how bad it could make you feel.
My female GP that I saw recently (over 10 years later) told me that the only thing that cleared up her skin was being pregnant, and that since having her children her skin has been fine. I decided those long term side effects were just too much for me ;)
So... some Drs have had skin problems. I mean, I think it's more down to genetics than skin care, but I guess you could also argue that being from a privileged background you may be more likely to have great genes because your ancestors have been successful and had the opportunity to breed with good looking people? It's very tenuous...
If you want to become a Dr (never too old!) then I'm sure your journey would make you a better one :)



I am glad that you mentioned this as I was a little hesitant to do so.  Based on all that we scientifically know thus far, it does really seem that having acne prone skin is primarily determined by genetics.  As such, it is very tough for living people to accept that since it was something that they had no say in - we don't pick our parents....  Furthermore, the genes for acne prone skin may not even be active in certain generations and can likely skip; additionally, the environment may also to either turn those genes on or keep them off...
On 3/6/2016 at 4:36 PM, WittySock said:

I'd say here in the UK there has been a big awareness push over the last 10 years (ish) about mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. Actually I'm pretty sure that depression is now in the top 3 diagnoses made by GPs each year (possibly even over diagnosed now tbh). So I think here there is more of an understanding around the mental health issues that can accompany other problems than there used to be. Nothing is perfect though of course. And as you can see above, I have been pretty lucky with my GP's understanding. I'm afraid I don't know enough about the healthcare system in the US to know how different attitudes might be there.

In any case, I definitely don't underestimate the impact of having free healthcare in this country in terms of mental state. While it is frustrating for me to have tried many different medications over several years, but I cannot even imagine how much worse it would be if each of those failures was costing me a lot of money, and the added anxiety not knowing if insurance would cover the next thing etc. (not dissing your guys' healthcare system or anything, I just imagine the cost issue can easily cause extra anxiety)



Don't worry - with each passing month and year, more and more Americans are realizing how much our healthcare system sucks compared to the systems in other first world advanced nations.... Edited by IchhasseAkne
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