(No makeup, no editing. My acne, September 2013)
So, here I am talking about my biggest insecurity on the internet. With pictures and everything. I'm a little nervous about hitting that publish button but I had to share this with you all after receiving an email from one of my readers. I received an email last week from a girl living in Melbourne. She suffers from a terrible form of acne (nodulocystic or cystic acne) and is struggling to cope with it and wants to see a dermatologist about it. She said to me that she feels like everyone is looking at her because of it. I decided that after replying to this girl that I would do a post dedicated to my acne story, progress and my struggles. I knew it was about time I posted bare-face pictures and told you guys the story right from the start. So here goes:
I've always had skin problems. Eczema when I was young, and then as soon as I hit high school I would get regular pimples around my chin and cheeks during my period and when I was stressed. Mum and I both agreed this was just bad luck and the criteria that came with being a teenager. I dealt with it all the way up until grade ten and when holidays came (Christmas 2012/13), my skin sort of "magically" improved and I had little to no acne. I was pretty excited about it and started off year 11 feeling quite confident and happy - then over the course of a few weeks I developed painful, cystic pimples all over my back, chest and face. It multiplied and before I knew it I was covered in a horrible, red rash. I don't think I have ever been so unhappy. I cried all the time... coming home from school after feeling like every pair of eyes was looking at it. I would scrub the layers of make-up off my face whilst still in tears and crawl into bed and cry even harder. I was angry with God for putting me through this. What had I done to deserve such a horrible disease?
I felt so incredibly ugly. I felt like I wouldn't be good enough for anyone, ever, because of my skin. It had gotten so bad that I couldn't even put my head down on the pillow. I couldn't leave the house without makeup. I avoided sleepovers. I even felt uncomfortable being around my family without makeup on.
I will never forget how sad I was at the start of the year. I hated my face. I hated looking in the mirror. I felt ugly and self conscious on a regular basis.
(My acne, March to June 2013 - the first few months of Roaccutane was definitely a struggle)
In April, Mum and I decided that it was time to see a doctor. I had tried everything - all of that topical treatment crap, natural remedies, etc. and none of it had done a single thing (except perhaps made things worse). He referred me to a dermatologist and at last, I felt as though I might actually have a little hope. My (awesome!) dermatologist took one look at me when I came through those doors and knew instantly what I had to go on. Roaccutane (or isotretinoin). He said Doxycycline, birth control or any other drug wouldn't work because my acne was so severe. I was terrified of taking Roaccutane because of all the scary side-effects (suicidal thoughts etc), but I knew that I couldn't deal with this horrible skin condition any longer.
The next time I went for another dermatologist appointment, the lady assistant suggested I have a chemical peel because the results weren't appearing fast enough. I agreed to this because I wanted to see an improvement. It was the most painful experience I have ever been through. I will never forget the agony I underwent while I was in that chair and I don't think I've ever cried so hard either. It felt like she was pouring fuel all over my face, then setting fire to sections of my skin with a torch. It actually makes me cry as I'm typing this because it was so awful I can't even put it into words. I don't understand how something so excruciating could be good for my skin. She asked me if I would like to have regular chemical peels and I blatantly said no.
I was going to wait it out by sticking to Roaccutane and a very gentle skin care routine. I am so glad I did.
I have been on Roaccutane for five or so months now. It has been a really tough and slowly progressing journey and I know I still have a long way to go, but I have never been happier. My dermatologist is friendly, supportive and his tips and advice have helped me through all of this. My skin has improved so, so much. The cysts have disappeared and now I am just waiting for the rest of the acne to come through.
I've got my self-confidence back again. I want to get up in the morning and seize the day. Not to say I don't wake up some days feeling quite awful, but there are A LOT less of them. My acne is getting better, I'm starting to feel pretty again and by the end of the year I will have lovely, healthy skin.
Eating well and staying hydrated has really helped too.
I just wanted to remind you all that every single person on this earth is fighting their own battle. Be careful with your words and if someone you know is suffering from acne, don't ever point it out. As someone who has experienced nasty words first hand, I can assure you, it is the most upsetting thing and I will never forget it. Be kind and compassionate and remember how deeply your words can affect someone. And if you have acne, I want to let you know that I am here if you ever have to talk. I have been through the worst of it and I know how you feel. It's not your fault. You are a beautiful person and you can get through this. No one should ever have to experience acne. Especially as a teenager.