Loving The Me I See: My Struggle With Acne And My Experience With Accutane
Ever since the beginning of 6th grade, I’ve had acne that showed in spots on my face and back. I knew that acne was something that pretty much everyone in the world goes through, so while I didn't like the looks of it, I tolerated it. It was around 8th grade when I grew tired of it. Everyone did have acne on their faces, but it was unlike mine. They had only one or two spots at a time, and when they had spots, they wouldn't show up one after another. I, on the other hand, had small clusters of acne and redness on my face, and I never had a break. Even when some would go away, more would always show up on another part of my face. Sure, there were some that had just as much as me, some even had it worse, but knowing that I wasn't alone didn't make me feel better.
When I first started getting acne, I figured I would have it for 2 or 3 years, and then I would grow out of it. After realizing that it was here to stay, I asked my mom to start making appointments for me at the dermatologist. Every timeI went, it was the same thing: I got prescribed a topical cream, sometimes even a pill, and was told to wash my face every morning and night. Some of these things worked a little bit at first, but after a while of using them my face would just go back to how it always was. As I got older, the pressure to get rid of it became even stronger, with lots of people my age only having the occasional breakout, and with images of famous actors and models with perfect faces displayed all around me. The only thing that made me feel better about it was volunteering at camp with Women Making Waves, where I learned that images in magazines and on t.v. were hardly ever real, with photoshop and heavy makeup being prevalent in today’s society. Still, no matter what I learned, the spots on my face still stared back at me every time I looked in a mirror.
One dermatologist visit in 2015 changed everything. My dermatologist suggested a pill called Accutane, which I had heard of before, but never thought about using. He told me that it gets rid of acne in almost all cases, for good. However, it sounded very serious. If I took it, I would have to get blood taken at the same time every month while I was on it. I’m pretty scared of needles, so hearing that made me nervous. Side effects included very dry skin, headaches, muscle pain, and, if taken while pregnant, resulted in serious birth defects. It all sounded scary and serious, and I needed some time to think about it. After a few weeks of deciding, I realized that if I wanted to finally stop the struggle with acne, I needed to take Accutane. I began taking it in November of 2015.
When I first started taking the pill, it was easy. The only side effect I had was very dry skin on my face, which could easily be fixed by applying some heavy moisturizer to my lips and the skin around my mouth. This made my face appear oily in spots, which was embarrassing. But it looked better than the dry redness that was there before applying the moisturizer - and was definitely better than having acne. After about 3 weeks in, however, I started to experience pretty bad back pain. It didn't hurt while standing or walking, but every time I laid down or sat, it hurt. It would subside after a few minutes though, so it was still worth it to get the skin that I always dreamed of. After getting blood taken the first two times, I stopped becoming nervous and didn’t mind so much anymore. It still hurt, but once again - it was worth it.
I am now in the fourth month of taking Accutane, and I am beyond happy with the results. My acne is pretty much all the way gone, with only a few faded spots that are barely noticeable. I still have some redness, but my dermatologist said it’s normal, and will go away on its own. I am still having back pain, and recently I have been getting bad headaches, but out of all the possible side effects, these aren’t so bad. However, taking these pills has made me realize something. The whole time that I had acne, all I could think about was getting rid of it. Once it was gone, I thought that everything would be better. I would feel more confident, would enjoy looking in the mirror more, and would feel more comfortable going out without makeup. Now that I achieved that goal and I am virtually acne free, I realize that even though I am a lot more confident without acne, I didn't need to get rid of something to achieve confidence.
With or without acne, I am still me. The acne wasn't holding me back from being confident, I was. We have the power to chose our own attitudes, and I let my acne determine how I looked at things. We also have the power to make things happen, instead of waiting for things to happen. We can sit back and hide behind our problems and insecurities - or we can do our best to take action to overcome, change, or improve what’s bothering us. Not only did this pill help me get rid of something that made me feel insecure, it also opened up my eyes to see the bigger picture. Now I know that if in the future, if i ever have something that makes me feel insecure, I have the power to chose how I react to it. I have the power to make things happen.