I can’t believe I’m about to post this. (In fact, I started writing this over a month ago, and have just now worked up the courage to continue. Will I hit publish? We’ll see.)
TLDR: I have struggled with my skin most of my teenage/adult life. A few years ago, I was “diagnosed” with rosacea and adult acne. The first attempt at low-dose antibiotics didn’t make a difference, so I was given another antibiotic that was slightly more powerful that I considered a God-send. What failed to be mentioned by the dermatologist was that this treatment was only meant to be short term… 12 weeks. Once the medication ran out, I was back to square one.
One day, I decided enough was enough.
I was sick of hiding. I was sick of being in literal, physical pain. Hell, I was sick of being in emotional hurt too because I couldn’t function as an adult. I was embarrassed. I had anxiety. I thought about my face, and what others must think, constantly. My skin was really that bad.
You’ll see. In a minute.
In a complete opposite attempt of what I would usually do (hide, bury, run away), I decided to talk about it publicly. Surely, SURELY, I couldn’t be the only person who struggles with this… right? I published a secret post that had long lived in the depths of my Notes app, and went on Instagram to talk about my challenges. For the love, I even started a Skin Journey highlight bubble to force myself to talk about it.
People commiserated. I was recommended a local esthetician, and I went for a consult like… the next day. I was DESPERATE. I almost think this woman was annoyed with me, until I pulled down my face mask to show her what I was dealing with. From then on, I was her project. She would text me articles, give me free products to try, invite me to come lay under the UV light on the house, check in with me almost daily – anything to help me see results. I bought every product she recommended. I went for facials every two weeks. I had a literal 90 minutes nighttime skincare routine, and I was freaking doing it even when I definitely didn’t want to.
Was it working? Maybe. But the progress was just too slow. I simply could not live that way anymore. I went back to my dermatologist. I cheated on sweet, sweet Brenda. My doctor took one look at me and said, “I think your only option is Accutane.”
And at this point, what do I have to lose?
Friends, I have been on Accutane as a teenager. Twice. It is not for the weak. Google it, because the side effects are too lengthy for me to even begin to list. It requires two variations of a negative pregnancy test even to BEGIN the process. I was going for blood draws. I had to sign up for iPledge, which is a national registry of people on isotretinoin, which requires me to pass a test about birth control methods EVERY MONTH before the pharmacy can legally distribute my medication. I see my doctor monthly so she can make sure I haven’t lost my damn mind on this stuff.
This shit is intense.
Month 1: I experienced blurry vision, headaches, and one day I was forever transported to the Sahara desert. My skin is dry. My hair is dry. No chapstick is a match for what my poor lips are going through. My skin purged for several weeks, making my conditions worse before they got better. It… was not fun.
Month 2: The dryness continues. I struggle with heat, and body temperature, more than I used to. My joints hurt occasionally, but my face. Oh, praise Jesus, my face. I see 80 percent improvement. Yes, the redness continues, but I don’t have anxiety when speaking in public anymore or when making eye contact with literally anyone. I will do this for the rest of my life if it means I don’t *have* to wear makeup or ice my face because of the pain.
See for yourself.
GAH. I can’t believe I shared that. But I know somewhere there is another 30-something woman just like me wondering if the effort, risk, and money is worth it.
So far, yes. To be continued…
*Recommendation needed: help a girl out with the best chapstick ever made. Please.