First, apologies for the long post. This is not an easy post for me. I don’t use my blog to vent, or to moan. I have hung on to this unpublished post for almost three months now and although the situation has improved since I wrote it, I am far from happy. My blog is beauty related, and there you go, I don’t really feel beautiful sometimes because of this. I don’t think I ever spoke this openly and in-depth about this issue that has accompanied me for about 18 years now. To me, it is always visible, its scars are ever so present, as a painful reminder of everything I had to work through all these years.
I started suffering from acne at around 15. There were just pimples in the beginning but soon they became huge painful boils under my skin, which was always red and swollen. My face was always the only place where they would appear.
When I was 17, I had my first treatment with Roaccutane, a powerful retinoid from the vitamin A family. I took it for six months and the side effects were horrendous: body aches, soft tissue extreme dryness, cracked and bleeding lips. It was awful, but I came off the other side with great skin, and thought I had won.
However, six years on, when I moved to London my skin reached a state it had never been before; the boils were back, bigger, deeper and more painful than ever. So much so that the GP suggested I saw a dermatologist. And they told me what I really dreaded: Roaccutane was the only way out. Terrified of the side effects, I said I didn’t want to go through all that again. Once is enough and I would rather live with the acne. I was lying. nothing is as bad as living with it. So I entered another course, this time during a whole year on a lower dosage, so cut down the side effects. Once again, the medication worked its magic and I had a spot-free face.
But the two violent bouts of acne cost me dearly, I was left with the scars to remember, everyday, all the pain it had inflicted on me during the best years of my life. I am not saying I lost my confidence; although there were lows, I have always been an outspoken, extrovert, confident woman who never let the acne define me. It could’ve been much worse in that respect – but I remain sensitive about it.
One good thing it gave me is my love of make up, which stems from the need to hide myself for years. I had a long fringe that would conveniently cover my cheeks most of the time. I think most of my acne trauma is in fact, due to the incessant treatments, and the physical pain of the boils. As only the scars were left, I decided it was time to face the world, however ugly I believe they are. And I did. I left all those feelings in the past and embraced a pull back do.
But recently my skin hasn’t been happy and the breakouts are re-occurring. Not the monthly ones, which I learnt to ignore. They are cystic again, they are growing on top of each other, a classic sign of when things are going bad…. you wouldn’t probably be able to see them, but I know they are there. Hurting.
So I went to the doctor and I was told I could get a referral to a dermatologist, who would probably put me on Roaccutane, I broke down in tears. I cannot do that to myself again. So I went on antibiotics for a while – and improvement is pathetic for me to be pumping myself up with drugs everyday. I hate my scars. I always hated them so much, but now it’s serious. I had enough.
The final low was this bright red, sore spot bang on my cheek.Why won’t it just leave me alone? I should be worrying about wrinkles at this age… not freaking acne!
This time it is really affecting me. I want it to go away, I want the scars to go away and I never want to remember this was part of me for all this time. It is more than half my life. And I got myself thinking about taking Roaccutane again… and that makes me really sad. It looks like acne cornered me again…
I tried everything. Products do help, recently Skinetica and the Elemis range have been helping to control it without being too aggressive (yeah, I am also tired of slapping things on that make me red, flaky, horrible). However, it is always there and suddenly, I have an awful bout and it gets much worse. Medical advice that is not Roaccutane seem to be useless.
This is haunting me and I thought it was finally time to put it out there. I cannot keep this to myself anymore. Lots of stuff now cross my mind. Could Roaccutane be the way, again? Being such a strong medication, is it safe for me to have it for the third time? If I decide to get pregnant in the next couple of years (I am no spring chicken, I really need to decide soon if I am to), could it affect my baby? I know the textbook answer to those questions, as I read extensively on the drug. But the questions will always be in the back of my head. “Am I giving myself a bigger risk of liver disease?” “Am I jeopardising my fertility?” . Also, is there something I have not found yet that can help me?
I have decided I will not take it again. There *must* be another way. But the biggest question of all still remains: “Will I ever be free from it?”.