Acne girl. That's what he called me. We were in art club during lunch break at school. I was in Year 8, he was Year 6.
Little boys are mean, aren't they?
I was just 13 at the time. Nearly ten years ago now. But I've never forgotten that.
It's by the by that I was top of the school (Head Girl even), he was two years below and this was clearly a breach of the school ground hierarchy. But no one should be called 'acne girl', no matter who they are.
I've never really spoken about it on my blog, but after briefly mentioning my skin struggles in a post a few weeks ago and receiving such lovely, supportive comments in response, I thought I'd take a deep breath and let it all out. It's not easy to bare all like this, but here goes...
No one in my family has spots. How unfair is that? I've been the spotty one for as long as I can remember.
I’ve tried EVERYTHING to clear up my skin: first, high street products; then everything the doctor could prescribe, from topical creams to antibiotics to various forms of the pill; and I also went to see a dermatologist. Nothing worked, not sustainably anyway.
I remember a particular trip to the GP a couple of years after the 'acne girl' incident. The doctor told me I had "severe acne". I was a sensitive 15 year old, alone in the doctor's office, trying my very hardest to hold back the tears. Needless to say I let them all out afterwards.
|Gotta love a bit of black and white to smooth out your complexion|
But teenage acne is different to adult acne. The former tends to affect the T-zone, whereas the latter takes hold more on the cheeks and chin. Charming.
Most teenage acne sufferers are freed from their spotty prison as they grow up. Some of us are less fortunate, with teenage acne seamlessly morphing into adult acne. "HAAA HAAA! Thought you were getting rid of me?" mocks adult acne. "I'm going to be making your life miserable for, well, the rest of your life, acne girl."
That's where I'm at.
You can hide spots on the rest of your body, but not on your face. It doesn't half knock your confidence.
You wouldn't guess it with me, I know. (I often use “Silky Skin mode” on my camera which is literally a GODSEND.) And truth be told, I am a confident, stable, strong, secure young lady in pretty much every aspect of life. (Y'all know how much I love life!) But it got to the stage where I all I saw when I looked in the mirror were spots.
|No makeup + tan + silky skin mode = what acne?|
I sit in seminars looking at all my friends and realise I'm pretty much the only one with skin this bad. Sure, a lot of us still get occasional pimples in our early twenties, but it's not the same really. What I'd give for just the occasional pimple!
The fact of the matter is, acne does not look good. It's not damaging my health, but I hate it. My desire for it to be gone is pure vanity, but I'd feel so much better in myself if I had acne-free skin.
The thing is, I'm hopefully soon going to be starting a career in the world of work. I want to look professional, and grown-up, and be taken seriously. That's harder with acne all over your face.
So a month or so ago I decided enough was enough and went back to see the dermatologist. Mum and I knew there was one last option I hadn’t tried. A strong drug that is only prescribed in serious cases. A drug called Roaccutane.
The dermatologist had told mum and I about it years ago, but we all decided I shouldn’t take such a severe step while still a teenager and before trying everything out there.
Roaccutane has been known to have some pretty harsh side-effects (extremely dry skin, sensitivity to sunlight, weariness), and because of one bad story Mum read years ago of a teenager committing suicide after taking the drug (probably in the Daily Mail), she was not in the slightest bit keen for me to take it.
But after talking it through with the dermatologist, I was adamant that I had to give it a try. He said it was the best option for me too.
|The iPhone selfie camera has a pleasing smoothing effect.|
Luckily, the dermatologist eased mum’s worries, explaining that suicide scare-stories about the drug were massive one-offs and were likely due to insecure teenagers who were already depressed, as tragic as that is. Just from our brief meeting, the doctor said he could tell I’m a stable, secure, together young lady and that mum had nothing to worry about.
Of course, every single person responds to a drug differently, so you can never be 100% sure.
Due to the challenge that it is to get a doctor’s appointment these days, it was a couple of weeks before I could start taking the drug, in which time I started alkaline eating – in short, cutting out dairy, refined sugar, meat, gluten and caffeine. Well, 80% of the time anyway.
I’d read that eating an alkaline diet has cleared up acne for some people, and amazingly, I started to see improvements in my skin in just two weeks! My skin looked calmer, less angry and my skintone was smoother.
It was tempting to put off taking Roaccutane to see if the diet alone would solve the problem, but not tempting enough.
I’ve been taking the drug for nearly a month now and am hoping Roaccutane combined with my diet will result in flawless skin asap.
So, is it working? Excitingly, yes!
Slowly, of course. I’m not expecting to have a face as smooth as a baby’s bum for a few months yet and of course I still have spots, but it’s getting better, which is the most encouraging thing in the world.
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to look in the mirror every day and see the little improvements.
|Makeup + good camera = acne girl's best friends. Cocktails and cookies are also good friends.|
But what’s super fun is that I now feel confident enough to go out without make-up on. And I haven’t felt that way for a looooong time.
Sure, my skin is drier than normal but not horrendously so. Maybe it’s going to get worse as the course of treatment continues, who knows? And apart from that I feel totally my normal, happy, healthy self, yay!
It’s almost silly that something as seemingly small as the skin on your face can make such a difference to your confidence, but it does. And I firmly believe that when you feel more confident you will be more successful in everything you do.
So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can soon leave Acne Girl behind for good and become the Smooth-Skin Girl I’ve always felt inside.
Does anyone else relate to any of this? Please do let me know so I don’t feel awfully exposed and regret this personal post…
PS. I'm not loving how many pictures of me there are in this post but I wasn't sure what else to use to break up the text. Thought I'd spare you the gross acne close-ups as for all I know you're reading this over breakfast. I'd never do that to you, lovely readers. Mmm breakfast...