I Started Getting Severe Acne When I Was 10 Years Old

I Started Getting Severe Acne When I Was 10 Years Old

What a decade of acne is like.

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Acne is the only common mark of imperfection that the world will not embrace. There are movements to accept stretch marks, fat rolls, wrinkles, moles, birthmarks, skin color, and all else that makes people different. However, acne is universally taken as a disgusting flaw that needs to be ridden of. As someone who began getting severe acne before I even knew swear words, here are my experiences of half a life filled with acne.

I began getting severe acne when I was 10 years old. It crawled all over my face and my back. The acne wasn't caused by much other than genetics. As young children are often inconsiderate, I was often made fun of. Even good friends would constantly point it out, and I grew increasingly self-conscious.

When I was 11, I consulted my family doctor and was prescribed benzoyl peroxide. My acne improved for a while, but then my skin adjusted and was even more oily and acne-covered than before. I hated mirrors and being photographed.

By the time I was 12, I had looked up almost every possible way to get rid of acne. I changed my diet and exercised; I also tried natural remedies, masks, drugstore creams, and other do-it-yourself methods I had read about. Of course, nothing worked.

In the eighth grade when I was 13, a friend who had naturally clear skin asked me if I had considered using medication on my acne. I was unspeakably offended by her ignorance, considering all my efforts to get rid of acne. Her comment seemed to heave even more weight onto my shoulders, to the point where it was unbearable.

Finally, I convinced my parents to hire a dermatologist. By the time I was 15, I had gone through three dermatologists. They had tried creams, gels, masks, injections, extractions, and pills on me – all without effective results. Meanwhile, people continued to inadvertently make comments that gnawed at my self-confidence. During all those years, I researched medications in my free time to achieve a fuller understanding of what I was putting on my face. I developed knowledge of all sorts of medications which came my way. I wanted desperately to heal myself, and I searched for a solution.

Three years later when I started college at age 18, I had gone through six dermatologists in total. The final dermatologist decided that I needed Accutane - a somewhat new medication at the time. My parents had feverishly protested against me using that, and it took a long time to have them get used to the idea. Accutane is known for serious side effects and grueling upkeep. I needed to have blood drawn every month, birth control pills, and to take an online quiz every month to get a refill. I was monitored closely for signs of depression, could not take any vitamin A, and constantly warned of serious birth defects.

But it worked. After a year of Accutane, my acne went away. It was absolutely the only thing I tried, in the past decade of the struggle with acne, that has worked. Now, half a year after stopping Accutane, I'm happy that the results have stayed put. My confidence has gone up and I feel free.

I spent the past decade avoiding photos and editing my skin to look better in photos. I believed that so long as I had acne, I would never be considered attractive. And society allowed me to believe that.

If anything, they forced me to believe it. Children would approach me to ask what was on my face. Adults would recommend a list of things I could do about my skin - within minutes of meeting me. I would buy something at a shop, and the cashier would tell me to try a skin treatment. Friends would pat my face and then wipe their hands off. I tried makeup, but it rarely covered much up and if anything, made my face look even more cluttered and messy. I can never change this part of my life, but at least going forward, I'll know the burden has been lifted from my shoulders.

This part of my background has had a major influence on who I am today. Despite the suffering, this part of my life has conditioned me to withstand judgment from others, and ironically it has made me the outspoken and happy person that I am today. If I had not been under such scrutiny for so long, it is unlikely that I would be as little affected by judgmental persons as I am now. After the stress and self-criticism, I endured for such a long period in my life, I cannot stand to see friends or acquaintances have similar experiences. I know how frustrating it is to be unable to fix something about yourself and to experience bias, so I keep myself open and accepting.

For those of you who may be reading this and struggling with acne, here's my advice for you. Number 1, try Accutane. Again, it was absolutely the only thing that worked. Number 2, understand that everything bad will pass with time. It may hurt so bad in the moment, and each day, someone may deliver a new blow that brings you down more, but it will all pass. I understand you, and would never lay a judgment on you. You'll find others who accept you the way you are. Carve your inner circle out of these people, and take out anyone toxic. Just remember - it will all pass.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Poetry On Odyssey: Some Days

A poem that reminds you that you're not alone.

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Some days,

You dread the sound of your alarm. You snooze and snooze and snooze and snooze.

When you finally pull yourself out of bed, pressed time forces you to throw on stained sweats

you find yourself chugging a cup of coffee.

You sit on the couch and contemplate calling out of work

You caught the stomach bug,

Or perhaps the flu,

Maybe you broke your collar bone

Or need a new phone

The endless list of excuses repeats through your head as you sit on the couch, wishing you were still in bed.

It takes every ounce

Every breath

Every fiber of your being to pull yourself off the couch

And into the car

And into the building where you work

Some days,

This is just how it goes

You are not alone.


Some days,

You awake to the beautiful sound of birds

Chirping outside your window

The sun sneaks its way into your room

A smile creeps across your face as you realize you are awake to see a new day

You make a good breakfast

You read a few pages of your favorite book

You get your mind ready for the things it will accomplish today

Before you know it you've worked an entire day

Your job is done

As you pull into your driveway,

you take a few breaths

Feeling grateful for another meaningful day.

Some days,

This is how it goes

You are not alone.


Every day is a gamble,

Every day is a gift

The key to getting more good days

Is believing that everyday is one.

You are not alone, this is just how it goes.

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