I have dealt with acne since the seventh grade.
In the beginning, I chalked it up to typical puberty problems, but my sophomore year of high school, after the inflammation became more than any over-the-counter acne wash could control, I set out to get an appointment with a dermatologist.
From then on I launched into taking pill after pill and spreading medicated creams on face day and night to try to make my face clear up. Of course, every pill presents new side effects. Most topical medications make your face so dry it burns and peels. You try to cool it down with moisturizer, but when you buy the wrong kind, it also sets your face on fire. Pills can help you make a ton of progress, but they also come with downsides.
I once went to a dermatologist that prescribed me with this fun little pill that would block the hormone that made acne. I thought to myself, "Wow this sounds like just what I need." Then, it screwed up my hormones so much I had three periods in six weeks and I dropped ten pounds. While some people would love to drop weight with a pill, being on the skinnier side, it wasn't healthy for me to be losing weight that quickly. When I went back to the dermatologist to express my concerns, he couldn't see why any of this was a problem.
He asked me multiple times if I was sure that I wanted to quit, and I wanted to shout, "NO UTERUS, NO OPINION!"
I love wearing makeup, but I really can't anymore without knowing that the next day my face will be broken out in painful cystic pimples. I used to never leave the house without makeup.
Sometimes, I put on outfits and I think to myself, "You know what would go great with this outfit? Clear skin."
When I look in the mirror from far away, I feel beautiful, but the closer I get to my reflection the more imperfection I see. Very seldom do I post an Instagram photo without taking it through my photo editing app to brush out the parts of my skin that I deem unworthy to grace the face of the internet.
At the end of last semester, I finally saw results with a new medicine I was on. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the antibiotic, this prescription wasn't made to be taken for an extended period of time, so my derm took me off it. Then, after the stress of the spring semester settled in, my face was ablaze once again.
Upon returning to the office once, I finally decided it was time to go on Accutane. This medication is something I have been trying to stay as far away from as possible, but it is a last resort, and if I don't take it my scarring could keep increasing to the point where it won't be reversible. This really knocked me down. I finally thought I had beat this awful thing, but really it was only taking a slight breather before it reared its ugly head once again.
While my acne is annoying — often takes a good day and turns it into a bad one — I really shouldn't let it. My acne has fluctuated so much over the past five years that more than ever I am starting to realize that this is just a part of my journey. There will be times when it will be great, and there will be times that it will be rudely intruding into my life. But, I want to strive to develop a new perception of myself.
I do not want to let the fact that my skin doesn't pass our culture's standards of beauty, determine how I feel about my self-worth. Obviously, this is going to take some time, and I am still going to try my hardest to take care of my skin because cystic pimples hurt so much. But at the end of the day, I want people to remember me for the mark I leave on the world, not by the marks on my face. I want to take on situations with courage and confidence. I want to spread kindness and make others laugh. I want to radiate beauty from the inside out.
I refuse to let my acne hold me back from doing any of these things.