Monday 19 September 2016

Why Acne Doesn't Define Me

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I've battled with shit skin for most of my life. Ever since I was a little baby, I had very sensitive skin and eczema. As a child, I came out in a rash every time I used a fancy bubble bath or bath bomb, which pretty much put Lush out of the question! Yes, I don't ever have the pleasure of going into a Lush shop and getting excited over the wide array of colorful and adorable looking bath bombs and shower gels *Sad face*

At the end of year six, I developed acne. Hello, puberty! Mainly based on my cheeks, a couple of spots here and there were annoying but never really affected my confidence that much. Let's just say, my interest in fashion, caring about my appearance hadn't really caught up with my body and all the changes that were happening inside it yet. I was marched off to boots, and my mother bought me a wide array of skincare products and face washes to control the spots. Spoiler alert- it didn't help!

And there we have the beginning of my seven years and counting battle against my acne. Over the years I have been teased about my acne, I've beaten myself up about it, I've hated it myself for it and let it rule my life. But over the very long and stressful seven years of battling with these little devils, I have learnt one thing. Acne does not define me. I am not just the spots on my face. If you can see past my acne, you will see that I am a very loving, understanding and slightly weird human being that is NOT dirty or contaminated. 

When we realised that the spots weren't shifting anytime soon, my mum took me to the doctor. I reluctantly agreed. Seriously? People go to the doctor about their spots? I couldn't quite believe it, what I didn't know was that I would be making many more doctors trips over the next seven years, with little success. My doctor, bless his heart was always very sympathetic and understanding. I distinctly remember the first thing I was given was some little tube thing with a mesh top, which was very odd and didn't work.

Since then I have had four different types of antibiotics for my acne. What they were doesn't matter, because they didn't work. Let's face it- my acne is as stubborn as I am! I had countless topical lotions and creams to go alongside these pills, at varying percentages. None of which worked, surprise surprise! 

Actually NO, plot twist! I had a cream called benzoyl peroxide at 2.5% and 5%. 2.5% did nothing but 5% seemed to help, my skin wasn't looking that bad, but then they decided to stop my prescription because of a shortage of the cream, and I could only get some more if I went back to the doctors. At this point, my skin was looking good, so I couldn't really justify going back to the doctors. So I went on without it. It turns out; my skin missed it a bit, and all the spots came flooding back. You can buy benzoyl peroxide over the counter, but it is not as strong. So I did that with little success and found myself back in the doctors' surgery. 

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At the start of this year, I had had enough; my skin wasn't looking great, so I went to the doctors, and she gave me some pills and cream, which didn't work, even though she thought they would. The thing about treating acne is that it doesn't go overnight, it takes months for antibiotics to work, so the intervals between each appointment were quite long. After the disappointment of the last antibiotics, I went back to my own doctor, and he wanted to try one last thing, before referring me to the dermatologist. The contraceptive pill. 

I was given three months of the contraceptive pill, to hopefully put my acne right. The thing about the contraceptive pill is that has many different uses not just protecting you from having unwanted babies. One of those being helping get rid of acne, as you can guess it didn't work and my acne looked worse than ever. The photos in this post were taken around a month ago, when this post goes up. My skin had never looked as bad, and it really knocked my confidence. 

After the pill run out, I went back to the doctor with the hope that he might refer me to the dermatologist to get Rocatutane. A very powerful but controversial drug which has been linked to 20 teenage suicides in two years. Although it's very rare. Rocatutane can cause depression, so if you already have depression and mental health problems, it's very unlikely that they are going to want to risk putting you on the drug. 

I'm not going to lie. This really really hurt. My acne not only hurts and is painful but really knocks my confidence. I can't wear makeup anymore because it's just a waste of money. The foundation doesn't cover it, no matter how much it promises it will. My acne looks purple when makeup is applied over it, which isn't a very pretty sight. I used to cover my eyes and face with my hair to hide the appalling state of my skin and sit with my hands over my cheeks so I could hide them from as many people as possible, 

People like to say; that acne doesn't bother them and that they don't think I'm dirty, and they know they can't catch it or anything, but that doesn't stop them staring. Whether they just want to squeeze them (which if you ask me is gross! I never squeeze my spots because it's pretty gross) or are just in shock at how bad my skin is. People stare. People like to ask me if I wash my face or if I have tried a certain skin product- like seriously? Don't you think I have tried everything! Including toothpaste and peas (Don't ask!)

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I am now back on some old antibiotics that I was on a while ago; I don't hold up much hope- let's be real here! But hey, you will grow out of it! Will I? Really? Because if you ask me, these little blighters are here to stay. They haven't just set up tents, they have laid the foundations, built the walls, added the windows and are now decorating the inside of their new homes. On my face. 

Maybe I'm just being pessimistic. I mean when am I not pessimistic? One day I hope I will be in a place where I can go on Rocatutane and be safe. But now, sadly, I just have to learn to accept my acne for what is. I need to learn that acne doesn't define me. Which I know is easier said than done.

Instead of automatically assuming that people are staring at me because of my acne, I need to think maybe they are looking at me instead for another reason. Maybe they really like my top, my outfit or my lipstick! Who knows? And what about the people who actually make comments or point at my skin? Yeah, they are going to be harder to deal with. I haven't really thought of this one yet. To be honest, being bullied because of my acne scares me a lot. I hope it never happens.

I am beautiful. You are beautiful. Acne or no acne. If you see someone with acne or any other kind of psychical flaw or deformity- don't stare at them. Smile. They are going to be very self-conscious about their insecurities. You don't need to add to this heightened self-awareness. 

Thank you for reading, as always X

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