“It’s just a phase,” everyone would tell me during my adolescencewhen I could complain about all the zits on my face. I got my first pimple in the fifth grade and it wasn’t a little zit, it was the size of a planet with its own zip code and Google Maps review page. My first pimple just couldn't be subtle, nope, it had to be a show off. I didn’t want to leave my room in fear of being made fun of by my classmates, but of course with my Jamaican mother that wasn’t a legit excuse to miss school.
I cannot remember if that specific zit caused any commotion with my classmates but I remember a kid in high school asked if I was a burn victim because of all my blemishes and acne scars. I’ll never forget that moment. Throughout my school days, I suffered from severe cystic acne and it caused me to have terrible self-esteem which I still suffer from occasionally. My acne prevented me from participating in activities because I didn’t want anyone to pay attention to my face more than they would normally have to. Rarely during my teen years did I feel beautiful, because of the constant struggle? I’m aware I’m more than my looks but as a teenager, looks are everything.
I remember my 8th grade graduation photo; my skin decided to deceive me and a gigantic pimple appeared on my nose the morning of picture day. I tried to have a dramatic Aaliyah swoop to cover the zit but it wasn’t enough. The zit wanted to be a part of the moment too. It wanted the spotlight shinning on it. Still, my mom keeps that photo above the fireplace in her home because “your hair looks so nice in the photo.” Really, mom?
I’ve been going to a dermatologist since I was 15 years old, trying everything under the sun to cure my cystic acne. I’ve been prescribed every medication for acne, every antibiotic, a brief stint with pro-active (but that only works if you have mild acne.) Most didn’t work except for Accutane. I started using Accutane before I went off to school and if you don’t know, Accutane is the greatest struggle ever that probably causes more acne. You have to be on birth control, take monthly pregnancy tests, and monthly blood work—after that, you have a three day span to pick up your medication, if you miss the window, you have to do the process all over again in another month. The stress is unbearable. But it did clear my skin for three years after taking it for six months. Then I went on Yaz birth control to keep my acne at bay but it was taken off the market and making me scrambles for something new to use.
Now I’m in my early 30’s still dealing with this crap.
You would think I should probably take Accutane again since it worked so well before. Right! Well…I developed a nut allergy in the last two years and apparently Accutane contains peanut oil. WHY THE FUCK DOES AN ACNE PILL HAVE PEANUT OIL? UGH!
My second least favorite part of having acne is having to deal with everyone who appears to become a dermatologist after seeing my face. Nothing worse than me minding my own business at the grocery store and some random person decides it’s a great time to offer unsolicited advice on how to cure it. I want to yell at them, YOU DON’T THINK I HAVEN'T DRANK A GALLON OF WATER BEFORE TO MAKE IT GO AWAY? But I don’t, and pretend I never thought of that idea before.
Thankfully I found a dermatologist who has discovered why I have so many bumps on my nose that will not disappear and what causes my face to be so oily. (I can seriously fry chicken with all the oil my face produces daily). I have sebaceous hyperplasias which are oil glands that are abnormally enlarged. I had my first appointment with a cosmetic dermatologist late last month to figure out different methods to get rid of the over productive oil glands. We tested out the electrocautery machine which burns off the lesions, on two bumps to see how my skin reacts to it. I return to my doctor later this month to see if the treatment seemed to help extract the bumps in order to move forward with the treatment or to try other methods.
I also have hormonal acne and currently taking spirlactone to keep my acne under control. For the most part it does keep it under control; however I skipped a few days of it and had a major breakout recently.
The upside of having adult acne and oily skin is that my skin doesn’t age as rapidly as some people my age. I guess that’s one positive thing that comes along with suffering with unless acne.
I’ve toss around the idea of sharing this with my blog because it’s such a sensitive subject for me. I’m embarrassed by how much my skin breaks out and how it continues to affect my self-esteem. But I'm sure there's at least one person who will read this and can relate to my three decade long of suffering of cystic acne. I'm not alone, right?