I can play the hate game with my skin. I used to have gorgeous skin. In the 8th grade, or around the time I turned 13, I went on the Atkins diet. I had some minor acne on my forehead, but luckily, I pull off bangs. I had no pimples on my cheeks and I had some black heads on my nose.
For those of us with acne, the above situation sounds pretty ideal compared to our later stages.
Then when I hit 17, I erupted. I went vegan, started a new relationship, entered the hardest year of my entire schooling career, and applied to colleges. I also tried to keep my face looking beautiful, so I used a harsh apricot scrub on my face twice a day for the first time in my life.
People say that childhood is blissful. Well, to me, it was never such a thing. Rather, like most kids, my childhood was spent in disillusionment, confusion, lies, and misunderstanding. I couldn’t communicate what I needed to (what child can?), and my parents couldn’t intercede for me because they worked all the time. How was anyone supposed to know I had celiac disease or lactose intolerance?
When I was a child, I was always sick. I vomited weekly. I couldn’t gain weight. I had shots all the time and different testing machines hooked up to my body. I saw my stomach through x-rays in Boston, went to the doctors in Haverhill, and grew up in Vermont. My body said hey, listen to me. Something’s not right. And no one heard it.
Years later, when no diagnosis had ever been reached, when my life was a mess, when I turned vegan, when I started using an apricot scrub, my body started to tell me the same message. The vomiting had slowed down, but other symptoms took me.
My hormones were upset. My body was starting to react to gluten in ways I had never experienced. For the first time, I felt twinges of true muscle pains not caused by overactivity. I ripped scabs off my face trying to hide the evidence that I was not okay. I went to a nutritionist my first year of college and she told me it’s okay to eat gluten, oats, sugary treats, and the like. I said, really? That goes against everything I’ve heard.
She said really. It’s true.
But my acne didn’t get better. In fact, while I learned how to eat again, I got worse. I ate all whole-wheat products, and at the same time, I could barely walk around my campus. My nerves felt like they were misfiring. My legs got so numb, I couldn’t feel my toes. I wanted to cry with every step forward, and there was no one who knew what to do. Physical therapy didn’t help. Listening to the nerves in my legs with electrical signals showed no sign of problems.
And my acne persisted.
There were a lot of times when I would wake up, rush to the mirror, and pray beyond hope that all my blemishes would be magically gone. I wouldn’t be able to look into my own eyes; I felt so ugly. I thought, this must be how the world sees me. It was never true, but that’s how I saw it.
I visited dermatologists and doctors. I tried birth control (never doing that again), oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, creams, gels, oils — lots of different things. And you know what those doctors would tell me again and again? There is no cure for acne.
At first, I felt hopeless. Now I feel empowered. Of course there’s no cure for acne! Acne isn’t a disease in and of itself; it is a symptom! It tells your body, hey, something is wrong. Come help me. It is the outward sign that the inside isn’t doing so hot. Truly, I am blessed to have acne. Because my acne propelled me to ask the question “What the hell is going on here?”
It took control of my vanity and screamed in my face: SOMETHING’S ISN’T RIGHT.
My acne beckoned me into a 4-year journey of health and discovery. When I started this journey, I had no clue I had an autoimmune disease. I had no idea that my intestines were shot. All I knew is that I felt sick, and I was never happy. Quite the life, don’t you think?
Soon, I will be going on Accutane. It sounds hypocritical, right? I am going to go on a pill that treats the symptom of internal problems better than any other drug on the market. But you know what? Because of my acne, I’ve learned how to listen to every part of my body. I can see my teeth degenerate, and I know I need to get my nutrition checked. I feel my migraines and know that I’ve eaten something I’m allergic to.
Yes, I’ll be going on Accutane. But it’s not out of ignorance anymore. I’m going into this with an enlightened experience. I know how to hear my body for the first time in my life. I am going on Accutane so that my face won’t be so punctured with scars when I come out of this battle. I know I will have quite a few already, but I want to help my skin just as much as the rest of my body.
I love my acne. I love my body. I want you to know this about me: I will be going on Accutane, but I will not be giving up on my healthy journey. Rather, I am going to go even further. I am going to buy The Love Vitamin’s e-books on acne and try to balance my body naturally.
It’s not enough to treat the symptoms of a deeper issue. Accutane can probably help my skin. But me? I’m not going to stop this fight. I’m not going to let the symptoms fade while the real issue still lies buried in the treasure that is my body. And I am so thankful to God for giving me acne. It shook my vanity and led me into some of the greatest discoveries of my existence.
So – how do you feel about your acne?