health

'I saw a dermatologist about my skin, and left feeling completely crushed.'

I’ve had problems with my skin for as long as I can remember.

Imagine you’re in a boat; the boat has a hole in it and so it’s filling up with water. You’re filling up a bucket and throwing water out the side of the boat. Bucket after bucket are thrown out as the despair rises. No matter how many buckets you throw, the boat keeps filling up.

That’s pretty much how adult acne feels. Helpless.

When I think about my skin in my twenties I can’t as much as glance at a photo and not flinch at the sight of how painful my face looked. Now in my thirties, I’m rightfully P.O’d that things haven’t calmed down. I eat well, I exercise, I cleanse and moisturise religiously and believe me when I say I’ve tried everything. Including:

• Ointments & creams
• Natural skin-care products
• Antibiotics
• The oil cleansing method
• Hospital grade body wash
• Oral contraception pill
• Herbal concoctions from a Chinese Medicine doctor
• Acupuncture
• Meditation
• Natural make-up
• Praying (I’m not technically religious, but thought I’d give it a shot)
• Vitamins & supplements
• Diet alterations (dairy free {even cheese gah!!}, gluten free, sugar free)
• Avoided caffeine and alcohol
• Endless doctor appointments and
• Blood tests

Literally nothing – nothing – and I mean nothing has ever worked. I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve said: “That’s it – I’ve had enough! This is my rock bottom!”

Some days can feel so debilitating. When your face hurts to the touch and the thought of slapping on more make-up inevitably rocks your self-esteem. I’m serious when I say my life dream is to not feel like I need to wear make-up. Way higher in my life priorities than getting married and buying a house.

My last “rock bottom” drew me to speak with a dermatologist. I was warned of the (hefty) price tag associated with the appointment, but I was also desperate. My G.P arranged the referral and the appointment was set, in three months time, the earliest I could get in.

In the months leading up to the appointment I fantasised about how it would go down. She would offer condolence for my pain, I’d get a prescription; take the miracle drug and Voila! A miracle!

What actually happened couldn’t be further from the miracle, and I’m sorry to tell you, I still have a sore face as I type this. This particular dermatologist, who will not be named, called my name from her clip board and asked me to follow her into the refrigerated office. I sat on the edge of a plastic chair with a facial expression that signalled both trepidation and hope.

The next fourteen minutes forced my close-mouthed smile to morph into a furrowed brow.

What happened next was depressing – she blurted out the words “hormonal” and “it’s the only option I recommend”. I asked more about her recommended drug: Accutane. I’d heard about it of course. I’m a poor-skin connoisseur, I’ve heard of everything.

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But when it came to Accutane, I’d heard mostly about the bad side effects: severe dry skin, nose bleeds, inflammation of the pancreas, birth defects, cracked lips, sensitivity to sunlight, joint pain and the kicker: thoughts of depression.

I’ve read a lot about people’s experiences online and chatted with a few people who’ve experienced it – but I’d solemnly declared it wasn’t for me. I consider myself still on the fresh side of 30 – but I didn’t want to deal with potential birth defects regardless of whether I was pregnant or not.

If you’re not in the know about Accutane it requires; monthly blood tests (Accutane is metabolised by the liver which can lead to liver damage if not monitored), being medicated for a year (minimum six months) and generally speaking your skin gets worse before it gets better.

So, why do doctors recommend it? Accutane reduces the amount of oil released by the skin, therefore with less oil on the skin, there is less chance of bacteria, blocked pores and inflammation.

After the doctor finished speaking through the side effects for what felt like an eternity she went back to her computer to print more information on Accutane. And just like that, the appointment was over. I didn’t even have the chance to ask her thoughts on the oil cleansing method before I was ushered out of the room, as I now refer to as ‘the room of crushed hopes and dreams.’

I paid up at reception holding back my disappointment before yelping a one toned “have a nice day” to the receptionist. I threw the information in the bin. I already knew it wasn’t for me. I went to work defeated and helpless.

I’m still searching for my ‘cure’ and while I’ve cut back on dairy, gluten and refined sugar things are still bumpy for me (pun alert!). For anyone else out there feeling the same, you’re not alone.

I’m thinking of you.

We’re in this together and I vow to speak up if when I find my ‘cure’.

If you’ve found something that works, I am all ears. Please fill me in!

Lexi has a penchant for exploring the globe, she’s an adventurer with an incurable case of curiosity. Whether it’s surfing in Mexico, hiking the Himalayas, motorcycling around India, trekking the Kokoda trail, skiing in New Zealand, Volcano boarding in Nicaragua, snorkelling in Costa Rica or just kicking back here in Sydney she’s always intrigued and always learning. You can read more of her work on her travel blog www.avaycay.com. Or find her at @whoislexiconnors on Instagram or @avaycay on Facebook.

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