Fixing What I Thought I Was Just Supposed To Live With

*Disclaimer – I am opening up a little bit of my soul here.  A part of me that I have hidden for almost 5 years.  If you’re squeamish I wouldn’t suggest looking at the pictures.  Also, as you will see I have tried every option available, so I would appreciate if the end decision isn’t challenged.*

I think sometimes it’s OK to share things that are not happy things.  Things that make you sad and possibly even depressed.  Why?  Well, we’re human and it’s basically impossible to be happy 100% of the time – I know this because I’ve tried.

Anyway, let’s just hop straight in.  I’ve got really bad skin. Just reading that post brings back all those memories as if they never left and I sit here with tears running down my cheeks.  Dark days those were.

Most of you won’t believe me and I guess that’s a good thing because it means that I have been successful in hiding it under mountains of make up.  But really, it’s bad.  Really, really bad.

  • It’s so bad that I will not leave the house without properly covering up with make up (if insurance failed I could have a successful job in special effects make up)
  • It’s so bad that I actually cried the one time I dropped my foundation and it shattered on the floor (I scrapped it up and used it anyway – I didn’t even worry about the little glass shards in it)
  • It’s so bad that I leave the room if we have a visitor and I’m not prepared, even if it’s the a random delivery guy that, odds are, I will never, ever see again.
  • It’s so bad, that when people talk to me, I already assume that my bad skin is all that they can see.  Like they don’t take me seriously because oh my word, what the hell is happening on her face?!

Basically it’s debilitating.

So I had to finally put a stop to it.

I’ve decided to share the full extent of my skin story in the hope that I can then put it to bed and let it go.  But also, possibly, to encourage anyone else struggling, because it sucks to struggle.  Especially alone.

I guess we should go back to where it all started.  In high school I think I was pretty normal.  I had loads of pimples and black heads and things, many that would be on my chest and back.  I hide those with my clothing.  Everyone else had issues too, so I didn’t worry too much, but I went onto the pill to help to control my crazy hormones and it was all OK – manageable.

Fast forward to the pill starting to make me crazy.  My blood would literally boil with rage for the smallest little things – the dog licking its foot, the clock ticking, Seth saying one word out of line.  So I stopped the pill.  And then I got pregnant with Kyla.

At 21, my face exploded.  I started using make up for the first time ever.  I went to Mac and they helped me get all the stuff I needed to keep it hidden.

After Kyla I went back on the pill for a month.  It made me want to hurt her.  So I stopped again.  Then I fell pregnant with Riya (not even 3 months after giving birth to Kyla).  My skin exploded again, but I knew how to cover it so it was OK.

Once Riya arrived my skin went back to “normal” or acceptable, but I continued using make up daily.  I think not ever washing it off properly and sleeping with it on didn’t help matters, but still it was acceptable.  Then I was pregnant with Knox and once again my skin went ballistic.  Only this time it never calmed down.  If anything it got much, much worse.

In January 2013 I went to the dermatologist (as I explained here) – he gave me creams and lotions and potions and I used them religiously for a year.

In January 2014 my skin was worse than ever.  Like ever, ever.  I felt physically sick looking in the mirror and if you are squeamish then I suggest looking away, things are about to get real.  Sometimes the right hand side would be swollen so it looked like someone punched me in the face.  I would wake up with 30-40 little white heads every single morning and the bright redness that would never subside.

I always promised myself that I would never show this to anyone except my poor family, but I think it’s time that I break free of the pain that this has been causing all these years.  There is still time to look away…

2014-02-16 09.29.36

It was time for some real action.

Step 1:  I cut out all grains and dairy because of the inflammatory effects that it has on the skin

2014-02-27 16.00.12

And this is what my make up looked like after just half a days worth of wear… It wasn’t even covering it anymore.

Step 2: I changed my beauty routine.  After meeting with Caro (the expert at Dr Hauschka) who was not only lovely, but knowledgeable and very patient with my girls who joined me, I came away with the starter kit for oily skin, the cleansing milk make up remover, the cover stick and some foundation that is more agreeable with my skin.  After using it for a while I rechecked with the dermie and saw that dermatitis is affected by oil, so we changed to the medicated cream instead of oil based products.

I wash my make up off the moment I get home and know that I don’t have to go anywhere else again.  I feel like it made a difference but not nearly enough.

2014-03-01 09.15.07

Step 3: I went to a homeopath.  He recommended various things (including, but not limited to, a counseling session with my inner child).  I wasn’t convinced that would work (can you blame me) and so I asked for a course of antibiotics because from what I self-doctored on the internet, it was a very well known “cure” for my dermatitis.

2014-03-10 15.57.30

Step 4:  I took an entire week “off” work and worked from home instead in the hopes that 7 days without make up would make a difference…

Step 5:  I did 30 days of antibiotics.

And do you know what my skin looked like after all that?  Let me show you…

2014-04-24 13.34.17

Can you see a difference?  No? Me neither.

Besides the lack of swelling of my face I really couldn’t see a difference at all.  Disappointed is an understatement.  I was regularly bursting into tears and just absolutely miserable and not fun to be around.  As supportive as Seth was throughout the process, I knew he was getting tired of my constant mood swings (that all hinged on one glance in the mirror).

Enough was e-freaking-nough.

So I researched Roaccutane.

Then I researched it again. And again.  I spoke to friends who used it, I spoke to strangers who used it and then finally I made an appointment with my Doctor and spoke to her about it.

Obviously I went with make up on to the consultation and I just showed her a photo of what my face looked like that very morning.  Her only comment was, “Oh goodness!” and then a quick blood test and prescription to Oratane.

It’s almost two weeks since that day and I can honestly say that I could not have made a better choice.  Yes my skin is dry, yes it sucks to not be able to have a glass of vino at the end of a long day but when I look in the mirror it is SO VERY WORTH IT!

2014-05-04 16.13.54

I know it’s nowhere near perfect and that there is still along journey ahead of me with this, but I am sure that this is going to be the key to a lasting change.

For the first time in a VERY long time, I am feeling happy – like right down deep inside – the real feely happy stuff.

30 thoughts on “Fixing What I Thought I Was Just Supposed To Live With

  1. You go girl!! I think it’s awesome that you have made a change that is working for you! I got a few more pimples than usual going on some hormones (certainly not as drastic as you have experienced) and I whined like a little brat about it so I can only imagine how debilitating it is. Fingers crossed that this works for you!!

  2. CONGRATS on making that choice. And yes, what a massive difference. I remember having a conversation about Roaccutane with my dermatologist (I had bad skin related to PCOS), and bringing up my concerns about that fact that it has been linked to suicides. Her response? As a scientist doing international research, in her opinion, more teenagers would kill themselves because of being teased etc because of cystic acne, than would have committed suicide because of the effect of Roaccutane on their mood.

  3. you are my hero! as you know my skin is going crazy at the moment and the thought of being seen without make up is my worst nightmare! i can totally relate about the mood swings and feeling depressed. thanks for sharing your story, you’re such an inspiration! I hope the oratane works, let us know how it goes xx

  4. Hi Cindy…your skin really looks much better in the last picture. you are very brave gurl…that is why i so much love reading your blog…you keep it real. cant wait to see pictures of your beautiful, silky soft skin and i hope it will be very very soon.

  5. Oh hunny!!!
    I was crying at my desk reading this. And now having a quiet sob writing this comment.
    You are so so very brave! Unless you have lived with a skin issue you cannot know what it is like to look in the mirror and hate what you see, not want to leave the house or interact with anyone.
    Im so glad you went to the doc and 2 weeks has made a huge difference. Yes its a long road but it will be so worth it. If you ever feel like screaming or crying or just talking to someone who has been there , give me a shout!
    ((((HUGE HUGS))))

  6. I love how honest you were with this. I struggled with bad skin and still do. But I can now look at myself and feel somewhat beautiful. In my own way. So brave. x

  7. Cindy I am in the same boat as you. I got fed up with my skin issues and have been on Oratane for 2 months now. I have noticed a big change already. And yes the side effects are lame, but I am willing to put up with it for 6 months. 🙂

  8. Well Done – Roaccutane has changed the confidence levels of so many ppl I know…well worth the bloody noses and cracked lips.If i recall you also timed it perfectly as its Winter and you spend less time outdoors in the sun (a no-no when on Roaccutane)….so good luck on your journey….I’ll be patiently awaiting the “AFTER” pics.

    Perhaps you having shared your inner most insecurity will opt me to share mine….the ever increasing numbers on the scale Dummmdummmmdummmm

    Good Luck,

  9. You are such a brave lady! And amazing with make up may I add. I never even suspected you had bad skin before this post. Please note how I said HAD bad skin. You look amazing.

  10. How incredibly brave and how inspirational you will be to other people suffering with the same condition you have…I am so sorry that you have to deal with this…so happy that the new medication seems to be working for you…..just a thought and I am sure you have maybe thought of this but could this condition be tied to your hormonal levels? Being that it got worse when you were pregnant…keep us informed on how things are going….

  11. You made the right decision and it’s going to change your life. Sharing your pics will help others and hopefully also let you feel free of this. By the way you looked beautiful for your wedding shoot.

  12. Well done for being so brave and for sharing your story! That takes a lot of courage! Looking forward to the rest of the updates on this.

  13. Wow, really never suspected from all your beautiful pics that you were hiding this debilitating secret. So wonderful that you are sharing your story – you are still beautiful through and through and I hope that soon your complexion will be like that of your babies. (((hugs))) You are so brave.

  14. I am so happy for you and that you tried Oratane! Duane tried it as well (as I said on the comments on FB when you asked) and he was happy as well! So glad you’ve found a solution that works and that it’s made you happier already! The journey ahead will be so worth it and you deserve the happiness!! 🙂

  15. I am so happy for you Cindy. ..what you said at that end especially makes me glad “For the first time in a VERY long time, I am feeling happy – like right down deep inside – the real feely happy stuff.” Praying for you daily! It’s this best decision you have made. It’s been 9 years since I was on Roaccutane and I have never regretted it. Looking forward to the next few months of improvement 😀 xx

  16. So brave Cindy – well done for not giving up. I really do hope and pray that with continued use you get the results you would like. Good luck with your journey. I am expectant for a GREAT “after” post in a few months time 😉

  17. You know this goes to show that we never really know what other people are going through. From your photos I would never have guessed this! My heart breaks for you 😦 I can only imagine how hard this is to deal with. My hubby has very bad skin and is permanently on a variety of meds to keep them at bay!

    I have a friend on roaccutane and she also says it has changed her life! I REALLY hope that this is your solution my friend!!

    Well done for this post xx

  18. I’m so glad you finally went for it! That before photo is how my skin looked in high school. I can promise you that 6 months from now you will look amazing and not ever need to wear make up!

  19. Cindy. I cant belive it. Have to say you did an incredible job covering it up. I hope your recovary just gets better!

  20. You always look happy and beautiful. Would never imagined that you were dealing with an issue that made you that unhappy. For the record, your skin was the last thing I noticed on any of your pics. Hope your skin imrpoves 100%. Thank you for sharing your story with us xx

  21. I hope it works for you.
    I did it, but had to stop halfway due to eye problems caused by drug – I could not see!! I figured acne is better than blindness.

  22. Hey Cindy, is the Oratane also a 4- or so-month course? Is it the evolutionary bigger and better Roaccutane or just a different solution to the same problem? I know Roaccutance can have side effects like depression but my back and shoulders looked a lot like your face and it was the best decision ever for me. Good time to start this kind of treatment as well, since if Oratane is like Roaccutane you aren’t supposed to spend time in the sun (and Cape Town is being very accommodating of that requirement at the moment). This is a very brave post but I’m glad for you that you’ve let the problem out and not let it own you any more. All the best with Oratane!

  23. I have been on Roaccutane 2 or 3 times already, and it didn’t really work for me unfortunately. My skin has improved with age but at 35 i still have blotches and dark scarring that I cover up with foundation. All the best with your course – I’m pretty sure it will make the world of difference to your skin if you can already see the change within such a short time.

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