Recently, someone I care about called me, acne face, during an argument. It socked me in the gut and took the air right out of my stomach. I couldn’t even consciously finish the argument. I think it hit me so hard because I have been struggling with this for the past 2 years. I have tried various beauty products ranging from top of the line to the clearance shelf at the local drug store, and I have had zero relief, until recently. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, or should I say, the glow between the dark patches?
Although this has been a struggle, I am thankful for my acne-fighting journey. During this time, I have taken the time to learn that many variables can and do contribute to acne, which has led me to be more conscious about what I put into and on by body. I did most of my research online, and came across interesting articles, as well as scientific research. Through this discovery, I learned that my acne issue was much deeper than oily, clogged pores. I learned that I have a medical condition that goes undiagnosed in a large number of the female population.
After trying various internet methods of diet changes, more exercise, and a plethora of mineral supplements, I became extremely frustrated and defeated, so I decided to call my doctor. During my search from crater relief, I found out that acne can be a result of various medical issues. Three appointments and about 4 months later, I was finally diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). The diagnosis was a result of a series of blood tests, a sonogram of my ovaries, and physical characteristics that I had been suffering with. Cystic acne and blackheads had totally invaded my face, my hair was thinning at an accelerated rate, and my chin was starting to look like whiskerville! To add to this travesty, I was putting on weight despite my diet change and increased exercise! My endocrinologist was puzzled due to my thyroid levels being normal. I am sub-clinical hypothyroid as well, by the way. After my sonogram, which revealed numerous cysts around my ovaries, and my blood work, reflecting an enormous number for androgen (testosterone) and insulin resistance, I was officially diagnosed. Although, I did not want to add to my lifetime medication of Armour Thyroid, I was truly relieved and finally had hope that my problems would soon be over! I felt like I had finally reached the peak of my uphill battle to relief.
During my diagnosis visit, I was prescribed a small cocktail of medications. Me, being my normal neurotic medicine detective self, I started a quest of medicinal side-effects. I found that each medication I was on could lead to horrific side-effects, so I decided to find natural alternatives…another 4 months wasted. I am a supporter of natural, organic, etc.; however, in this case, it just was not working. My acne was getting worse, and working out like G.I. Jane was producing minimal results. I bit the bullet and started my legal drug cocktail. To my delight, my skin has been slowly but surely improving! I had dark patches on both of my cheeks under cystic acne, and about 65 percent of that has cleared up. My scale is no longer a dreaded plank-walk, and I have no longer been craving sugar like a malnourished colony of ants!
I have felt alone and helpless at times during this journey. Many of us women tend to focus more on cosmetic flaws the older we get, and honestly, I have been devastated watching my beauty fade. It really took a toll on my self-esteem, body image, and emotional stability. I got to the point where I totally wanted to avoid public places at all costs; to include, work, activities for my children, and other social gatherings. Even though I hid behind a mound of make-up, I constantly had the overwhelming feeling that everyone there was staring at my face. I often thought while holding face-to-face conversations, that my latest colossal zit and my extremely thin hair, was the focus of the other person’s attention. I sensed pity from family and life-long friends, and thought that I was looked at as, “The Girl who was Once Pretty.” Looking at my more recent social media pictures compared to older ones, I noticed how much more make-up I was relying on. When that person called me acne face, it sent me into a whirl of reactions and emotions, and hopefully, one person who reads this will be able to take comfort in a similar struggle. I felt like my 30’s had led me into a downward spiral of acne, bloat, and a receding hairline, which turned out to be a treatable medical condition.