My Skin Struggles (Part 1)

My Skin Struggles (Part 1)

Hello, hello and Happy Friday!!!

I started writing this WEEKS ago and have been chipping away at it.  I’ve been a lot busier lately (I work part time at a local boutique, do some content creation for Stephen’s company, and just started repping for an incredible nutrition company) so Maya UnMarketed has been on the back burner.

Anyway, they say as a blogger you need to add value to people’s lives, and I can totally get behind that mindset. That’s part of the reason why I wrote posts like Lounge & Lingerie & Life Lessons, The Confident Girl’s Guide to Social Media-Ing, and Eight Types of Guys You Should Never Date.

I’m not really sure whether this post will add value or not, to be honest. I guess it depends on whether you’ve struggled with acne and whether you find it helpful to hear others’ stories about that topic. It’s a bit of a Dear Diary post (although if you’ve been following my blog regularly, you’re not really a stranger to those anyway haha).

It was definitely cathartic for me to write it, and it even got so long that I divided it into Part 1 and Part 2. Part 2 isn’t done, but I figured publishing Part 1 would help motivate me to spend a little more time on my passion project in addition to my “real jobs”. So stay tuned–but don’t totally hold your breath–for Part 2!

 

Part 1

Two months and four days ago, I took my first Accutane pill (of this treatment! If you keep reading, you will see I have done it before). It was pretty darn exciting, and I even posted a melodramatic instagram about it! Mostly just because I was “due” for a selfie in terms of how my insta grid looked at the time, but whatever.

It was still a big moment–almost as big as my pores!!!!

My pores are BIG, y’all.

Big like the planet Jupiter.

Big like Kayne’s ego.

Big like how I like my wine *pours.*

Big like a male adult film star’s…………… paycheck.

(Cue laugh from any middle school boys who happen to have landed on my site.)

Sorry. Totally not a classy joke.

However, I am glad I made a dirty joke because I do want to warn you there are some (very mild, PG) sexual-ish references in this post. Since birth control is a highly popular form of treating acne in females, and Accutane causes absurdly disturbing birth defects, the topics of sex and acne overlap a little. I’m not going to dole out TMI, but I just wanted to forewarn anyone who may be easily offended by that topic.

So let’s get started!

This article will be in the form of a little timeline.

Age Zero

I was born with lots of baby acne. Yes, that’s a thing.

Elementary School Years

I started to get pimples now and again. Not often, but sometimes. There is a really cute picture of me, my mom and my sister when I was about seven with butterfly clips in my hair, and a round red zit on my chin. Crazy, right?

Middle School Years

In sixth grade, my acne started to get worse. I would stand in front of the mirror and pop all my zits and then feel gross and guilty. My parents took me to the drugstore to get Clearasil, which was a really big and exciting moment for me.

When the Clearasil didn’t work, I tried out herbal pills that melt under your tongue. I forgot the name, but they were really tiny and white. One of my mom’s friends said they’d worked magic on her kids, but my skin remained a pumpkin instead of a golden carriage. No, maybe one of those blistered decorative squashes. 

Age 14

The situation was BAD. Well, it’d been pretty bad for a few years, but I think this is the point I started to put a bit more pressure on my parents to find me something that worked. We’d also moved from the Boston area to a small town in Georgia and the Southern girls were GORGEOUS. No one wants to have acne, but especially not when they’re going to school with a bunch of airbrushed pageant queens!

At this point we tried:

  • Retin-A cream
  • Antibiotics

Neither produced results.

After those two failed, my dermatologist recommended The Pill. It was a bit of a delicate subject, and I vaguely recall the doctor being relieved at how relaxed my parents were. I’m sure he’d had an experience or two… or five thousand and twenty three… where the parents freaked out on him. Like I said, we lived in a very small town in The Bible Belt. I was fourteen and obviously not married lol.

The funny thing is, I was still a whopping year and a half (#latebloomerprobs) from even kissing my first boy, let alone needing the pill for other reasons. It felt foreignly *sexual* to get on birth control, but then again everything is awkward at age 14. Mostly I was just excited to see if it would help my skin!

And OH MY GOSH DID IT EVER!!!!!!!!!!!

My skin looked so good people were constantly asking what I’d done, complimenting me on how much better my skin looked. I was always a mixture of pleased and embarrassed. Happy because I looked so much better, embarrassed because they were calling attention to the former pizza face I wished to forget. But far more the former than the latter.

Finally, something had worked…

(Oh and just a note to anyone in my life who’s recently complimented how much better my skin looks, you don’t need to worry that I was partially embarrassed. I may have been at 14, but almost-26-year-old Maya was totally thinking, “HELL YEAH THANKS FOR NOTICING AND MAKING MY DAY!!!!” Crazy what a decade can do to a person’s confidence, right?)

Age 16

“Dear Maya,

You can’t fool me for long! I’ll figure out a way to get my blistering bubbles of puss past you and your stupid pill.

Love,

Your Skin.

P.S. My friend Your Body told me you gained 20-25 pounds! Nanananabooboo, stick your head in doodoo!!”

So yeah… All good things come to an end.

The acne was back and for the first time in my previously-bony little life, I was wrestling hardcore with my weight and body image. Puberty is hard!

This was when I made a decision that I still consider one of the best in my life.

I decided to bite the bullet and get on the strongest acne drug out there: Accutane!

It was the original Accutane, too!

(For those of you who don’t know, what we call “Accutane” today is no longer the original Accutane. The original drug was recalled in 2009, but Isotrentinoin still exists under a couple different brand names such as Claravis, Sotret, Amnesteem, and Myorisan. Most most people still call it Accutane in the same way that we say “Kleenex” instead of “facial tissue.” There is a grammatical word for that, but it is escaping me right now. Throughout this post, I’m going to continue to call all Isotrentioin “Accutane,” regardless of pharmaceutical brand.)

I have to admit there was some friction in my family at this point. My mom was incredibly wary of me going on such a strong drug, and I appealed to my dad for support. I’m not trying to throw my mom under the bus, as I can totally understand her worries.

But I will say to anyone considering Accutane that there will likely be numerous people in your life who question your choice— especially if they’ve never struggled firsthand with acne. I’d advise turning to people who have experienced bad acne themselves. I hate to make blanket statements, but there is no way for a person to truly understand this (crippling!) “cosmetic issue” unless they have BEEN THERE.

Looking back, my mom 110% agrees with my choice. My face would be a sea of deep craters at this point, had I never done it. And I’m grateful that she always encouraged a holistic approach to health overall, which I agree with in my old age. 😉

I also got incredibly lucky with my Accutane treatment. I didn’t experience any:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Joint aches
  • Or any side effect except for the inevitable dryness.

There was obviously no way I could have known that going in; I took a risk and lucked out! I’m glad my family was there for me and that it all worked out beautifully.

I wish I remembered the details of my treatment, like how many milligrams I was on, but unfortunately I do not. To be honest, I don’t even remember if it was a 6-month or 9-month treatment. I believe it was 9 but I could be mistaken…

Ages 17- 23

My skin was clear!!!

I got the occasional zit and my pores were still big. But I had overall B+/A- skin and that felt pretty darn good.

December of 2014 (just turned 24!)

I’d decided that I was tired of being on the birth control pill; it freaked me out that it’d now officially been a decade!

Stephen and I want to have kids one day and some people claim being on the pill for a million years is generally not good for your fertility.

I expressed my desire to go off the pill to my gyno, who was NOT into the whole idea.

“Unless you and your fiancé want to have a baby RIGHT NOW, you need to stay on that pill.”

Like the obedient human that I tend to be… I stayed on birth control.

May of 2015

My NYC model agency wanted me to lose two inches off my hips, and they wanted it lost NOW.

How was I EVER going to manage that?! I already went semi-hungry to maintain my weight… How was I going to manage to control an even higher amount of hunger?

Ding ding ding!!!

Before birth control, before puberty, I weighed in at 107 pounds.

I was already 5’10 (my current height) by the time I was 14, and I was an absolute beanpole… without even trying. People used to ask me if I was anorexic (I mean, they tried to do it subtly but that’s basically what the conversations boiled down to) but honestly I never even thought about food. I was just a scrawny, very late bloomer who hadn’t yet hit puberty.

As I mentioned earlier, getting on the pill made me gain about 20-25 pounds. Although it was emotionally jarring to go from 107 lbs to the 130’s in about two months, it was also good to finally go from the body of a child to one of a teen. (I later worked to lose about 10 lb of that and then fluctuated in the low to mid 120’s for a good 8 years.)

Anyway, you can already tell where this is going. All the facts came together in my mind:

  1. I wanted to get off the pill anyway
  2. My agency wanted me to lose weight
  3. Stephen was in SF and I was in NYC, so the whole “preventing Tiny Trevathans” aspect of the pill was irrelevant

And I stopped taking it…

 

Alrighty so that was my cliffhanger ending! Stay tuned for the sequel, if the topic interests you. If you have any questions or ever just want to chat about how much it sucks to have bad skin, I’m always available at mayaeschuller@gmail.com. (I still need to make a new email, but for now it’s my maiden name! #onemorethingonthelifemaintenancelist.)

Also, if you got to the end of this somewhat self-indulgent post, I just wanted to say that means a ton to have you on my team. I truly mean it when I say I’m on yours too, my cherished readers. <3

Now get back to work; your boss is glaring at you.

Jkjk I’m just feeling sassy today. 😉

Lots of love and happy weekend,

Maya xx

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