Friday, October 26, 2012

Acne Then, and Acne Now


I'm trying really hard right now to find some things to be "bright" about because life seems to insist on throwing beets my way. Not lemons, because I like lemons. I don't like beets. Nor do I like beet juice. I'm going to feed these beets to the beetles and then make BEETLEJUICE by squashing the little evils.

Erm...let's pretend that never happened okay? 

Today we're going to take a look at my acne over the past few years. I've struggled with acne for since I reached my teen years. It's a genetic thing, and it has held me back from having a good self esteem for a long time. I've always felt like I couldn't be pretty with acne on my face, shoulders, neck, chest, and back. It has been like that since I was about 14/15 years old. That's really tough for a 14 year old.

I will let the photos speak for themselves with only a few comments.

Here's me, before I ever dyed my hair, probably sometime freshman summer. It doesn't show up much in the picture but I had a pretty bumpy forehead. This was a good day.

These next two photos are from when I went to Estes Park in Colorado for a family vacation.
 This was probably during some of the worst years for my acne. Super embarrassing for me when all of my friends had clear skin. Didn't stop me from wearing tank tops or anything, but for a while I did wear stage grade make-up to "hide" my acne.

What did I try to get rid of my acne? What didn't I try is more like it. I've tried over the counter stuff, I've tried natural remedies, I've tried Proactive and Mural (didn't work at ALL). I saw one dermatologist and he wanted to put me on a medication that has actually caused people to have heart problems later in life when the first medicine failed. It's called Acutaine. I did consider taking it at one point I hated my face so much. I hated looking like a pepperoni pizza. I also hated my friends telling me that it wasn't too bad. Granted they could have been blind because they were my friends, but I was a little cynical that someone could be that blind.

To be honest. I gave up for a while. I didn't go on Acutaine, and we stopped seeing that dermatologist because, frankly, he was a jerk.  Part of me thought that wanting clear skin was a "vanity."

This picture is from my senior summer when I was not dying my hair and trying to grow it out. Yes I have paint on my face, I was working make-up for a production of The Jungle Book. At the time this was a "good day." Not fun to think of this as a good day.

This is perhaps the most honest picture of my face I could find of "before." There was plenty of acne on the sides of my face too. By now I also had cystic acne to go with the everyday redheads and whiteheads. I'm sure this grosses some people out, but I've ceased to be bothered.

Then I found the most wonderful person in the world, my current dermatologist. She took one look at me and within ten minutes of consultation, I had a prescription and a lot of bottles of things to put onto my face.

Then things started to slowly get better. There was some trial and error. I had to get my prescription changed because it wasn't working as well as the Derm' and I wanted. 
This is me sticking out my tongue in defiance. I never was one to go down without a fight, even if there were a few times I wanted to just give in and hate my face (anyone recognize this place? No I was never a RenQuester). This photo was the year BEFORE I worked the Ren Faire. I had just started to dye my hair red. This was just before I started to see my current dermatologist. You can't really see it, but there's a lot of red along the side of my face and on my neck (not due to my clothing OR hair).

Here's a photo of me from this February when I took headshots pretty much two weeks before Ren Fair Auditions. When I still had bangs to hide my forehead.

This classified as a "bad day" for me at the time. Today that would be classified as a "horrible" day. I have a great friend who cleaned up my face in a photo-editing program. This is before I switched medications to the one I am currently on.
 This next lovely portrait was taken this past July at the dance camp I helped out at. Notice how clear my skin is! This is after we changed the prescription to something that has actually worked! It's called Amoxicillin and it has worked wonders.
Anyone else love the mustache? 

And this "lovely" self portrait was from about a month ago. Btw- this is a medium day. Today is even better (no I don't have a photograph). I saw the Dermatologist today and she doesn't want to see me for three months because I'm doing so well! To go from seeing her each month, to two months, to three months, this means I am finally improving!

Will I have to deal with Acne for most of my life? Because I am a woman, probably. Will it get better? I'm hoping it continues to do so. I finally feel like people see me and not my acne when I'm around them. The dermatologist thinks that my skin will continue to improve and we're really hopeful about more progress.

I know I posted a few frustrations about my acne last year, and I just wanted to give a "current" update about my little journey with my face.

Now where are those beets?........

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My little dream

Time to think positive thoughts, at least for today.

While my future is something that is currently overwhelming me, it is a sea of possibilities. I'm starting to formulate tentative plans for next semester that involve a lot of Arts training and not much else (well, maybe an Algebra clep test, but let's not talk about that scary thing).

I scheduled a visit to a college that a dance teacher of mine (look back at my posts about dancing with Melinda) told me to apply for. I was accepted last year, but put the school on the shelf.
Technically it doesn't have the exact program I'm looking for, which would a Theatre degree with a concentration in Dance, so I could minor in History. I want to talk to the admissions board there about how we could work that out. I see many possibilities, one of them being that it doesn't work out. That would be okay though, because I want to go to the college that God leads me to.

For those of you who say to major in History and minor in Dance....well...I've thought about that. I don't like the idea. Yes, I know it's more "practical" but seriously, since when are most college students actually getting jobs in their degree field right now? Unless that changes dramatically in the next few years I think I'm better off going for what I love and training in performance.

I've never been one to dream about the big house on the hill with the four cars and lots of cash in the bank. I don't need designer clothing. I love thrifting. I like Aldi's, except for their produce section which makes me cringe. Bargains are awesome, but I also know that sometimes you need to shell out the cash for a quality item.

I'd be happy in an apartment in Chicago. I'd be fine with having a roommate or two to split rent. One day I'd like to be sharing that space with a husband, but that will all come in good time. I'd be happy with a cat, or two, or three. I hear they're pretty addicting. I'd be happy without a car, or a nice used car. My family has only bought one brand new car (to my knowledge). Our "newest" car is a used car. It runs perfectly fine!
Of course, I don't think I could give up my obsession for books. However, I don't think that's too much of a problem other than finding shelf space.
I'd be happy working for a Museum, Performing, Writing my stories (maybe getting paid for them), and having a group of friends who are as intellectual (and more so, because that would stretch my mind) as I am. 
One day, very far away, I'd like to adopt a child. I don't know where from, but I've wanted to adopt for a long time.

That right there, that's my little dream. I don't need the American Dream. I don't need to be a millionaire. It's not about the quantity, it's about the quality.

Now I've just got to find my way there.
I think I needed this moment of Hope, all I have to do is hold on to it and see where it goes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Closing up

I have this great talent for shutting people out to protect them, and then punishing them by being moody because I won't open up about what's going on in my life. I can also minimize my worries and troubles (as silly as they might be, at least, in my opinion they all are silly).
Not that I'm going to post all of my dark secrets here. On the internet, for everyone to see. That would be unwise and idiotic.

I finally started venting to my parents my frustrations and insecurities about college and where I'm going to end up. This is only one of the things I am grappling with right now (see, that clever avoidance of continuing on about my college worries?).
My mom pointed out (or rather, called me out) that I have been acting in such a way that makes the rest of the family tiptoe around me on eggshells because they don't know whats going on or why I'm being so moody all of the time. I need to find a better word other than moody.

Adjective- temperamental, emotional, volatile, capricious, changeable, mercurial; sullen, sulky, morose, glum, depressed, dejected, despondent, doleful, dour, sour, saturnine, manic-depressive; informal blue, down in the dumps, down in/at the mouth. ANTONYMS even-tempered, cheerful.

I think that all of these words have applied to me at some point in the past weeks. I've felt lost, unsure of my future. I've felt lonely, some friendships seem to be changing and I don't like what's happening. I've felt frustrated with maintaining a balancing act between work, school, and a minimal social life.  I've also gotten frustrated with myself that I'm causing my family, and maybe others, to tiptoe around me. I don't want that.

And all of this is vague enough so that you, dear reader, will feel like I'm merely politely blogging without going in too deep about personal matters that I do not wish to put out on the internet.

I posted a status on Facebook about how this year simply cannot be as hard as last year. I refuse to think that this year will be a repeat of broken friendships, miserable days at community college, and lots of complications about figuring out my future.
I didn't expect the outpouring of support I received from my friends. Friends who I had only known for a little while where sending me private messages to make sure I was okay and offering a shoulder to lean on, making me feel supported and loved.
I shied away from all of it. I gave the answers I needed to give and I got everyone to shut up. I opened up the bare minimum to one friend and felt a little bit better, but there was still that voice inside my head saying "This is YOUR burden, don't heap it on others. Keep Calm and Carry On. If you talk to all these people about what's going on you're going to just end up venting hot air and that's something needy people do. Be strong for Pete's Sake. You've always gotten through things and you don't need to go telling everyone your problems, they've got enough of their own. Actually, see if they need any help. You like giving help."  

It's true, I love helping my friends. I love being the strong one. I love being the slightly offbeat loner who has her own little niche and is constantly expanding it. I love being able to hold it together. I've been the shoulder to cry on, the older sister, the one who helps people figure out their problems. And I won't let anyone help me. 

I thought I was getting so much better at this. Maybe I am. I was able to have a very good chat with a friend during the drives too and from Stronghold. I was able to open up a bit then.
But, when I am confronted with so much love and support that it overwhelms me, I go hide.

This past Sunday at church the choir was singing a song. Some of the lyrics were "Don't give up. Just hold on. Joy will come. You be strong."
Talk about a wrecking. It just floored me and pierced my heart. I can't think that God isn't going to use this time of my life for some reason down the road. There's got to be some reason for all of this. That's really the only thought getting me through this. Soldiering on.

In other news- I'm hoping to get a "general events" update on this and make this blog a bit more cheery than it has been of late. I'm genuinely sorry that I haven't been able to post about better things. I also am planning on (aka- haven't had the time yet) posting some fiction on my Ship's blog.