THANK GOD for Accutane.
It completely changed my life. I wish a doctor had given it to me at 15 rather than 25, though. No one told me to stop eating cheese and chocolate and all those deep fried mozzarella sticks that were probably making my skin worse. I had no idea how to take care of my skin. In high school I just accepted that I was going to be ugly the rest of my life.
The first time I remember having clear skin that didn’t make me want to die was three years ago.
Aside from clearing up your skin completely, some side effects of Accutane are: depression, headaches, joint pain, Crohn’s disease, and death. Yes, death. My acne made me depressed and I wanted to die most days anyway, so I really had nothing to lose.
I made an appointment with my dermatologist, gave blood because they had to monitor something to do with my liver, signed some papers that said the manufacturer wouldn’t be responsible for my death or deformities in fetuses, yadda yadda yadda, something about suicide and permanent damage to your intestines, blah blah, sure I’ll sign!
I rushed to the pharmacy like I was in the Amazing Race, paid $380 for a month supply of pills (I couldn’t get insurance until my first refill, screw you Blue Shield) and swallowed my first one. My favorite thing about the packaging was the pregnancy warning:
After the first day I was constantly applying Aquaphor to my lips. They were disgustingly dry and would bleed if I didn’t have enough moisturizer on them. My entire body started to hurt by week two.
I was only taking 40mg, the lowest dosage, because my acne was mostly topical. I can’t imagine how the poor kids taking 100mg felt. It hurt to get out of bed, I had to decrease my workouts because my muscles would stay sore for days. By week three my skin had gotten way worse. I was warned that this would occur.
Accutane is basically a shit ton of vitamin A that reduces the amount of oil in your glands, and helps renew skin faster, hence the bacteria getting pushed out and causing even more acne. Fuck you, science.
I was also taking Zoloft at the same time for depression, so I assumed it would help with the mood swings from Accutane. Haha, yeah right!
At the fourth week I had giant gross zits. They hurt. I had a guy from Australia staying with me for a night that I met through a mutual friend on Facebook. We had been talking for over a year, so I assumed he wasn’t a serial killer. For some reason I said he could stay at my place when he needed somewhere to stay for a night while he was visiting America for six months. I blame the Accutane for that irrational decision.
That same night, I was planning on going to a post-apocalyptic themed party with my friends Lizzy and Emily.
We get to the party and I talk to friends, get drinks, dance, ya know, stupid party stuff. I wouldn’t say I was ignoring the Australian, but I wasn’t in the mood to babysit or introduce him to people.
Earlier that day he left my coffee maker on which almost caused a fire, and he asked if he could stay another night. Also, his accent was super annoying. I immediately regretted allowing this guy to stay at my house because he kept making cheesy sexual references and said he didn’t have a girlfriend after all (I thought he did).
He seemed harmless for the most part, but Accutane was definitely causing some unnecessary anger and I’m not a fan of a stranger invading my personal space. Translation = I was a HUGE bitch.
An hour into the party, the Australian walks up to me and says he’s having anxiety because he doesn’t know anyone. HELLO?!? IT’S A PARTY! TALK TO PEOPLE YOU DUMMY! SAY SOMETHING FUNNY IN AUSTRALIAN, I DON’T KNOW!
He flew to California to travel for six months. How are you supposed to travel in a country you’ve never been to if you are too afraid to talk to strangers? He told me he was walking back to my house (which was about a mile away) and asked for my keys. There was no way I was giving this guy my keys.
He left, then texted me, “When are you leaving?” for the next two hours. I have post-traumatic stress disorder every time I hear an Australian accent.
I finally get home with my two friends. It’s about 3am and we’re drinking on my deck. I let the Australian use my computer that day so he could write his travel blog or whatever the hell he was doing.
He then said, “So you don’t want me staying here, huh?”
I said, “What makes you think that?” He replied, “Oh, well your email was open and I saw you sent something to Lizzy earlier saying you regret letting me stay here.”
I stared at him like Beavis and Butthead watching the Sinead O’Conner “Nothing Compares” music video. I told him (ala Elizabeth Shue’s “Don’t fuck with the babysitter” tone) to get the hell out of my apartment. I did not care that it was three in the morning. I did not care that the other friend he was staying with wasn’t going to be home for two days. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Get the fuck out of my apartment with your stupid Australian Kangol hat.
He pleaded with me that he had nowhere to stay, but I was way too pissed off about him reading my email. I felt zero remorse for him. I remember yelling, a lot. My friends later told me that they have never seen me so angry. Who did he think he was looking at my email?
I literally threw his suitcase outside and told him to die. I slammed the door on him and my friends went outside to help. They took him to a hotel. I never heard from him again.
One month down, five more to go!
The second anger outburst happened at a sold out LCD Soundsystem concert. I had an extra ticket, and instead of selling it for a million dollars, I gave it to a guy for face value. I’m nice! I swear! He was thrilled and thanked me.
Inside the venue, the guy came up to me and said I charged him way more than the ticket actually was. Who would be angry about getting a last minute ticket to a sold out show? A CRAZY PERSON, that’s who! He said I charged him for Ticketmaster fees and he waned his money back.
I gave him the Butthead stare again, and screamed at him about how he should be thankful that he even got in. I had a glass of whiskey that I threw in his face and Lizzy and Emily once again had to calm me down. My life had turned into an episode of Jerry Springer — uncontrollable temper and wanting to fight people.
By the fourth month, my skin was finally starting to clear up. It was around my birthday and I was going to Coachella (relax, I had VIP passes or I wouldn’t have gone). I was kind of seeing a guy who was also staying in our rented villa, but had a crush on another guy there. It was set up for disaster.
I ended up ignoring the guy who liked me and hung out with the other guy the entire weekend. It was a total bitch move but I was drunk most of the time, which was a very bad thing because Accutane did not mix well with alcohol. I was also wearing a bear suit and spent one night doing whip-its. High-five Melissa!
After the fifth month I had no sign of acne. It was life changing. I didn’t have to wake up every day and have my mood determined by what I saw in the mirror. I knew my skin was going to be clear, and it was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t see a zit for two years. I was actually getting compliments on my skin.
The first time it happened I nearly cried. I was at a casting and the designer said something along the lines of, “You have beautiful eyes and skin.”
I remember that moment because it was the first time in my life I had heard it. I was 25. I wish I had confidence about my appearance at 15, but going through a 10-year process makes it feel like a real accomplishment.
After I finished six months of Accutane, my mood went back to normal, my body stopped hurting, and my skin wasn’t dry.
Oh, and two years after I finished Accutane, I decided to stop taking birth control and broke out with horrible acne along my jawline. I had to take Spironolactone for a month and get laser treatments to kill bacteria. The Accutane definitely worked, and still does work, but hormonal acne is still a slight problem for me. I’ll gladly take one or two zits a month over being a pizza face any day, though.
Still not sure if I’m going to have a baby with seven arms, but we’ll cross that bridge once we get to it.