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hey everyone- I just wrote this for the oprah winfrey television show- if you live in the United States- then you probably know what that is. She had a show on today about people that had lost around 300 pounds and overcome great weight problems. That got me thinking about how she should do a show on acne. So I went to her website and sent this to her in the section that allows people to send in ideas for a's kinda long but I just had so many feelings and thoughts to express. Then i decided that I wanted to share it all with you guys also.

Walking through my college campus everyday, I see thousand of young adults with beautiful skin. I stare enviously at them, with my head hung low. A cute boy approaches; I may get the beginning traces of a smile- until he gets 10 feet closer and see my skin. Immediately his gaze alters, and he lowers his eyes and moves on past me, another little piece of my heart breaks off. I consider the rest of my body to be attractive, looking in the mirror I imagine the potential I have- if I could just cut off my head or cover my face with a paper bag.

My acne began back when I was in 6th grade- about 7 years ago. I tried to deal with it in all of the usual ways, specialized acne facial cleansers, toners, and over the counter topical treatments. When I entered high school I decided to go to my first dermatologist appointment, receiving topical medication prescriptions and eventually even antibiotics. As I progressed through high school I began to struggle with my self-image more and more. As my fellow classmates began dating, I was always the girl who was friends with all the boys- who helped them catch their crushes- but never the object of anyone’s affection. I was outgoing and friendly, but as my acne began to over power my life more and more, I started to turn into myself, becoming more shy, lowering my head to avoid eye contact. Maybe I didn't want to be acknowledged, maybe I didn't want to see my peers recognize me as a person, looking into someone's eyes became too hard- pretending to be invisible seemed so much easier, it was my way of evading the problem- the acne. And eventually all of my self confidence was lost.

I have tried hundreds of "acne solutions" on the market today- yet none of them have worked, and I am loosing hope. In this world today, so much is placed on self image, on being beautiful- and even with a nice body and good features, the best clothes and hair-style, nothing can mask a person's skin. This disease is unlike any other; it can eventually take control of a person’s life- as it has mine. It also is something that cannot be masked- sure make up can try to cover it up, but the bumps, scars, and enlarged pores are still noticeable.

You never see people on television with acne, every actor is made to seem like they have perfectly flawless skin, because acne is ugly- why would anyone be put on tv with such an ugly disease all over their face? I hope you are not scared to have people with acne on your show. We may be seen as less attractive and not “television friendly”, but we would also like to be heard. If your clear-skinned viewers are disgusted by our appearances, let them turn off their television for one day, I would not want to share my personally traumatizing story with them anyways.

Acne sends thousand of people, but young and older, into depression- even leading to suicide in extreme cases. While I feel that dermatologists are trying to help their patients, we are just another "case", another person to prescribe some medication to- but we are not that at all. We are normal people in every other way, yet we have to deal with one of the most terrible diseases ever- acne. I’m not looking for pity- I am looking for help. I have been shooed away by my many dermatologists- they don’t want to waste any extra amount of their time on me. They have the their next patient to attend to- another $100 prescription to write out.

I feel horrible asking my parents to spend anymore money on something as vain as fixing my skin condition- when my brothers and I have to be fed, a mortgage to be paid; but this disease is killing me inside, and I hope that soon a "cure" can be found.

The prescription drug Roaccutane has somewhat recently been introduced to the consumer market. It can eliminate acne in about 80% of its users, but it also can have many side effects- the least severe being dried out skin and chapped lips.....more severe consequences being depression, and other serious medical complications. Also, in most cases, it is not a “permanent cure”- the acne can and perhaps eventually will come back. There have even been cases of suicide linked to its usage, and more long-term side effects have not even been seen yet, since it is new-ish. I’m personally too scared to take this drug, being so depressed already about my self-image; I don’t want to endanger my life anymore.

Sometimes I feel that no one is really looking for “the cure” because imagine the consequences of this. So many companies would loose millions and millions of dollars, loosing their clientele- all over the counter and prescription acne medications would be obsolete. Dermatologists would loose millions of patients, and millions of dollars as a result. We can do face lifts, nose jobs, breast augmentations, dental surgery, facial reconstruction after accidents, we are even on the brink of being able to recreate human life- if not able to already- yet we can not cure a skin disease?! I am frustrated, sad, and feel at a loss for living, I feel that I have no place in this world, where the media only portrays beautifully skinned people.

I’m scared to go job hunting- knowing that I might be turned down at a restaurant simply because my skin looks so horrible that they do not want me serving food to their customers. I’m majoring in business at college, but can I really own my own business and work with the public everyday, when at the sight of my face, most people cringe and turn away? Maybe eventually I can find a nice boy with acne too, but we would never have children- I would never want to pass my acne- prone skin genes onto another human being, I would never want my children to go through what I have had to.

One of the problems with this disease is that it can have so many causes- and even the best dermatologists are not sure what these are. Does diet effect acne? Do dirty pillowcases? Can it be dirt and dust? Do genes and hormones?

Being affected by this horrible disease has basically ruined my life; I am not the happy, clear skinned child I once was. Imagine waking up EVERY SINGLE MORNING for the past 7 years, walking to the mirror- and hoping and praying hat no knew pimples have popped up while you were sleeping- but they have, there are 2 new ones this morning, and there may be 3 more rearing their ugly heads by the end of the is a vicious cycle I have been living- no trapped- in for the past 7 years of my life. As I’m sure it has become apparent, I have such mixed emotions about my acne. Sometimes I think it is going to be okay, when I’m having a “good” day, whatever that may mean- 10 pimples instead of 15, 5 instead of 10- my spirits begin to lift and I even find myself forgetting about my skin for a few hours that day, indulging in some activity I love- dancing, hiking, reading, etc. But then the next morning I wake up, make that daily ominous journey to my mirror to find it is going to be a “bad” day. I immediately want to curl up in my bed, go back to sleep and wake up again in a few hours “cured” from this horrible nightmare. I need help, I need hope, and I need acceptance- both from the world and myself. Some suffers are stronger than I- they have been able to go about their daily lives without letting their skin affect their personality, but I’m not that tough- I guess I could be called vain, but who doesn’t wish to look their best??? I realize that it will take time, that maybe if I’m lucky I will one day just “outgrow” the acne, the pimples will calm down and I will be cured naturally- but I can’t sit and wait any longer until that day comes, I can’t waste any more money on both over the counter and prescription acne medications that might not work. And even if they do, almost certainly they will not completely fix my suffering face, my horrible self-confidence, and the disappointing outlook I possess about the rest of my life.

Please dont post if you are going to disagree with me about some miniscule point- "the" cause of acne, the effects of acctane, etc. My reasoning for posting this was not to argue with people about these factors- it was to emcompass the overall feelings that I have about this disease. This disease that has taken me on quite a different journey in life than myself as a clearskinned person would have experienced. Thank You everyone for reading this.

[This message has been edited by established420 (edited 04-25-2003).]
Bravo, to you and the crew all around here who stand behind their own and give support and encouragement. That was a bold step and I am so proud of you.

This brings tears to MY eyes. A few days back I posted that after over many, many years of being engaged, I finally got the courage to discuss my skin problem with my fiance and I feel so much better. I never would have had the motivation or guts to do this had I not been hanging out on this message board 24/7 all month. I have never had access to this kind of anonymous support and information, despite a lifetime craving it desperately but feeling too ashamed and fearful of doing anything about it.

My skin is severely oily. The breakouts I can deal with now that the cysts have virtually stopped littering my face. However, like the previous post, I have had to spend a lifetime making short appearances, because my face literally melts in a very short period of time. I go from great looking in makeup to a monster. I used to hang my head coming out of movies because my face was different from the one I went in with--to my shame on dates, as well as with my ex, etc. It doesn't matter how long you're with someone or even if you live with them, the shame and hiding are still there. I have to wipe my face like a person with a cold does their nose. I have even FAKED colds as an excuse to wipe the oil off before I look terrible. Sounds trivial to some, but when it is a constant in your life, it is a big deal to hide it. You don't want people to know you're "different." I am almost 50, and I have yet to see anyone with oil this bad, or perhaps I might not feel like such a freak, but I haven't and I still do--despite the fact that I no longer dwell on it as much. Thank goodness I look far younger and have no wrinkles so people think I'm just a person in my early 30s with a lingering skin problem. It's worse than that though. I have the oil production of a person entering puberty and then some, so I have no "excuse."

I went through a terrible suicidal depression in my twenties, thinking I could never marry anyone with this disability (as I saw it), despite having boyfriends all my life. I did, however, but there's always that nagging doubt about what they REALLY think about you, and inside you're always "second rate" if only to yourself. To make up for this, I have always been a high achiever, trying far harder at everything I do and always staying at the top. You're never satisfied though because inside you feel like a phony. You're never "all that." No amount of acceptance is good enough when you can't accept yourself.

I've come a long way learning to accept myself as I am and I am happier now than I've ever been in my life. Recounting this agony I've been through is painful but therapeutic. I've jeopardized jobs calling in sick for days as massive cysts were oozing and healing, I've missed important events because I would have had to sit too long in front of people or my appearance was too ghastly, and I still dread camping because I can't take care of my face properly, and wouldn't do it in front of anyone. My problem has been hiding, hiding, hiding. I am still a hermit, even though I look far better now, despite the oil. Unfortunately when I was really young and very pretty, my face was horrible then and I never could enjoy the years I should have. I'm a hermit now more by habit. It's just been engrained in me and were I to have perfect skin tomorrow, I'd still be the same hiding person inside. I'm out and around in the world when I have to be, but never by choice, only necessity.

Acne stunts you and makes you feel sub-human, even when you're pulling out of it. The damage is done and all you can do is work on who you are inside, and make that as beautiful and loving as possible. That is the real secret to happiness, and I'm glad I've finally realized it, despite forgetting from time to time.

Vanity was a real curse for me. If I had been ugly with acne it wouldn't have been better necessarily, but being "almost" all your life is not fun either. You are like two people, split. You're great for an hour and then the mask falls off and it's like you're revealed naked in all your faults. The makeup melts off and "Surprise!" Yeah, surprise.

I hope you can get on that show and speak for all of us. If not, let's keep this thread going and speak to each other and for each other.

Blessing to all of you.

Thank you all and God bless you, Established, for opening all our hearts a little wider today.

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