I’m on the train again- seem to love writing during train journeys. Currently on my way to Cheltenham for college this weekend. The reason I go to Cheltenham and not Bristol (where I attend college) is because I’m staying with my friend Stacie. Stacie’s an absolutely awesome girl and in the same class so we travel in together on Saturday and Sunday. The reason I’m heading up a day early is because we have an exam on Saturday morning so we’re hitting the books together. More about lovely Stacie (and not so lovely) exams later..
Today I thought I’d chat about the side effects I personally suffered from whilst on Accutane and after I finished the course of Accutane. For anyone that doesn’t know already, Accutane is an extremely strong medication used for the treatment of Acne. I took a 5.5 month course at 40mg/ day from October 2011 to March 2012 and it changed my life.
If you’d like to know more, please read my posts titled ‘Accutane- The Life Changer PART I and II.’
Accutane creates a strong divide. There are people who believe it saved their life and gave them their confidence back and others, like myself that have had to deal with major health issues since taking this drug. My intention is not to bully people into not taking Accutane but rather encourage them to look at other options. I know there will be some of you reading this that will be like “duh, if I had other options I would try them but I tried cutting out this food and that food and I’ve tried different antibiotics and changing face products etc. and nothing has worked.” Trust me, I understand where you’re coming from and the absolute desperation you’re feeling. I genuinely get it because I myself, have been there.
All I know is, if I could have my time over I would not take Accuatane. If I knew what I knew now, I would have handled the whole situation differently. Then again, I realise everything is simple in hindsight. I have accepted that I was doing my best for what I knew in that moment at that time. I have stopped doing the “if only and what if” and have learned to focus all of my energy on the present which includes my personal recovery and desire to help other people.
In order to clarify a few things I’m going to list all the side effects that I personally suffered with from taking this medication and then give you an overall view as to how I have recovered and healed my body over the past five years.
Side effects that I experienced (mainly after I finished Accutane):
- Dry skin, eyes and hair
- Eczema on face
- Rash on my hands, arms and face
- Facial flushing and a rash like appearance
- Joint pain
- Suicidal thoughts
- Hairloss, seborrhoeic dermatitis and sores on my scalp
- Increased sweating and night sweats
- Temperature regulation issues (too hot or too cold)
- Bloating, constipation and abdominal distension
- Parlour (I looked so pale with a pink tinge to my skin
- Blurred vision
- Constantly swollen lymph nodes
- Facial impetigo
- Staph A infection
- Pain in my spleen and liver area
- Reaccuring conjunctivitis and other infections
- Constantly feeling ‘off’, weak and really ‘under the weather.’
I just want to add that I have had blood tests done with my GP several times over the past few years. They showed different things but everything was passed off and looked at as an individual symptom. Of course, neither my Dermatologist nor my GP was willing to listen when I told them I knew I was ill as a result of taking Accutane. My dermatologist told me that the major hairless I experienced was definitely not Acctutane related. Well excuse my language but this is bull***t! He took a scalp biopsy which showed the presence of yeast and fungus (that cause standard dandruff.) So conveniently, I was told I had a fungal infection of the scalp and was given a course of antifungal medication which I (stupidly) took.
Blood tests showed that my thyroid was showing signs of being under active (borderline hypothyroid at that stage) and I was told perhaps I had ‘post viral fatigue’ by a different GP. The moment I knew I was going to take my health in to my own hands was after a morning appointment with my GP- I remember the day well. Feeling unbelievably out of sorts and not long after returning from South America, I walked with my head low into my doctor’s office. To synopsise the situation, I was given information on Rosacea because apparently I had cured my acne but developed Rosacea instead and told to fill out a depression questionnaire (which, if you haven’t seen one of these are a bit ridiculous.) The reason it’s ridiculous is because the questions ask you to give a number score in relation to a list of different situations or feelings that are part of being human eg. “Do you feel down sometimes?” Which most people do and it’s hard to choose a number to express the overall situation/ experience you’re having. I can’t remember the others but you get the idea. On top of all of this I was offered anti depressant medication which I politely declined.
That was a tough morning. Not only was I feeling ruined both physically and mentally but now I felt unheard. Unable to hold the emotion in anymore I burst into tears, I didn’t need the tissue that the doctor passed me as no tears were produced. Imagine that- crying but producing no tears because your eyes are so dry and your tear production has stopped. Something was going to give- I was going to break or I was going to get better. However, I now know I needed to return to my natural, holistic way of looking at health. No more pills, no more quick fixes.
I cried and cried for most of that day. Feeling horrendous, I slept loads as the fatigue was intense and the anxiety, depression and other physical side effects almost unbearable. It was around this point that I started doing my research. Bit by bit I made life changes based on my gut instinct. Obviously, I looked into things thoroughly and weighed up risks, but you need to remember at that point I didn’t have anything to lose. As I said, I will be writing specific blog posts detailing everything I did and what worked for me. It was very much a process of trial, error and lots of learning.
Today, I am SO much better. It’s pretty remarkable actually. I’m functioning normally, although I still do a lot to to keep myself balanced and healthy. I also cleanse periodically. My body is so much stronger and my mental state is fantastic- not a hint of anxiety or depression. Obviously I have bad days like everyone else and don’t always feel great but this is normal and infrequent.
I believe my success comes down to a few main factors.. Support from my mum and close friends, my own discipline and dedication to healing my body, and a multi-pronged approach to resolving interconnected issues relating to Acvutane damage. Basically, I started by working on removing the Accutane residues that remained in my body after treatment, repairing and repopulating my gut with beneficial bacteria, cleansing the liver thoroughly, supporting adrenal and thyroid function, parasite cleansing and removing heavy metals, supporting my immune system and supplementing where necessary.
An important point to make is not all of my recovery was based on physical practices. True health and vitality occur when all aspects of a person are addressed and balanced is. Mind, body and spirit (I don’t mean this in any religious sense.) I worked on my mental and emotional health with kinesiology, meditation, emotional freedom technique (EFT) and generally being with people I love and taking some time out.
At this moment in my, I’m delighted and grateful at how far I’ve come but I’m also far from done. As a matter of fact, I’m just getting started. I have so many goals and aspirations mainly relating to helping others and transforming my situation in order to do good.
My physical health is so much better than it was and I feel a true sense of vitality. Sometimes I feel run down and the lymph nodes in my neck swell but that’s usually when I’m cleansing or get a bit stressed with college work etc. I’m able to workout again which is amazing and I’m currently working on developing my physical strength, stamina, building lean muscle and losing a little fat. Being able to hit high intensity workouts again makes me feel strong and balanced. It’s both a stress reliever and confidence booster.
Also, I have plans to start a Knowledge To Nourish YouTube channel soon. The time has come to speak out in an honest and personal way. I have no intention of being pushy, I just want to get some info out there in the hope that someone can take something positive from what I’ve learned.
On that note, I’m going to wrap today’s post up and chat more next time.
Thanks for your support and hope you all have a fantastic weekend- please send me good vibes for my exam on Saturday morning!