Last week, I was on a walk in the park with a friend talking about COVID-19 (there’s not much else to discuss these days, is there?), when he said something that really resonated with me. As we discussed the implications that this virus has on mental health, he reasoned, “never have we had so much in common with each other yet felt so utterly alone at the same time.” He couldn’t be more correct. I don’t think it serves as much of a surprise to anyone, but people are struggling mentally now more than ever. Obviously, the coronavirus has awful physical implications, but the pandemic as a whole has had more effects on the mind than we even realize. While many people have found productive ways to cope with the unknown, from exercising to taking summer classes, many other people have found it increasingly difficult to make the most of these times. Certain friends of mine who I used to describe to others as the absolute epitome of happiness are now on anti-depressants. Other friends who I looked to as sources of strength now tell me about the anxiety attacks they wake up with every morning. I’m in no way saying that everyone is now mentally ill, but the majority of people I know have more bad days than ever before. I couldn’t understand why our brains weren’t just adapting like they adapt to plenty of other challenges until I read a post that said that our brains are just literally not programmed to face a situation like this one. The phrase “unprecedented times” applies to mental health issues too.
When I think back to the past school year, the most stressful time period was not AP exam season, or finals season, or even cross country season. It was prom season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the way my prom turned out for the most part. Still, I get so stressed thinking about how much energy I put into finding an inexpensive dress, figuring out the transportation situation, and making sure my hair and makeup appointments didn’t overlap. All of the drama that came with these conflicts made me so anxious, and at some points I just wished we never even had a prom.
Accutane. First of all, I took that stupid pill for 9 months, and I still don’t know how to spell the name without googling it. But, I digress.
For those who don’t know, Accutane (medically known as Isotretinoin) is a retinoid medication that treats severe acne. It’s for people who have had little or no success with topical or antibiotic treatments. It’s basically a last resort for acne sufferers since it is known for having really intense side effects.
For months, I imagined what it would feel like to write this post. I thought I would feel a sense of victory and relief. In some ways I do, but I’ve only been off it for a few weeks, and I still have an unshakable worry that the acne will come back. Still, I couldn’t resist making this post. People always ask me if I think this pill is worth it, and I figured I’d save myself some breath by making this post. Obviously, everybody responds to the medication differently, but I hope more than anything that my story can give some clarity to anyone considering taking this medication. I know already that I’m going to jump around a bunch, but I want this to be as raw and honest as possible. So here we go…my accutane story…