Ever since I can remember, my life has been an endless journey in pursuit of skin free of cystic acne and a calm mental state. To achieve this, I had to battle and suppress, if not defeat, a genetic hormonal imbalance. Growing up, I watched my mother suffer from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. The disorder, commonly referred to as PMDD, affected her skin and weight, but mostly her mental state. Like my mother, I experienced these same effects that cost me my mind and my body. Aside from the severe acne, I was extremely tired all of the time and experienced horrible panic attacks. My migraines were debilitating, and my mood swings greatly affected me and the people close to me. To make things worse, it seemed like my skin and my mood swings went hand in hand, one causing the other to flare up. It was a vicious cycle.
My first plan of action to combat the effects of my Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder was to consult my primary care doctor. She suggested that I begin taking the most popular form of birth control – birth control pills. My doctor told me that the pill might be an easy fix for my PMDD and my acne. I was prescribed my first set of birth control pills, Estrostep, at the age of sixteen, optimistic that my doctor was right.
The first month taking my birth control pills was a disaster. My period became extremely irregular and my mood swings worsened. I experienced horrible nausea and would throw up nonstop for the first twenty-four hours of my period. Additionally, my acne went from bad to worse. To say the least, this was not the solution I was looking for. After two months of trying to acclimate my body to Estrostep per my doctor’s recommendation, I gave up and went back to my primary care doctor. This time, I was prescribed a birth control called Ortho Tri-Cyclen. This birth control is popular for regulating severe acne, lessening period cramps, and balancing hormones. I decided to give it a try, and ended up taking Ortho Tri-Cyclen until the age of twenty.
For nearly four years, Ortho Tri-Cyclen seemed to be helping my acne, but my mood swings remained out of control. I began to lash out at family and friends, which was very unlike me. However, I dealt with my mood swings because I was happy to have found a decent cure for my acne. Nevertheless, I became depressed and didn’t want to leave my house. My mom and I decided it was time to try out a new birth control, even though I was I was still hesitant to put my body through yet another round of potential chaos. This time, I was prescribed the birth control pill Microgestin combined with the acne antibiotic Doxycycline. With fingers crossed, I hoped that the adage “third time’s a charm” also applied to birth control.
A month into taking the Microgestin, the medication seemed to have a positive effect on my body. The antibiotics helped keep my skin clear and my mood swings under control. On the third month, however, my body broke out into hives. They started at my neck and ended at my ankles. I was miserable and dumbfounded. After numerous doctors appointments and three rounds of prednisone, my hives only persisted. My dermatologist suggested that my antibiotic for acne might have been causing my hives. I stopped the round of antibiotics and continued to take my birth control. I lived with hives for three months, putting every ounce of trust into my doctor. When I realized my hives were not going away any time soon, I went to a different dermatologist who suggested that the cause of my hives might be my birth control. I stopped taking Microgestin that same day and my hives slowly went away. I was grateful that I had found the culprit of my hives, but devastated that my skin was suffering again because I had stopped taking my antibiotics.
For a few months, I dealt with my aggressive nodular acne, which, in turn, affected my mood swings. Birth control pills had scarred me, and I had lost any ounce of hope that there was a birth control that could help me with my Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. One day I looked in the mirror, depressed and disgusted with the way I looked. I was desperate to take Ortho Tri-Cyclen again, the only birth control pill that somewhat helped clear my skin. After being prescribed Ortho Tri-Cyclen a second time, I soon discovered that my body had developed a sensitivity to the artificial hormones in birth control, and I broke out in hives again. Birth control pills were no longer an option for me.
After losing trust in my doctors, I decided to do my own research and make a few drastic decisions that I knew would improve my skin and my mental health. I got the non-hormonal IUD inserted about a month ago, and I am going on my second month of Accutane. Though my new form of birth control doesn’t have any affect on my Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, I feel much more clear headed without any artificial hormones. I combat my disorder naturally now with a clean diet, therapy sessions, and self-awareness of my very real symptoms. Accutane has cleared my skin almost completely, which not only uplifts my mood but also encourages me to leave my house. If I could go back in time, I would listen to my body when I was experiencing PMDD symptoms instead of trying to suppress them. Now, I have an immense amount of respect for my body and the amount of stress it was able to endure. I feel empowered by my Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.Loading Likes...