A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

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The Benefits of a Social Anxiety Support Group

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote. Lots has happened. I have written before how I was seeing a therapist for social anxiety in the Centre for Mental Health Research at the University of Waterloo. This spring and summer, she provided me with the opportunity to be part of a social anxiety therapy group that the Centre had put on. I have since completed this group and it has certainly helped me shed another layer of my social anxiety off.

The group consisted of weekly sessions held for a couple of hours each over a period of about two and a half months. Each session was dedicated to learning a certain technique to reducing social anxiety through discussion and exercises. For example, at one session, each of us had to improvise on a topic of our choice in front of the rest of the group, while being recorded. At the end, we watched each of the recordings and talked about them. The idea here was to see how other people viewed us when we talked to see if we would be as negatively perceived as our anxiety was telling us. While I did find this exercise helpful, a few other sessions do stick out in my mind as being the most beneficial to me.

These couple of sessions involved us doing behavioural experiments as a group. I’ve already talked about on my blog how my therapist gave the suggestion of doing behavioural experiments and how I had been practising them to reduce anxiety. Now, however, we were going to be doing them as a group. In one of the sessions, we would be going outside and walking through campus. Only we wouldn’t just be casually walking, we would be walking in single file. We would observe how the people we encountered would react to this behaviour. Would they stop in their tracks and stare at us? Would vehicles slow down? Would people make fun of us? We jotted down such possible outcomes before we did the experiment. One important point about the experiment was that whatever we reported on when we returned had to be evidence that would stand up in court. It wouldn’t be enough to say something like “People didn’t like what we did”, but we had to report on the actions of other people, such as consistent staring for several seconds.

We did the experiment and, overall, it went all right. Most people that I saw never really looked at us. Only a handful looked at us and few of them actually stared. Vehicles that passed us didn’t slow down. I thought it went better than I initially thought it would. I was anxious throughout it all, but it did help that I was with others so that if I did appear foolish or whatever to others, at least I wouldn’t be alone.

At another session we did another behavioural experiment while walking through campus. Instead of walking in single file, however, this time we would be waving and saying “Hey!” or “Hi!” enthusiastically to strangers that we saw. Again, there were few negative responses, and a lot of people we encountered actually said “Hi” back. During this same walk, we also stood around in a circle and sang Happy Birthday to three people in the circle, even though it was no one’s birthday. My anxiety spiked during this activity, and there was no way that I would’ve done this on my own. But I had to go along with the group. I prepared myself for bizarre looks, people laughing, etc. Yet no one did. A few people looked and smiled, but that was all that happened.

Doing such behavioural experiments in a group really encouraged me to try more behavioural experiments on my own. I felt the group helped normalize such behaviour and made me feel less weird and less scared to do more on my own. I carried out more conversations with others and introduced myself to more new people.

Yet at another session, we continued carried out behavioural experiments while walking around campus. This time, however, we would not be doing them in sync. Rather, we would be separating with each of us doing a couple of experiments and then gathering together again after twenty or so minutes. Before we ventured out, we were given a list of possible things to try. Some of them were tying a string around a piece of fruit and walking it, skipping around, and asking to go to the front of a lineup. I decided on the activities that were to stand around and point up at the sky for five minutes and to complement a stranger. I managed to accomplish the first without any major problem. People passed me, some looked at me, but not in a funny way, and no one said anything or laughed as I held my arm up in the air pointing at the sky with my index finger. Complementing a stranger, however, took greater guts. This was mostly because it was something that had to involve another person and since people weren’t exactly standing still, no opportunity allowed for much hesitation. I finally did manage to do it. I said to a passing girl, “You have beautiful hair”, to which she replied, “Thank you”. I was the last one back to join the group, but I was glad to have accomplished both experiments successfully.

I even did a couple of these activities outside of the therapy sessions. Right before the next session, I decided to try skipping around and then complementing more girls I didn’t know. I first attempted skipping where there weren’t a lot of people around as a kind of warm up and then I did it in the middle of campus where there were a lot more students walking by. No one reacted at all to my skipping; it was like I didn’t exist. As for complementing more girls, again I found myself hesitating a lot, but at the end I managed to complement three girls in a row on their hair and clothes. Each time I received a smile or a thank you.

The therapy group session has definitely challenged me in surprising ways, and I look forward to using the new techniques to combat anxiety I learned there. Indeed, it inspired me to do something I’ve never done before this past week, which I’ll tell about in my next post.



UW’s Women’s Centre

This winter I tried a new extra-curricular activity. I have written a few posts on this blog related to the issue of feminism and gender-related issues, but now I’ve found a way to meet other like-minded people with respect to such issues and to actually advocate for them. I volunteered for the University of Waterloo’s Women Centre this term, which is a student-run organisation on campus that promotes feminism and gender equity. I submitted an application online to them in the fall and heard back at the beginning of the winter term that they accepted me as a volunteer.

I had to attend a one day training session on how to be a volunteer for the Centre. It basically consisted of explaining to us our responsibilities, such as holding office hours in the Centre and how to help students in need who come to the Centre, especially for peer support hours. Peer support hours are hours that run 5-6 everyday where any student is welcome to drop by to discuss any personal problems they have to the volunteer who’s on duty at that time for emotional support and resources. The Centre is in this smallish cozy room with a desk, a library on feminism, and a few comfortable couches and chairs. Besides holding office hours there, I’ve also found it a good alternative space to study.

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the volunteers are women. I’ve been involved with activities before where the majority of participants were female (for example, during my Zumba classes) so I was never really bothered by that. I do, however, find it a bit unfortunate that more men don’t get involved with these kinds of things, especially since gender inequity affects men as well as women and indeed affects people of all genders. I know that such issues have touched me as well as others, which further inspired me to volunteer in the first place and I strongly believe that feminism and gender-related issues need gender-diverse supports (besides being diverse in other ways) for its proper activism. The women I’ve worked with this term, however, have been very friendly and welcoming and I’m slowly making friends with some of them.

Besides holding office hours in the centre, I’ve also helped volunteer for various feminist events. My favourite has been the Poetry Slam, which was a night held on Waterloo’s on-campus pub The Bomber where any and all students with feminist poetry were welcome to read them. I loved hearing them all and will definitely participate myself at a future poetry slam event.

I’m glad I decided to get involved with the Women’s Centre and I look forward to continuing with it in the future.

Depressive Episodes

It has been a sad week for the University of Waterloo this past week. A student committed suicide. While this has created shock across the campus, I believe it shows there is a lot more work to be done on the issue of mental health and that there is still stigma against talking about it. While it is incredibly unfortunate that this suicide happened, it has inspired me to share my own experience in dealing with depressive episodes. I don’t tell everything that’s happening in my life on this blog (either because some details I’m just not comfortable sharing or too private to share), but I would like to take the time to talk about how depression has personally affected me. I do hope to help remove a lot of the stigma that surrounds these issues.

Throughout my life, lot of things have made me have periods of depression. This probably won’t surprise you if you’ve read a lot of my blog. Being diagnosed with autism has created certain difficulties in my life, which then lead to depression. There have also been other triggers for depression in my life, but again I won’t go into detail on them here. A little over two years ago, however, I ended up having a pretty bad depressive episode. I remember it like it was yesterday. It affected how much I could work and even affected my basic daily functions. Even getting dressed or getting breakfast for myself were a challenge on some days. It felt like it would never end. I went to a doctor and talked with him about putting myself on an anti-depressant. I was also seeing a psychologist at the time who I also discussed this option. with In the end, I ended up going on the S.S.R.I. (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) Zoloft.

While there are mixed views out there about anti-depressants and S.S.R.I.s and there’s a certain stigma against them, my personal experience with Zoloft is that it has been helpful in calming me down, removing some of the anxiety and depression. I don’t believe, however, that such medications are a permanent solution to mental health problems. Actually discussing such problems with a professional is more important. What I do believe, however, is that such medications can be very useful in soothing the healing process. For a period, I was on a dosage of 100 mg of Zoloft daily, but due to an undesirable side effect, I reduced my dosage back down to 50 mg hence reducing the side-effect, so being aware of possible side-effects is important as well. Fortunately, even on 50 mg, I’ve found the benefits are still present.

I’ve been talking a lot about my issues with depression with my current therapist (the one I’m seeing for social anxiety I describe a couple of posts back) and have found she is really making it easier for me to pull myself out of this current depressive episode. We’ve been going through CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) where we examine how thoughts influence feelings, which in turn influence behaviours, which then influence thoughts and so creates a vicious cycle. She is very good at helping me break this cycle through altering my behaviour and challenging my perceptions and learning to accept perceptions that are different than mine. As such, I’ve learned how to be more accepting and less judging of myself and others.

I hope others affected by depression will also share and talk about their own experiences. We need to end this stigma and the more voices we have the more powerful our cause will be.


On Masculinity

A couple of months ago, I saw a poster in the math building at the University of Waterloo advertising an interesting workshop. It was inviting the male Waterloo students to come to talk and discuss what it means to be masculine and to be a man. As a feminist and someone who’s very interested in the topic of gender, I was very curious and so attended. The workshop was run by a young gender equity advocate Stephen Soucie and it took only two minutes into it that I knew I had made the right decision to attend. Stephen lectured and had a discussion with us on how society (especially in our western culture) has shaped the male and female gender roles in detrimental ways and how this has promoted gender inequity and gender-based violence.

I loved the discussion and completely agreed with Stephen throughout. He started by asking us what expectations society holds on males. We brainstormed a lot and came up with several, including stoic, unemotional, hypersexual, strong, aggressive, etc. and then brainstormed ways in which men are ridiculed if they do not live up to these expectations to a sufficient degree. For example, men who do not fit this stereotype are more prone to bullying. They are often called things like “pussy”, “faggot”, “gay”, “bitch”, or “little girl”. Not only is such name-calling hurtful to the targeted men, but they are also harmful to women because they carry the implication that women are somehow inferior to men. These expectations, however, are a product of society and there is no rational basis for them. One could argue that these expectations come from the biological sex differences between males and females, but as Stephen pointed out, western society has overemphasised such differences. Moreover, male and female aren’t even exhaustive categories when it comes to either gender or sex, giving another reason why these gender roles need to be abandoned. Both gender and sex do not just consist of two categories, but both exist on a spectrum with male on one end and female on the other with a great variety in between.

Earlier in this blog, I mentioned how some of my social desires would be classified as feminine, such as cuddling with platonic friends. A little over a year ago, I did attend a Cuddle party once in Toronto (this is a social gathering where people can physically touch each other such as through cuddling in non-sexual ways) and I always find it fascinating that the majority of the attendees are male. I believe this is because society find platonic cuddling between women to be acceptable, but if a man or men are involved in this act, then it’s automatically classified as sexual and two men who cuddle are automatically labeled as “gay”. Society wouldn’t bat an eye if two women were crying in each other’s arms over a romantic movie, yet try replacing those two women with two men and you get something that’s completely unheard of. Our heteronormative society does not encourage homosocial bonding between men, which has a tremendous impact on men’s emotional and physical health.

These gender roles also promote gender-based violence in our society. Often, gender-based violence is portrayed as a women’s issue, often associated with the phrase “Violence against women”. You hear stories, for example on the news or in the newspaper, “Woman raped” or “Woman murdered”, failing to mention the perpetrator in the title (usually a man). But who the perpetrator is is just as relevant and stopping this gender-based violence takes way more than simply informing girls that they need to be careful, or to tell boys they need to behave properly. These, in my opinion, are just band-aid solutions, if they are even any kind of solutions at all.

Who are the perpetrators? Mostly men. Why are so many more men (many with horrible pasts, psychological problems, etc.) than women committing these horrific crimes? This is what the rest of the discussion with Stephen was about. These men weren’t born as killers or rapists. The rub is that it was fed into them starting from an early age, regardless if it was intentional or unintentional. They came to learn that to be a man, you must exhibit certain characteristics. They feel they need to be tough, aggressive, hypersexual, stoic, etc. and it often gets to the point where they feel that the only way they can measure up to these expectations and let out all the negative emotions they are feeling is by committing violence, especially against women. These societal expectations placed on men have affected their well-being very negatively and, as such, gender-based violence is just as much as a men’s issue as it is a women’s issue.

I am not trying to excuse the crimes that men commit here because men happen to be raised in a certain way. Crimes such as murder, rape, and domestic violence and abuse are horrible and should carry a heavy sentence regardless whenever they are committed. Instead, this analysis of the issue should be used when we’re asking what needs to happen for this violence to be resolved. In order to have equality for women, we need equality for men as well and indeed for people of all genders.

Since the workshop, I have stayed in touch with Stephen, and we have talked about these issues further and exchanged books and movies on the subject. One movie that I borrowed from Stephen was called Tough Guise 2 and it’s about everything I’ve written in this post and I highly recommend it.

The world is rife with inequity, and gender is definitely a prime example. I remain optimistic, however, that we as a society can correct this. Simply talking about it and advocating this issue is a definite first step.

My Grandmother’s Memoir

I want to share with you all something that I will treasure forever. I only have one grandparent left who is still with us, my paternal grandmother Esther Francis Saunders (she goes by “Joy”). I don’t know how much longer she will be with us, which is why over a year ago, I sent her an email asking if she could write a short memoir of her life. I knew that in the 26 years I had known her, she would often talk about her life when my family came to visit her. She replied that she would be happy to do so and has since given it to me. I thought it would be wonderful to share it with you here. I loved that she did this, it is like owning a memory of her life that I will keep forever. I particularly like that I’m now living in a place that she was just a few years younger than I am now: Kitchener, Waterloo in Ontario.

Despite the fact that she will be turning 98 this Halloween, she still lives on her own in a two-storey house and helps out with what she still can in the community. She truly inspires me. Throughout the time I have known her I’ve also appreciated just how many pets she has had. She has had several golden retrievers one after another: Nina, Bart, Ginger, and Preyer. Preyer is also still with us. She has also owned two cats both of whom she has outlived: First there was Jack and then after Jack, Luke. I still get to see her on average twice a year when I fly home from school to be with family. She came to both my high school and university graduations along with my other grandmother who was still alive at the time. Like I’ve written before about my maternal grandparents, I have a lot of fond memories of her. When my family came to visit her when I was little, my sister and I used to climb into her bed in the morning and watch cartoons with her. I also remember writing to her, asking for information about my family tree back then as well. She replied specifically to all my questions in a very nice handwritten letter. I also appreciate the beautiful town that is Lunenburg that she chose to live in after my paternal grandfather John Alfred Glover “Jack” Saunders passed away in 1983, five years before I was born (and although I never knew him, I would undoubtedly have had a good relationship with him as well if I had). I dedicate the rest of this post to her memoir, which you are welcome to read:


I was born and baptized Esther Frances Armstrong in Limpsfield, Surrey, England on Oct. 31st, 1918, just a few days before the end of the Great War so they called me “Joy” and that’s what I’ve been called ever since.

My Father was in the Canadian Army and was fighting in France. Soon after the war ended we moved back to Ottawa, Canada where I lived for the next 12 years and then moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba where we lived for next six years. This was during the Great Depression, a very hard time with vast unemployment and a terrible drought in the West with dust storms across the Prairies. We were fortunate as my Father, at that time, was a Col. In the Army. He organized soup kitchens for the poor and hungry men would come to the door begging for food or a cup of tea-never money. They would offer to cut your lawn or any job just for something to eat.

In those days women didn’t work so young men couldn’t ask a girl to marry him until he could support her. Sometimes they waited years. Girls had a “Hope chest” where they collected linens and silver etc. for when they did get married. This was all difficult as young people didn’t sleep together until they got married. There was no birth control.

In 1936, we moved to Toronto where a lot of my Mothers family lived. They were rather “high end” and found us a house in Rosedale and immediately made arrangements for me to “a debutant of the season”. I was 17-18. I spent a year going to fabulous parties and balls-just like the movies and ended up going to England a guided trip around Europe. I had a wonderful time and was spoilt to death. When I returned home we had been moved to Montreal. My Father was a Montrealer and perfectly bilingual and they wanted him there to arrange the King and Queen’s visit in 1939. That was George VI and Queen Elizabeth. They went right across Canada by train. My sister, June, I, served tea to the King, Queen at the Chalet on the Mountain. I served the King and had to curtsey at the same time. It was difficult as he was so short. They were charming of course.

In August, 1939, England declared war against Germany and Canada joined them. My Father became a Brig. General and we moved to Ottawa and then to Kingston. The war years brought a complete change in my life style. I had never really done anything useful in my life so I decided it was time. I enlisted in the Canadian Womens Army Corps. Our job was to take the place of men so they could fight. It is very different today as women do everything. I went up to Kitchener, Ontario for my Basic Training and No “Just a minute” or “why”. You just did it! You learned the difference between officers and “other ranks”. At basic training we were all “other ranks”-“Privates.” In spite of all the misery, we all thrived. It was a healthy life-we were up at 6 am-in bed at 9 pm. We exercised all day and, in spite of the meals, we were so hungry, could eat anything.

I was an Officer within a year and life was very different. I began to give orders instead of taking them. I was in charge of 30 girls and all their discipline. If they were late getting in at night, they were AWL (absent without leave) and they were punished. I was stationed in London, Ontario and then Capp Bordon, Ontario, North of Toronto. I had a great time there as we had the same privileges as the male Officers. We shared their dining room and could buy drinks of the bar. It was called “The Officers Mess”. Besides training and work, they had great parities. I fell in love twice!! Then I went overseas to Great Britain. It was towards the end of the war and I was stationed in Yorkshire all the time so saw no bombings. I was at the School of Military Engineering so it was interesting.

I never regretted my war years. It taught me so much. It taught me to obey orders-to live in places I didn’t want to and with people I didn’t like-It was a great experience and made me a better person.

For a young lady who had lived all her life in comparative luxury, it was a strange new world. We were issued a uniform-a skirt as women didn’t wear pants in those days-but we also had pants for training-working out and marching. We had a “Great-coat”, a shoulder bag, and a duffle bag. In Kitchener we moved into a Basic training camp. An “H” hut-2 long buildings with 30 bunks in each and 3 potbellied stoves for warmth. The centre of the H were bathrooms for 60 women. No privacy-8 showers in one room. No doors on the Stalls. I was embarrassed to death. The dining Hall was in a different building-we were issued a tin plate, a mug and a knife, fork and spoon, which we washed after every meal and kept with us. The meals were disgusting and the table manners worse as these girls came from all walks of life. My First meal, the girl sitting next to me plunked a piece of apple pie right in the middle of her stew-thought it was delicious. I joined up with 3 friends from Kingston-so when we had a weekend off we went to a Hotel in Waterloo and spent the weekend in the bathtub and eating in the dining room-bliss!

We all went on fire picket-Had to keep the 3 stoves going at all times. We marched miles every day and learned all the commands. The most important thing I learned in the Army was discipline. You followed an order.

When the war ended it was very difficult to adjust to a completely different life. We lived in a large, comfortable home in Kingston, but it was Military Quarters so when my Father retired, he had to moved out. They wanted to live in Ottawa, but housing was impossible, so they stored their furniture and went to Florida for the winter. Unfortunately, when they had only been there for a week, my Father died suddenly from an aneurysm. A terrible shock as he was only 59. Now my Mother and I were homeless. However, my Father’s sister, Mabel Bentham, owned an Apr. Building on Sherbrooke St. in Montreal so we took an Apt. there and I got a job with Joepers, a beautiful women’s clothing store-English. Lovely suits and coats, which I modelled-Having been in uniform for 4 years, I really enjoyed wearing these beautiful clothes. I soon met Jack Saunders, who had just moved to Montreal from Saint John, N.B. where he had been living with my cousin, Jeanne Haycock and her family. He was just retired from the Army too. Was a Capt. with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. He played an active part in the war, fought in the Normandy Invasion and helped liberate Holland. He was working in Woolworks Dept. Store in Montreal. Jeanne came for a visit and introduced us. I don’t know whether he fell in love with me or my beautiful Joeper coat! However, love it was, followed my marriage, followed by Heather and then a move to New Waterford, Cape Breton where you father was born Victor John Logie. We gave him all the names not knowing we would have 5 others sons. From there we moved to New Glasgow, N.S. where I had Barry, Geoffrey, Mark, and David-I was a busy girl. Then on to Sydney where I had Jimmie and June and spent the happies years of my life until your Grandfather died in 1983.

We bought our summer home in Margaree Harbour when Jimmie was a baby. That was the best thing we ever did as now seven of my eight children have homes there and enjoy the peace and beauty of that special place. In years to come, I’m sure you and your cousins will continue to go there-Another generation, and then hopefully your children.

After Jack died, I moved to Lunenburg-bringing my old dog, Rob Roy and my old cat, Sam, with me. They are both long gone, but I’ve replaced them often and ended up with Prayer-my 13 year old Golden Retriever. I have spent my years in Lunenburg trying to be useful in some capacity and enjoying this beautiful little town.

A Switch in Passions

I have experienced a change in myself over the last half year that has caused me to reassess my life and where I’m headed with it in terms of goals, ambitions, etc. As I have elaborated throughout this blog, I have three large passions that I’ve rather built my life around: math, philosophy, and fiction writing. In the last half year, however, I have found that one of these passions has intensified, but that the other two have waned. While I am unclear as to why this occurred and whether this is anything temporary or permanent, I do feel the experience is worth sharing.

I’m currently completing a PhD in pure mathematics. When I entered the PhD program, however, I was fully aware that my other academic passion in philosophy was just as strong, if not stronger. As such, I considered doing a second PhD in philosophy after being done with the math PhD. I knew I had to make my applications as strong as possible to go for a graduate degree in philosophy. I had, after all, only done philosophy as a second major in my undergrad and did one graduate philosophy course during my master’s in pure math and wasn’t sure how this atypical philosophy background would be looked upon. As such, I made plans for making time to take some philosophy courses while completing my math PhD. I first, however, wanted to complete the major requirements for the math PhD including the course requirements and the written comprehensive exams before I attempted additional work in philosophy. It took two years for me to complete these requirements and afterwards, during last summer, I made plans to take another graduate philosophy course.

The strange thing about this was that when I signed up for a graduate philosophy course I felt I was only taking the course to strengthen my application. I wasn’t sure how passionate I was with philosophy at the moment, but I also knew my chance in taking philosophy courses was limited and so I signed up for one anyway. While the course was good and interesting in its own right and I did quite well in it, the more the course went on the more I realised I was no longer feeling passionate about it the same way I used to. The experience was rather surreal. It’s hard to describe, but I didn’t and still don’t, feel like the same person I was when I was very much into philosophy. I know for sure I was still passionate about it a year ago, and it’s hard to explain why the passion waned. During this third year in my math PhD, however, my mathematical research has picked up and I’ve made a lot of progress on two separate projects, both of which I’m very excited about and that I feel has led to an increased passion in math. As such, I ended up deciding to continue on in math and try to obtain a post-doc position in math afterwards, rather than going for another degree in philosophy.

My passion for writing fiction has also unfortunately waned. Like philosophy I cannot explain why this would be so and that I certainly felt this passion a year ago. In fact, I was feeling it up until last September. Last summer, I was doing a bit of research and plotting for a novel I was going to write. Yet, when October came around, it unexplainably vanished. Of course, I was busy not only with my PhD then, but also with the philosophy course I mentioned above. I therefore thought that it would be pointless to try pursuing writing at such a time regardless and thought I would attempt writing again this winter.

Winter has come and gone and very recently I tried to see if my passion for fiction writing really had waned. Even though I still didn’t feel like it, I forced myself to sit in front of my computer for on average half an hour per day for two and a half weeks to see if this passion could be recovered. I was coming up with a lot of good ideas for my current novel and didn’t think I was experiencing writer’s block. Unfortunately, much like with the philosophy, I felt the passion in plotting a novel had just been stripped away. After two and a half weeks was up, I thought it pointless to continue since I had hardly been feeling it for the time I wrote.

Again, I cannot explain why a 10 year old writing passion would suddenly disappear. My mind could just very well be caught up in my math PhD research for the moment and sub-consciously casting these other endeavours to the side or it could be something more permanent. If, however, I feel that philosophy and fiction writing are not suitable to pursue at this point in my life, then I won’t be pursuing them, at least not right now. If, later on, they come back, then I will act appropriately. For example, I could pursue a graduate philosophy degree later in life or somehow squeeze my way into a philosophy department after becoming a math professor. There have indeed been a number of philosophers who have started off their careers as mathematicians. As for writing fiction, that is something that has almost no constraints. All I need to do if the passion comes back is to pull up Microsoft Word on my computer and write. It all comes down to trusting your instincts to tell you what’s right for you and to be prepared to have regrets along the way. People change, people switch careers and endeavours, and have interesting life paths. As I have learned from this experience, even a passion that you can have for a long time and feeling that it has defined who you are can change.

I do miss my philosophy and writing passions and do wish I still had them. It is like having a desire to desire something. It took a bit of time to accept that this happened, but I also feel it has led to a new level of self-acceptance for me. Also, it has currently made time for other things, such as reading, doing Zumba, planning things with friends, which are things I still enjoy.

On Accutane

10 years ago when I was in my teens I developed a typical problem that teens often go through. Such a problem is acne. When it developed, it wasn’t the worst case of acne in the world, but it was too significant to be ignored. As such, for the next several years after that, I was put on a combination of antibiotics and skin cream medication. While such medications might have helped a little, they unfortunately didn’t do a significant amount for me. I would go through periods where my face would look okay and then have several pimples, zits, etc. appear. I hated having them and picked at my face a lot. I knew that it would only make my acne worse, but I couldn’t help myself.

When I was seeing a university counsellor for a completely different reason, she made comment about the acne and asked if I had seen a doctor about it. I informed her of the medications that I had tried and how nothing had worked out. It turned out that she had had an acne problem herself and then had gone on a drug called Accutane to help cure it. It did have some significant possible side effects associated with it, but it had been proven useful in a lot of cases. I went to a doctor was referred to a dermatologist who gave me a consent form to sign to take Accutane and a booklet to read on it.

I was very excited as this was a huge chance for my skin to actually improve in any kind of permanent manner, but I also knew I had to be careful and read the booklet careful to beware of things I shouldn’t do and possible side effects. Such things would include for example not drinking any alcohol as the combination of Accutane and alcohol. Thankfully I don’t drink a lot anyway so for me this wasn’t a huge deal.

During the first week that I took Accutane my skin actually got worse than better. I had been informed beforehand, however, to expect this and I should see improvement in two weeks. I kept at it and then my skin started to calm down. When two weeks was over, my skin was really smooth and I thought it was a miracle. Then for the next month and a half until now it has only been getting better. I did have a minor breakout here and there, but the breakouts disappeared within days and haven’t returned at all. I’ve now been on Accutane for two months and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. The only side effects that I’ve experienced so far is dry lips. The Accutane works by reducing oil production and, as such, dryness of the lips is possible. The dermatologist had to give me an ointment for it and I’ve become very attached to my lip balm, but that should get better eventually.

My face hasn’t been so clear in 10 years and it’s been an utter relief. It’s raised my confidence to have an improved appearance and I like how my face looks when I look in a mirror. I keep my fingers crossed that the Accutane still continues to work and that this acne problem has now gone completely away.