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sweetpea36 , 13 Jun 2009

Did this ever happen to you?

So I've only been on the forum a few times, found lots of tips / comments - thank you everyone and have been wondering about something ... This skin picking is a coping mechanism right. Something we started a long time ago - can you remember when you first started ... at what age ... did something specific happen that you can remember? I know I've been picking since I was 9years old and I'm 38. I can clearly recall my baby sister being brought home from hospital as a new born and picking the "raisin" off her belly button where her umbilical cord was cut. So that's one specific memory. I have bitten my nails all my life .. I can't recall a time that I didn't so perhaps even younger than 9. While I was in primary school (junior school) I was teased, mocked, ridiculed, laughed at. I don't recall telling my parents. So I'm wandering if I took my frustration of the unfairness of the kids at school out on my self because I didn't feel like a got adequate support from my parents (which may have been because they had a new born baby ... which now as an adult I can understand how one's life changes but when you're only 9 and been an only child you have no clue). I also have this feeling of not being allowed to make mistakes. I never climbed trees or rode bikes as a child - in case I got hurt. So I've grown up with a fear of getting hurt or failing at something : if I got into trouble at school it was a disaster - now in comparison to so many people, I had a comparatively easy upbringing - no abuse, no violence, 2 parent home etc. But bear in mind that is 29 years ago, the world was different (and way more conservative) and what I knew at 9yrs versus what I know now about family dynamics is waaay more different. But now that you've had some of my background ... I'm wondering what we may have in common - someone mentioned perfectionism & intelligence in another post which got me thinking is their something we have in common? Any comments? (Sometimes I wonder how intelligent we really are when we take out our anger / frustration with someone else or a situation on ourselves - cos that's what we're doing, attacking ourselves when probably we'd like to verbal or physically attack back when provoked).
11 Answers
June 14, 2009
Hi--Sometimes I try to figure out what "caused" my picking in the first place, but it seems very mysterious, and I realize that the reasons I pick and the ways that it manifests have evolved over my life. I'm 28. Like you, I come from "stable" upbringing, but if I really got into the disfunctions of my family, I'd go on forever. I am also "intelligent" --I've always been smart and I'm working towards my PhD. Anyway, I think the thing about picking your sister's belly button is amazing. You could really psychoanalyze that! Ha. Just that it must have been such a mixed moment, and I can see how it would stick with a kid. I always always picked my scabs, and I loved doing it. It was pleasurable. I think that is normal, I think there is some kind of inherent physical pleasure in picking a scab, and that maybe children can begin to fixate on it as a way to self-soothe. Looking back, I don't think it was really abnromal that I picked my scabs, but more and more I began to fell abnormal because of it. I gradually worked up more and more anxiety about it because I was told to stop and that it would leave scars. As I got more to my preteen years--where you start to worry about how you look, and start to want to look a certain way--I was really worried about getting scars on my legs from scabs (which is funny, now I could care less about childhood scars on my knees, etc!). Face picking started more as a teenager and became my main fixation. So anyway--I guess what I believe about the "cause" or very beginning of picking, is that it does not necessarily come from trauma or is inherently crazy. I think it is a behavior that somehow reaches this really f**d up proportion, for whatever reasons. It could be similar to overeating, or alcoholism. I also have perfectionism, maybe I wasn't loved enough as a kid, my mother was a pretty angry person, etc, etc--what I'm trying to get at, is that maybe we all have our particular variety of psychological problems (which clearly tend toward things like perfectionism, OCD, anxiety, etc) that have somehow attached and are bound up with this particular behavior. That's why I think counseling, behavior modification, etc can really work here. We have to learn new behaviors, how to cope, how to care for ourselves, etc. That is completely possible. There is nothing so "wrong" deep down inside of us that we can't unlearn this, or learn to live better. I also do not feel I have to know Exactly Why or What caused my picking--it doesn't really matter. Understanding that might help to an extent, but ultimately, I feel like I have to deal with right now, and that I need to work towards a healthier way to live and not fix something from the past, which I'm not sure I could ever fully understand anyway.
June 15, 2009

In reply to by almosthealed

When I was talking to a counselor she gave me one of those good news with bad news comments. Evidently the bulk of people with all this negative self-talk and perfectionism are very intelligent and intuitive and all sorts of wonderfulness. Mine started about 3 1/2 years ago, AFTER I had spent over a decade spending hours plucking chin hairs. AS i had said I was no bearded lady but there was enough and for a significant time I could not afford electrolysis and laser was not going to be an option. It seems that as my level of stress went up at my former company this manifested itself in an escalation from chin hairs to picking my shoulders, upper back and arms and tush and thighs. Then about 8 months ago when things REALLY escalated at my job my face around the edges developed an itchiness that was the severity of extreme poison oak. After seeing a dermatologist it was obvious that it was pyschosomatic so I have just been on my own fighting it and starting over and over and over again, while getting more stressed because it's the PERFECT self-sabotage for someone who is starting out in her own skin care/make up business...and since my Mary Kay is far more about the charity and helping the women who have lost jobs, it's very frustrating since I'm a typical 'giver' type and I feel that with the self-sabotage I am failing at my journey to be in a position to really help a lot of people if I'm driven into isolation by the results of my dancing demon digits. Lest I end this on a bad note, I am very upbeat after finding this site and now I'm working with teh sessions that have been offered with teh doctor here. But there I go, my face is itching, I'd better vavmoose now.
June 18, 2009

In reply to by JeannieK

I agree that we can't spend all our time focussing on the past BUT at the beginning of the journey into discovering this wierd thing that we do, I think it's important - it could shed some light. BUT we can't stay in the past. It has happened and we can do nothing to change that. SO we need to work with the present and this will shape our future. Good for you that you're going for this business. I sell skincare products part time too (which is a bit ironic), BUT I have found that it gives me access to products, makes me take care of my skin. As I look after my skin (cleanse, tone, moisturise, weekly exfoliation etc) it has improved .. and I have less bumps, which means less to "work with" ha ha. You'll be in a better position to help people, because you understand the struggles that people have to face in life. I think we're all way to hard on ourselves and this is the way we take out our frustration. But if we were just kinder to ourselves and a bit more gentle/lenient on ourselves we'd probably not do this so much. So if you make a mistake, do something wrong ... don't beat (um pick) yourself up. Acknowledge the incident and move on. Torturing yourself in this way is not going to change that or make it right - which I know we all know - we're intelligent and logical women, but we still pick. Just keep trying. Never give up. Never surrender. We'll make it!!!!
June 19, 2009

In reply to by sweetpea36

Hiya Sweetpea, Like you I am 38 (well nearly - at the end of this month!). I have been picking at my face for many years and now have issues with my appearance. I have social anxiety because of it too. I am trying my best to overcome this, to remain focussed on change and transformation. I am getting some counselling soon which should help. I am so very hard on myself too, so if I can overcome that at least then it will be a huge relief, I have so many people I want to shout at and yet I blame myself for everything. I'll sort it out, I hope. I do have a lot of past stuff, abuse and bullying behind my anxiety and I think because I am still carrying my anxiety about with me it is creating similar reactions in others now. It feels like people don't like me and it's awful because I am a nice person, just caught up in my anxiety which is what is putting people off! Do you know what I mean? Yes, I think we do need to look back first and get to the bottom of it, however hard. Here's hoping! I am interested to know what skin products you have discovered to improve the appearance of the skin. I have many pitted areas that I am self conscious about and the overall condition is poor. Wishing you and any others who happen upon this, good luck with your journey. It's tough to get over but yes we must keep trying. At very least be nicer to ourselves!
July 10, 2009

In reply to by Freeme

It's interesting reading why you all think you may do it, because so much of it strikes home to me. Although for some of you have had it worse than me. I'm 21 and have no idea who my real father is. My mum's kept it a secret and whenever I bring it up I'm told it's none of my business (hmmm?) but I did manage to get some info out of her after a few drinks! So my Mum married when I was 1. But their marriage is a shambles to be honest. They didn't marry for love, as my mum puts it "she wanted to give me a good stable life". But with the arguing I've grown up with I question that. I've been brought up in big houses and treated to more things because my Dad had a good job. But he over spends too much. My parents have both drunk a lot, all my friends would pick up on this. Right now my Dad is unemployed so he's an alcoholic (although he wouldn't admit it) and my Mums admitted to being a heavy social drinker. My Mum has always been very critical of everything I've ever done. If I got a B at school she'd say "You should've got an A". Now I am very very defensive. It drives my boyfriend nuts. I hate letting people down and do all I can to please some. My mum does care for me and love me but I think because my Grandpa was very strict it rubbed off on her. My Mum is also very depressed to be in a loveless marriage. Sometimes I wish she'd chosen someone she really loved. My Dad can be a complete stuck up arse at times (he speaks very posh snobby English) and unhelpful around the house. One day I hope I can find my real Dad, but also maybe I dream up the perfect one. I noticed someone said they imagined scenarios too much. I constantly imagine "what ifs" and if I'm about to make a decision I make up everything that could possibly happen around that.
June 20, 2009

In reply to by JeannieK

So totally agree with your post. Sometimes I think my intelligence/creativity is a curse. Like if I was different, I would be more calm and settled and not always in my head. If I don't get the stimulation I crave or am anxious I pick away. Started before age 2 pulling my hair out then went into weird ticks/OCD things that eventually rolled into compulsive nail-biting, skin picking by grade school. Had some rough knocks as a kid. Was sexually abused by a few male neighbors, had an anxious, depressive mother, a brother with ADD/OCD/picking issues. My childhood was stressful and not much fun. I was most happy (and hence picking-free) when I first entered the medical field and was so stimulated and rewarded personally when helping others. As job stresses began to mount as well as personal life then picking resumed. I am 39 years old and would like to turn 40 next year with this monkey off my back. I did the 12 sessions of counseling with Dr Vinod who is great so I am picking less but not there yet. Anyone who wants to have a support system I am up for it.
June 14, 2009
I was just thinking about this again, about being intelligent. Yes, it seems like lots of people here mention that, being at the top of their class, always being smart, etc. I also have always academically excelled, been good with words, etc. I was never an athlete, well, a couple of years of swim team but I was very slow! But anyway, I'm not sure others will relate to this, but my picking is very caught up in my mental thoughts. Everyone sort of has a tape recorder in their mind going off all the time ... for me, its when the tape recorder is playing things that stress me out that I pick (I'm never going to finish this, Prof x will hate this, everyone can see my scabs, why did I say that? etc etc). And also, like others here, I am kind of physically disconnected from what I am doing. Maybe our brains are a little over active?! I am joking a little, but seriously, I think sometimes I am too much in my head. Yoga is something that has helped me so so much. i have enjoyed the physical aspect of it, even though I was never super coordinated, or good at sports, with yoga, I now feel like I have a certain level of physical mastery over something. and then yoga has also helped both my physical and mental self awareness--I can more easily recognize and interfere with the tape recorder, so to speak. Anyway, there is some kind of interesting relationship between our mental habits and our physical habits I believe ...
June 20, 2009
I've been looking in the rear view mirror, lately, too. I don't have time to go into it all in great detail, but much of what you say, sweetpea, resonates with me. Perfectionism, being the good girl, seeking approval and attention by doing the "right" thing, emotionally distant mother, workaholic father, sister who acted out to get her attention, which eventually led to drug/alcohol abuse as a teenager. Traumatic time for me, entering adolescence. Also, a lot of sexual shame as a kid relating to an incident with a babysitter that I kept to myself for... forever. Didn't feel like I could tell any adult; like it was my fault. I recently disclosed this to my therapist and it was both traumatic and uneventful to bring it up. Irrationally still unconvinced that it wasn't my fault, but how could it be if I was 4 yearsold?! The picking seems to mirror that shame, as a continuation of my deep dark secret that I keep to myself. Like being ashamed of myself is a role I know and am comfortable with. Flash forward to 9th grade, first day of X-C practice at a new high school. My mom's dropping me off and I'm feeling a bit anxious meeting a bunch of new kids. She points out a big blackhead on my upper lip and suggests that I should "take care of it" before going in. I think that sent a very strong message about appearances and not being accepted as I am; the necessary lenths to go to so as to not gross people out... I'm still mad at her about this even that happened 20 years ago! Sheesh! Have any of you ever brought up the past with your family? I'm not sure it's prudent or productive to point a finger of blame, but part of me feels the need to express how that impacted me. (However, as a mom myself, it would crush me to feel like I'd failed my kids, so I probably won't bring it up at all.) Thanks for the therapeutic moment, all! Take care.
June 21, 2009
I can remember when I was about 14 years old and I was at my cousins house and my aunt got her to sit down at the table and said that she had noticed a blackhead in her ear. She took out a paper clip and dug it into her ear, she had to really push hard on her ear and the blackhead popped out, it was huge. That night I went home and went in the mirror with a paper clip and scoured my face for blackheads and it became an obsession. I hate it so much.... But this site has been so wonderful...
July 10, 2009
im hyperactive, overactive, always talking, thinking... i have always been at the top of my class... was always teased throughout schooling. i definitely think when i pick i am releasing some sort of extra energy. i usually play out scenarios in my head,... the "tape recorder" i guess. its sort of weird how much of a mental release i get from picking... usually triggered by irritation or anger. i have noticed the days i pick are the days i am in an altered/bad mood. but when i am finished, i ALWAYS spend even more time get angrier at myself than i have ever been at anyone else. i am a very emotional person, with a huge heart... i think my picking is related to me trying to cope with situations that i don't know how to deal with. i have ADHD and i think that may also have something to do with it all.
July 13, 2009
Your story sounds familiar. While we have some different aspects, we do have some common ground. As a child I didn't get hurt quite often because my mom was very anxious, it has caused anxiety in me also. We always figured my picking was just from my anxiety but after finding this site I wonder if it's more. I don't remember a specific incident that started my picking, when I was small I first started with chewing my cuticles. I'm assuming I just saw a hangnail and it went from just pulling the hangnail off to making the skin bleed. Hopefully that helps. ^^ EDIT: Oh I forgot to add that in school I was teased a lot. Not upfront, and probably most of it was just perceived as something bad when it could have been innocent. Regardless, it really battered my self esteem.

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