Last month we were contacted by one of our readers, Crystal Rutherford, a Compulsive Skin Picker of 18 years. Crystal was seeking permission to use skinpick.com on an awareness t-shirt she wanted to create for herself. Crystal also wanted to reach out to you, our readers, to share her story and let you know that you are not alone.
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Hi, My name is Crystal Rutherford. I am a CSP sufferer, just like you. I have been suffering with this disorder since the age of 12, and being that I am 30...well that leaves me with 18 years of experience. My picking began with my mother. She used to do it to me all the time, and I guess I picked up where she left off.
I have TERRIBLE scarring, and open wounds that needed and still need medical treatment, as the doctors are worried I might contract Sepsis. I will normally pick anywhere from 3-6 hours a day, with tweezers, nail clippers, whatever I can get my hands on. I have tried wearing gloves around the house, or fidget tools, but the gloves come off, and the tools go down, until I am finished. At the time of picking, I feel like it soothes me, relieves any and all anxiety I have. Those who suffer with CSP or Dermatillomania will completely understand what I mean. Its a euphoric experience, and even though its a painful process, that’s not what is focused on, during a “session” or “episode” as I refer to them.
Inevitably remorse follows, when your washing the blood of your hands and face, and looking in the mirror and realizing just how much damage you have done to yourself. Then comes the low self-esteem, the not wanting to leave your house, or see anyone. No “selfies” here thank you. I understand. I notice the looks that I get from people, the whispers, that I must do Heroine or Methamphetamine. Why else would I have huge scars and scabs all over my face, chest, and shoulders? That’s the only “obvious” explanation right? Wrong. So wrong.
I grew tired of the stares, the whispers. I was on a 10 week long “session” of picking, I had really done some damage this time, and I wanted to put myself out there, in hopes that others might be able to relate, and that I might be embarrassed enough to stop doing it. So, I made a shirt! I wear it almost all the time, when I go out. It reads on the front “I am not a drug user!” I suffer from CSP and OCD. The back reads “Compulsive Skin Picking and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”, and at the very bottom a wonderful link to one of my favorite websites www.skinpick.com.
I do this in hopes that I will be questioned as to what it is exactly that I suffer from, what does it all mean? I have not picked in 2 weeks. I sought out medical attention, and the open wounds are healed but left some horrific scarring. I had my medications upped several milligrams in order to help me cope, and so far, so good. My psychiatrist and doctor are pleased with the results. Your not alone. Ever. I am here and would love to help by chatting with anyone who needs a “sponsor” so to speak. You can reach me at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Anytime, Anyplace. I will respond. Thank you for reading my story, I wish you all the best of luck in your journeys to recovery, the same wish I wish for myself everyday.