Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test
How I *mostly* stopped picking at my fingers and biting my cheek
This is just a bit of experience of my journey in the hopes that it could help someone. This condition is so personal that it's really a bunch of trial and error. Some of the biggest takeaways is that progress is not linear. There are a lot of ups and downs on this journey which can be frustrating. And there is no magic bullet. There was not one single thing that I did to stop, but a lot of little things and hard work that added up to change. And forcing yourself/cold-turkey does not work. It sounds counter-intuitive but you have to accept the situation before you can change it. So here goes:
The SkinPick.com YouTube Channel. Vladimir is so good at offering understanding and compassion about this condition. And the fact that he offers this content for free is amazing. They really helped me understand more about the condition and steps that I could take to change my mindset about the whole thing. I suggest watching them all.
The SkinPick.com program. I did this program for a bit. It was definitely helpful, if you actually follow it and do the work. After a few weeks I found that I needed a bit more personal accountability and that one-on-one therapy might be more helpful. Although it is hard to find a therapist that knows anything about BFRBs and that really takes research on your part. Therapy for BFRBs is expensive and insurance doesn't cover it, which is unfortunate.
I started out with a pouch of fidget toys, athletic tape to cover my fingers, gum, flavored toothpicks, etc. I would carry it around with me everywhere so when I had the urge on a car ride, over time, it slowly became a habit to redirect instead of do the behavior. This is the hardest part. It is definitely not as satisfying as indulging in the behavior but it is a necessary part of the process. Over time (about 2 years for me) I have needed the fidget pack less and less.
The biggest game-changer for me was meditation. I started out with an app called Waking Up. There is a yearly subscription fee, but if the fee is problem, just contact the company and they will set you up with a free account. The first 6 months of trying to do a daily meditation practice, I didn't really like it. I was doing 10-15 minutes a day and thought of it as my medicine. The app has a bunch of conversations in there, combined with what I was learning from the SkinPick YouTube channel, a lot of things were changing in my mindset about life, how I regulate my emotions, perfectionism, and self-compassion. Stoic philosophy is also a good one to look into. After about 6 months I really started to feel a difference in my anxiety levels and ability to concentrate at work. After the year subscription was up, I started with the meditation app 10% Happier, which I feel is a bit less esoteric and can introduce concepts a bit easier. Both have their pluses and minuses, but I highly recommend both. After about a 1.5 years of meditation practice and Covid restrictions easing up, I decided I wanted to deepen my meditation practice and I signed up for 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. During the retreat my urges went to zero. If anything it was enlightening that there was a different way to be. Coming back to everyday life, the urges have returned, but drastically less than they have my whole life.
In addition I found a therapist that introduced a concept called urge surfing, where you do a sort of meditation where you bring to mind a situation where you want to pick, but you learn to close your eyes and breath through it, and watch the urge morph and change and eventually dissolve and go away. This will not work for everyone, and my success was on the heels of my mediation retreat, where you basically learn to do this exact thing with emotions and sensations in general.
I also read the book Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff, which made me realize how self-critical I can be which contributes to the picking. In addition just keeping up on my self care (getting exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep) is also very important.
This is a very concise description of my journey, if anyone has any questions I'd be happy to talk more. I hope everyone can find a bit more peace in their lives.
This was a great thoughtful post. I hope a lot of people read it. My relationship with skin picking is more atypical, I wish these things would work for me
Thanks for taking the time to share your insights.
You clearly put in a TON of effort, and it paid off. That’s awesome.
I hope to join you on the pick-free side of life soon.