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magvillain , 09 Aug 2023

i pick but it doesn't seem like a compulsion

I don't know what to do at this point, I am 17 and have been picking for as long as I can remember. I thought it was pretty normal because I would just pick my scabs and even got excited when a scab looked good to pick and then I would eat it. I don't know why I eat it like It doesn't really taste good or do anything for me, I just do it. I am diagnosed with OCD but I feel like I'm lying to everyone and don't really have the issues they say I do. The issue with the picking and eating is that it doesn't feel compulsive I just do it. Whenever I see people talking about picking a lot of people talk about the internal struggle to resist the compulsion but I just dont experience that. I don't like that I pick my skin it doesn't even bring me joy for a second and whenever I feel like hey I'm going to stop that theres never a struggle, there's no internal conflict I just decide to do it anyways. This makes it really hard for me to explain to my friends and family who know (my face picking has gotten worse recently and I can't hide it anymore) because when they ask me about the urges I say I don't really feel an urge to do it but then they just get confused because why am I doing it then? They are not the only ones who are confused I want to know why I do it, I've had issues with pulling out my hair and eating the follicles in the past when i was in elementary school and various other similar things that all say they are compulsions but it's just so confusing to me because I am unable to really do anything when nobody understands the problem not even me. I find it's easier to just tell my therapist and parents that it is a compulsion that I can't fight but I'm totally lying I just don't want to know what people would think if I told them that I just do it for no reason and gain nothing from doing it. I also having told anyone about the eating part of picking because I really just eat whatever I pick and I am so ashamed of it. I thought I was normal because kids eat their boogers and scabs sometimes but at 17 it's crazy that I'm still doing this. I don't know what to do and I don't know if posting this will be helpful but I think if anyone could relate that would be nice I guess I don't know.

1 Answer
October 25, 2023

I want to assure you that you're not alone in your experiences. Anyone who is reading this acknowledges your bravery and appreciates your honesty. 

Dealing with behaviours such as skin picking, and scab eating can be exceptionally challenging when we don't completely understand the underlying reasons. It's not unusual for individuals with BFRBs, like skin picking, to experience mixed feelings and thoughts about their actions. These behaviours can be distressing, debilitating, and at times, even harmful, leading to a great deal of confusion surrounding why we engage in them.

First and foremost, I encourage you to be open and honest with your therapist and parents about your experiences, even if it's difficult or uncomfortable. They are there to provide support and help you find ways to manage these behaviours. It's important for them to have an accurate understanding of what you're going through so they can better assist you.

It's understandable that you're unsure about the compulsiveness of your actions. Skin picking can manifest differently in people. Some individuals experience intense urges, while others may engage in the behaviour almost automatically, as you've described. Your diagnosis of OCD is not necessarily inconsistent with what you're experiencing, as OCD often involves intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviours that are not always driven by clear urges or compulsions. It's a complex condition, and the eating of scabs and skin picking can be considered part of this spectrum.

Your feelings of shame are also something that many individuals with skin picking may experience. Remember that there is no judgment here. These behaviours can be a way of coping with stress, anxiety, or even boredom. In therapy, you can explore the underlying emotions and triggers that may be contributing to your skin picking and scab eating. By understanding these factors, you can work on developing healthier coping strategies.

Be patient with yourself and continue to seek understanding and assistance. You're on a path towards better understanding and healing, and you deserve compassion and support as you navigate it. Wishing you all the best.

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