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Southernwind , 18 Jun 2010

Making an attempt.

This is incredibly hard for me, but I'm sitting down right here until I do it. I've been picking for almost 11 years now, and it seems kind of crazy to me that I've managed to keep such a destructive behavior going so long without someone out there locking me up for it. When I was about 9 I went through some pretty bad stuff. One day I noticed a little raised bump on the side of my arm and squeezed it with my nails. 11 years later and I have hundreds of scars, ranging from tiny nail indents to dime sized thick scars. At one point when I was homeless (around 11 years of age), I picked at everything, my legs, arms, face, chest, back. I got a lot of concern about the wounds on my legs, so I stopped picking there and instead focused on my arms and face. Currently I pick predominantly at my left arm and shoulder area, and my face, an occasionally on my right upper arm, and when I'm in bed trying to sleep, my scalp as well. I've been reading the posts on this forum, and I'm amazed at how not only are there so many other people with this problem, but how incredibly specific some of their situations are to mine. I've had crater like wounds that I have to keep tearing the scabs off of so I can pull out the little white nubs that are there. When I pick I'm almost always popping something out of my skin, even though it's not pimples most of the time on my arms. I -think- what I'm doing is popping hair follicles, but I'm not sure. I'm not disgusted personally by the things I do, they seem relatively normal to me, but I do hide them to an extent from others. Wearing sweaters in the desert in the middle of summer has gotten me more than one strange look. My mother also has this problem, I know that for sure. She once had a wound on the side of her face that she picked at and kept open for nearly four years. But I don't feel like I can really talk to her about this. She's seen the scarring on my arms and face, but it seems to just make her sad rather than concerned. I once talked to my sister about it, and she admitted that she had done it a few times, but had gotten herself to stop. So I think that in a way, it has to run in my family, but I also think life events and stress has a lot to do with why my mother and I continued while my sister stopped. I'm sorry if this doesn't read very well, it's just a bit hard for me to write it down, and the crazy thing is I keep looking over at my arm wanting to pick because it's stressful writing about picking! I don't know what kind of help I can get by admitting this, but I have to do something. I can't wear tanktops or cute shirts, I can't leave the house without spending nearly an hour carefully applying makeup to cover the damage I've done, and keep doing daily. I have to fight myself to leave the house, even when I need something like food, because I don't want to face the world. I feel like people will know somehow? The only thing that's ever helped me slow down or sometimes stop for a while is getting piercings and tattoos. I think it's the pain and the rush of it, and having something new and pretty on my skin makes me respect it.. but after it's healed, I just go back to what I used to do. I'm driving myself crazy with this behavior. I don't know what to do.
2 Answers
June 18, 2010
Hello, I have been a compulsive skin picker for about 25 years. I really never thought of it as a problem until a few months ago. I always thought that everyone picked at blemishes. I have also suffered from depression for that same amount of years, however; I was never diagnosed with anxiety until a few months ago when my face picking became so bad that I was using needles to remove things from my face that weren't even there. I would look at the clock and notice that I was sitting on the bathroom counter, mutilating my face for over 3 hours. I have never felt so humiliated and unattractive as I have in the past few months. I am now on an anxiety medication, but what I have discovered to be the best healer is to learn to love myself. I realized that through all of this, I have a constant need for approval and I can't take rejection. Right now I am taking all the necessary steps to hopefully realize that the only approval I need is from myself. If I really loved myself, I would not want to harm myself in the way I have been. If I step outside of my body and look at myself when I am picking, I really ache for that person. I see an attractive, smart, successful girl that has learned that the only way to find relief is to hurt herself. I am realizing that the best way to stop doing this to myself is to tell myself that I deserve better than this. My skin is the largest organ I have and is doing what it can to protect me, and here I am destroying it. And even though I continue to destroy it, it continues to fight to protect me. I have also found a hobby in experimenting with essential oils that can heal the skin. I have made all kinds of face cleansers and masks that are really helping my skin to heal and thrive. I have found this to be more soothing to my skin than mutilating it. The oils are fairly cheap and a lot of the ingredients I already had at home such as oatmeal and olive oil. It has really made me feel good that people are starting to compliment my skin. They are amazed that I don't have any make-up on! Between self-help workbooks, therapy on accepting who I am, and the new hobby I have with the essential oils, this is proving to be a great way for me to heal, a much better way to heal than any medication will ever be! Good luck to all of you struggling with this terrible disease. You are in my thoughts and prayers!
June 18, 2010

In reply to by amyj

My heart goes out to both of you. I know how hard it is to finally admit something is wrong. Amyj, I experienced something similar. I never really thought of my picking as a serious problem although I have been doing it for about 8 years and am 21 now. A few months ago I became depressed and started suffering from anxiety as well. I also took a needle to my face and was horrified at what I had done to myself. I feel your pain, I have never felt more humiliated or unattractive in my life either. I am trying to love myself again and to stop this self-mutilating. That's so great that you are finding positive ways to care for yourself and your skin.

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