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Hi everyone! Its sooo good to be posting a topic on here. It has been a while since I've used the site and Im in a place where I need to again. Leave it to an extended period of time without skinpick.com to prove to you how much it is needed (at least in this pickers life that is). I have missed the community and support I receive here. I only hope I can be wise enough to keep using this site this time. Anyway, Im encountering a new problem caused by picking (they seem to keep coming and getting more complex). I have been traveling around the last few years, but am now back in my home town. For the past few days I have been absolutely consumed with fear. I am terrified of seeing people. When I left my skin was pretty bad, but since Ive been away traveling it has undergone an extreme change. Because I tried to cover it up with makeup 24/7 I developed an infection(this was about a year ago). At least I think it was an infection. My dermatologist said it was "severe acne", but I dont believe it was. Yes, there was acne to be sure, but what my skin was doing was something else. I developed huge cyst-like things all over my face. They swelled up and wouldn't go away. They weren't individual spots either, they sort of connected underneath my skin. In the worst areas my skin was stretched out a quarter inch or more outwards by the fluid underneath. It hurt to touch my skin, it hurt to shower, it hurt to lie down on a pillow. It was the first time I found myself completely unable to hide my picking. For years I had been like most pickers; an expert at disguising the damage. I knew all about makeup techniques and which products worked for me. I knew how much damage I would cause before I caused it, and how long I would take to heal etc. I hid behind my hair and isolated in my house when it was really bad, always thinking I looked completely unacceptable. But after this infection everything changed. I realized how truly dangerous picking can be. So it has taken about a year for the worst to go away. I have been left with a few very large cysts and very large scars and scar tissue. The scar tissue is raised and thick and wont go away. I cant really cover it up. Now the part Im having an extremely hard time with is seeing old friends, family, and most specifically my ex. I cannot get over the anxiety and pain of looking so completely different and freakish. Its like Ive been in a horrible accident. In my mind Ive gone from beautiful to side-show freak overnight and I just cannot make peace with it. I have yet to see my ex, but I know I will soon, and to say I am dreading it is an understatement. I sometimes feel like I would rather die than face him. I replay the face I imagine he will make when he sees me and how awful I will feel. Although I do not want to date him I desperately want him to be attracted to me physically. Now logically I know that this is pointless to harp on. I know I cant change the past and that I have to focus on myself and move forward. I also know I shouldn't put all my self-esteem in his hands. But knowing all this doesn't change the fear of the future, the shame, and the self-hate that is completely consuming me. Right now I feel like Im in some kind of ironic picker hell. I started picking because I wanted to be perfect and make sure people liked me. (its linked to an eating disorder that started at the same time). And in seeking that perfection and acceptance Ive made the struggle so much worse. I was so afraid of being ugly that I made myself so. Anyway I dont know what else to do other than ask for help here. I know there have got to be those of you out there who have encountered a similar situation. I could really use any advice you can throw my way right now. How do you face people you haven't seen in a long time? How do you deal with their reactions? How do you preserve the self-esteem you do have? I know the way out of this is to let go and learn to be with what is inside and out. And I know that bc I hated myself into this I have to love myself out of it. But I am really struggling right now. Picking is killing my spirit and I worry the social interactions I will soon have to go through will only make it worse. Any help would be appreciated. I also wanted to add that although I haven't met any of you, I have so much love for you all. This disorder is unlike any other and is so hard to treat. I feel for all of us who struggle with it day in and day out.