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pinkcomb , 07 Dec 2010

Mental health issues? Who knew there were so many....(of us)

Today I was exploring wikipedia. What would start as a search for malaria ended up in as a study on obsessive compulsive disorders. I guess I have a short attention span. . . Anyhow, I chanced upon the word "Dermatillomania". I have never heard of dermatillomania. I read the description and instantly knew I had made a monumental discovery about my life. I was shocked. I have dermatillomania and have been picking compulsively since ... forever! I knew it wasn't normal and would hide my habits from others. But I didn't know it was a legitimate mental health issue. A compulsive disorder. OCD. Feelings of relief plagued with despair. . . Relief, because I've read many of the posts on the site. I can empathize with everyone. Like reading pages from a journal. Personally, I've been picking since a child. If you look at photos of me as a child, you'll see the scabs on my face. On my arms. Even before kindgergarten. My mom, thinking I had a histamine problem, would put me on anti-histamines. She asked me if my skin was less itchy. I would say yes, but in reality, it wasn't itchy. It never was. My obsession with smooth skin continued to the teenage years. I felt I had to purge my skin of the filth inside and only then, once all the pus and buildup became the comforting flow of blood, could I be at ease. I am 21 now, and pick without thinking. It's like breathing to me. How could I possibly stop? But you all know this too well. . . I feel despair because the discouraging recovery statistics. And I am evaluating who I am. Does my identity change? Obsessive compulsive is something you hear about in movies and on the news. I think of someone who turns a light on and off 3 times with rituals and washes their hands all day. I belong to a new category now. .
3 Answers
December 09, 2010
I wish I had known what you know at 21! I will be 61 on Monday, and I still don't leave my skin alone. I can't remember a time when I didn't pick, and I feel guilty about it. It seems like I should be able to stop. I am ashamed of the scars I have created on my face. I made my children and grandchildren promise not to pick their skin, and they haven't, so I feel good about that.
December 10, 2010
I was actually able to put a name to my problem because my boyfriend realized what I was doing, researched dermatillomania and confronted me with what he found. I was mortified at first because someone else knew what I was doing to myself, but now I am just grateful that he saw it and cared enough to tell me. It's weird because other than being a little high strung I don't display any other symptoms of OCD. I have no rituals or other things I have to do a certain way. I'm not particularly superstitious, and in general I'm a very logical, clear-headed person. I don't suffer from depression, either. It's really difficult for me to take in the fact that my problems are in the same boat with people who can't open a door without wiping the knob, and people who can't step on cracks in the sidewalk. It doesn't seem on the surface like the same thing at all, but when it comes down to it, they stem from the same source. And I don't like being lumped in like that.
April 26, 2017

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