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New to the forum - Introduction
Hi. I'm a 30 year old woman from Atlantic Canada and I found this web site a few months ago, but I didn't have the nerve to post on this forum until tonight. I've had problems with scab picking for as long as I can remember and with scalp picking since I was a junior in high school. For years, I never thought I had a problem. That is, until my former boss noticed my picking and the scars on my arms and legs (my primary picking spots). She made a huge issue out of it, threatening that she'd force me to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in the middle of summer heat waves or that she'd fire me if I didn't stop. It was a pretty traumatic experience to have her notice this and react to it in that way, especially since I hadn't admitted to myself that it was a problem, but it certainly made me realize what I was doing a little more. Not enough for me to stop (or even try to stop!), but certainly enough for me to be more conscious of what I was doing. I learned about dermatillomania by chance because a local TV news station ran a story about it. That was the epiphany for me, when I suddenly realized I wasn't a freak, that I wasn't alone. My whole life, until now, I never had a problem with my picking. I remember, as a kid, explaining the scab picking by saying that it annoyed me to have a scab on my skin, so I had to get rid of it (even though I would then bleed and a new scab would form...). I don't really know what started the picking since I've been doing it for so long, but I have noticed that it gets worse when I'm under a lot of stress (when I was younger and had acne on my forehead, I'd pick at those zits and then just keep picking at the scabs I'd create). I've also had problems with depression my whole life and whenever I get really depressed, I seem to pick more. It was really bad after my son was born, when I had postpartum depression and when I developed eczema on my hands. When my skin broke out in a rash, I picked them raw. It looked horrible, my friends, family and co-workers noticed and it was excruciatingly painful, but I couldn't stop. The only thing that made me stop is that I went to my doctor, got medicated cream and the eczema cleared up. The scalp picking started when I was in junior year in high school, after a really traumatic break-up with my boyfriend at the time. He was manipulative, possessive and he left me for one of my best friends (at the time). He'd made all the decisions for me in the relationship (even down to when we went out, who we went out with, what I ate when we went out, etc.; he basically never let me out of sight), so after he broke up with me, I suffered from severe depression and panic attacks. Just as an example, I left a convenience store in tears one day because I couldn't decide between 7-Up and Sprite. So, I started having panic attacks in class and the attacks would make me feel like I was going to throw up. To distract me from the nausea, I would pinch the nape of my neck, right at the hairline, and also behind my ears. This led to me actually going through my hair, finding bumps on my head and picking at them, thereby creating a scab. I still do this to this day and I can go for hours, until the friction of my hair on the pads of my fingers leaves my fingertips raw and aching. The reason I'm seeking help now is because more and more people are starting to notice. Both of my arms and my legs are covered in many dark scars. I work in retail and even customers are starting to comment. My son, who is now 6, has also noticed, especially because I pick at him (and my husband) too. My mom noticed this summer and commented on how, the older I get, the more likely my skin will scar and the worse things will look. This is making me more and more uncomfortable and is making me realize that I need help to deal with this. I've tried to slow my picking, but short of wearing a straitjacket, I don't know what else would work at this point. I have a lot of other issues I'm dealing with right now, so I'm going to look into finding a psychologist and once I do, I'll talk to this person about my picking and try to bring this to an end once and for all. But I also need support from people who are going through the same thing, so I'm reaching out to all of you. Thanks for reading...
January 19, 2011
Hey! Im glad you had the courage to post your story on here! It helps me to read other peoples' bc it always reminds me of my story and that I am not alone. I've been picking for a long time too, it started when I was 12 or 13 and the damage I've done gets more noticeable over time. I try and not get mad at myself, it definitely doesn't help. When I'm hating on myself I try to remind myself that my picking started bc I was just doing what I could at the time to escape the pain I felt as a kid. And that when I pick now its the same thing(its the scared little girl in me trying to help herself in the only way that seems to work sometimes).I remember this teacher in Highschool who was really creepy when it came to the girls in his class. He would send me chat invitations while we were in class and I remember having panic attacks bc of it, so I would pick as covertly as possible. Usually when Im having major anxiety I want to pick. Now Im trying to come here and write instead. Picking is like falling into a blackhole to me. I fall deeper and deeper into myself and get lost. Coming on the forum helps me get out of the hole I guess. Anyway again thanks for posting. Its great you are trying to get help and I think you are right, we can't do it alone. Plus you really are helping other pple! I hope you find a good psychologist.
January 19, 2011
Hello Adora, My story is similar to yours. My name is Anne and I'm 22 years old. I never realized I was not alone in this, I would waiver between thinking it was just a bad habit and wondering if there was something seriously wrong with me. Like you, I also have a lot of other issues I've had to deal with. When I was a kid my issues were abuse and self image. As a pre-teen my problems grew as the abuse continued, I also found myself dealing with anorexia and bullying, not because of my picking because it was always hidden, but just for exiting I guess. As a teenager a series of traumatic life changing evens caused my picking to become more frequent and more harmful. My life was in shambles, I lost everything, and had nothing. I was in pain inside and out and it was at the lowest point in my life that the picking began to be a comfort rather than a bad habit. I did pick as a child and through out my late teens, early twenties. Its been five years and although I have not gone through it as long as you have, all I can say is that I am here for the same reason as you. People close to me have noticed, even concnerned co-workers and most all thought it was mainly a bad habit, some though told me it wasnt' my fault, it was the result of all the stress and trauma I've been through over the last ten years of my life. Whatever the reason, I think the only thing that will save me is the realization that I need help, I need support, and the fact I have to tell myself that I want to get better. For me, its a constant battle every day to do this. I'm getting better but I've gotten better before and because of one thing or another I start again and go back to the "comfort" of picking. I am hoping to quit for good this time, because along with my other issues, nightmares, ghosts, whatever you want to call them, I'd like to lay this to rest once and for all. I've taken steps to help myself, but I know its going to be a long road. I've made a list of all the things that cause me pain/suffering, of things I can fix and things I can't. I've gone to a doctor to treat my depression, and have noticed that the anti-depressants have helpped some but it's not the whole cure. I won't be able to stop picking until other problems in my life are also resolved because they are the causes. I think therapy and finding the right psychologist will also help me too. I do not have many people in my life, for the most part I am completely isolated. I don't have friends, no close relatives, so I am pretty much on my own. That's why I felt extreme relief when I found this forum. I hope the both of us find the support we need. Congratulations on finding the courage to post here. ~Anne