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ries , 23 Feb 2011

Lifetime picker

I'm 23 and I've been picking for as long as I can remember. When I was young I would create enormous sores on my scalp--my poor mom thought I was allergic to chlorine from the pool--and pull out the hairs on my arms. I would literally scour my arms looking for loose ones that would come out with the root attached. I almost looked forward to mosquito season when I could pick my scabs and watch them bleed through my socks. When I hit my teens and got acne I went town. I clearly remember my very first zit. I gouged at it until it was a huge open sore that resembled a burn. The next day at school I claimed that I accidentally burned my face with a curling iron. I always picked, usually with dirty fingernails, and sometimes wouldn't wash my face afterwards even though I'd be guaranteed to have a face full of pimples the next day. I didn't care. I was too tired. I made friends with concealer. My arm hairs were still fair game, as was my scalp, and the ingrown hairs on my bikini line. I loved digging into to skin of my back and carving up little imperfections. I barely wore tank tops in high school. In college it continued, and worsened after I got off birth control and let my hormones adjust. I would pick anywhere--class, car, movie theatre--but I would really get into it watching tv alone or locked up in the bathroom. Well-lit bathrooms became my enemy. My skin always improved when I couldn't get a good look at my pores. During my senior year of college I developed chronic staph infections on my legs, one of which required antibiotics. At the doctor's order I managed to resist picking at those, but they still occasionally pop up. It's such a wake up call to realize I have this disorder. I've always considered myself very healthy and "normal" (whatever that is). Basically, I've never taken any psychiatric drugs and I'm very social/gregarious--have many friends, not reclusive at all. But my self esteem often leaves a lot to be desired, and my romantic relationships have always taken a turn for the worst after about 6-8 months. That's probably at the root of all this. It seems like the picking ebbs and flows based on my level of contentedness...but it always is a release. I don't know. I'm very desperate to quit and was very good today--at least was able to catch myself starting to pick. I'm wary to see a psychiatrist, mostly because I have no desire to take neurotoxic drugs, also because my health insurance doesn't cover my emotional health. I guess I'm not necessarily looking for suggestions on how to conquer my problem (although I welcome it if you have one), but just a place to tell my story and be reassured that I'm not the only one suffering. Thanks for reading.
1 Answer
February 23, 2011
You are not the only one suffering--everyone on this forum is in a similar situation, including myself. We are all here to help reassure you that you can quit, and to listen to your story. Like you, my picking seems to "ebb and flow" based on the direction of my life at that time. When I'm stressed or sad or angry--the picking gets worse. When I'm happy and content with the way things are going--the picking seems to get better. That's not always the case, but, for the most part, that is true. I feel like once I pick and my face looks bad, my self-steem seems to plummet, and then I just pick more because I feel bad about myself. I understand that picking only makes it look worse, but for some reason I feel like I can make the sores look a little better by just picking off this one part. I made a pledge the other day to stop picking cold turkey once and for all. I have tried sooo many resources out there--hypnosis, drugs, psychotherapy, skin remedies...and none have been as effective as the times I have made the decision to overcome it on my own. Now, obviously, stopping cold turkey has not stopped me from permanently picking in the past, but it has kept me from picking for the longest periods of time. I think what will really help me this time is knowing how much my self-injurious skin picking has impacted my boyfriend, friends, and family, and knowing that it is something that I can control should I choose to be stronger than my compulsion. I can do this, and so can you! Good luck!

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