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ViolinRose , 26 Apr 2011

Well, here it goes. (Just a heads up... this is a pretty lengthy rant.)

I am 15 right now, and have been picking since I was about 8. I mainly pick at my scalp, but sometimes I'll pick at my legs, too. When it started, I was really upset after a fight with my dad and sat in my room just squeezing my scalp as hard as I could, not really knowing why, but as soon as the pain hit me and it started bleeding, I felt like I had found a gold mine of stress relief. Before I started (and when I try to stop, for that matter), I felt helpless, as though I was a victim of my environment and there was no way to control my emotions. I had no power over what I said, did, and felt. But when I pick, I feel powerful and confident. Picking is a way for me to gain control over my actions and emotions. By picking, I can take a step back, look at my situation, and make a rational decision as opposed to spitting out the first words that pop into my head and clumsily acting on an impulse. The worst (or at the time, the best) part of it was that nobody could ever find out. I have very thick, dark hair, so nobody could find the scabs or the scars, even if they tried. If I picked a little too close to my part, I could just change the part and hide it. Usually, I feel around on my scalp to find the weakest, easiest places to pick. However, if I can get away for an hour or two, I'll stand in front of the mirror and use my eyes to search for my next target as well. For a long time, this worked great. I could quickly and easily gain control over my surroundings anywhere, anytime. But now, it's controlling me. In November of last year, a friend confessed to me that she had been cutting herself. It wasn't until then that I realized that what I had been doing was a form of self-mutilation. Up until that point, I had known it was a bad habit, but that's the worst I thought of it. It didn't even cross my mind that it could be a little more than that. A few days after this talk with my friend, I decided to quit, but after a while, things got out of hand and I broke down. See, I've wanted more than anything, for my whole life, to be a professional violinist. I didn't realize until about a year ago how competitive and stressful of a career choice this would be. There are lots of auditions, which are the bane of my existence. When I got tendonitis in my left hand in February and had to stop playing for three months, I was a wreck. Everything I ever dreamed of was falling apart around me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I somehow managed to refrain from picking while I was healing, motivating myself with thoughts of how much happier I'll be once my hand heals. Eventually, I was able to start playing again. Instead of being happy and enthusiastic and playing all day like I used to, I could barely last ten minutes. Even during those ten minutes, I could only think about how rusty I was and how awful I sounded. This led me to the point I was at last week. For the first time in my life, I questioned my music, the only thing that I have ever wanted to do. I said, "I can't handle this. I'm not cut out for it.". I was so confused... I couldn't see myself as anything other than a violinist, but at that point, I wanted nothing to do with it. Finally, I broke down and picked at my scalp like there was no tomorrow. I even crossed a line I swore I would never cross. I was getting impatient. I couldn't do enough damage fast enough with my fingernails, so I took a sewing needle and scratched up my wrist with it. Once again, I was painfully clever: sewing needle scratches are small and heal fast. Nobody noticed them. The sickest part about it is, after doing this, I slept a full 8 hours for the first time since I stopped picking. I was scared, so I talked to my boyfriend and my parents. After speaking with them, I understood for the first time how much the picking is impacting my life. If it controls me enough to make me question my music, then it's got to be a very serious problem. Tonight, I discovered this website. I'm shocked at all the information I've gathered this evening about Dermatillomania. It's like somebody went through all my thoughts and memories and published it in a web site. Now, I'm more motivated than ever to stop this, but I don't know where to start.. My parents have agreed to get me counseling and support me however they can, which is wonderful, but I know that this is my battle, and nobody can fight it for me. That's my story. Wish me luck finding a happy ending.
6 Answers
May 09, 2011
Yeah, being on here for the first time is very cathartic. It feels really amazing to know there are other people who know what you're going through when typically you feel so alone. You're lucky that your parents are so sympathetic... my dad doesn't even believe in therapy and tells me all the time to "just stop." I can't hide it either because my focal point is my lips, so... they're just there for everyone to stare at and wonder about all the time. It's a very embarrassing and confusing condition to have. I hope your therapy goes well. Good luck :]
May 09, 2011

In reply to by happytown3000

It does. I thought I was the only one in the world doing it for the longest time. I am very lucky that my parents are so supportive about it. I'm sorry it's not that way for you. Just remember, even though you don't have support in them, you have it here. I wish you the best of luck as well! :)
May 12, 2011
HI ViolinRose, I know what you're going through- I am also a musician, the lead singer in a band that plays in a very swanky hotel every weekend...a lot of pressure to be under to look good all the time. I primarily pick my scalp and it gets worse depending on my anxiety level, and lately it has gotten so bad that I have bald spots again. I'm now almost 22 and about to graduate college, but in my senior year of high school I had long thick beautiful hair halfway down my back that random people used to stop me on the street to ask who styled and colored it, it was that beautiful. Now I have to wear it up and back all the time and style it very carefully to hide the spots where I have missing hair. Also, I'm glad you found this website, I just found it too, but I feel so foolish because I was diagnosed with this disorder several years ago but have been in denial so long that I have never done any research on it. But in the last few days I have taken several steps to regaining control over my life and making the moves necessary to being happier, healthier and living the life I've always wanted to. Anyway, you should absolutely take advantage of your parents offering to get you counseling - that will definitely help. I wish you the best, you have a long life ahead of you and I hope that you start getting help now so that this disorder does not take over your life any more than it already has.
May 14, 2011

In reply to by musicislove07

Ah, a fellow musician! You're right, the pressure is enormous. I don't think it's as bad for me, since I mostly do orchestral stuff and the focus is mostly on the whole group instead of one person, but just being on a stage alone is a lot of pressure to look your best. I used to have very long, thick hair too, but I kept mine long so I could easily cover up any bald spots or bloody patches. A few years ago, I stopped caring altogether about what people think when they see my hair and scalp, so I cut it short and I've been wearing it that way ever since. Despite the length, my hair is thick enough that it's still hidden pretty well. Good for you for taking control over your life! Those first few steps are the hardest ones. I'm definitely taking advantage of that. We're just waiting for the therapist to call us back. Apparently it takes a while to get in. Thank you so much for your support, and I wish you the best as well. I hope that you can also get the help you need, and live the life you've always wanted. Good luck, musicislove07! <3

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