Face picking for 41 years...........


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September 14, 2008

Hello Kathlyn, My name is Olga, I am 36 and have been picking my face for over 3 years. I have not had any significant event that would triger this behavior. Stress? Just like everyone else is under the daily stress...I am married and have a 7 y. old son. I think a lot of my stress and anxiety comes from my marriage which I can't really call horible but something is definetely missing there. My husband over time became very angry with me because of picking. I don't know if he really inderstands the issue. Anyhow, his anger makes things worse and causes more stress. I have had therapy without a significant improvement. I am on some meds(not sure if that's a big help too). I wonder how you are coping with this? Any strategies? I had no choice but to get rid off all my home mirrors but there are other shiny objects that catch my attention and where I can see myself. I am sick of it too!!! Feel free to talk to me.
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September 14, 2008

Hi Olga, I was sorry to read that your husband harasses you about your picking. It is my impression that your marriage is most likely the cause of your face picking since you admit that something is missing there. Perhaps joint marriage counseling, rather than your own individual therapy, would help. I realize this is an easy suggestion from me, but a VERY difficult thing to do unless you have his support and he wants to uncover why you pick as much as you do. Maybe he suspects why you pick but doen't want to discuss it with you or a therapist because it may lead to revealing his own personal problems and negative behavior within your marriage. Not too many people are open to self-revelation and change, including you and I, or we wouldn't be in this forum. You ask how I am coping.................I'm not, for right now anyway. But after going on-line yesterday and finding this forum, I did a lot of soul searching before I posted. I realized I desperately need help. And since I am seeing a therapist for anxiety/depression I simply need to admit to a professional for the first time ever that I am a face picker. 41 yearsz of picking is a very angry and hurtful act toward myself as relief from my anxiety. Picking is the only way I know how to vent my debillitating anxiety. For the first time ever I know there is hope if I am finally open to confessing and discussing this with my therapist. So I guess my single coping skill at this moment is hope that I can conquer this. Back to husbands and face picking................in perhaps the first 5 years of my marriage my husband said several times how bad my face looked (I can recall his exact words, but they were not in any way harassing.) The last time he said, "I want you to stop and I'm never going to say that again". And he didn't. Remember, I've been married 38 years. I think if he had stayed on my butt about picking, I would have stopped much sooner. I'm not blaming him, that is just an assumption made in hindsight. I feel he resolved to himself picking is my way of dealing with my personal anxiety and stress. I do have to say this in his defense...............the times were financially tough for us........he was starting a construction co. and that took all his time and energy. Today, we are very financially secure due to all his efforts and can afford the medications and costs involving therapy. Still the question is WHY didn't I seek help sooner? And to a much larger degree, WHY didn't/don't I discuss my face picking with him? He has been right beside in life since I was 17 years old and met him the very first day of college in 1965. In 41 years no one has ever confronted me about the sore(s) on my face or, most importantly, WHY I have sore(s) on my face. I need an "intervention" like that TV show where friends and family confront drug addicts. Maybe your husband's harassment is still a sign that he cares and loves you, he just doesn't know how to deal with it like you and me and my husband and my prolonged picking. Olga, I have yet to find a medication that relieves my anxiety and stress levels enough to stop my face picking. Lexapro is my drug of choice right now. It helps with the anxiety. Effexor was the worst.....it sent me on a downhill spiral after it kicked in and threw me into rages over the least provocation. What meds are you on? Face picking was learned in my case. The secrecy and negative behavior actually feels good to me; it is relief. I love my 15X lighted make-up mirror. I can't invison life without it...............it reveals all my skin imperfections so I can sit on my stool at my vanity and pick, pick, pick, then guides me in covering up the sores ands scars with make-up so I can go face the world again. I sit here typing with a scab front and center on my forehead and one in the corner of my chin. The products of me with help from my mirror. I do not eat scabs. I do fantasize about collecting all the preciious little whiteheads and blackheads that I squeeze out in a glass jar. I just want to visualize how many my body has produced. So I have to wonder..................do you eat scabs because you are proud of what you have produced. I ask because years and years ago when potty training my son I remember reading how important it was to show a child their urine and poop in the potty so they could see and be proud of what their body produced and where it belonged. Pleae let me hear from anyone about this. Olga, here is one hint that helps me heal until I have yet another big picking session when my husband is not home. I put on make-up in the morning and do not remove it until close to bedtime. Through years of experienced elimination, I have found that MAC Studio Fix Fluid stays on very well all day and covers the sores well. I apply it with one of those small, wedge type, disposable, make-up sponges I have dampened lightly with water. Almost daily I remove the scabs after I shower when they are soft so my face will appear smoother under the make-up. (Yeah, yeah, I know, this is not healthy advice for anyone, but this helps me make somewhat of a normal physical appearance until I conquer and cure this demon.) Enough of me for one day. I've opened up too many questions even for me to sort out. Tommorrow I see the therapist, so I won't be picking today nor tonight. Would love to hear from any and every one........................Kathlyn
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September 14, 2008

Hi Kathlyn, It was nice to hear from you. I think it is good that you can actually manage not to pick if you have to go somewhere. It is very good! With me it's sort of opposite, I tend to pick more if I make any plans or have to face the world. I don't know why..., maybe social anxiety but I have never felt fearful to face or communicate with people. My husband is not a bad guy, you are right, I think he would love to help but does not know how and anger is his coping mechanism. I am different, I don't stay angry for too long, try not to remember bad things and basically keep everything inside. About your mirror...I think that is the problem. You need to start thinking of not using it or maybe use the regular mirror, not magnified. If you know your trigger than it's easier to avoid it. Therapists say that selective avoidance is a good thing. I am not trying to say that that is an ultimate solution to avoid mirrors in order not to pick but you need to have the right start, where you can feel successful. I got rid off all my mirrors, that was the only way for me to brake a little bit the cycle. I am very uncomfortable with mirrors at other places now and that is my current problem. See, I also have a hard time tolerating other shiny objects around the house, things where I can see myself. This remains my biggest trigger and therefore challenge. I have been on different meds without a significant change. Now I am on Prozac, Naltrexone and Abilify. Honestly, i don't think it helps with skin picking at all. I have never tried Lexapro. I think you are brave enough to admit to your therapist about picking, you can do it and that would be the right thing. Think about it, what have you got to loose, either you would get a good advice or, the worse case, you won't. A good thing is that you have never been asked about your face and that means that things have not gotten totally out of control. Keep in touch!
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October 13, 2008

Hi, ladies! Thanks for sharing your stories...it always helps to know that I'm not alone. I am 26 and have been picking for around 12 years. The last two have been the best years of my life because I started seriously seeking help at the age of 22. I suffer from issues with anxiety, which seems to be the real cause of my picking. Therapy has helped A LOT along with help from my partner (soon to be husband). At first, he didn't understand why I couldn't control my compulsion to pick, but has been open to hearing out it. (I guess I didn't really understand it myself until recently!) We have learned about my problems together. I think one of the best things we decided to do is to make getting better a team effort. I know that's not the best way for every couple, but it works for us because my partner said he would rather feel helpful than helpless in the face of my problem. Sometimes my partner will cover the mirrors in the house for me. Other times, if I'm feeling particularly stressed or emotionally weak, I'll ask him to follow me to the bathroom at night when I brush my teeth to make sure I don't pick at anything. He gets tired of it sometimes, but always agrees to help and I do my part not to abuse his willingness to support me. I'll be honest...the compulsion to pick is still there even when he is standing behind me in the bathroom and it makes me feel really tense and irritable when I can't pick at my face. It usually goes away, though, once I leave the mirror. Even though my partner can't empathise, he now understands what a mighty struggle this problem presents for me. I think that's what has made things so much better for us. Olga, I think your suggestion to avoid mirrors is a good one. Avoidance used to seem like a bad idea to me, but it does work pretty well. I've found it serves to break or at least interrupt the habit. I threw away my magnifying mirror and have been better off without it. There are times that, no matter what I do, I end up in a heap of tears on the bed. But the good news is that it's getting much better with time and I feel like my quality of life is improving all the time. Best wishes to both of you! I'm willing to share anything about myself if either of you would find it helpful. ~Lisa
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September 14, 2008

Hi Kathlyn, It was nice to hear from you. I think it is good that you can actually manage not to pick if you have to go somewhere. It is very good! With me it's sort of opposite, I tend to pick more if I make any plans or have to face the world. I don't know why..., maybe social anxiety but I have never felt fearful to face or communicate with people. My husband is not a bad guy, you are right, I think he would love to help but does not know how and anger is his coping mechanism. I am different, I don't stay angry for too long, try not to remember bad things and basically keep everything inside. About your mirror...I think that is the problem. You need to start thinking of not using it or maybe use the regular mirror, not magnified. If you know your trigger than it's easier to avoid it. Therapists say that selective avoidance is a good thing. I am not trying to say that that is an ultimate solution to avoid mirrors in order not to pick but you need to have the right start, where you can feel successful. I got rid off all my mirrors, that was the only way for me to brake a little bit the cycle. I am very uncomfortable with mirrors at other places now and that is my current problem. See, I also have a hard time tolerating other shiny objects around the house, things where I can see myself. This remains my biggest trigger and therefore challenge. I have been on different meds without a significant change. Now I am on Prozac, Naltrexone and Abilify. Honestly, i don't think it helps with skin picking at all. I have never tried Lexapro. I think you are brave enough to admit to your therapist about picking, you can do it and that would be the right thing. Think about it, what have you got to loose, either you would get a good advice or, the worse case, you won't. A good thing is that you have never been asked about your face and that means that things have not gotten totally out of control. Keep in touch!
avatar

September 14, 2008

Hi Kathlyn, It was nice to hear from you. I think it is good that you can actually manage not to pick if you have to go somewhere. It is very good! With me it's sort of opposite, I tend to pick more if I make any plans or have to face the world. I don't know why..., maybe social anxiety but I have never felt fearful to face or communicate with people. My husband is not a bad guy, you are right, I think he would love to help but does not know how and anger is his coping mechanism. I am different, I don't stay angry for too long, try not to remember bad things and basically keep everything inside. About your mirror...I think that is the problem. You need to start thinking of not using it or maybe use the regular mirror, not magnified. If you know your trigger than it's easier to avoid it. Therapists say that selective avoidance is a good thing. I am not trying to say that that is an ultimate solution to avoid mirrors in order not to pick but you need to have the right start, where you can feel successful. I got rid off all my mirrors, that was the only way for me to brake a little bit the cycle. I am very uncomfortable with mirrors at other places now and that is my current problem. See, I also have a hard time tolerating other shiny objects around the house, things where I can see myself. This remains my biggest trigger and therefore challenge. I have been on different meds without a significant change. Now I am on Prozac, Naltrexone and Abilify. Honestly, i don't think it helps with skin picking at all. I have never tried Lexapro. I think you are brave enough to admit to your therapist about picking, you can do it and that would be the right thing. Think about it, what have you got to loose, either you would get a good advice or, the worse case, you won't. A good thing is that you have never been asked about your face and that means that things have not gotten totally out of control. Keep in touch!