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This may be kind of long, but here goes. Since I was a kid, I've picked at my skin. I've always had the urge to pick at scabs, I find it hard to avoid popping zits, and as a kid I would sometimes scratch at my scalp until small scabs and sores would develop. It was never a huge problem, though, and didn't really bother me. It was just something I did. For the past five years or so, though, I've had a problem with compulsively picking at my lower lip. I put on chapstick constantly because if my lip gets even the slightest bit chapped I will pick and pull at the skin until it is raw and even bleeding. It seems to happen more when I'm stressed, but I also do it during perfectly stress-free activities such as reading or watching a movie. Despite the pain, it's almost soothing. I like the way it feels when I've managed to pick away every chapped or peeling bit of skin... until I look in the mirror and realize how awful it looks, and then I start to feel bad about it Six years ago, when I was 13, my younger sister passed away suddenly. I was depressed and was cutting myself, but through therapy I managed to stop. When I look back now, it seems like my lip-picking started around the time the cutting stopped. It's almost like the picking is being used as a replacement, but it just wasn't something that stuck out to me or that I felt a need to mention to my therapist. Now, it's become something I do almost every day. This is something I don't talk about even with my family or my best friends, although my mom has noticed in the past. It's kind of hard not to notice when my lip is cracked and raw for extended periods of time, although thankfully most people don't ask about it. Sometimes I go through periods where the picking is very minimal. My lips feel smooth and healthy, and I'm proud of myself for not destroying them. It always comes back, though. I never spend more than a maximum of a few weeks without an episode, I guess you might call it. Right now I have visibly raw patches that sting when I eat certain foods, and I keep finding myself reaching up to make it worse. I hate seeing the damage in the mirror, I dread having to explain this to anyone, but I can't stop. I keep thinking it should be as easy as catching myself doing it and moving my hand away, but even when I'm aware that I'm picking I don't typically stop myself. Last summer I moved halfway across the country, and have yet to bother finding a new therapist due to my mood being so stable. I guess I should look for one, and see if they can help me get this under control, but I'm just so embarrassed to talk about it. For now I'm just glad to have realized that there is a name for this, and that I'm not quite as weird as I thought.
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