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i cant believe there is a community of people like this! i am so lucky i found this and cant believe i put off searching this on the internet since i have been scratching and picking for the past 8 years or so. i have only just started to admit it is a compulsive habit. i have been making excuses for years. it started in high school i would scratch my arms to cope with depression (particularly when my ex step-dad left my family). when i went to college, i thought i could stop, but then i was witness to a murder and dropped out of college and moved to a dangerous city where i isolated myself (it wasnt really safe to take a stroll) and began picking my face more aggressively. i moved back to the big city where i started to teach grade school children and get back into my groove, i would have minor fits and fight the urge, but it was rocky. i was in a loving relationship which helped a lot, but my girlfriend cheated on me and became engaged to the man she cheated on me with. i then started dating someone new to cope, and the picking would become outrageous. i would get a zit and it would develop into a scratch on my face that last weeks and weeks and grew and grew. i have an ok complexion otherwise, and the scrathces would really stick out. this all became worse as i would bite and peel my lips (especially at the appearance of cold sores). my now ex would tell me they were going away when they were getting worse, and denied my excuse/theory that i was "scratching at my face in my sleep," which was the b.s. that was one of my many excuses i would tell myself. ive read about the trance like state one enters into during picking, it almost is like i am asleep, but simultaneous shame and relief is confusing and challenging to fight off! and also shaving does not help! i have a red beard and dark hair on my head, so i get self conscious when people comment on it. but shaving really irritates my skin. band aids help, but then more questions appear, then i take it off to let it breathe/ stray from the social complexity and it gets bad again. there have been days at work with the kids i will excuse myself to the bathroom, pick, and be bleeding from my face! then the kids say something and i get so embarrassed and feel a deep deep shame. i think it really freaks out adults, and i see the wandering eyes but no one says anything. i dont how to talk to anyone about it. i used a new lotion recently (with citrus, is that bad for the skin? an irritant?) and i broke out and then went on a stressful trip to la, music industry stuff really stressed me out, of course i picked and a band mate commented on how he didnt like the band aids (i quit the band for other reasons, thankfully)... but now i am home and finally accepting it, and thank to everyone for coming to this place and sharing their stories. it really gives me hope. as i am typing now, i look down at the big "DONT" spelled backwards on my right index finger so if i look in the mirror as i go to pick i have a reminder! i hope it helps.
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