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Aussiegirl , 11 Oct 2008

I'm gonna stop

I am a 21 year old woman from Australia and I've been struggling with this issue since I was about 13. Talking in detail about it kinda grosses me out but it's supposed to help right? well, the first time I remember picking was when I was about 12 or 13 and i had this big, painful blind pimple right in the middle of my upper lip, I squeezed it and squeezed it for ages even though it really hurt, until all this pus splattered over the mirror, really surprising me. A part of me was freaked and grossed out but another part was so satisfied with it. From then I started doing it more and more frequently until I was picking everyday until my face was a mess, feel totally shit and angry at myself, swear to never do it again and then be back at the mirror the next day. It progressed until I was not only doing my face, but my arms, chest, legs and whatever I could reach of my back. Leaving ugly scabs and eventually scars. It got to the point where I would not take my jumper off even if the weather was really hot, and I never wore skirts or shorts if I could avoid it. All through high school, and even now, I felt ugly and as if no boy would ever look at me or want to go near me because of how I looked. Reading all this stuff now it seems obvious that I'm using a pretty out there way to keep from getting close to people, even though I crave that closeness. Recently I've had bouts of going a week or so without doing it, and I feel so good about myself, until I get sucked back into it. It's so stupid, while I'm in front of the mirror picking, I'll be thinking, "Stop, you are goig to hate yourself after this," but still keep going, until the skin of my whole body is such a mess that there is literally nothing left to pick. When I think that I've been doing it for that long and how much it has held me back, I feel so angry. It's like lost time because it has brought my confidence so low that I've never done so many things that I want to. I've only ever had one boyfriend, when I was 12. I've very rarely felt attractive and am very self-conscious all the time about all my behaviours. I just don't want to get to 80 and still be doing this godamn thing, and feel like I've wasted my life, like I've missed out on so many experiences because this thing has held me back. I'd appreciate any comments or support. I've decided it's time to reach out and beat this thing. Recently I spoke to my sister really openly about it (I've never spoken openly with anyone about it before) and it really helped so I'm going to try talking to others with it and see if we can't help each other. It's time to start living, you know? Thanks
9 Answers
October 13, 2008
Hi Aussiegirl, Good on you for deciding to fight this thing! I'm a 26-year-old who lives in New Zealand and I've been a picker since I got my first pimple at the age of 14. All of the gross details of your story are part of my story too. I can identify with feeling like I've wasted a lot of time with this problem. You'll notice that my user name is ballerinagirl, but the truth is that I gave up ballet just on the verge of becoming a professional because I felt too self-conscious about my ravaged skin to wear a leotard. I regretted that for a long time. I've since been able to build a healthy, very satisfying life doing other things, but can't deny that my skin picking altered my choices. I don't know about you, but the early twenties were very difficult years for me. I felt more guilty about my skin picking problem after high school, more afraid of what it would mean for my future and I was under a lot more stress, overall. I think those things compounded to make the problem worse. For me, picking is a release of stress and a way to feel in control. I think that's why I find emptying a disgusting, pussy pimple so satisfying. I started getting therapy for anxiety a few years ago and made some big lifestyle changes to cut down on stress. I also started talking to others about my problem and received lots of support. That might have been the thing that helped the most. I won't lie...battling this thing is an everyday struggle, but it can get better and it certainly has for me. At the very least, I'd say I pick half as much as I used to - even on a bad day. I don't know if I'll ever be completely over it, but it's enough under control now that I'm able to have the kind of life I was afraid I might never have. I even found a God-send of a man who is patient with my problems and loves me so much. I've tried tons of little things that work to varying degrees: covering mirrors, brushing my teeth in the dark, forcing myself to get facials as accountability, getting fake nails...I can tell you about everything I've tried if you'd like. The most important advice I can think to give you is this: Try not to punish yourself when you relapse. It's better to be kind and forgiving of yourself, even if you think that's the last thing you deserve. Just know that it's worth the fight! You won't live like this forever. Very best wishes to you! ~Me
November 18, 2008

In reply to by Aussiegirl

You're not alone Aussiegirl. This is from another Aussiegirl. I've only discovered this site today and what a revelation. For years I thought I was the only person with this hideous, embarrassing, shameful obsession. It's always made me feel 'damaged' and 'not as good' as 'normal' people. Yet outwardly I present as extremely capable and confident. I remember a therapist saying some time ago, you know you're not the only person who does this? I still believed I had to be worse than everyone else. Nobody could have the same awful scars hidden under their clothes. No-one could have a secret quite so ugly as mine. So to learn today that other people have the same strange compulsions and can't explain what drives them, makes me feel a little less alone. One of the common themes throughout these blogs seems to be anxiety and depression. I can relate to both. I think it's really healthy to share our stories to release some of that anxiety and stop feeling like we're carrying around really nasty secrets. Apart from professionals, I've never discussed this with anyone - not even partners. Of course I've kept them at bay for many years now, too ashamed to put myself in a position where I could repulse someone I was attracted to. For many years I've sought advice from doctors, psychologists, dermatologists, hypnotherapists and no one has come close to getting inside my head to find the right switch and turn it off. I'm going to try to use this site as a form of therapy - my own PA (Pickers Anonymous) if you will, and I hope that by sharing my story and yours, we'll all start to feel a little more understood and learn how to kick this habit. Wishing you all beautiful, perfect skin!
November 23, 2008

In reply to by fortoolong

Hi. I've been reading over a lot of the comments in this forum and I'm amazed at how typical our experiences are to each other. I only just found this site last night, in fact only just discovered that this self-inflicted plague has a name--dermatillomania. I've been researching other conditions such as OCD and SI (self-injury) in the quest to understand what and why I do what I do. I was in tears last night from reading about the pain and the shame we all seem to share. It was a case of Eureka! I have finally found a people like me! I live in a northern city in B.C., Canada, and there are certainly no support groups in the area. Even doctors and mental health experts seem to be at a loss as to how to handle such an obsession. My situation is such that I've had this problem since I was 5, when I got the chickenpox and popped every one of them. Of course that continued w/every sore and scrape I acquired as a child (tomboy, that is) as well as every pimple I got during puberty. It seemed to be less preoccupying during my late teens and twenties as I was a very busy and social person. I was a single parent for four years until I married at age 28. When I started taking the Pill my face broke out terribly so I proceeded to destroy the invaders, leaving such a mess on my face that I hid in my home for 3 weeks, and later sometimes 5 or 6 weeks at a time, never leaving the house and having to send my husband on errands. When I had to go out, I tried to cover up w/heavy makeup and always wore my hair long to hide my face. In my early thirties I had a nervous breakdown and was soon diagnosed w/severe panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, not to mention all the social phobias that ruled (and ruined) my life. I have been on anti-depressant medications ever since. My CSP continued to get worse over time, spreading from the area of my face, chest and upper arms to now include other areas of my body, i.e. shoulders, lower arms, breasts, stomach, butt, thighs and legs, and any part of my back that I can reach. My whole body is a mess. I am almost 45 years old and I have to say that it's the worst it's ever been. Of course it only feeds my depression and anxiety and low self-esteem which serves to create this unending vicious cycle of picking. I too resort to tweezers when my fingers fail to do the job sufficiently. At times when I've picked them all, leaving them sore and bleeding, I put on my 'red' bathrobe and lay on the floor in the living room to sleep in order to prevent getting blood on the bedsheets. I too tend to pick either last thing at night or when in the shower (guaranteed). I am so weary of having to scrub blood-stained garments and sheets before washing them. I very much understand the torment all of you feel when your brain adamantly objects but your hands proceed w/a mind of their own. This has been such a long arduous journey that I hope you younger ones recognize the need to get as much help as possible now, no matter what. It can haunt you for the rest of your lives. I only wish I had received help early in my life to help me deal w/the painful underlying cause of it all (in my case, I believe), that being when my dad left his family; I was at the vulnerable age of 11. To this day I break down whenever I'm pressed to talk about it. It seems to me that there is usu some intense emotion stirring deep within each of us that is often too painful to confront head on and so we keep it suppressed. And so to the youth I say, continue to use this chat forum but also make sure to seek counselling and tell at least one trusted confidante so you don't feel so alone in your pain. My husband is very understanding (fortunately) but he is also at a loss as to how to help me, as is the case w/my mother and son. At least his comforting embrace is always there to help me bear up. I only just this year revealed my 'skeleton in the closet' to my siblings (5 brothers). I know it's a difficult thing to admit but I've found some comfort in being reassured of their love and compassion despite their inability to fully comprehend it. There are many other stressors that factor into my life, which makes the battle against it all very difficult at times. However, I do believe that there is hope for us yet. I refuse to give up believing that I can one day, if not conquer, at least get control of this demon. I am interested in trying cognitive behavioral therapy. Has anyone else gone this route? I am also arranging for regular counselling again. It's time. I'm sorry my comment has become a runaway train; I guess it's just such a relief to be able to finally tell my story to someone who is more than willing to listen w/o judgment. I will keep everyone apprised of any progress I'm able to make and will continue to read your comments as well. If anyone has a specific question about my experience, please ask. I am eager to receive helpful suggestions as well. As bad as my situation is, this monster has not beaten me yet. I am determined to not give up! Thank you for listening--it means everything to me . . . and I promise not to be so long-winded next time. :) p.s. has anyone read the book or signed up for online counselling?
October 26, 2008
Hey, I'm 18 and from Massachusetts. I just went online yesterday and found out other people have the same problem as me. Your story sounds so incredibly the same as mine. I really thought I was crazy and the only one in the world who did this to themselves and I always felt stupid and guilty afterwards. I do lead a pretty stressful life so I'm guessing that's where it comes from. I just wanted to say hi and that I completely understand what your going through. If you ever want to talk, my e-mail is
October 28, 2008
hi, im from canada, nova scotia. it happens everywhere. you are not alone. i recently got help from a shrink. i think ive got it . i have anger about my past. i feel your pain about the scares. i have them on my arms and legs. extra thought goes into what to wear everyday.dont you hate it when people make comments. what happened, burning your self with cigerettes. give me a break. people that do not have this problem do not understand. i am 34 yrs old. it started after my boys were born. anyway i just thought id past this onto you. try vit e serum. its not overly expensive, lasts awhile and does help the scares as long as you do it regularly. it is sticky so where something over it. i put it on before i go to bed. it looks really greasy, oh my husband just loves it! not! but it does help the scares fade. dont give up girl things can get better just keep at it and try to figure out why you pick. my thoughts are with all that have this problem. i know you feel alone because you cant see anyone that has this problem. but were out there, everywhere in the world. all the best, freeasever
November 03, 2008

In reply to by freeasever

Thanks heaps for your comment, it makes me feel so much better that there are others out there who do this too and who are willing to reach out. Thanks for the tip. Aussiegirl
November 20, 2008
I'm 20, I'm actually born with natural beauty. I have almost everything to be perfect. And what I do is destroying myself. I read about this disorder & I definitely have it. So i tried to stop it, kept my mirror in the box etc. And I looked today in the morning nice, phoned my boyfriend ( who is away now), my mom..nice weather .I felt so good. My skin was almost clear, I didn't need even make- up. And I came home, sat down, looked to mirrow. Even laughing myself that " O you are gonna do it again or what" And I felt so secure, that no - I look nice & everything is ok. A couldn't believe it, I did one, and 2 and 3 , 4, 5, 6, 10, 20..Even there was almost no pimples my face is all covered with red spots. I look so horrible I'm afraid to leave the room. and if u would see me on the street with make- up ( like me yesterday) 95% would look that this is one of the nicest girls on the street. And I just can't hold my tears back looking myself like that from the mirror.. I have don like this so many times, I just do it 'even if I think " it's crazy, put it away, or , you know it's not gonna be just one" .. I HATE THIS!! And I'm the one myself who is doing all this. sometimes I just can't believe it. I have so called Quit like 40 times. Even a year ago already I was making posters with calendar - when I'm gonna be pretty. I still have the last one on the wall, althouht I picked almost every day still, mush less etc... but still. I have never stopped it completely. I WANT TO DO IT NOW. Because I have to. I have 1 month. then I m gonna go home to see my family, and they just cant see me like this. I promise to make a new poster. i'm gonna by everything needed- masks etc. And I'm gonna have the most shiny, healthy, clear face ever. I promise to write to you every day. Every single day I'm gonna report how I'm doing. I'm gonna do it to myself and to everybody suffering from this problem - I'm gonna prove that it is possible to confront it! To be honest I always feel enthusiastic if I start promising this.. but maybe this time it's gonna work out.. I haven't been whole month without picking for 2 years. It's madness..!!

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