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bb2011 , 11 Oct 2011

I'm old enough and wise enough to know better - but I just can't help myself

I only discovered skin picking to be a recognised issue about a year ago when in desperation I starting searching the internet again and found this site. I only had the courage after that to vocalise it to my partner - who i'd obviously not hid from him but we'd never discussed. Since I was a 13 I've been to ever skin specialist there is and taken every remedy for a skin problem going. always with the guilt and embarrassment of knowing it was self inflicted. since then I've had may period where I though / felt I was losing my mind. severe panic attacks, anxiety, mild depression. I take seratonin balancing medication and I think it helps. I have period of time when I cope with life well. I am often very content and happy. But throughout I have the skin picking (dermatillomania) and sometimes its completely out of control. It is obsessive, beautifully trance like and at the time the act is a relief I took the information re dermatillomania to both my own doctor and the latest in a line of skin specialists - both brushed it aside. I sometimes can speak with my partner - who does his best. Just this last few months things are finallly moving in a direction that may help but I know it will be a long road. I don't feel its always linked to stress and anxiety sometimes I feel very calm and in control of my emotions yet the skin picking is at its worse. Its a compulsion, an addiction, I almost at times don't want to find a solution as it feels so good when I'm doing it - I'm ashamed I feel like that. I'm old enough to know better, and wise enough(surely ) to have dealt with any hangups I may have from my childhood As a result of bouts of anxiety and some panic attacks leaving me unable to go to work or deal with every day life - i have been on a mindfulness course and am developing some meditation techniques. I have had some CBT and attended a 6 session stress management course. mainly I'm on a waiting list for physchotherapy (there;s a 2 year wait) but at least I have found people who believe it is mental and not physical. i no longer have to pretend to seek treatment through skin disorder specialists. I can talk to my partner who does his absolute best to support and understand. and even though I still have terrible bouts of skin picking to the point of my skin not healing without antibiotics as intervention but I'm not pretending any more and its such a relief. Its so hard to find someone who you can tell the truth to - i can only do some of it and only on some days. I'm hoping that posting on here might help me rationalise my thoughts and get a grip. At 43 I should know better. As a wife, mother and grown woman I should be able to deal wiith this and I feel I am failing by not doing so. I feel i owe it to my son to be more open about the problem and for him to see me deal with it. Any constructive thoughts ?
4 Answers
October 14, 2011
I completely understand where you're coming from! I've been picking my face and cuticles and most embarrassingly my toe nails on occasion since I can remember and I'm a married, 36-year-old mother. Sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing it until something bleeds or really hurts. I'm embarrassed of my hands and have been using make-up to cover up anything I can since I was a teenager. My mother always told me to stop picking, never even seeing that there may be reason. She's actually get upset with me for doing it and I don't know about you, but that's the absolute last thing we need! Support and understanding would have been a better way, but I just followed what my mom said and in turn perceived myself as bad and ugly for doing it, thus bringing on the shame. I've been seeing a psychologist for about a year and it has helped. It's helped me realize that if I dig into my past, talk about it and let it go, things like my picking get better (go figure eh?). That being said, my thumb is bleeding at the moment even though I'm fully aware of what I was doing right before I typed this. Thanks for sharing and I hope we can share more together. Trinity
October 16, 2011

In reply to by trinity19

Hi Trinity I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see a reply. i was feeling quite desperate having poured by soul and received no comment! (desperate or what!). i am sometimes oblivious of doing it - i zone out to it. often i am obsessed with thinking about doing it and thinking of ways to do it without anyone noticing. I don't notice the pain - i find it all a relief except when I go through a phase of toe picking and i create a fake ingrowing toenail to dig at - that hurts. Its such madness. i know some of the psychological reasons - a few i can voice to myself, most have not quite reached the surface and i suspect some are deeply buried. with a two year wait to start the process I guess I shall be living with it for some years to come. however, its a bit like a comfort blanket I'm loathed to get rid of it. I almost panic at the thought of not having it any more. what complicated creatures we are thank goodness i have such a loving partner and wonderful teenage son Bx
October 20, 2011
Old enough to know better as well. But, I can't seem to stop. I started picking at around age 4, so I've never really known life without it. I didn't realize I had a problem until about 4th grade, when someone in school pointed out all the red marks on my face. They asked me if I had chicken pox and I think I mumbled a maybe or something... after lunch our class went to the library. Our teacher approached me in the middle of the room, while I was surrounded by my classmates. Using a dry erase marker to lift my chin, she examined my face. I blush with shame even now. I began to realize patterns with me - times that I would be especially tempted to pick... after work, before bed, if I'm upset/hurt/angry, if I'm depressed or anxious, if the lighting is especially unflattering in the bathroom, etc. I try to avoid the mirror when I'm in one of these moods/modes. I have done the thirty day challenge, twice. It's remarkable how quickly my skin will heal if I simply leave it alone. I think the worst thing for me is that I actually have acne prone skin. It seems that the sebum I produce is extra sticky - it doesn't take me long to actually find blemishes. But once I pick them, I invariably introduce bacteria or squeeze too hard... and the result is disastrous. The areas I pick are my neck, chest, back, face, scalp, and pubic area. My main area is back/face. I can often talk myself out of harming myself elsewhere. My boyfriend/fiance completely gets it. He bites his nails horribly (even though his hands are just beautiful) and has slight compulsivity towards skin picking. I think if I did another 30 day challenge now and had a legitimate pimple ready for removal, he would do it for me. I haven't asked... has anyone ever tried to stop in this way?
January 31, 2012
Hello I am 51, never had a problem with face acne in my life until after historectomy in 02. Now my face looks a craterville. Always have something big on my face, cannot stop picking it, get tweezers and pull everything that is not flat. I am embarrased an ashamed. I dont anywhere or do anything. I also was estranged by my daughter which hurt very bad and made things even worse for me. I am at the point that I dont want to live anymore because of this. I have been looking for a job too! Can you imagine when they see me? They probably think I am a crack head. I dont want to see any family or come in contact with anyone. I feel so bad for my husband who is very quiet about it all. I cant go to docs cuz I have no insurance and been out of work for 3 yrs. Even trying to get waitress job. Now I dont feel its the economy anymore I feel like its the way I look is why I gont get hired. :-((

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