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This has been a relief for me to find this website, as well. I had no idea there was a name for the disorder. I have bipolar disorder and was hospitalized twice over 10 years ago for a psychotic break. I was in therapy for over 5 years and never had a psychiatrist or therapist who would discuss this with me. (Even in the hospital and therapy setting, it's VERY hard for me to talk about it and I hide the problem from most people very well.) Anyway, it was frustrating that my last therapist just said that it's a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety and stress. That's really all I've ever heard from anyone about it. I started with extreme nail biting and cuticle damage on my fingers when I was about 6 or 7 years old, so this has been going on for over 30 years for me! It's painful, embarrassing, unsightly, and just exposes me to possible infection through my damaged skin. I have left jobs because of this disorder (when I had to be in the public eye to do my job and people would notice my hands); I've stayed home from important social or school/work activities and opted not to participate in things that I really want to do because others will notice and sometimes comment on my hands. I HATE LIVING THIS WAY!! I've attempted suicide twice before (when I was suffering major depressive phases with my bipolar disorder) -- I know this disorder of picking at the skin isn't the reason I wanted to kill myself, but it certainly doesn't help when I'm depressed! It's just another reason to hate myself and think that I'm an utter failure. I think the psychiatric community damages patients by not trying to actively treat patients who have this problem -- especially when they ask for help (as I did). From what I've read, I've learned that dermatillomania is in the OCD spectrum and that many people who suffer with it also have other mental illness (as I do). You would think that for someone like me who was being treated by a psychiatrist and in therapy for years, that someone would have addressed this issue with me! They never did and made me feel trivial and immature for bringing it up. One doctor told me that it's commonly a bad habit caused by anxiety that typically starts with young girls or teenagers and is "outgrown" when you get to be an adult. Well, I'm living proof (as are many of the people who have posted on here), that that approach is a load of BS! The psychiatric community needs to address this disorder and take it seriously -- I'm happy to find this online group to get some support.
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