What to do? Is it classed as self injury?


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May 28, 2012

Hi Emma I've been doing the exact same thing as you since I was 16, I'm 19 now. It started out with my arms and spread to my chest. I when I started I didn't think of it as self harm because it felt kind of nice at the time, even though I would be sore after. I always wore long sleeves and when friend caught a glimpse of my arms I told her it was eczema too. It wasn't until she saw the sign in my bathroom that said "Let your skin heal, Don't pick!" she knew there was something I wasn't telling her. Please get any type of help you can. The sooner the better. Also come clean with the people in your life, don't lie to them about it. Lying about it will make it a lot harder to get over. Once you tell people about it, they might want to talk about it with you and try and help you. Getting help from professionals is so much more effective then getting help from your friends and family. Professionals might want you to go on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety pills. I wouldn't recommend them, there is nothing wrong with the chemicals in your brain, I personally think it has more to do with your thoughts. Doctors are all familiar with this type of ocd, don't be afraid of getting help. I spent the last 3 summers in long sleeves. Lately I've been wearing t-shirts everyday. At first my arms were blotchy and scabby, but the more sun and fresh air they got the faster they healed. It also motivated me not to pick at my arms, since I knew I was going to have to wear short sleeves. You just have to be brave. The other thing that helped me overcome this was figuring out what 'triggers' me to pick. They included certain people that would make me anxious, weed, unhealthy food and over eating. Getting exercise everyday also helped a lot too. Once again, when you stop hiding it you'll be a lot more likely to heal. You're not the only one, you're not crazy, and it's not impossible to get over this. It will only make you a stronger and wiser person.
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May 29, 2012

Hi, thanks for the reply :) It's so good hearing from other people who have the same problem! I've managed to go without picking for 4 days (which is a long time for me! the longest in ages), and I finished my exams 4 days ago.. so I'm not stressed about that anymore, and it got so much worse over the exam period. I'm hoping that I can keep going for longer. I'm still unsure about going to a doctor, are you in the UK? I searched dermatillomania on the NHS website and it isn't listed, I don't know how many doctors in the UK would recognise it. I've also just started going out with short sleeves, which was really scary, but it always amazes me how you imagine people would stare but no one does. Has anyone on here had any long term successes in not picking without any medical help? The most I've gone before is a couple of months, then it started again.
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May 29, 2012

Hi, the reason I'm replying is cause I feel like I'm in a really similar situation and it's reassuring to see someone the same age and similar problems! I discovered this a couple of weeks ago after I had picked what were originally tiny insect bites on my arms so badly they looked infected so I checked online for symptoms of infection when I came across this site. I guess it really started when I was 11 or 12 with the soles of my feet, which I compulsively picked until they looked badly bruised or bled. Other than that any spot that came a long I couldn't stop myself from picking at it. The reason I didn't post before or anything is because, like you, it felt strange to be posting about it. I can really relate to this so it's weird. This all got so much worse this year during AS level year and I have been stressed about exams. I have pretty clear skin on my face but then I got some spots on my face and made them bleed, it was really embarrassing. Its now a big problem with the scabs on my arms - which are spreading. I try and cover up my arms so I can't do it but it's not working very well. During a History AS level exam just over a week ago, I was stressing out and looking down at my arms to see that I'd scratched them subconsciously and made the spots bleed. This is why I think for me it's not a self harm type thing as I am not depressed or anything, I think it's something I've had pretty much all my life and it's a compulsion where I feel I have to do it, rather than that I want to, which I think is the crucial difference. It's hard to explain though. My parents know and I have had some advice from other people so I'll pass it on to you in case it helps :) Well this hasn't been too helpful but its stopped me picking more than I did - I have a bandage round my arms when I'm at home on my own so it provides a barrier. Also I was told that exercising more provides a distraction and a more positive state of mind, however this may be more helpful if it's more linked to anxiety which mine isn't. The most important piece of advice I heard is that no one else can solve it and it's down to me only, which is hard as it's not just something you stop doing and forget about. But now my exams are over, and I'm guessing yours are too, the stress has died down and I think that may have been a factor in how frequent the picking was. I would tell your parents if you haven't, I put it off telling mine for weeks but when I told them I felt so much more relieved. I hope this helps, obviously I'm not a professional but maybe knowing there are people the same age or in the same country out there in the same boat is reassuring? It is for me so I hope this helps :)
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March 13, 2013

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