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AllScars , 09 Jun 2012

scar picker/eater. HELP ME!

I'm a married 33yr-old mom. I constantly picking my arms & upper thighs. I do so consciously, but I can't stop it. I eat my scabs (mostly the dry skin). I have done this for about 5 yrs. I feel like a cannibal, not to mention a disfigured freak. I am beautiful woman, but due to my picking, I cannot even wear tanktops anymore. If I wear a short-sleeve shirt, people stare. Why do I do this picking/eating? I have had no major life traumas, just anxiety and OCD(which I take Cymbalta for). Please give me some advice on how to stop my self-destruction. I want to feel pretty again. Sometimes I hate to be around other people, because I feel like a freak . I need my life back and my husband needs his wife back.
2 Answers
Professional Picker
June 14, 2012
Dear Darling, PLEASE DONT LOSE HOPE! PLEASE . My story is one of 15 year picking disorder paired with Bi-polar ,OCD and now Re-diagnosis to ADD OCD. My screen name is satyrical and almost sad but Im to the point where i know I HAVE TO GET BETTER OR I WILL PICK A HOLE THROUGH MY SKIN. embarrassingly enough I AM A LICENSED ESTHETICIAN and skin care therapist since the age of 16 when I graduated Esthetician school. I am now a full time makeup artist. That is why my screen name is "professional picker" because I essentially am just that. No, I did not become an esthi to pick people, but I became one because I have always had acne , always picked, wanted to figure out the "tricks" to heal my scarring , and also to help other people like me. Im responding to you, because for some ridiculous reason NO ONE HAS. and I apologize on their behalf. I CARE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR STORY. It resonates with my heart. IT BREAKS MY HEART. I have a husband too. We have been together for 12 years, married for 3 and he has always had an extremely hard time with my picking. It is Disgusting. I hate it, and I understand why he hates it. It stops us from having sex a lot of the time, I dont want him to see my body, and to be honest , like many people who are not , most of my scars are on my breasts. Why would he want to touch my open sores and see the little red marks ALL OVER!? I dont even feel bad for myself , I am angry , I want to stop , I WANT MYSELF BACK. I WANT MY LIFE BACK. I wish i knew your name but you will never know mine and I will never know yours , thats the beauty of forums. This is the hardest subject to talk about . I NEVER TALKED ABOUT IT EVER. I did not even know I had a disorder until about 2 years ago. I just thought it was an unhealthy addiction. I EAT MY DRY THIN SCABS TOO. I AM NOT AFRAID TO SAY THAT. Thank you for your honesty. It made me say it . The only person that knows that part is my husband and he was disgusted. But I didnt understand , because he will pick the dry skin off his toes and chew on it. I think thats gross. Its weird because like you said, AND I AM GLAD YOU CAN SAY THIS, That YOU ARE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. If you can say that despite your (our) debilitating disorder than i know you have some speck of life left in you. That is what WILL SAVE YOU. TELL YOURSELF THIS WILL NOT PLAGUE ME INTO OLD AGE. because it will not. you have begun the process to healing by just writing it on here. YOU ARE NOT DISGUSTING. Our picking IS IN FACT unnatural , but just like when someone tells a lie, it doesnt make them a liar, a person can sin, but that does not make them a sinner. WE ARE NOT DISGUSTING. WE ARE NOT DISGUSTING. I am a makeup artist , I have to look good at all times because I have to look like the job I love. and I run my own makeup artistry business so I am my walking advertisement. I have had to figure out what to wear. I have cried looking in my closet and wanting to wear that beautiful dress but I just CANT because of my scars (mostly open wounds that havent healed because I pick the scabs off constantly) and I feel like im dying. I was always a full figured but well put together and attractive girl and woman growing up and I still believe I am . My weight went up over a two year period to 202 lbs and I am 5'2" so the Dr. was honest and told me something that rocked my world. He wasnt being mean , or crossing a line, or making me feel ugly, he cared about the kind of weight my body was carrying as such a short girl. My Body Fat Index was off the charts at about a 37, which for my frame, and age, as well as height was in the critical morbidly obese range. I was determined to work it off. I could never take Alli , Redline and all the other shit that they sell legally on the shelves of walmart. I wouldve had an immediate heart attack with the other anti-depressents and stimulants I take. Over a TWO YEAR period, I have dropped significant weight. JUST BY EATING RIGHT. NO DIETS , I HATE DIETS, I HATE PARAMETERS . I choose to make my own "lifestyle" change not take on a diet. I am now, after two years , fitting into things i kept because I was determined to lose it. I did not go to the gym because my depression at that point was debilitating and I couldnt do much of anything. I lost it because I had taken on Vegetarianism full force and did it right, with the right amount of protein and fiber . My point in all of that is , THIS IS SUMMER 2012. I am decently thin again about 165 at 5'2" which still isnt healthy but i never want to be the "textbook" size for my height which is 125. What the hell is that!!!?? I dont even want to be that. I DONT OWN A SCALE. I want to look good for ME , first, and second, for my husband because I want to please him with my body. I dont think thats shallow or self-deprevating , I think its right. We need to first look and feel good AND BE HEALTHY for ourselves and secondly for the one we love. Sex is so important for intimacy in a relationship, its not the whole relationship, but the closeness it brings is so important. I WANT TO WEAR A SWIMSUIT. I WANT TO WEAR TANK TOPS, I WANT TO WEAR SKIRTS AND SHORTS THAT ARE ABOVE THE KNEE. I WANT TO WEAR A THONG around my husband , I WANT TO RUN AROUND THE HOUSE. I CANT. But I am determined that I will. YOU WILL TOO DARLING!!! Why do we do this? Well, it can be a number of things. By really digging into research I still dont know why I did it as a child. I wasnt abused or in an unhealthy home. I think it can be genetic, actually im sure it is. My mother has a slight case of Trich (pulling hair out) She denies it, but I just remember seeing her as a child while she was on the phone, as she would get a single strand of hair , run her hand down the strand, get to the bottom, do a 1,2 tug, and run it across her mouth. I did not realize this till later in life. And also I pick my cuticles till they bleed and hurt , she does the same, so did her father. We had to both get fake nails to stop picking our cuticles. I dont know why that stopped it but it did. My fake nails also helped me stop picking my body for a period of time, because they are not sharp enough , they are thick on the edges and you cant get a grip. when you try to pick, your skin kind of slips through your fingers and you just give up after one or two times. TRY THAT , Get a set of acrylic tips, keep em up every 2 or 3 weeks. Yes, it is expensive and I dont have dispensable money (you may not either), but DARLING, I have decided I will empty out my bank acct, I will go into DEBT to help myself get better. I AM WORTH IT!!! YOU ARE WORTH IT! You need to BELIEVE YOU WILL GET BETTER. REALLY BELIEVE IT. Do you pick at nothing or always something? I pick only when there are things to pick. I feel a release when i run my hands over my back and chest and breasts and bikini line and legs, and arms, and scalp, and face, and i squeeze until something pops out. I feel like a sicko . I feel psychotic. What is it about seeing pus come out of my body that releases stress!? I have actually said to my husband that I have a favorite kind of pimple, a favorite kind of pus that comes out. WEIRD. WHAT? I thought it was my self masochism because I couldnt cut myself or burn myself etc, so i picked instead But After doing research I realized it wasnt. those who cut themselves feel a release and can go to sleep happy. My heart breaks for them. We pick and feel good while we are doing it (sometimes my "sessions" last up to 3 hours WHEN IM ALONE) but when we look in the mirror on our way to bed or get in the shower we loose our sense of self. We feel as though we look disfigured, ugly. and just recently I have picked soo badly that I have been in the worst pain ever. As though I had gotten burned. My husband would put his hand on my back (just last week) and I literally jumped of the couch it hurt soo badly. It hurt to take my clothes on and off. I couldnt believe it. Thats when I realized that my stress from temporary things in my life at the moment plus the ADD medication i am on actually exacerbates my OCD and CSP disorder. You may need to go to back to the psychiatrist and talk more about OCD. SSRIs are what we need to help us with OCD tendencies. They wont fix everything but they do help. Im on Lexapro and Dr. just doubled my dosage. It has helped but I still need to stop myself. If you are on any Stimulants (uppers) like ADD meds or Bi-polar meds, (ask your Dr.) SSRIs dont play well with those. So you might need to add something, wean off of something, or change your dosage of your SSRI , or try another one. Ask about Lexapro. but remember everything is different for each body. but if youve been on yours too long I JUST READ, You are on Cymbalta. That is not an SSRI , it is for generalized anxiety disorder and does send Seratonin to the brain but not enough!!! You need and SSRI , that is what is recommended for OCD and Anxiety - Lexapro is a SSRI and Similar is Celexa. DO NOT LET YOUR DOCTOR PUT YOU ON TWO SSRIs . That can be dangerous and again you do not want to be on an upper "SSRI" and a downer "depression meds" like valium, prozac, klonopin, etc. Just tell him yours is not working and you want to try something a little stronger Say and SSRI like Lexapro OR Celexa. I have taken both. I like Lexapro better, but remember if you have negative symptoms for more than 2 weeks, scary ones like blurred vision, no sleeping, shivering, cant get out of bed, you might need to go back, and tweak the dosage or try another. YOU WILL have lasting side effects as you know, possibly dry mouth, ocasional headaches etc. Im not a DR. but I think you should see what your dr. does say , especially if you have been on cymbalta for over a year. your body can get immune to it. YOU NEED TO GO TO THE DR. PLEASE GO. I know its annoying and expensive (hopefully you have insurance, if not look for a "sliding scale" psych clinic , but do your research , it needs to be a good one!) I have been back and forth to the psych 3 x this month. just to get this medication right. It takes time. but dont give up on it. I pick primarily -UNCONSCIOUSLY. The worst is in the car. I drive a lot, and its like i have hyper extended arms where I can reach my shoulder , mid upper and even mid bottom back. Thats what I pick in the car. At home, my husband has to go to bed early because he works early and so I am on the couch until I get sleepy which is usually 3 hours after him. No one is there to tell me to stop picking and I dont feel like I can tell myself. I might for one second become aware and stop and sit on my hands but before I know it Im watching a late night jimmy fallon show laughing , not even knowing I am bleeding all over my pajamas because I have continued to pick. Getting in and out of the shower is too hard. I have avoided showers but WE CANT DO THAT. WE NEED TO TAKE SHOWERS. IF You have a full legnth mirror or a wall of mirrors in your bathroom, you need to cover it with something while you are getting undressed. you will get depressed , you will see something to pick, dont look at your body when you get out of shower because you will be inclined to pick as the sores and scabs get mushy and you feel as though they are "ready to come off" They ARE NOT READY. They should come of by themselves. Im not sure if you take showers regularly, but I didnt. Maybe I did once a week. NOW I HAVE PROMISED MYSELF that i WILL take a shower just to wash my body EVERYDAY!!! I have kept it up so far. its been a week. I hate blowdrying my hair and you shouldnt wash it everyday anyway. So I put it in a shower cap and jump in shower , DO NOT USE A LOOFAH, they carry intense bacteria. If you are washing everyday just lather your soap in your hand and apply to body and rinse off. When YOU DONT have OPEN SORES. you can use an exfoliant towel thingy or CLEAN wash cloth. DO NOT RE USE WASHCLOTHS OR TOWELS, The exfoliant towel can be thrown in the washer with free and clear or naturally made (recipes online) detergent. you need a new wash cloth each time. but you dont want to re open sores so go around them. the body does need to be exfoliated so use a gentle washcloth or exfoliant shammy thing and wait till you heal, or go around spots that hurt, or just run it over gently. DONT SCRUB TOO HARD. this will cause more dark spots. Its funny because I know all of the tricks on how to get rid of acne , but its a vicious cycle, when we break out, we pick, when we pick, bacteria spreads and causes more acne, and we pick again only to continue the cycle. ITS ABOUT STOPPING THE CYCLE. LETS DO THIS TOGETHER. If you want to write back and forth regularly when we have time, I would be willing to do that. We do not need to know each others lives unless we feel the need to share since our Derma is so tied to all things in our life, and we dont need to know each others names. But I am the only person I know (and I know a lot of people) who has Derma. Or maybe they are just hiding it. Mine is too bad to hide. You need to also really asses (as objectively as you can) how bad your scaring or open sores really are. We see ourselves either in a too exagerated way or in a denial way. You are obviously not in denial , but MAYBE just MAYBE you CAN wear a tank top. Or start with a cap sleeved shirt. The tiny sleeves. YOU DONT HAVE TO BE FREE OF EVERY SINGLE SCAR TO BE OUT IN PUBLIC . WE NEED TO GET OUT OF OUR SECRET BOX. GET OUT OF YOUR BOX. I NEED TO GET OUT OF MINE. WE ARE GETTING OUT OF OUR BOX RIGHT NOW!!! Start out little and try something new every few days! DO NOT GET RID OF YOUR CLOTHES , DO NOT GO BUY A NEW WARDROBE that consists of long sleeves, pants, black and no brights, tights, or tons of jeans. DONT!!! you WILL fight this , YOU WILL BE BETTER. We are in charge of our minds and our hands (that is truth that sometimes i forget) You WILL wear you clothes again. For now, wear your tank tops and add a light cardigan over it. Its hard for me to do that where I live because it is hot. , But I wear a NICE shirt with short sleeves even though my picking extends below my elbows and onto my tattoos (i pick my tattoos- they are still in tact but if i dont stop they will be all scar tissue!) and I love all my tattoos. ) I rock a great necklace and make sure my makeup is pretty. I want to look in the mirror and say "ok, I am pretty, we are just getting there, we are fighting!" My legs are covered all the way down and I have hyperpigmentation, dark spots, but I wear skirts to my knees , cute skirts. YOU NEED TO WEAR YOUR CUTE CLOTHES. YOU ARE NOT DISGUSTING, you called yourself beautiful and I believe it. So wear your NICE clothes. Dont opt for sweats and t shirt, DONT DO IT. The more skin we show the less inclined we are to pick. DONT LOSE ANYMORE SENSE OF SELF. Keep it going, just tweak it a little until you can wear that tank top without a cardigan ! What an accomplishment , reward yourself with a new shirt and say "I just spent money on this shirt, I will not ruin my arms because I deserve to wear this shirt" Honest Darling, we can wear ANYTHING we want. I GET STARED AT ALL THE TIME. I got FIRED from a job because I started to feel a teeny tiny bit better about my scars so I would wear a cap sleeve shirt or tank top dress (it wasnt as bad as it is in this period of time) but I was told by the manager of the Makeup Studio that clients were asking if I had poison ivy , and said it was disgusting, made them nervous that they were going to contract it from me. The manager always said things to me, She even said "I will do anything to help you get your skin better" Well F you lady. I have a problem, its debilitating and painful and Im trying to stop , so get out of my damn business. I can fix my own acne , I just have a demon to fight that is continuing my flare ups. I had become a little more comfortable with my scaring and that shut my up again. DONT LET PEOPLE DO THAT TO YOU. I talked to a friend who has Trich and she says that the best way to conquer this (what we feel like is an) impossible disorder is to be open about it. CALL IT WHAT IT IS. STOP LYING about it being bug bites, poison ivy, stop covering it all (let SOME show!) . I have done all of this. I have lied. even to those who already knew I had a problem! Who am I fooling? I GET STARED AT ALL THE TIME.!!!! Im a spectacle already with piercings (nose, ears, upper lip) always crazy hair and fun makeup. So naturally people look and then I am up close and personal with people with my arms in the air as I put on their eyeshadow for their wedding and they just cant stop staring!!!! I see them, and I call them out. I do it in a nice way "Oh are you looking at my scars? Its actually really a disorder that I have created an addiciton to , called Compulsive Skin Picking, Its like when people pull strands of hair out (because that comparison helps them understand as Trich is more recognized) instead of pulling out hair , I pick. " I tell them that I have stopped lying about it, and i might even apologize if it makes them uncomfortable but not much. Because I dont have to ask for THEIR FORGIVENESS! They usually just say "im sorry about that" and I say , "Its no problem, I can fight anything, everyone has their demons, this is mine" And then I switch the conversation. IT IS NOT EASY!!!! I just realized I was done with people staring at me , degrading me. But they stare because they dont understand so instead of being angry I educate them. Im not saying I dont take precautions to cover my scars. I DO. but sometimes , because they are EVERYWHERE , they are going to peek out, so i just let it hang out!! lol :) Tell someone, tell someone, tell someone,!!! my friends didnt even know. So I told them. Then , although im still not comfortable , I started to try out the openness thing. My husband is not comfortable with people seeing or knowing I have this and that makes me feel gross, but I know he doesnt mean it in a bad way. But sometimes I just want to purge on Facebook and be like - I HAVE A PROBLEM. WHO ELSE DOES THIS. !!?? But I wont out of respect for him. and it probably wouldnt be that smart. but I would at least like to post articles to educate. I wont do that yet. not yet. I literally have never written in a forum before but this morning I took a picture of my leg. And I was determined to post it today. BECAUSE WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT. Im gonna post it here so you can see my legs. I did it, because today I AM ACTUALLY GOING TO THE POOL. I have a modest but flattering one piece, to cover my breast and stomach scars, but the worst is the bikini region, so I brough a pair of short so I could walk around. Its not a public pool but a friends pool. She knows what I have. and she does not judge me. If your friends judge you, GET RID OF THEM. They are not healthy for you. if they are willing to understand , thats totally different , explain and let them soak it in. Youre probably thinking "THIS BITCH, SHES GOING TO THE POOL!!" I get jealous when people are getting better, but hun, IM NOT BETTER, I HAVE SHIT ALL OVER THE PLACE. Its a quiet pool and I am stepping outside of my box. I HAVE TO. I WILL CHALLENGE MYSELF EACH DAY. I just picked my shoulder for a second there, while typing you. Who gives a shit about the other people, when will you see them again? at the grocery store. WHO CARES (hahaha, I care , but I know the truth and so I keep telling myself the truth) The people who stare dont mean anything to me. Its the people I love that I want to explain to and for them to accept me. I used to get incredibly defensive when my husband or mom used to tell me to stop picking. But now, I have actually asked them, that when they see my with my hands constantly on my back for a period of minutes just to touch my arm lightly, and I ACCEPT IT, I take my hand off my body and concentrate on the conversation im having! My hand will creep up again, or I will be lightly scratching my dry skin from an acne flareup and they might just say, hey brielle, your picking, and Ill go "oh!" and stop. Our minds and our hands are OURS. We just need to retrain our brains to do WHAT WE TELL IT TO DO OR WHAT NOT TO DO. HAVE HOPE. I AM HAVING HOPE , IM TRYING. I cry everynight but the morning is new , if you can just stop yourself periodically during the day , you have made an accomplishment. You have stopped yourself, dont kick yourself for the 100x of the rest of the day that you have to say that to yourself again. Dont feel crazy talking out loud to yourself. Whatever your name may be say "Name. Stop picking , you are hurting yourself, and your beautiful body" Plan your outfit for the next day in your head , lay it out the night before and DONT PICK knowing that you would like to wear that short sleeved shirt and knee legnth skirt. WE CAN DO IT. Please respond to me ONLY if you feel like it, we can keep talking. I have some tricks under my belt. that have helped me in the past. Hey WE ARE IN A JOURNEY. I am reinstating what i have learned in the past . Lets not let the beautiful things in life pass us by. You have kids, I hope you have a good husband (remember they are never perfect) but I pray he is good to you. Take joy in them. Take joy in a good meal you cook. Go on you tube and learn how to do a sultry smokey eye for the next time you go out with your husband! YOU NEED TO "DATE" your husband, sounds weird, but you need to. Read blogs, Use Pinterest, Be Creative, always be doing something with your hands. Ask for his support to just nicely say "hun, baby, your picking" and DONT YELL AT HIM. LET HIM. if he doesnt want to, ask someone else thats close to you. and SELF TALK, ALWAYS. Maybe try fake nails like I said. and another trick is the tanning bed. Funny coming from an esthetician, but honestly the sun and uv rays (whether real or fake) is healing. Do it safely, dont stay in for too long, but it is a way to dry out spots. maybe 2-3 times a week. Get a membership usually 30 bucks a month. AGAIN LETS EMPTY OUR POCKETS OVER THIS. If your husband is not up for it, use your own credit card. If you dont have one, or if it is shared ,start saving change, or get one that will bill you. There are always ways. Dermatologists tell people with excessive Acne or psoriasis to go to a tanning bed regularly. That is the only thing that subsides the pain and breakouts. SO if you in fact pick at thinhgs that are really there. we can beat this ....If you pick at imaginary things, we can STILL beat this. I am not advocating lying but tell your hubby that your Esthetician (me!) or that you went to the dermatologist and they said that it would be extremely helpful to tan to heal the acne. find him an article and show him if he is a reader. They need proof sometimes! So see which one helps you more, Tips, or Tanning. Remember to use protection in the tanning bed because you dont want to look like the NEW JERSEY TAN MOM!!! have you seen her, talk about issue!!! poor lady. If you are extremely prone to burning , then go for the nails, and we can talk about what to use as a body wash and treatment products to help. ITs funny, it sounds like I have all the answers. BUT I DONT. I just know these things from my past fight , when I have stopped. Im sorry for the long response , your probably afraid to even read this. but if you make it to this line! Thank you. Writing this out has actually helped me to develop a definite plan for myself. If you do get tips, or start tanning, you need to not ruin the money spent. Sometimes money (that we spend when we dont have it! ) will be a big enough factor for us to not ruin what we spent it on!!! I will be in prayer, Professional Picker picture of my leg :
June 15, 2012

In reply to by Professional Picker

Dear professional picker, THANK YOU for your reply! I know it took a lot of your time. I definitely would like to keep in touch with you about each other's progress. I bet it was lovely to go to the pool. I hope you had fun; maybe I'll get the guts to go this summer after a little bit of healing.This too is my first time writing in a forum, let alone about my "issues". I was raised in a very loving and supportive family, but given the impression that being open about psychological issues is never appropriate (especially when conversing with strangers. I had gotten to the point that it felt like I was trying to distance myself from the whole world due to how my arms look. I have long since been FED-UP with the questions I receive when people in public see my wounds. So I hide under my long sleeved shirts. I recently started picking my upper thighs (they are not too far gone, about 3 picks on the top-side of each thigh). I credit this new picking endeavor for making me realize that I am killing myself (my spirit----not physical suicide, but emotional suicide). This is when I said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I know I am beautiful, but I NEED TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL AGAIN ! My husband knows I pick. He's always catching me doing it and tells me to stop (like I can just flip the switch to off). :) I usually tell him "but it's just dry skin, see how white it is." (it still usually bleeds) My husband does not know I eat my scabs. No one knows that gruesome part except the people of this forum and God. How I brought myself to disclose that sordid detail to a bunch of strangers, I will never know. I am glad I did though. I have not received one negative reply, nor have I felt judged in any way. Plus, it looks like I have found other people who can understand what demons I struggle with moment by moment each and every day. Only a few days ago I found this forum and already I feel more empowered than ever before and encouraged that I CAN STOP PICKING-WE CAN STOP PICKING! Steps I have taken to prevent and heal my picks: cut off my pretty fingernails, apply calamine lotion to my wounds twice a day(as suggested by a new forum friend), and pray. My wounds appear to be less red and inflamed now, but I still try to pick with my virtually non-existant fingernails. I love the idea of fake fingernails(so glam), but I don't think they would last a day with all the flower gardening I do. My flowers are my therapy (slightly cheaper than a shrink, at least if I don't get carried away at the world-renowned garden nursery just a few miles down the road). Anyways, I have to go for now. Thank you again Professional Picker for your reply. I would definitely like to correspond with you. I will keep you posted on my progress and remain interested in yours, Brielle. Chat with you later, Amanda (real name).

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