Strategies to stop it?


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January 05, 2009

yo girl.. sounds like i have a twin on the other side of the atlantic!! im 21 now and have been putting up with this shit for about 12 yrs... sabotaging the confidence and self esteem i should be having... and of course the health of my skin... its a constant struggle and i have tried everything to find relief... but nothing has worked..except one thing... so heres what i do that helps alot... when i'm at home, which is where and when i am picking, i wear a pair of soft gloves and wrap packing tape around the wrists a few times(not too tight but tight enough that you cant slip the gloves off). the gloves are soft so i can maintain dexterity (can still use the computer, phone, etc) and because they feel nice which is good because i am still touching my skin quite a bit... and i use packing tape because its really tough to get off without scissors which is so helpful because i find myself dying to take them off a lot to give into my compulsions but because i cant do this easily i have more time to work through the compulsions. i of course take them off for some reasons.. washing and cooking(although sometimes i just slip some disposable plastic or rubber gloves over them to cook) and when i leave the house to go out. i have done very well at finding my way around all other activities at home with the gloves on too... even when im sleeping i wear them... its bound to work if you stay committed to it... and an extremely important note.. NO TOOLS!!! the gloves will eliminate your ability to destroy and go after your skin with your nails and fingertips but you can still use tweezers, nail clippers, whatever... to try and get stuff out... and its extremely tempting to as well when you have no other choice due to the gloves.. that was the only difficult problem i got into in this solution.. but i just asked my roomate to hold on to them for me and just ask him when i need them... another difficulty you might run into is when you are in the washroom doing your buisness or about to take a shower... thats where my mirror is so im am drawn to it and vulnerable when i have to take the gloves off to wash... but i just dont turn on the light or i use a nightlight(something too dim to see my skin well) close the door and then take the gloves off.. now i am visually incapable of causing much damage.. try it out... its not that much of an adjustment..you may feel silly at first but a positive attitude will get you far... i think of it as a clever fashion statement! lol... i have a bunch of cool gloves ive collected that i like to wear.. and when i wake up to get ready in the morning.. its exciting to see how much my face has healed the day before because i wasnt able to pick... its still annoying having to deal with the compulsions.. but id much rather struggle with the anxiety caused by having to resist them than the anxiety i get having to resist going out and living my life... good luck.. i really hope this is as much a saving grace for you as it was for me! try not to drop out of school... i have already done so twice due to the anxiety having to get up and spend so much time trying to hide the damage of my skin.. and still feeling terrified to go into public...and o god.. you understand im sure.. its so much more than that.. and i know that i had no choice but to drop out... it caused way too much suffering for me to deal with that everyday.. so i checked into a hospital for a while.. and they couldnt help me either... but then i resolved to do this glove thing and stick to it.. and i only wish i came up with this idea while in school... because i certainly feel i could manage it now... give it a try!!! push yourself! THERE ARE NO GOOD EXCUSES TO GIVE INTO THE COMPULSIONS..keep yourself busy!!! keep a little journal so you can write down some self praise when you are doing well... i wish you all the best!!!!!!!!!!!!! peace... j
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January 05, 2009

Awww..thank you so so much for your advice! You have given me some new found inspiration to give things another try in my life..with a new and positive attitude. I mean things are totally achieveable if you keep saying to yourself.."i can do this"...rather than just giving in all the time. You've got to fight those compulsions instead of letting them beat you. (i know things are easier said than done..but still-- you've got to try and stop it.....it just seems so silly to let it take you over..). I CAN BEAT IT.I CAN!! ***I will try this glove-technique today!!!!!!**** I have a pair i think....but will definately buy some more! I hope you are keeping it up really well(although i know it must be hard at times)..but i really admire your determination and strategy of overcoming this evil evil skin picking that seems to take over one's life. Well, it's time to stop this once and for all! Good luck with yours still!Keep it up...cos the glove thing is obviously working for you :D ...and your seeing results already, which is Fantastic! Like you said-- theres nothing more exciting about seeing the skin on your body healing. Just keep up that strength to not go back and destroy it. KEEP UP YOUR GOOD WORK! Thanks so much again :) F xx
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January 06, 2009

The glove thing sounds like a great idea! I REALLY want to try it, but how do i explain it to my mom? She knows I pick, but not as much as I do, and she doesn't understand why. Is there another thing I can tell her besides explaining everything?
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January 06, 2009

hmm.. thats a good question... this is such a personal problem and one that is understood so little even by those who know us best... but in the end, we really just have to be true to ourselves... its not something we can control, its not something we've asked for, and its our mess so we have a right to clean it up however we can! accepting it is like an leg amputee accepting that his leg is gone... if he wants to walk he'll need a crutch... otherwise he's ganna have to hop around on one foot and have a hard time...and thats what we need... something that helps us live a little easier... and we need to accept it for ourselves or we cant expect others to... i think you should just tell your mom straight up... you cant help but to pick at your skin and the gloves are so when you try to you cant cause any damage...she already knows you pick..so it can only make things easier to deal with, less shameful for you, if you can help her to understand. then there is no hiding from her or yourself anymore. you can tell her you do it as a subconscious way to handle anxiety.. much like other people might bite their nails, shake their leg, or play with their hair... its automatic.. not something you can help.. but unlike what most people do to deal with anxiety, this way causes damage... (and yes i know its not as simple as someone shaking their leg or playing with their hair.. its more obsessive...more uncontrollable.. but its easier to explain with something that she may be able to relate to ya know?) ya gatta do what ya gatta do to make your own life better... if she still doesnt understand.. then whatever..should that stop you from getting relief? i personally would rather look funny cuz im wearing gloves all the time (even though i think it has a lot of potential of becoming the next hot fashion trend ;) ) then feel humiliated by my own body and exhausted trying to hide it... the gloves can come off in 30 seconds but the wounds, both physical and emotional, created by the picking will take a lot longer to heal. again, hey, ya gatta do what ya gatta do!!! and if you're ganna do it.. then you should be as comfortable with it as possible... rock those gloves!!! and soon you might be rocking some nice skin, some cool confidence, and a new lease on life! and it is possible!!! and it is worth being a little misunderstood by your mom.. besides.. shes ganna love you anyways!!! but if none of these ideas appeal to you then i guess you can just tell her you are afraid of getting shocked by static electricity or something ;) peace... jai btw... id like to know if anyone tries this glove thing i've been doing and if it helps! if we can find something that works for us we can help others! us dermatillomaniacs have to stick together :) no one understands this disorder like we do and so no one can help us in the ways we can help one another!!! GOOD LUCK
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January 06, 2009

btw.. you know how dogs wear those plastic cones around their necks after sergery so they dont bite at their stiches? haha.. makes me think of the gloves.... whatever works :)
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January 07, 2009

Thank you so much for actually replying to me! I'm shocked anyone cared. But I'm not embarrassed by the gloves, I just don't want to have to explain it to my brothers and father. and something tells me they will be curious enough to not accept the static electricity thing. And there is no way in hell I am going to attempt to explain this to my 13 and 15 year old brothers or stupid insensitive father. My brothers don't even know I take medication for depression. I could try to just ignore them, but they are persistently annoying (as all younger brothers are at some point). Any ideas of what to do?
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January 06, 2009

Let's all keep it up w/the suggestions. Some really great ideas have been shared on this site so far, and we need to keep moving forward! Has anyone found anything that seems to work long-term? I've been battling this for many years. =[
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January 06, 2009

Hi Kristy(?) I've been following the forum for a couple months now, but somehow your comment touched me and I just had to post you a note. How is your relationship w/your mom? Are you able to talk to her about other things? If not, what do you fear most if you did go ahead and explain it to her? I'm just wondering because I only just admitted it to my brothers this year, and there are 5 of them. (I've been hiding it from everyone my whole life and I'm soon to be 45.) Plus, when I discovered this site and learned that it's a real disorder plaguing many of us out there, I sent them all an email providing more details about the condition and links for them to research the subject themselves. It was actually a very emotional thing for me; I cried as I wrote it. Admittedly, it isn't an easy thing to talk about w/anyone and surely makes the listener uncomfortable as well. Disappointingly, only one of them replied but what he said comforted me so much that I now feel a special bond w/him that I never had before. Re the others, I know that they too feel compassion for me and my struggle because I've talked to them since, although one brother I'm sure still can't wrap his head around it. However, it made me realize that it's more difficult for family esp to hear because it's more personal and they feel at a loss as to how to help. Therefore I don't take it personally. I am glad I told them though as it enlightens them and makes my burden a little easier to bear. I'm not so stressed about trying to hide it from them anymore. My mother, husband and son have known about it for a long time. They're all supportive but my mom (who's now 77) still doesn't quite get it. She thinks it's about using the right creams to help it heal. That's OK--I just listen and acknowledge her suggestion. My son had a tough time dealing w/it as he was growing up but is very understanding now. And fortunately, my husband has always been there for me every step of the way. I've also been opening up and talking about it w/my psychiatrist, doctor and counselor. That way I get the help and treatment I really need. I even shared it w/an acquaintance recently and to my surprise she then felt safe enough I guess to share some personal things about herself. My biggest fear in life is rejection so to make myself vulnerable in divulging this deep dark secret was a big step for me. You know how anticipation is always greater than the realization? It seems to be true in this case as well. But you still have to choose your confidantes wisely. Like any other private thing, you don't tell just anybody or everybody. Well, just wanted to share a little insight from my experience, hoping to provide some reassurance. Remember, it probably won't be as bad as you think. If nothing else, at least you've educated them. Ask them to research it on the internet too. And who knows, maybe they'll surprise you and be more supportive afterward, recognizing how hard it was for you to approach them in the first place. In either case, just love yourself and be strong for you! Take care. :o)
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January 07, 2009

I think what I fear most is trying to explain it to her. She and i have never been able to communicate well with each other. Especially now that I'm a senior in high school and under so much pressure, as far as school and money and stuff, I worry that she might just misinterpret me. I have been picking the skin on my face since i was about 11ish, but gradually moved on to my arms, legs, chest, and back. My mom knows it is a bad habit of mine, but that's all she can see it as. She acts like I do it to procrastinate b/c i will spend hours in the bathroom, and it often happens when I am stressed out about having to do a bunch of things (i.e. apply to colleges). I just don't feel like causing more conflict and argument with her, as if there isn't enough yelling and fighting already. What was it like when you told someone face to face?
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January 08, 2009

Hi again. Thanks for opening up, Kristy. I have to remember that everyone's situation is uniquely their own and there is no absolute panacea for all of us. It is true that my brothers are older now so that made it easier for me to tell them. I grew up w/o a father so that didn't even enter into the equation. When it comes to my mother, however, I can somewhat relate. We have never really seen eye to eye, esp when I too was in my late teens. It's a challenging transition at the best of times, since you're fast becoming an adult w/plans no doubt of soon leaving the nest. Two women living in the same household very rarely works out for long. We did start having a better relationship once I was on my own and had been independent for a while. And I must acknowledge that she was a fairly good mother, very self-sacrificing and tried to do the best she could considering her circumstances. I only wish I had understood my CSP a long time ago so that I could have talked to her about it when she was there for me. Now she's got delusional paranoia and early stages of Alzheimer's which as you can imagine has changed our relationship entirely. I can no longer look to her for support even if I wanted to. I wonder, Kristy, if you might find it easier to explain it to your mom by means of either a letter or an email. That's the only way I can communicate some things since I tend to have a hard time expressing myself verbally. Add to that the variables of interruption, confrontation, lack of time, etc and you end up not being able to say everything the way you wanted to. I can understand you not wanting to rock the boat and make a bad situation worse. But I do think your mother needs to be educated on the subject. Tell her you don't expect her to be able to understand or even accept it right away, but would she be willing to learn more about it online to get the medical perspective so that she knows what you're actually dealing with. Let her also know how hard it is for you to talk about it but at the same time how much you need her to be there for you. If you choose to speak to her directly, make sure it's at a time when no one else is around and you both have enough time to do it justice. Keep in mind that how you react to her reaction will make a difference too. I really believe you should give your mom a chance though. My son and I have had a difficult relationship too, but I do know for the times he's come to me w/a broken spirit it touches me deeply and I feel more compassion. In fact, w/o accusation and criticism both of us are more inclined to hear each other out. However, if you think it's something that just can't be done or at least not right now, you do need to find an advocate or some support somewhere. It's hard enough to feel all alone and battle this thing on our own w/o at least one confidante. Have you considered perhaps talking to your doctor or seeking professional counseling. I've just started it myself (again after a few years) and what a relief it is to be able to share it w/someone whose whole job is to focus on you, listen to your concerns, and endeavor to help as much as possible. It can all be kept confidential if you arrange for their office to call you only on your cell and if you can get to the appts on your own. What you do in your spare time is your own business, right? Anyhow, I've got to go now but will write more later. I hope I haven't said anything inappropriate. My only wish is to help any and all of us, including myself, to somehow deal w/this monster that keeps raising its ugly head and thereby get on w/life as it should be. No matter what, at least we all have each other here on the forum for when we need a listening ear and/or a little comfort. :-]
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January 09, 2009

Thanks you so much and I really appreciate your advice. it makes perfect sense for me to write her a letter instead of talking to her, and i suppose i might do that.. but the [extremely] weird thing is, i don't really want her to be there for me. i don't like to talk about my problems (at all). not even with people i am close to. and i have had psychologists in the past but stopped going because (and i quote) "Mom, do you realize that you are paying someone $100 an hour to listen to me complain about my family?" I have never even been able to open up to psychologists about some of the littlest things, even when i really liked the psychologist. Do you have any advice on how to be okay with talking about oneself and one's problems?
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January 09, 2009

i like the letter/email idea...i wish i had thought of that! i had my psych help explain to my parents about the whole situation...they kind of knew what was going on, but not really. i think at one point i got up and left the room and let my psych do all the talking herself for a bit, lol. but man, i feel ya on the not opening up part...it took me a good 6 months-year to really open up to my psych. before that, it just sucked; i felt like i was being forced to do this, and mainly only did it because it made my parents happier/eased a bit of that tension (or at least didn't cause the tension that would be there if i had 'refused treatment')...but over a few sessions, it just kinda clicked...she was here to help me. you can use your psych as a tool to get better, to have a better life...it's just so hard to realize that YOU have to give them the information that they need to help you--they aren't mind-readers (which alternates between being a good and bad thing, lol). anything they don't know could be information that they could use to help you. i distinctly remember the first year just being really awkward...i mean, 50 minutes of babbling about yourself? there were a lot of "i don't know!"s and "i can't explain"s. but liking the psychologist definitely helps bunches. it's like a black-and-white contrast between the school counselor at college and my psych from home that i've had for almost 5 years, with the trust/comfort level...it probably shows. ehh. anyways, also, if you're 18 then you can do exactly what Alleaha said and your parents won't even have to be involved in anything to do with your treatment--all you need to do is sign a release to send the bills to them ;P
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January 09, 2009

Just wanted to mention to those who live in the U.S., I guess sometimes I forget that you have to pay for psychiatric treatment. That's just not right! It's all covered under MSP here in Canada. I guess if it's financially feasible or your parents are willing to pay, go for it. Otherwise, keeping looking for a confidante that you can trust or even someone who can offer plenty of hugs. We need it.
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January 09, 2009

Hey, I totally get it. I'm very much the same way. I have always found it very difficult myself to share personal things w/other people, incl my family. In fact, I lived most of my life keeping things bottled up deep inside and not dealing w/them. It was all I knew; I never even thought that there was maybe another option. Unfortunately, it does catch up w/you. I ended up w/a nervous breakdown in my early thirties and have been on medication for a severe panic disorder (among other things) ever since. That is why I can recommend getting help as early as possible. But, of course, as I mentioned before, every individual's situation is distinctly unique. Only you yourself know how much you can handle at any given time. While suggestions are certainly helpful, you're the one who makes the final decision about your own health. I just wish I could go back (like everyone says when they get older) and do things differently. I think a big factor in being able to talk about oneself is the matter of trust. That's why it's so much easier to open up here on the forum. It's such a relief to find others who can relate right down to the littlest detail, and that in itself forms a special bond between us. In all honesty, I don't think we'll find another platform that allows us to be as trusting and feel as safe as we all do here. However, there are those who are professionally trained to help w/things like this. The trick I guess is in finding one you feel you can trust. If you don't feel comfortable w/one, ask to see another. (It's pointless really to continue w/treatment unless you do feel safe enough to open up and share, and then the real healing can begin.) I know I've had to do that myself. The last mental health counselor I saw was too good of a listener and didn't really offer anything constructive in return. I just had my second session w/a different counselor this week and what a difference! He's an interactive listener and has very specific suggestions in developing an action plan. It makes me feel motivated. That's the way it should be. I think, Kristy, that no one can really tell you how to open up. You have to be at that place in time and ready w/in yourself to want to do it. Maybe it'll be more of a 'last resort' kind o'thing. But In the end, it's going to take effort and determination on your part to move forward. I know we all wish there was some special pill or magic solution to just make it all go away. But that's never gonna happen. I have to keep reminding myself that it's up to me to help myself, to empower myself, and also to love myself. There are so many deeper issues than the CSP. Not to over-simplify it--because I do know how obsessive and compulsive it is--but it's really only a symptom of other things that need to be addressed first. Anyhow, I don't mean to ramble on. Just don't give up! Keep searching until you find that someone who can offer a trusting and healing environment. I wonder if you're afraid to show your vulnerability and let yourself cry. I know I was. Now it seems like it's 'a given' every time I do let myself open up (i.e. I cry at every psych session). But that's OK; it's part of the healing process. It's a good thing. Give yourself liberty to do so. In fact, I think it'll just happen when you do find that safe place. Forgive me if I tend to sound maternal, but I'm starting to feel a special care and concern for you. Just remember, you'll always have us here on the forum. I'm so grateful to have found this site; actually, I can't imagine not having this in my life now. We really need each other, don't we?! Here's to all of us and to life itself--we're worth it and we deserve it!! =]
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January 12, 2009

I think what you're trying to say is that I need to address my other issues first, and that will naturally lead to dealing with my CSP. I am just so...hesitant, i guess...to talk to her. I HATE having to talk to her about anything, and I know if I was to ask her to see a therapist again I would have to make up an excuse. I know its not healthy, but I just want to push all my problems and my CSP away and pretend they don't exist. I just can't imagine verbalizing any of my problems to a therapist, let alone my mom. I'm really frustrated, because I want to stop and I hate what I'm doing to my body. But thanks for caring, I don't mind if you feel maternal, I appreciate that you can care about a complete stranger.
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January 12, 2009

Hi Kristy, I'm sorry if I made you feel pressured. I just wanted to relate my experience from having dealt w/it pretty much my whole life but not having dealt w/the underlying issues until now. I guess we each have to figure out the solution that works best for us as individuals, since no two situation are the same. Only do what you're comfortable with at this point in time. Besides, I'm still struggling w/it all anyhow. I too hate what I do and of course would wish it all away on behalf of us all if only I could . . . Do take care and don't give up. I wish you only the best in your quest to find the answers that work for *you*. =]
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January 15, 2009

thank you so much Alleaha. i truly appreciate your care and concern. the most anyone has ever shown me, stranger or friend. Thank you so much and I hope to (someday soon) be able to deal with my CSP. I just don't know if I can do it now.
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January 08, 2009

I use sweat socks on my hands. As a plus, it attracts my cats, so I spend time playing with them rather than picking. Totally get your "Tools" comment, but I tend to be more creative. I use pens with the ink cartridge removed.
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May 24, 2009

orangesmartie, my god, I have the exact same story. I just discovered this website a couple of days ago. I'm going to Croatia this summer meaning, I need to be seen in a bikini. This addiction is killing me. My mom is so upset. And I totally know what you're talking about when you say "I can't stop until I succeeded in popping something out" And than you keep popping after! I'm so digusted with myself because I actually have such nice skin...maybe little bumps or pimples that NO ONE else can see..Everyday I have to spend 20-30 minutes just applying concealer to my face. AND I am totally in some crazy trance when I pop. But I'm thinking so much about the things that stress me out. Then when I snap out of it, I notice that I just spent 1-2 hours popping everything on my body!! Whenever I go a couple of days without popping anything, I'm much happier with life I find. I don't know ... maybe I need to force myself to go out more where I can't pop in front of friends. At home it's so easy to pop everything... I need to heal before Croatia in two months!