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charlotte , 28 Jan 2009

Is it possible to stop picking just through willpower?

Is it possible to quit picking skin through willpower alone - quit "cold turkey"? I keep hearing about therapy and medication, and I'd just about die if I had to tell my family about needing either of those things, or that I have dermatillomania in the first place. I just want to quit picking my face and finally feel normal. Has anyone ever quit picking their skin just through willpower? And if so, how did you keep the strength to do it?
12 Answers
January 29, 2009
I believe that it is possible, once you have identified the causes. And get this- I'm on medication for OCD and it made the skin picking much worse! Skin picking was not the reason I am on meds, but I sure never expected them to exacerbate it. I have quit picking at times, it takes a lot of conscious concentration. I've found that I pick the most when I'm stressed and anxious. That is when I often go into "deep thought" mode and tend to forget what I am physically doing, and inevitably, my hands start to wander to my skin. If I can prevent my fingertips from ever even feeling my skin, I have a much better chance of not picking at it. It's once I feel a bump or scab that I can almost never just leave it alone. The other thing that really helps is keeping busy- in your life and with your hands. When I am running around all day, actually accomplishing things, and needing to get to bed at a reasonable hour, I don't have time to stare at myself in the mirror and rip at all those imperfections, because I'll be pretty tired the next day. Free time is a killer. My weakest times are right before bed, when I'm only using the mouse and not typing on the computer (b/c then I have a free hand), when I'm on the phone, and when I'm watching TV. I have to make sure my hands are occupied at all times or I'm in trouble. Now, I'm not saying I've been able to stop yet, but I know I will, because I am so tired of looking so horrible. I'm really tired of spending 1/2 hour every morning covering up my face with makeup. And I'm really tired of feeling inferior to other people because of my crappy skin. What gives me the most strength is remembering how happy I am when I've managed to stop for a few days and feel that I actually look good, and I don't have to leave my hair down to cover the sides of my face or my back. Remembering how great that feels really is the most inspiring to me. Of course, there will always be setbacks, but that doesn't mean you aren't improving!
February 26, 2009

In reply to by byebyebirdie

Wow you sound exactly like me. I go into "deep thought" mode too and then my hands wander to my skin without me even knowing. Standing in front of the mirror is the worst for me as well. And because I'm a stay-at-home Mum I am constantly bored and surrounded by mirrors so it only makes my scratching worse! The computer and TV are bad for me as well. Now I'm at the point where I can't be bothered spending the 30mins to an hour putting on makeup that I don't even leave my house anymore, not even to get a letter from the letterbox. I want to quit through willpower too but I have been sratching for 17 years and just feel like I have no control over it whatsoever.
April 29, 2009

In reply to by byebyebirdie

Dear byebyebirdie, I totaly understand about the meds thing making it worse. When I was taking anti drepressents that the docs claimed helped with OCD symptoms, the meds just made the symptoms worse. And yes, bed time does seem to be a huge trigger time. But,unlike those who need or use a mirror, I have been doing this sooo long that all I have to do is touch my skin, run my fingers along it and I can feel the imperfection, even in the dark. And then it begins. I t all started as a very young child. Sitting in the dark waiting.... waiting for him to come in and do that. You see, I was molested by my step-father for about 7-8 years. and since he worked a swing shift he would come in the middle of the night. To this day I still wake up in the middle of the night around that same time, even though he has been dead for a very long time, it still effects me. I am back in counseling now, and considering going back on an anti depressent. Right now I feel so bad about what i'm doing that my new husband is putting pressure on me to "get to the bottom of this" refering to my attitude. He does'nt realize that I'm struggling with this and trying to figure out how to stop. He thinks it's pesonal and about him. It does'nt really have anything to do with him, but he does'nt realize that the more he wants to know or the harder he tries the worse i feel. How do I tell him that it's not realy about him, it's all about ME and how I feel about myself.
April 07, 2009
No. People with neuroses are aware of their problem but cannot prevent the thoughts, actions, or symptoms without outside help. That is the very nature. It may be possible to resist for some time, but ultimately, willpower cannot stop you. That's a common misunderstanding. For Chrissakes, get help with this. Your life will be better. Don't be afraid of judgment. Those who love you will love you no less and won't judge you.
April 14, 2009
i dont kno if it is. ive tried many many times to do that. "this is the last time i swear" sorta stuff. But i think its a process. I do better at not picking when i am more flexible. When i do slip up, which I've come to accept will happen for me(at least right now), learning to not go crazy and "binge" so to speak has helped me. instead of absolutely hating the behavior, ive come to accept it more when it does happen.(thats not to say i dont want to completely stop)..but accepting it in the moment makes it less of an "evil" or thing to be feared. it takes away some of the compulsions power. In any case i would try to get help. You should not feel bad about needing it. and god do i get the feeling of just wanting to be normal and feel free.
April 23, 2009
Oh my gosh. I don't know, but I am trying. It has been a few days now and I've done pretty well. I just want my fingers/hand to look normal, not red and leathery. But the feeling I get when I peel of the skin is like a high. I crave it. It is so hard to watch my skin heal because it gets dry/flaky and I just want so bad to pick it off. Some say willpower isn't possible. I think that's a ridiculous statement. Of course it is POSSIBLE- just really freaking difficult....
April 23, 2009
I agree with the previous poster. It is definitely possible to quit through willpower, but it can be soo hard to do. I found this website on April 1st and became incredibly motivated to finally stop this habit once and for all. Amazingly, I've been successful so far! 23 days and going, and today is my 23rd birthday! The first week was definitely the hardest, and aside from the strong willpower to stop for good, having silly putty around helped a TON. After a week it got easier, and now after a few weeks I can go probably half a day without even thinking about picking. Actual picking is not even something I desire anymore. It helps that my skin is healing, but about 2 weeks in, there were some flaky parts that were hard to ignore. I would allow myself to clip it with nail clippers and just move on. I think it's like food. If you deprive yourself of bad foods that you love, you want them even more. But you definitely want to set a date and dedicate the willpower to stop for good. It's worth it, and you're worth it!
April 24, 2009
i think it is possible......but yes very hard........especially if u r going to do it on ur own. i stopped my dermatillomania a few years ago i had such beautiful nails for a while then one day i just started up again. six years later i have finally found a name to call this disorder and am trying really hard to quit......i know its hard but sometimes it helps to tell people,,,,,,,it took a while for my family to understand that i couldnt just stop. "why cant u just stop?" one would ask. "because i dont even realize im doing it." i would reply. they didnt understand, but i do. being here helps i know that many other people have this horrible habbit.....i want to stop soooo bad, i still pick my face and eat my cuticles but i am realizing when im doing it more and more. i am also relating my anxiety to it and my worry. i am also trying to stop without meds and im toooo broke to see a therapist....i have however been doing research and have invested in books about is helping me alot. i am sooo glad that this is the only thing i hav. some people have it worse than us. thanx i needed this responding helps me too.
March 01, 2011
YES because i have stopped without it feeling a burden and is my fourth day. I feel so empowered it is untrue and i have been picking atmy skin for hour upon hour every single day for 11 years. For me, i have been very aware of it and it has been getting me down to the point when i pray for it to go away. I finally realised that i needed to associate pain with picking instead of pleasure, and my hands are staying away. I knew it was going to destroy my life. Through this realisation, i cried hard because i had somehow linked this to pleasure and now i was ready to release it. I have also downloaded tony robbins personal power 2, which is extremely motivating. I still can't believe it and my skin is how healing nd scabbing over and very itchy, but still the urge to self harm has gone. Just know deep down that if you really want to do something, your mind has the power. Good luck
March 01, 2011
I definitely think that it is possible to stop cold turkey. As a matter of fact, that is what I am currently doing. It's been a week, and my face is already looking much better. One trick I've tried is just keeping my hands busy with something else and not touching my face at all. A lot of times when I get the urge to pick, I've logged on to here and read some of the posts and remembered why I am trying to stop. That has helped a lot. Being a part of this forum and being able to talk about my condition with other people who suffer from it too has really helped. I truly believe that if you want to stop, you can. I have been picking for most of my life, and at 22, I've decided enough is enough. My condition has hurt myself and so many people close to me, and for what? Nothing good. I've tried to stop cold turkey before, and I've been pretty successful in the past--my face looks nothing like it did as a teenager. But, I have lapsed several times. I think what is going to be different about this time is that I am stronger and realize that it is something that I can control. It is ME who has to change this, and it is ME who is going to change this. You have to believe in yourself, and being a part of this forum and getting support from other people with the same condition has really helped me to believe that I can do this. You can do this too--you've already taken a strong first step by posting on this forum.
March 01, 2011
I'm on day 6 right now, and I can't even foresee myself having to start over tonight..I found this forum about a year ago but was scared of acknowledging my problem even online, so I didn't join until this past January. I was still timid about posting in January and didn't check in as much so I set myself back a whole month until I just had so many things in a row that were effected negatively by picking and enough was enough. I'm going home to see my friends and family in 2 and half weeks and I have been away since the end of December, and they would be so happy, as would I , if my skin was clear from this addiction. I turn 19 next month, and I have been picking since I was 12, so its high time to stop and really grow up. It holds me us back from our true potential because it is a damaging insecurity like no other that consumes so much time and thoughts. With reasons like those how could I not have the will power to stop? And with others like me to share with, learn from, and support--even if it is virtually, has made me stronger to stop. I get nervous when I think ahead to the moment of weakness I feel like I will have to have because I have never been able to stop before, but I stop myself from thinking that way. Day by day has been working well so far. Good luck, you can do this!

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