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hope2heal , 05 Nov 2012

Picked for years but only just become aware of CSP. 1st post

Hi, I've been picking my skin for years, possibly decades. Mainly my face but actually nowhere is safe- fingers, arms, backs of legs, feet, back... About a month ago I came across the term dermatillomania and its definition- I couldn't believe how relevant this was to me. Like many other posters, I had no idea that this was actually a condition. This has caused me to become more self-aware and now that I realise the extent of the problem, it's quite scary. Sometimes it's almost unconscious, e.g. I scratch my face whilst at work, I pick my fingers as I walk down the street or whilst watching TV. Other times it's a more drawn out and considered process. I will sit in front of the mirror and dig (yes dig) into my skin with a pair of sharp-ended tweezers. Strangely, I'm not lacking in confidence when it comes to my looks, but it does cost me a fortune in creams to aid healing and make-up to cover up the damage I've done to myself. It's time to stop. I don't want to have to go through the rest of my life like this. Recently I've been dealing with some issues resulting from the breakdown of my marriage, and I've learnt that everything is in MY control. I have been thinking positively and doing really well, I even picked up a spider recently after 25 years of being a massive arachnophobe... so why can't I control this? I can't let this beat me! Steps I've taken so far are: having my eyebrows and upper lip threaded professionally so I don't need to sit in front of a mirror plucking my eyebrows (which inevitably leads to CSP); removing the magnified mirror from my bedroom; telling my boyfriend (whose fingers I also pick given half the chance); cutting my nails right down to the quick and putting plasters on both thumbs. I'm already on anti-anxiety medication (for other issues- see above). What else can I do to beat this? Hypnosis? Any other ideas? Any comments or suggestions would be much appreciated! I'm hoping that today will be my first day on the path to recovery. Thanks for reading. xo
5 Answers
November 07, 2012
Hi there. Sounds like you're already on the right path! Something I have to tell myself is that it has been going on for years, so it won't stop over night. What you're doing is retraining yourself to stop doing something it's been doing for what seems like forever. You will have lapses and you will have a string of good days. Just remember that if you're moving 2 steps forward and 1 back, it's still 1 forward right? I usually suggest to anyone that having 'fidget toys' at all times helps. A koosh ball, bubble wrap, just little things you can have with you to tinker with instead of allowing your hands to get 'bored' and start picking. Best of luck.
November 08, 2012

In reply to by Picking-your-battles

Thank you Picking-your-battles. I'm loving the idea that 2 steps forward and one back is still a step forward. I think it's really important to focus on little victories :-) I have a rolled up bandage at work now that i like playing with- if i find myself (inadvertently) picking, i can fondle or squeeze it or even stroke it on my face, which feels nice. I've grown quite attached to it in the last couple of days! :-) Last night I was at a dance class and during the instructions i grabbed a napkin and rolled that up (i didn't have my bandage on me) and that helped shift my focus onto that. Interestingly, when i dance it is probably the only time that i don't think of anything but the dance and the present- definitely no windows for picking there! I may surround myself with little bandages and try to keep one on me at all times. Thanks so much for the advice and invaluable support. xo
November 08, 2012
hope2heal, I am on a very similar path as you. I am 20 years old and have been picking since I was 4. For sixteen years I have been struggling with this. I have anxiety and am on anti-anxiety medication as well and I notice myself losing time while mindlessly picking in order to ignore what I know I eventually have to face. There are times in my life where things have gone smoothly so I don't notice my picking all that much but as of the last year life, lets just say has given me a whole lot of lemons and I definitely don't have enough sugar to make them all into lemonade. As my anxiety worsens so does my picking. I want to stop scarring my body. I want to be able to have a pimple, black-head, scab, etc. without the urge to pick at it. One thing that tends to help me is tapping. When I am starting to feel anxious I just slowly start tapping alternating my hands on my knees while taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. This clears my head and completely relaxes me. I am sure there are other explanations of this out there much better than mine, but I hope it helps. And I hope to be able to talk to you more. Sometimes anonymously releasing your anxieties of day to day life can be helpful. Just typing this out has actually helped me to relax a bit. I wish you all the best. -AmeliaRose
November 08, 2012

In reply to by AmeliaRose

Hi AmeliaRose, thank you so much for your reply. Out of interest when did you first realise that your picking was a problem and when did you find out about dermatillomania/CSP? I'd been doing it for so long without realising there were others like me! Now i'm starting to think about this, i'm remembering past events and episodes and only just starting to realise how deep this problem lies and how far back it goes... I started picking my feet in 2003 but remember that in 2005 it got really bad. That's calmed right down now, but i moved on to arms and face. The face is the worst because it's always on display and i feel so self-conscious. I've become quite a master at make-up but sometimes the holes i've dug are too deep to be covered. As you say, it's great to have a place like this to express, and wonderful to have your support and advice. Breathing is definitely a good idea! Good luck with your lemons- stay positive and am sure you will have lemon-meringue pie in no time. ;-)
November 22, 2012
SO, today is going to be my first pick free day. I've been cutting down a lot over the past couple of weeks but today I am determined to have my first day of no picking. Wish me luck!

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