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lizlemon , 08 Apr 2013

I have a chronic problem.

I have had a serious problem with skin picking for as long as I can remember. My parents have told me that I have pulled at the skin on my thumbs since I was old enough to have motor control, and I can remember being scared of having my nails cut as a child, as I would have to reveal how badly I had picked them to my mother. As a teenager, I picked at every spot I got until I got something out of it, and almost always caused my scabs to get infected. In my late teens, I always had at least one enormous, cystic pimple at a time, often on my chin or cheek, and I would pick at these as often as I could, even going on breaks at work to do so. As I got older, my picking expanded from my face to my neck, my chest and the soles of my feet, from which I would rip huge sections of skin at a time. This made walking very difficult and I was in constant pain. These wounds are always slow to heal, and make working in retail very difficult. I am still doing all of these things, and have bad scarring on my chest and face from years of destructive picking. I suffer from anxiety, depression and high levels of stress, and come from a difficult home situation. Although I am living out of home in happy circumstances, I am often plagued by memories of past difficulties which cripple me with grief and a feeing of overwhelming humiliation. Apart from my partner, the only person to ever address my skin was my grandmother, who has recently died. I take medication for my anxiety, which I believe has positively changed my life, and have been referred to a psychologist, but am skeptical about how effective this will be. I don't believe that skin picking is taken very seriously, and indeed, didn't take it seriously myself until recently. I am crushed by this overwhelming compulsion and would like to hear from others coping with the same trying as myself. I would also be very grateful to anyone who would bewailing to share their success stories or advice with me.
2 Answers
April 12, 2013
I think it makes it more difficult to heal, because it's so easy to fly under the radar--no one comments or seems to notice (though they do, of course, and think they are being polite). Part of my healing has involved me finally taking responsibility and not expecting anyone to call me out, as I realized I was doing. My arms have always been my main target, and I never thought I would wear short sleeves or a tank top again, but turns out, skin heals! Also, I got myself some lovely tattoos to paint myself with beauty to be proud of, and this has helped tremendously. I used to think that when people said you just had to find another way to relieve your anxiety, that they didn't get it, but now I know that's true. The relief from other means is not as immediate, but it lasts longer, and we interrupt the compulsion cycle when we do something else to soothe; which is the path to true healing. I wish you well. Do not give up, it really does change. I have been struggling for 20 years, and it is much more manageable now than I ever dreamed. Julie
April 12, 2013
Lizlemon, Sometimes skin picking is a symptom of other disorders. I have no qualifications, but I recommend you be completely honest with your therapist. If your therapist isn't taking you seriously, DROP THEM, and find someone who specializes in body image and is sensitive to your feelings and needs. I wish you the best on your "road to recovery" :)

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