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nadine , 14 Apr 2013

Picking at my lips

Hello, I have been picking my lips since I was 12 and hated it ever since. I literally tell myself everyday that I will stop this, but as soon as I feel like picking I start doing it all over again. I think my main problem is that my lips dry too much and I can't stand the feeling of them peeling off so I want to get rid of the peeling but then again this causes more peeling and it's a never ending vicious cycle. I don't know what else to do, sometimes they hurt so bad but I still pick and they bleed. The worst part is when they have scabs and I have to go out or meet people. I know I can't hide it so I will just feel self conscious all the time or just choose not to go anywhere at all and miss opportunities. I really want and need for this to stop. I feel hopeless. And also, I read that doing this may cause cancer as new skin cells are formed too often and out of control.
2 Answers
April 17, 2013
Nadine, journaling about your compulsion can help you get out the feelings about it and help you release some of the anxiety. I've discovered I pick my skin or engage in other compulsive behaviors to get away from something I'm thinking or feeling or not dealing with. Talking to someone who may share the compulsion (or any compulsion for that matter) can help. You can even talk to yourself out loud, which for some reason is easier than writing sometimes. For example, the last time I picked, I was in my car and I said "Stop. What is going on right now?" I realized my anxiety was stemming from my running late for lunch with my brother, and feeling guilty for making him wait. I asked myself: will he love me any less if I'm 10 minutes late? Obviously not. So what's really under my skin right now? As I kept talking to myself, I realized the real reason I was anxious was that there was a family issue we'd been putting off talking about for months and we were finally going to talk about it. I was terrified. I had to slow down, breathe, and say the truth out loud. I had to hear it. We ended up having a really pleasant lunch, talking about said family issue and catching up about life in general. It helped I had already prepped myself in the car, so I could keep the conversation light and not stuff my feelings or, worse, keep putting off the conversation. Sometimes just becoming aware of your feelings before/after your picking can be super helpful. In the last 10 months or so, I've started working with a therapist and self-help groups on a lot of my issues, namely childhood traumas, and have found that it's been a lot easier to deal with compulsive behaviors i've resorted to for 10-15 years. Good luck. You are not alone. Rosa
May 12, 2013

In reply to by rosa111

Thank you, sometimes I do know why I'm picking or at least have a today: tomorrow I have my math final and I'm super anxious as to wether I'll fail or not... so meanwhile I found myself picking at my lips right now... as usual. Instead of studying, I am doing this again, I hate it. Now I try to rationalize and if I keep myself busy and study for math I might stop but then again I am worried about tomorrow and it's times like these when I find myself with this self-destructive habit. But I know I must not avoid the problem or even ignore the picking, like you said, try to talk it out somehow, talk it out of this. Thanks. I am trying my best because I really want this to end, it is actually ruining my life because not only does it hurt me it takes time away from me, time I could spend doing other stuff I need to do... sometimes I would spend 2 hours straight just at picking, hopefully this will stop soon.

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