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Rachael Lindo , 30 Aug 2013

I have a compulsion to pick my face when I see spots appearing

Before today I didn't even realise I had a problem, but lately my obsession to pick my face is causing me a lot of emotional distress. I'm 38 and have loathed my skin since I was a teenager, I can recall picking at my face for hours and then looking at myself with disgust because I had made the spots worse by sticking needles into my skin and using tweezers to rid the spot. After hours of self mutilation I'd end up with red infected areas on my face, the skin would be cut and bleeding and then I'd use spot treatments to kill the bacteria. At the time I thought I was going through what many other teenagers were facing, but at 38 I'm still obsessed and its effecting my life and my relationships. I've always believed that my skin is bad, as very rarely do I have a clear completion and when I do it's not for long before a blemish or a spot will appear. It's an understatement to say I hate spots and when I see them on my face I want to rip my skin off. Even though I know that picking will make it worse I just can't leave my face alone. The anxiety I feel in conjunction with feelings of self hate cause me to obsess over my imperfections to the point that I'm left with cuts and swollen red patches on my skin. I use plasters to cover the areas I've been picking so if I can't see it I don't pick it, if I'm having to leave the house I mask over with heavy makeup but often the wound is so fresh that it weeps, there is no amount of make up disguise the blemish, this is when I'm at my worst as all I want to do is shut off from everyone, I just want to hide. I have 2 beautiful girls who are witnessing my obsessional behaviour everyday and I hate myself for doing what I do as I can see the effects it's had on my two daughters as they are now obsessing about the way they look and they're only 5 & 8. My moods are effected so I become extremely irrational, agitated and anxious and my thoughts of self hate torment my mind that I can't focus on anything else other than how disgusting and ugly I look. I can barely be around my kids or husband when I'm like this and I'm getting tired of feeling this way. I've canceled so many social events and important functions and I know that people have labelled me as being unreliable and volatile as I never tell people the truth I just stay away until I can face the world again. I know this is not normal behaviour but I can't see a way out...has anyone been treated for this type of OCD and how effective was the treatment? I've taken anti-depressants in the past but it's not worked, so any advice would be much appreciated.
2 Answers
August 31, 2013
Rachael, I'm walking though this as well right now so I understand your feelings of shame and disgust at yourself. It's something many people just don't get. I wish I knew the answer or cure, I don't. However, I feel like my small successes in healing are coming from getting super real with myself and self acceptance. Being on this forum is helping me also realize that many people struggle with this and somehow just that has reduced some of the shame for me. I used to spend hours almost every night picking. Now I pick sparingly sometimes not even every day. My picking story began a few years ago after i got married. My husband is very social and I came from a super controlling isolated religious background. Once we got together It became obvious I had social anxiety making it very hard to face the world and my passions. This held my husband back from being out and about with me and caused us tension . Also early on, we started our own business which gave me a perfect place to hide - at home. After a few years of marriage I got a small breakout and started picking my skin. I never stopped. In my case after some major soul searching, I believe that picking my skin provided not only immediate relief to anxiety but also reasons why I don't have to "face" the world and worry about being rejected. I am finding I have triggers like thoughts of social situations or past embarrassments or even possible future challenges that send me to the mirror. I'm currently slowly working through the "Skin Deep" book by Dr. Grossbart. It's very good. But, wow talk about having to get real with yourself. Ha I am at a place where I'm ready to do what it takes no matter how painful. Good luck on this journey. It is hard and you'll feel like giving up but as DR Grossbart says if you haven't tried and given up 3-4 times you're just beginning. I apologize if this isn't the help you were looking for I just wanted you to know you're not alone. Please know there are people out there that understand and are pulling for you. We're in your corner. You can beat this one day, one minute, one second at a time!
August 31, 2013
i am 19 years old and also know exactly how that feels. picking at your skin, knowing it will make any spots worse, then feeling so angry with yourself and just wanting to hide from the world. but just know there is hope. a few weeks ago i just had a complete changed of attitude and after two years of picking, i have stopped and have no urges to pick at all, even when those spots do appear. things will get better! xxxxx

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