Hi all. I am a 26 year old single mom/part-time worker/full-time student. I have been picking since I was about 5 years old. I pick scabs and acne. It seems that the sites rotate. My preferred spots are my face, lips, legs, back, and buttocks. I have not worn shorts since I was in 3rd grade. I will still wear short sleeve shirts at this point, but would NEVER walk out of the house without jeans on. I hate skirts, even long ones. All of the scabs I pick at are either from acne or some trauma (think cat scratches). I do not pick on other people. For some reason, to do that grosses me out, but I cannot stop myself when it's my body. I have panic disorder, extremely low self-esteem and major depression. I have tried practically every medication under the sun and nothing seems to slow me down. When I was younger my parents used to tape gloves to my hands, socks to my legs, or tie my hands to the bed frame with panty hose. I could still take the panty hose off my arms if I needed to use the bathroom in the middle of the night though. That also meant I could just remove them so I could pick too. The only thing I have found helpful at all, is if I wear acrylic nails. I cannot function with them on. As long as I can afford to get them done, my face heals, my legs heal, and the world is wonderful again. Unfortunately, money is tight and I can no longer afford the nails or my medications for my anxiety disorder. I don't have to explain to you all how terribly embarrassing this picking is. I won't talk about it with family or my therapists. They already know in advance that it is a taboo topic.
Growing up with the picking was awful. Kids used to make fun of me and tell me I looked like I had been shot in the head several times. An on-call pediatrician that didn't know my family even called division of family services on my parents because he thought they were burning me with cigarettes. Neither of my parents have ever smoked, ever! Recently, I had a large sore in between my eyes that was very red. A woman asked me if I was Hindu! I politely told her no and blamed it on severe acne. Of course she felt awful, but I felt worse! I have often wondered if people think I'm a meth addict because of the sores I have all over my body.
Several months ago my doctor told me what the actual words were for the picking disorder, "neurotic excoriation". When I looked them up I found people like here that had countless stories just like mine. I was thrilled to find that the demon that had ruled me all these years actually had a name, but terrified too. I cried alot, and it actually ended up being more traumatizing than good. So, months later, I am back. I think this time I may be ready to open Pandora's box and find out more about it. I am still scared and nervous about what I will find out. Even posting my story here is an extremely large step for me, a person who for 21 years has hidden this "secret". I say "secret" in that way, because I think that I am the only one who won't admit that everyone already knows there is something wrong.
Thank you for reading my story.