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Amtx0 , 21 Feb 2014

I just need to know that I'm not crazy?! :(

I'm really going to try to make this as short as possible, because I know I don't like reading long posts myself. I am 20 year old female. I have always had pretty bad anxiety, even as a child, and I have recently- within the past few years- have been battling with depression. I began biting the skin around my fingernails and chewing on/eating it ever since I started junior high. I've tried all the most popular remedies, such as the bitter nail polish (all I would do is chew the top layer of skin with the polish and spit it out just so I could continue). I've tried getting acrylic nails to make it harder for me to reach the skin around my fingernail (works a little better than the other, but I'd still find a way to get to past the fake nails. My family would always get very frustrated with me, but that never stopped me, of course. I eventually and only very recently have been able to stop. The only problem is that I've picked up a new and potentially worse addiction. I have been picking my scalp. I search my scalp for impurities and when I find any small bump or flake, I pick and pick and pick, until it bleeds and re-scabs. Thank god I've found forums like this because my family/boyfriend just DO NOT understand why I can't stop. I literally get a euphoric sensation when I almost have a scalp picked all the way off. I'll run my fingers over the scab because it feels hard. Gah I don't even know how to explain that without feeling like I'm insane. Anyways, the main reason I decided to join here was because it makes me feel a little better knowing that I'm not the only one. My mother (who happens to be a hairstylist for goodness sales) and my boyfriend get SO irritated with me and they make me feel like a disgusting freak. They always say "that is so disgusting, are you trying to get bald spots, you better quit before you start regretting it. Only thing is that I WANT to quit. I MEAN WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS?!? It's so frustrating because I feel I will never make anyone understand why I feel like I HAVE to do it. I need support because I feel so incredibly alone. I need advice also... Is this serious enough to go to the doctor or a therapist? So I need anxiety medication? Is it even really caused by anxiety? Any responses will be EXTREMELY appreciated. I apologize for the long story that I said would be short! :(
6 Answers
February 21, 2014
I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I would even have to give my mom my eyebrow tweezers because I would pick with them. Here are a few things you can try I also made a youtube video you could watch with clips when I used to skin pick and explaining more of my story with skin picking. My youtube channel name is JulieBeautyOCD and thats where you can view the video...but here are a few tips... 1.)Getting fake nails (at first they help a lot but over time you can get used to them and learn how to pick with them on) but they are great for the beginning to break the routine because it is a lot harder to pick with fake nails, 2.)Wash your face at night then right after put lotion on...when your skin is smooth the urge to pick is less and when there is lotion on you can't pick because its slippery. 3.) Get a feathered pillow and pull the feathers out when you get the urge to pick. 4.)Get a stress ball or some kind of activity to keep your hands occupied and distract you...I got some coloring books and would color to keep my hands busy haha 5.)Wear some gloves...cant pick with gloves on 6.)This might seem weird, but it has satisfied my urges when i wanted to pick. If you put a little Elmer's Glue on your hands and rub it around and let it dry then pick off the dry glue...I don't know how to explain it but it does help with those really bad urges. You get to pick off the glue and it doest hurt your skin the process. 7.)Breaking up your routine is probably the most important thing. If you pick at a certain time a day or night you should make sure your around people at that time or do a activity or watch tv to distract yourself. I used to put bandaids on my face after picking too. For my chest I recently got a light laser treatment (after 2 rounds) a lot of my scars/pigmentation faded. I wanna do my face next! For my face I try to wash it every night (which is easier said then done) and put lotion and Vaseline on. I have heard that vitamin E does help to fade scars. For makeup I use the Loreal True Match Foundation and Powder and it covers REALLY GOOD! I wish you all the best and if you ever wanna talk or are feeling down I'm here for you...your not alone I know what your going through and I truly believe that you can overcome this! I will be posting more videos soon...make sure to subscribe and stay in touch! xoxo 
March 03, 2014

In reply to by JulieBeautyOCD

The scalp thing is what started it for me as a a teenager. kind of a minimal but weird fixation most of my life until the fourth baby and postpartum depression and anxiety. Now any odd bump on my skin , I can't leave it alone. No one understands and I don't either. Disfiguring myself so why the heck cant i stop.
February 22, 2014
Hi, I just want to confirm for you that you are not crazy. I discovered the weird pleasure of oulling stuff out of my skin when I was a child. I was a tomboy, with lots of scabs caused from falling off bikes, roller skates, etc. I used to cover them with glue and peel it off to remove flaky skin. That progressed to staring at my reflection looking for ways to improve my skin. I could really zone out doing these things and it helped me escape the sadness I felt watching my father lose his vision and kidneys to diabetes. I guess it was my own invented way of making myself "stoned." I managed to keep it under control most of my adult life until recently. I think it is a reaction to being in situations you feel powerless to control. Sort of like anorexia. People do not understand it, I am sorry your mom and boyfriend can't wrap their brains around it. My advice wouldn't be much different from anyone else's. I just wanted you to know I understand. If you could possibly find another way to relieve stress and zone out, maybe you could replace the unwanted behaviors. Some people knit or crochet. Doing something repetitive with your hands that takes you out of your own head. Sounds boring, but if you do it right, you will zone, and that's what you want. Escape from anxiety and ruminating thoughts. Good luck! Jen
February 22, 2014
I know how you feel. Nobody understands why I pick, and I don't understand either. I sometimes feel crazy because people bully me about my scars. I use my glasses to cover it up, but the cut on my nose is just too big to cover now. I'm just 12 years old and the problem started 3 years ago on my scalp. I'd sit there In class picking and not listening. Now I have trouble with acne. I rip it open and gouge out a big cut on my forehead or nose. It hurts, but I keep going. I just want to stop! Glad to know you're with me on this.
February 27, 2014
Hi Amtx0, I literally just joined the forum to let you know that you are not crazy. I have the EXACT same urges and I feel horrible about it too. I like to pop pimples and pluck hair and derive pleasure from that for sure, but my main problem is picking scabs that form once I've popped a pimple. On my arms, I have horrible scars and open sores from re-picking off scabs over and over and over. For some reason, I get this weird feeling like when a scab feels half pulled off, I will rub it with my fingers and like, slowly pull it over the course of the day until it loosens and comes off. I don't know why I love the feeling of ripping them off. I do this with scabs from like, cuts and stuff, occasionally, but mostly with acne scars. So my chest and arms are riddled with scars. I'll pick my face, but my face is mostly clear. I'm 25 years old and I have done this ever since I started getting acne. The worst of the picking started when I was about 16 or 17. I didn't really let it fly until I was out of the house because my parents would constantly be watching me for it - which of course made me want to pick even more. So when I went away to college I was lonely and depressed and all I did was pick. My skin was torn apart. Ever since then, it's been a battle. I'll get better for a while and then start again. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had some drug issues that amplified the problem even more. Certain drugs make you magnify everything ten times more and you just want to pick pick pick EVERYTHING. So if you already have that OCD tendency to pick, it gets even worse when you're on drugs. Luckily I am sober now and have been for years but I still pick. My poor fiance actually has a similar issue with picking his fingers, and he understands the compulsion better than anyone else in my life ever has. But he is still nowhere near as bad as I am, and he has spent the three years of our relationship trying to help me stop because he hates what I do to my skin, particularly my arms and chest. It's been worse for the last two months because I was laid off my job, and I was unemployed until very recently, so I was bored a lot and what does boredom leads to picking! And so does stress - not getting a job made me depressed, anxious, and stressed out. My skin looks so awful right now. Bright red open wounds dotting almost every part of my upper arms and chest. I feel ashamed because I can't wear low cut shirts without putting makeup on the red spots to cover them. I don't wear tank tops, and I don't like to go swimming either. People are also rude and ask me what happened to my arms. It's so rude. And then I am embarrassed to tell them because I'm afraid they will think I am nuts. My sister-in-law, who is really sweet and wonderful and not meaning anything bad by it, asked me at a family gathering last summer (I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt that I thought covered most of the wounds and scars), "Oh my god! What happened to your arms?" And gasped. I know she is very caring and meant well, but I was really mortified and embarrassed not because of her but because of myself. I just sat there for a second, thought about lying (I used to tell people I was in a fire...TERRIBLE, I KNOW) but then I was somewhat honest and just said they were acne scars. I didn't tell her they were from earlier that day instead of my teenage years, and she dropped the subject luckily but I felt like she wanted to say more. I don't think she has a clue how embarrassed I am over my arms and chest and didn't mean to embarrass me at all. I'm not mad at her for asking in the slightest because I knew it came from a place of major concern and caring. Anyway, so my fiance and I are getting married this spring, and I haven't picked out a dress yet. It's challenging to find something that will cover my scars, and I don't want to look like a Mennonite at my wedding. So I decided that once and for all, I'm going to start healing myself. I'm going to stop berating myself over it and just take it one day at a time. I found this website in the hope that I could connect with others out there who are struggling with the same form of OCD that I am, and to find and share tips on how to heal and recover. So I am now in a place of healing and I hope to begin a long road to healing the open wounds first, then dealing with the scars. I want to look beautiful on my wedding day! So TL;DR; OP - I can empathize with you completely, and I am also a major acne scar and scab picker. Please don't feel that you are alone or crazy, because you definitely are not! :)
February 28, 2014

In reply to by Juno

Hi Juno, Thank you for the reply. I've felt a HUGE rush of hope since day 1 of joining this forum. I believe out of all the stories that I have read on here, yours has definitely been the one I can relate to best. I thank god that I don't have a lot of acne, I probably get a few bumps every few months, I have been very blessed to not have to had deal with acne because I'm positive that if I did I'd have the same problem as you do with picking that. I believe my picking stemmed from the fact that I, too, had a drug problem. My drug of choice was opioids, so I don't believe that the actual drug affected my picking as much as the withdrawal from the drug did. I'm sure you know what withdrawal is so I won't go into that much, but while going thru my withdrawals, I had to deal with MAJOR anxiety, which made me feel stressed and I suppose like any addict, I felt like I needed to find a way to cope, and that's when all this started. :( I would recommend, if you can stand it, to get acrylic nails. That method has definitely been the one working for me so far, even though I can usually always find a way around when I get a major urge... It's definitely helped me cut down on doing it in public though. Also, I broke my back in 2007 I believe, I have an 8" scar right down the middle. This made me self conscious and I asked my doctor for tips on making the scar fade the best. He recommended I get Bacatracin. It worked INCREDIBLE! I'm not sure how expensive it is, I don't think it's too high, but it's definitely worth a try! I hope that you can find a method that works for you so that you can quit for good! I have been trying to use the Bacatracin and Vaseline at night, which softens up the scabs making it almost impossible for me to pick. (I don't get the tingly sensation in my stomach until I get the scab half way off and can run my finger over it while it feels hard). I have to admit, this forum has given me SOOO much hope, just to realize that I'm not alone makes me feel a little less shitty. I hope that you can defeat this so you will feel beautiful at your wedding. You have been blessed with a wonderful guy who clearly loves you for you and not just for your outer shell. :) I would love for us to keep in touch, so we can share our progress with each other!

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