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Aussiegirl , 21 May 2009

Diary of a dermatillomaniac day 1

Last night was a bad one. I did my face, my chest, my arms, my legs, what i could reach of my back. I don't know what set it off, but i never do. Maybe it was because Mum said I was looking good? Compliments always seem to trigger a big picking session. I have dermatillomania, or compulsive skin picking. I've never been diagnosed, because I've never been to a doctor about it, but the internet is a wonderful thing; I've pretty much self-diagnosed without actually having to talk to anyone about it. It started when I was 13. I'm now 22. I'm fucking sick of it. Now is the end. I've been sick of it for a long time. I've resolved never to do it again pretty much everyday since it went from just popping the odd pimple, to a compulsive, uncontrollable habit that has left me scarred and with zero confidence. So, why is this time different? Because this time I'm reaching out. This time you're helping me. Up until about a month ago the only person I'd ever talked about with was my Mum, and even then only reluctantly. I finally caved to her concerned questioning. RecentlĂ˝, I've really opened up to my older sister too. She's great about it. She listens, asks questions and seems to understand, as much as someone who doesn't do it can anyway. I've read that one of the defining characteristics of dermatillomania is that it's very isolating. Sufferers are embarrassed about our condition and we don't want to talk about it, we go to great lengths to hide the signs. In my experience, this gives power to the condition and starts a never-ending, hellish downward spiral. So, I've decided to do the opposite, to go public and talk openly about it. I'm taking the power back. Admittedly I'm not going totally public-I'm using the internet, a conveniently anonymous medium, rather than talking face to face with people. I'm ok with that. Talking face to face with my friends and family will come, but at the moment this is right for me. Back to Day 1... ...I woke up hating myself. I can't believe I've done it again! What is wrong with me?! I've got to work today (I massage at a hotel day spa), but I sleep in as late as I can, I don't want to face the world. I get ready slowly, my thoughts on what I do, why I do it, what I look like. I move in slow motion when I'm depressed. Work is a struggle. Until my last treatment of the day, I feel like I'm on a different wavelength to everyone else. I can't connect with them, the hole i've dug myself is too deep and we can't reach each other. By mid-afternoon I'm in a better mood and I have a good last treatment. I have dinner at my sister's with Mum, who's here for the weekend. My 2 year old nephew gets me to play trains with him and he sits on my lap at dinner. After dinner, Mum leaves and the others watch tv. I search the internet for a chatroom or forum, I've got to talk to people about this, it's gone too far. I feel like it's taken over my life, like some sort of parasite that sucks at every experience and relationship I have, making them a pale comparison to reality. No more.
5 Answers
May 21, 2009
I just finished reading your story and I can truly say that I understand what your feeling right now. I have been picking for the better part of a decade now and I've lost my existance to this addiction completely. Over the past 8 years I've destroyed my looks and with it my self worth and confidence. I feel like a useless, empty shell, going day by day unnoticed by those around me because I've chosen a life of solitude and isolation. Avoiding life and all of it's possibilities has become easy, as I take the choice away by picking my face with such ruthlessness that I have no other option than to hide away. I am jobless and on the brink of being expelled from school, as I've missed so many classes. I, like you, am desperate to regain my life and my value. I just began an exciting new career choice, what I thought would be motivation for me to stop this mutilating habit, but to my horror the stress of school and my want, my need to look my best was too much. I began picking with an intensity I've never known and it has very nearly destroyed this opportunity. I was accepted into esthetics school 5 months ago, and I have never felt a true connection to anything the way I've taken to this. I love every aspect of my training and it has given me such hope and belief in myself and my ability to live and be happy, truly happy. Making other people feel good, giving someone a moment of relaxation and pampering has brought out a side of me I never knew I had and I'm scared now that I'm on the brink of losing that once again. I am top of my class and have a bright and thriving future ahead of me. If only I can gain control of this once and for all. Just months ago I had such dreams for myself, travelling the world after graduation, working in hotel spas around the globe. Every time I pick a piece of that dream seems to fade away. Soon that dream will be gone, as I won't be attending graduation. I found this site about a week or so ago, and I feel hopeful for the first time in years. Talking to people, sharing your story and experience with this problem is the first of many steps to stopping and you should be proud of yourself for reaching out. Even though you can remain unknown it isn't easy facing the pain we've caused ourselves, and I'm sure you can agree it goes far deeper than the marks and scars we see on the outside. This addiction is a complex and devestating one. Without an intervening source it will slowly destroy every bit that makes you you. But you can stop, you can regain your ability to choose. I know it frustrating and it's easier to hide, to give up and become invisible, but don't. Fight that urge and fight the urge to pick. Whatever the trigger whatever the reason, find another release for your emotions. Reach for the keyboard not for yourself. Tell your story, and know that someone cares, understands, and wants to support you. I would love to hear your stories and share mine with you. If you like, you can email me at Your not alone anymore and this is the beginning of a new life and endless possibilities! Good luck, don't give up!
December 05, 2010
It's like I'm reading a blog I didn't know I wrote. I'm so relieved to see that I'm not the only one going through this.
May 13, 2011
Our daughter just told me of this disorder and that she has it. Your site is the first one that popped up and I read it. It is a real eye opener. THANK YOU for listing counselors/help. There is none in our state but I found one in the next state and am seeking an appointment. Later I saw the part about online services. I might have to look into that also. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting. Best wishes to you and all other sufferers.

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