Epilating my legs helps

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May 01, 2016

I am f, 44 years old and have had CSP for as long as I can remember. This is a long post so if you don’t get any further, I just want to thank the community for sharing your own stories and helping me realise that I am not alone although it feels like it. My first clear memory of CSP is age 7 and from that memory I can tell that it didn't start then, but before. Throughout childhood it was limited to picking at my scalp and as I had a difficult childhood and was bullied at school / scared at home I guess it started as a coping mechanism for anxiety. I carried on at about the same levels until adolescence when I started picking at my face thanks to teenage hormones / spots / feeling greasy. Over the years it's been more or less manageable I suppose and became part of my life that I was always going to keep to myself and expect i just about managed that even throughout various relationships - sometimes I'd have marks on my back but no-one ever commented. Some time around 2007 I found something on the internet by Dr Grossbart and realised I was not a freak. 4 years ago I went back to college after having, been made redundant one week back from maternity leave. When I started Uni a few years ago my CSP got worse around assignment time, reaching a peak on my penultimate assignment back in February of this year, where I sat in a trance, in a mental block unable to write for 6 weeks and picked away at my skin just about everywhere. This left me just a few days to write the whole thing and I could have failed. Some weeks earlier, around Christmas I disclosed my CSP for the first time in my life to my mother & husband, and then in February to 3 friends, two of whom were Uni friends. We have spent the last 4 yrs together training to be therapists and no-one had a clue. I also told my lecturer who had guessed as my final case study on Mental Health included a particularly knowledgeable piece about a ‘client with BFRB’. Why am I writing now? Perhaps because for the first time in my life things have reached a new low – I have no idea why. It seems worse since I told people even though I know they don’t judge. I told my therapist who skipped right over the subject, and learnt there and then what NEVER to do with one of my own clients. So, I don’t trust it to take to therapy, I am a psychotherapist haha! I haven’t told a GP because quite frankly I probably know much more about this than they do. I just cannot understand why now, why this time in my life when I am happier than I have been and under less pressure that I was. But this ruinous habit has taken over my life recently, impacting upon my family who see less of me. I don’t sleep at night and reckon I am typing this just partly to keep my hands otherwise occupied. Every coping thing that I used to find helped isn’t doing so now. If I felt the urge to pick, usually if there is the tiniest hint of feeling my skin / scalp was greasy, I’d be in the shower and wash my hair. I would spend an hour epilating my legs, arms, because there was something satisfying about ripping out the hairs instead of injuring my skin. However, this is a double-edged sword as after epilation comes the ingrown hairs which I’d always have to gouge out and end up bleeding. I hate this bloody OCD. Or, its what I refer to as my ‘CD’ because there isn’t really the ‘O’ that I can put my finger on anyway. I have thrown away all the face treatments that strip the skin of gunk and oil, after years of believing this would help – instead I have made my own antibacterial face oil which I put on before bed after washing face with something with no harsh ingredients in. I use a fragrance free, non-comodogenic sunscreen of factor 50 in the day as due to my darker skin and the picking I have hyper-pigmentation which gets worse with sun exposure. I am trying to concentrate on my hobby, which is immersive and helps a bit, and as a side project I am attempting to devise a skin care routine and homemade products especially suited to those with derma. I guess this last paragraph is the only things that are helping me. Since I gave up smoking 18 months ago I notice my CSP has got a lot worse. I used Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to give up smoking and some part of me knows that I could probably use it to help CSP. Something is stopping me so I guess I want to be saddled with this thing even though I can’t stand it, it must be protecting me from some other anxiety.