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I want to say I was about... five or six years old when I first started "picking." At first, I was really interested in scratching my scalp and watching the flakes fall onto something dark i.e. a black book, a dark desk... anything I could quickly find to get the flakes out. (I would get really into it when I'd find a sweet spot that would just make the flakes falls like snow.) I would stare at my scratching job and revel at all of the bigger flakes, for a little while, and then toss or wipe them off of whatever I was using.
Flash forward, in my late teens, I was just running my fingers through my hair and I found a "mountain flake." I had no idea that this was a scab. I scratched it until it came off and then pulled it through my hair to investigate it. I was so fascinated that this giant piece of scab came off and sort of saved it. Eventually, I'd throw it on the floor and get rid of it, but one day... I took an old pill bottle and started collecting my scalp scabs. I would scratch my head to created sores and pick the scab when it was healing. I had my favorite spots, of course, and I would continually pick them and pull the scab through my hair. I don't understand why it made me feel better, but it would calm me down and I could just be in that moment for a very long time. I'd be doing homework and then completely stop what I was doing to scratch and pick. It was almost therapeutic.
When both of my parents passed away, I would just pick and pick. I would pick when I was nervous, sad, or just upset. I saved all of the good scabs and put them in the pill bottle... Watching my collection get larger and larger. I would take the pill bottle and empty out the contents and put them in piles of biggest to smallest. I'd take tweezers and just put them up to the light to see the little holes that formed from the hair popping through the scab.
I was so ashamed of my sick habit. I didn't tell anyone until I was about 25 years old. I remember lying in bed and my boyfriend, of two years, shared something embarrassing of his and I was reluctant to share this secret of mine. He eventually got it out of me and just held me so tight and kissed me. He was so understanding and helpful. I never actually showed him the bottle of scabs, but he did come across it a few times. He said he was going to ask me what they were and just never thought anything of it.
He knew my anxiety was really getting to me when I'd just randomly start picking. He'd hold my wrist and tell me to stop. Now, that didn't work. I'm sure all of you can attest to the... when someone tells you to stop; you don't give a hoot and continue you on your way bit. I was working night shift, by this time, and going to college full time, as well. I was working about 98 hours a week before I went to college. I went from doing that, to quitting my extra job to go back to college. Well... To say the least, I was a complete mess, as I would sleep about 16 hours a week. I'd pick and pick until I bled. Eventually, I stopped going to school and I started to get my scalp back to better days. My doctor put me on Celexa when I explained that I would pick my scalp when I was having anxiety bouts. (I didn't go into detail about creating sores or saving the scabs.) It wouldn't help me with the picking, but it sort of helped my depression.
Very recently, I was struggling with bulimia and my picking was getting a little bit worse. I looked into the mirror and saw my thin hair and I just cried. My fiancé, who is the same man as before, sat me down and gave me some tough love. Basically, he scared me into stopping both of those habits real quick. I went to the store and picked up this shampoo and conditioner by the name of Biota. (It was about $9.99 a bottle at Wal-Mart. They come in a white box, usually located right by the scalp shampoos like Selsun Blue and Head & Shoulders.) I came home and started using it once a day. I was going to these forums and checking out some of the posts and started reading into very scary things and just slowly weaned myself doing to a VERY light scratch every once in a while. My scabs healed around my head. The shampoo and conditioner made my hair and scalp so soft and healthy. When I started to see these fantastic results, I would struggle with my picking mentally. It came to the point where I was so AFRAID to pick, that I stopped cold turkey. 23 years of picking just stopped suddenly. Every time my fiancé would touch my hair he'd give me compliments about not picking and being so proud of me.
I want you all to know that it IS possible for you to stop and get help. I want you all to understand that there are so many supportive people of you. I may have spent my time in the shadows just reading through what you've all posted, but you are all helping someone like me get through this without you even knowing it. I wanted to join the forum and share these words with you because I want you all to know that you are NOT ALONE in this. It takes years to heal. It is difficult and it can be a long journey, but you will get there one day. Keep trying your best to stop. Be proud of you for making yourself WANT to get better.
I am not fully healed... I still keep my scab bottle, but I make sure I don't add on to each miserable scab in that thing. I lightly scratch from time to time, but I do not created sores anymore. I don't force the flakes off. In fact, this shampoo and conditioner have made it difficult to even get a flake worth noticing to fall. This forum is a blessing. There are so many people that are struggling like us. There are amazing supporters. I read success stories and stories where you fall off your wagons, sometimes. Continue to seek advice and support from this website. DO talk to a doctor or a psychiatrist. DO talk to someone you love. DO NOT let someone have the right to call you gross or sick. You cannot help it. You can only begin to help yourself and the truly good-hearted people in your life will help you through your healing process.
You. are. not. alone.
Remember that. ALWAYS.