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Intergalactic Moth , 30 Sep 2017

Going into a trance and losing hours? It's kind of scary

Hello, I'm new here. Been picking at my skin since toddlerhood but I always thought I could just stop on my own. Now I'm almost 21 and still picking as basically every square inch of my skin (INCLUDING the inside of my mouth and my gums) everyday without fail, so clearing my plan hasn't worked.
I struggle with a lot of compulsive behavoir, mostly distressing of which is binge eating disorder.
Sometimes, particularly when I'm resisting the urge to binge or do something else compulsive, I end up going into a trance and just picking at one specific part of my body, like my face or legs, for hours?
Like I just sit there and pick and I have no idea how much time has passed or how much damage i did and then I snap out of it and am just horrified at what I did? I'm semiaware that I'm picking but have not control over how much, where, or when to stop? Like I feel relief after, but still feel the shame and disgust of how much damage I did?
Does any else sort of dissociate and totally lose control? I live in a dorm and I've been terrified for years about my roommates walking in on me during these time. Any ideas on how to break the trance? or prevent it entirely? Because once it starts, it will not stop for anything. I'm rambling, but I feel like I'm going to spend the rest of my life bouncing from one compulsion to the next.

3 Answers
October 01, 2017

Compulsions are often subconscious processes by which we manage or escape from pain. It is how we repress and avoid facing emotional pain (a distraction of the mind). This is why we learn to dissociate as a coping mechanism and are therefore drawn to behaviors which allow us to "zone out" (such as skin picking and nail biting). What has your environment been like when you were growing up. You say you began to pick as a toddler. Did your parents have a happy marriage, was the home environment calm and pleasant? Have you ever seen a therapist for this problem? Im just mostly interested in what prompted you to begin to pick at yourself when you were a toddler. In my situation, I began to severely bite my nails at around the age of five. Looking back now I understand that it must have been due to the severely unstable and unhappy home which my parents created. They would rage and scream at one another, constantly threatening divorce. I know that at the time my mind was completely overwhelmed by all of it and I would go into myself and bite my nails. This is when I learned to dissociate. I also remember having moments of sadness as a child. Also when I was growing up I endured a lot of contemptuous abuse from my father. Mainly a ton of emotional put downs on a regular basis. It is in high school when I began to pick at my skin...but the nail biting issue continued until earlier this year - when it completely stopped. I think that these behaviors don't magically spring up out of nowhere. We are conditioned to behave in certain ways and our mind starts to create coping strategies to deal with our internal suffering. Try to be introspective about what has prompted you to pick. Do you experience any recent triggers which cause an increase in the urge to pick?

October 02, 2017

My roommates have walked in on me picking before. Very embarrassing. I feel ya. I zone out too sometimes and totally lose track of time. We're like alcoholics - we can't just pick one. We have to completely go cold turkey. That's what helps me. I can sometimes stop after one but it's way harder than staying away from mirrors and not touching your skin (feeling for imperfections).

January 22, 2018

I have this exact problem! When I resist from one area of picking, I immediately start picking a different area. I can sit and pick for HOURS and when I realize how much time has passed I'm ashamed and disappointed in myself, also confused on how I could spend so much time picking without realizing it. If I have a day off, I will literally pick away the entire day and be mortified at myself. I don't know how to stop this, and resisting the urge is a lot harder than people realize. I always say "oh just this one" and then it's like an avalanche and it's impossible to stop. You aren't alone and hopefully we will find a way to stop this!

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