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Personality traits of a picker. What are yours?
Just as the title says I want to bring up an old forum topic regarding personality traits and skin picking. This also goes for lip biting and really any overall obsessive compulsive and self-mutilating type of behaviors. One thing that really stuck out in that thread was the lack of will that people reported feeling. By will, I'm dont mean will power to make themselves stop tge behaviors, I mean the actual will and drive when it comes to being able to get out of bed, to bring yourself to actually get up and do something. I have been like this for as long as I can remember, in fact. I remember being really young and just not feeling like I wanted to do well in school or push myself to be number one or to do the best at anything (especially if it required work). Also, somebody mentioned not sleeping at all, but also sleeping too much.... I go days without sleeping. Sometimes, I'll stay up all night just to pick at my face, chest, or my back. Sometimes its to pick/bite my fingers and cuticles. Sometimes I'm chewing the inside of my lip or biting my taste buds off until I bleed. However in that same week, I'll find myself sleeping for an entire day and just getting up at 8 at night, possibly go to out and get something to eat, but onlybbecause I haven't eaten in 4 days. Also mentioned was that even being a smoker, I can go without cigarettes or anything I may beed or want, if it means I have to actually get up and go to into a store. A lot of it has to do with not wanting to face people in the world, I know that I have trouble looking people in the eye when I do go somewhere. This led me to not leave my house or my room for almost 2 months. My skin picking and my inability to want to do anything affects everything in my life, sadly. I'm constantly lying about what the sores are from or why I don't want to do something, or why I can't go out. Of course, I somehow always make it a hundred times worse right before a really important event. Especially holidays or anytime that I'm going to see my mother or family in particular. Somebody mentioned that anytime they felt like they were going to be judged or we're going to have people looking at them ( hey! there's that fear of not being good enough!) .... They would then relapse, and instead of continuing to let their skin clear up (hell, I could go months /years) ... They would start searching for any bump or unevenness, only to open up sores all over their face and body all over again. There were/are so many things that I could relate to that were mentioned... there was a lot of abuse in my life starting out when I was little and subsequently carrying on into almost, well maybe ALL, of my relationships. When I was younger I did try to fill that void that was caused by not loving myself by being promiscuous. All of my self-worth came from somebody liking me. Being an addict and an alcoholic and being in recovery forced me to look at some of my core driving fears (which basically sums up the reasons that we do the things we do). My number one core driving fear is the fear of not being good enough. This is closely followed by my fear of abandonment, as well as, a fear of failure. Lastly however, and oddly enough... right there along with my fear of failure, is my fear of success... and that's exactly where most of my self-sabotaging behaviors come from. But knowing what drives my behavior doesn't make it go away it just makes it a little easier for me to pinpoint why I do things and what part of my life I need to work on. Skin picking along with my inability to leave the house and go to the store has caused me to lose anywhere between 4 and 8 jobs over the years. And I'm talking like from the time I was 18 up to just recently about a month ago. I remember I lost my waitressing job (at the age 18 of 19) because when I would go into work with an open sore on my face l, I would already be running late because I spent hours putting on and taking off makeup . Then I would sit in my car in the parking lot for hours, continuing to be late for my shift, telling them that I was dealing with an emergency and that I would be there soon. Eventually I would spend so much time on fixing the imperfections on my face that I just couldn't go into work after being late yet again. I have called off dates for this reason as well. I used to make my ex-boyfriend sit in the car with me for hours while I tweaked and corrected my concealer and my foundation every time we went anywhere. The longest I went without messing with my face was probably about five years, possibly a little longer. I started out with losing my job, which was followed closely by having no money to buy makeup, let alone food. That's when I realized that when I stopped wearing makeup, I stopped looking in the mirror 100 times a day. This alone let my face clear up to the best it ever was in my life. Unfortunately, now and about five or six times over the last year or two, my skin picking is back with a vengeance. I mostly do it when I pace around my room and circle over and over and over or while I'm on the phone or while I'm driving is a big one as well. I've come to find out that there is a big and direct correlation in taking my Adderall (to the combat my ADHD) and my face erupting with pimples and open sores.. that then leadsvto them being on my chest and my arms, my legs and my butt. This time however it happened in a record-breaking 2 days from restarting Adderall. I stayed up all night the night before last, as I stated picking at every little thing on my body. Last night I took a shower with antibacterial soap and used witch hazel as well as an antifungal cream all over my body. I even put socks on my hands because I knew I would sit there the entire night messing with everything and touching my skin. I had a bout of fungus on my toes on my right foot, that has yet to clear up that led me to thinking how I have been taking doxycycline for the last 4 days for an infected tooth. All of these things along with the Adderall,I feel like, has exacerbated the Candida growth in my body. I will tell you that literally just the one night of putting Ketoconazole cream on my sores and obviously washing with the antibacterial soap, has actually closed up all the open wounds and has gotten rid of the chicken skin type pimples all over my legs and arms. Usually my sores will last for months and months before they even start to heal. The biggest help was having socks on my hands to keep me from scratching it.. Even just the night before, I was itching so badly that I scratched through my skin on my legs and feet. All of this in combination with an overall thicker vaginal discharge lfrom starting the antibiotics, made me think to myself that it probably was a fungal infection... Especially seeing how antibiotics have never once fixed my acne, except for when I had MRSA. I know this post got kind of long but I just wanted to introduce myself to the forums, as well as ask around about the personality traits/disorders, fears or reasons that led you to do the kind of damage that you have yourself as well. I'm so glad to see how normal my crazy and weird issues actually make me!
Revved Up I just read your story and so much that what you said reminds me so much like myself. I started with my skin picking way back in my teen age years. That is when you have your normal breakouts years and mine was far from normal. I have cystic acne so I would get painful bumps on my face. I would pick at them till I made a little bump a great big open wound. I couldn't leave them alone. Later I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder OCD. I feel that my skin picking is a result of me feeling depressed about my life and being full of anxiety. I was really bad when I was married to my second husband. He left me after being married only a year. I then was living by myself and my skin picking skyrocketed. I too would stay up all night to pick at my face. After a night of picking at my face I would call my work and tell them that I was sick. I was too embarrassed to go to work and have people look at me and have them wondering what the heck is wrong with that girl. One time I was even tested for drug usage because of the way my face was. People though I was on crack or something. Every time the test would come back negative but that is what people thought of me. Even my mother did not want to see me when my face was a wreck. I got very good at hiding my places with concealer. Everything changed when I met my husband now. My face was actually clear for a while. But not everything good lasts. My skin picking started coming back little by little. Now I am back to my old habits. My husband is having a hard time understanding this illness. This in turn puts some strain on the marriage which in turn causes some anxiety which in turn causes me to pick and so on and so on. Just one big vicious circle. Well that is where I stand right now. Let me just tell you that I know how you feel. I felt that I was the only weird one out there because I never known anybody who does what I do. I am so glad that I found this site and this forum. To know that this illness is for real and that we are all struggling with it. To know that we can find some encouragement from each other because we have all been there.
Abuse, in any form...particularly in childhood will bring about self mutilating, impulsive behaviors. Some individuals are also more predisposed to this sort of behavior. I would bite my nails ever since I was 5....I think it was because I would witness my parents fighting and it scared me so much. I would bite, feel the pain, see the blood....and become distracted from the unhealthy dynamic between my parents. Then teenage acne later in life gave me another reason to self mutilate...and this time again I was dealing with massive amounts of stress from hormones and emotional abuse/financial issues in my family. The financial issues made things worse because I did not have options to escape from the stress since my family was so bogged down. Anyway, yes abuse will do this to you, depression, anxiety...all will cause these behaviors. And as you said...understanding this alone will not help you stop the behavior. Its already too deeply ingrained...maybe it would have been VERY helpful for me if someone pointed this out back then when I was starting out. Ofcourse, I cannot be sure. Do you use hydrocolloid bandaids? You write about your wounds not closing up for months...this is alarming. I suggest you start using hydrocolloids religiously. As for my personality type...avoidant, suspicious, cautious, cynical.You are the product of what life has dealt you. And yeah some people will say you can always change, etc, etc.....well when you had 20+ years of one particular dynamic and you had to learn to live with it.....its a whole different story. If you look up symptoms of CPTSD you might be more aware of what you possibly went through. Anyways, my hope is still there that I might one day get over this behavior...I did beat the nail biting after 25 years. So maybe there is some hope for getting over the skin picking. To be honest...I often have thoughts of how much easier it would all be to die and not be pestered by my face and my skin. Its like being an addict with the addiction being on my face....I wish I could just run away from it but I cant! I do feel guilty for thinking this way...but it always gives me a relief to think of it. Also I had severe OCD since the age of 8....it also went away around age 22-23. It just sort of gradually diminished and faded away. I want to stay optimistic and hopeful but this shitty life of compulsive/impulsive behavior and the constant battle with oneself is starting to heavily weigh down on me. I have also noticed that being around people and talking to them, opening up to them, is almost impossible for me. I cannot seem to form healthy bonds because I tend to become suspicious of their motives. Some sort of attachment issue where the logic is that Im safer being alone. I am married though and my husband understands, can relate on almost everything I go through because he has a similar anxious temperament. This is specifically why I chose to marry him, with a plan of strategy in mind as I knew any other individual would become frustrated and not be able to understand or relate.
Serene I have a question for you....how did you get over your OCD?? You said that it went away. I have been struggling with OCD since my early teens and am now in my fifty's and still have it. I have been put on everything under the sun to help combat this. I really don't think meds are doing a damn thing to help me stop picking. I too think about how much easier it would be to die. I often cry and ask God why me and just to take my miserable life away from me. To me this is not living when you are constantly in a battle with your face and many times the face wins.
I have no idea how my OCD slowly dissipated. But I had a rapid cycling OCD...where it would switch to a new variety multiple times over the years. I had everything from obsessive cleaning, obsessive hand washing, counting numbers and letters in my head, obsessions of perfections of every kind, etc etc...also lots of guilt attributed to my OCD. It was horrible during all of my childhood from the age of 8, pretty bad in high school...and then started tapering off in my 20s. It would sort of come and go...where before I was constantly tormented...it eventually started giving way to days, weeks, and then months of remission. So I had moments when I could breathe and enjoy life...and over time the remissions progressed to being longer and longer, with OCD moments getting shorter and fewer in between. It eventually all went away. I think maybe replaced by the skin picking?? I was on antipsychotics and anticonvulscent medication during my teens, but got off of it in my 20s. Seroquel seemed to eliminate my skin picking completely. I took high doses. Yet the OCD went away after I quit all meds, it was a gradual process. The skin picking kicked back up after I stopped taking meds....so that was a real bummer. But I can understand how it would feel to not have this disorder! When I was on meds I couldnt even understand as to why I used to pick my skin. I would think back and wonder why?? I was on meds for about 5 years....so that gave me a long break! So it was as if my mind completely changed and I felt that it was irrational and strange how I felt so compelled to pick prior to taking the meds. I now feel the same way about the nail biting...I have overcome it after moving across the country and getting married. It was some sort of trigger that helped me to finally drop the habit for good. Now when I look at my nails I dont get impulses to bite them...which is a very weird relief. I used to have bleeding infected cuticles and bit down nails almost all of the time. We are talking about extreme nail biting, and my OCD was very extreme too. My psychiatrist was also surprised when I told him my OCD went away. He said usually it doesnt, its chronic. So im wondering if possibly the skin picking replaced it since my skin now consumes all of my emotions and I have no more energy left for the OCD. Possibly my brain is too preoccupied with the picking that it doesnt need any more compulsive habits. What sort of OCD do you have? Has it changed over the years....and do you notice it fluctuate and weaken over time? When were your worst years of experiencing OCD? Btw, I totally understand how you feel. Tonight im having a shitty moment with the skin picking and some bandaged up wounds...and I was doing so well too!!!! All it took was for me to pick at a pimple which didnt even have time to form! Since it didnt surface up, I had to dig deeper to get the stuff out....and anyway that let to multiple other picked spots because it tends to snowball when I let myself down. The sick part is that I even paused and thought about not picking it (which I have been better at recently). Its like I have an argument with my own self...and all the while the impulse just builds up and demands that I pick it. I am improving at not picking new pimples, but today I just caved in because I thought I saw a whitehead beneath the surface of the skin. Its just so tempting!!! What a sick addiction, thats all I can describe it as!
Serene How can I describe my OCD...……….I strive for perfection. I need everything in my life and things in my life to be perfect. For example I had a spot on the refrigerator that did not come off when I wiped it. It was like something was stuck on it. I have a black stainless steel refrigerator (which I hate because everything scratches it) that I got a scrubby to try to get it off. I thought that if the scrubby was safe enough for the glass on my stove top that it was gentle enough for frig. WRONG. I put a lot of tiny scratches on the door of my frig. Well that just set me in a tizzy. I tried everything I knew to try to fix it but I could not. It is still there but I had to learn how to deal with it. It just causes a lot of anxiety for me and I guess the anxiety is a trigger for me to pick my face. When things are not going the way I would like them to go or something is wrong instant trigger. I sometimes see my OCD getting better over time. My doctor has me on mirtazapine and risperdol which helps me to take the edge off. When the places that I have picked finally heal I tell myself that is the last time. And I try so damn hard but the last time never comes.
I have had that form of OCD many times. If I messed up, even slightly, I would feel such immense guilt that I wanted to cease existing. I have been there with the accidental scratches on any surface....small insignificant things that would stay in my mind and torment me. I had to throw or give things away in an effort to purge myself from the guilt that was attributed to these small defects that I accidental created. I hate those feelings, I still can feel them when I think of them...but thankfully my mind doesnt "stick" on to such imperfections in my surroundings. I also completely understand how you feel about picking and regarding each picking episode as "the last time". I dont think of it that way anymore...I know its futile and only breeds self contempt when I do mess up. I dont want to build myself up for failure down the line...I just sort of try to go with the flow now...on days when I mess up I give myself time to mope...then I hope for the best. But I also try to take care of my skin, which does seem to help a bit. What are you doing in regard to self care? Are you exercising regularly? Doing any facial treatments? Using particular products that help?
I have researched many things such as medications to cleansers that might help with the breakouts. Right now I wash my face morning and night with Neutrogena bar soap but I feel I need a little bit more to help with the breakouts. Have you heard of the product line called Paula's Choice?? I have researched their products and peoples comments about them so I ordered a face wash cleanser that contains sacrycilic acid and a benzoyl peroxide 2.5 percent facial treatment that might help. I have real sensitive skin so am really careful what I want to put on my face. I really hopes that it will help some. I really don't exercise but they say that if you walk it releases some endorphins that may help you feel better.
Yes I am familiar with Paulas Choice, I like her website beautypedia.com. She recommends a variety of products on there, have you checked it out? I havent bought her particular products, but I go by the review site and am always buying the top rated skin care items to try. I am back to working out almost every day and it makes me feel less panicky and helps with the depression. Have you had any procedures done at a dermatologist? I do at home TCA peels...which help me in my perception of my skin...if you do multiple peels your skin improves, in tone & texture. In the near future, with an increase in financial stability I plan to be a regular at the dermatologist office and try out an array of procedures. Until then I am sort of gradually testing things out on my own.
I haven't had any procedures done at my dermatologist office. He knows that I battle with this illness and has been very helpful with me trying new medications and giving advice when I call. What is a TCA peel?? Do you get that at a store or something??? I never heard of them. I joined a gym once and was gun ho the first couple of months but somehow I lost interest and hardly went at all. What kind of procedures are you going to try with a dermatologist??
I purchase 15% TCA chemical peel on Amazon. Perfect Image TCA Peel 15%, if you want to look it up. So what does your derm recommend? Are you getting any treatment for scarring? TCA peels are also administered by dermatologists, they actually do higher percentage ones which burn off a thicker layer of the skin, and that gives better results. As for what procedures I want... I need laser and I want to try dermapen, possibly heavier chemical peels. I want to improve the damage, always keep improving it, because when I stop I tend to pick more and the damage accumulates. About working out at the gym, I never do. I only exercise at home and that motivates me and makes me feel better.
He had me on a topical but cant remember the name but I felt that it made my skin oily after applying it which I think made it worse. He just recommended a mild soap that is when I started using Neutrogena products. I use their make up because I like it better than the Clinique makeup I was getting. Believe it or not and it is a MIRACLE that I do not have any real scarring from all my years of picking. No pot holes scars or anything. God has blessed me on that end. Do you have exercise equipment at home?? I wanna start brisk walking to release some endorphins. I live in Florida so the weather is not too hot right now.
You must be a very delicate picker. I have minor scarring, minor texture irregularities. I actually do barre at home, and pilates...also walk at night whenever I can. I recently moved to Naples, Florida so I understand what you mean by the cooler weather, judging by how bad the summer was. I also wanted to ask, what are some common emotions you experience when you pick? Do you ever feel anger while picking?
And I wanted to ask, have you done any form of therapy about the trauma you experienced in childhood? There is a great book I read recently called "The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma", its truly eye opening and very detailed. If you have complex PTSD and any form of trauma its worth a read. Trauma actually changes the way that the brain functions and all of your experiences you wrote about, the lack of motivation, lack of energy, etc...all of that is tied into it. I also have thought about the reason as to why I stopped biting my nails after more than two decades...and I believe that the reason I began to bite them was when I first heard my parents fighting ...and living with and near my parents all those years after I would constantly re-experience the same scenario. So it prompted me to constantly keep on biting my nails...as a trigger instilled in my memory. I stopped biting my nails after I moved away to the other side of the country...is that simply a coincidence? Could the move itself have changed something??? Or was there a legitimate trigger of seeing my parents constantly arguing that suddenly didn't exist? Maybe your skin picking correlates with relationship dynamics...maybe what you are experiencing now with your husband reminds you subconsciously of the dynamics in your past. It might be triggering your fears.
I live in Cape Coral Florida not so far from Naples. It would be really cool if we can meet sometime if you would want to. Right now I have at least twenty places on my face. When I pick I guess I feel all lot of emotions all at the same time. I get angry with myself for doing it but yet it is also some sort of stress relief of some built up anxiety. When I cant control what is going on in my life I feel that the only thing that I can control is the picking. We are seeking marriage counseling together but the therapist wants to meet with me tomorrow to talk about my past experiences . I am really feeling apprehensive about it knowing that I have to talk about the things that I haven't talked about in a long time. I am hoping that this want be another trigger.
Anxiety. I’m always anxious. I pick to take my mind off of it. It’s almost like automatization now. Like I’m having an out of body experience or I’m on auto pilot. I pick to focus on the process, watch the result and feel the satisfaction. It’s like my own way of managing stress but it’s an unhealthy compulsion. (Not to offend) I’m speaking for myself. I don’t want to manage stress by tearing my face, chest, shoulders and pubic area up. It makes me guilt and sad and disgusted afterwards. I hate it. Anxiety is a b*tch.
Picklerick I too feel that I am always anxious. I tend to pick my face only. If I even feel a little bump I would pick at it and pick at it until it is a red looking sore and sometimes would have up to twenty of them at a time. That was my last bout. I feel that I am doing so much better now. I started with the product line called Paula's Choice for acne and it has helped me tremendously. No bumps so no picking. I do get one here and there but not like before. Plus my doctor has me on remodyl and matazapine witch I think is taking the edge off. I feel so much better about myself but the urge is always there. When I find myself standing in front of my magnified mirror that I have in the bathroom I just start talking to myself and saying that if you pick at that spot you know what will happen and then you will hate yourself. So far so good.
Anxious for nothing, I would like to meet in person if you still want to. I just saw this post on here. Not sure if you still frequent this site.