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Kleigh415 , 19 Jun 2021

In Need of a Friend!

Hi, my name is Kristin and I’m 42 yrs old. I’m at my breaking point w/my OCD picking. I really need a friend who understands what I’m going through. My picking controls my life during my episodes. I need help.

I look hideous when there are 30 scabbed over lesions; some are red/pink irritated, puss filled scabs, and scars fill in everywhere else. Doctors don’t help… They just put offending notes in my file like ‘self induced picker’ and ‘self mutilation’. The physiatrist just throws more meds at me. My family and friends don’t understand it. My two daughters are at the point of trying to control it and they constantly scream at me to stop picking. Which in turn gets me angry that they’re intervening. I always appreciate it after the fact but in the moment I’m livid. What they don’t know is I try. I’ve tried sitting on my damn hands, using fidget toys to distract me, wearing sweatshirts and/or pants to hide it… Nothing helps.

I do have remission for a week or two in between but I always go back to it. I was always a picker but a mild picker. I used to only touch my face and back… Now I will pick every inch of myself. I was in a major car accident back in Apr 2018 and had a severe concussion. After that occurred my picking went crazy. Did I damage a part of my brain when I hit my head that changed how I pick? Idk.

I separated from my husband around the same time of my car accident and I have been diagnosed with major depression disorder, OCD, and severe anxiety disorder. Any one of them may have effected me too. I’m on 40mg Celexa which is a SSRI. According to my own research this is the kind of med given to someone to help control picking….but it doesn't even touch my urges to pick. I want to know what the hell is wrong with me!

My worst areas are my arms, chest and stomach. I will pick my face but I have improved because I can’t hide my face. I have ugly scars, sores, scabs, puss filled wounds (only at peak picking). I don’t know what to do to stop it. Can it even be stopped?

On a bad day I can spend 5 hrs picking… As I’m writing I am just coming down from a 3 week picking episode. This is a lot longer than usual but I also am under extreme stress. I lost my job and I’m making myself ill constantly thinking of how I’m going to get through everything. I lost 2 best friends last year. I just got into an apartment with my girls this past September after spending 3 yrs at my parents after my separation. I refuse to lose everything again. My anxiety was outrageous this past week…

I know I threw a lot of my personal thoughts out there, but I’m hoping to find just one person who will reply… Looking forward to finding support.

7 Answers
June 24, 2021

Hi Kristen, I'm Monica and I'm 20 years old. I've been picking since I can remember. In all honesty, I cried reading your post because I've never related to someone else's words so much. I'm struggling a lot and I can't wear what I want to wear because I'm afraid and embarrassed. My own sisters and mom give me looks because they just don't understand why I do this to myself. And I don't either. My boyfriend is the only one that supports me through this. We have an apartment together and he does the same thing as your daughters; he will barge in the bathroom when he realizes I've been in there for way too long and say "Are you picking..." Or sometimes he will yell at me to stop. They are just trying to help us in the only way that they know how (even though it makes me mad in the moment too). I can't imagine what it's like to go through all that you have. I have also gone through a lot, but different issues. I have severe depression and anxiety as well. I'm on pills too. I also have severe migraines that I have to give myself injections for. I go to the dermatologist as well, because I thought that if there were no pimples to pick at, then I wouldn't. WRONG. I have scars and scabs all over my face, arms, back, legs, and chest. Yet I continue to do this to myself with no explanation of why. I get so insanely stressed with all the doctor calls and appointments that I feel like I can't keep up. I need help too. My dermatologist suggested I take NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) and I thought it was working, but then I ran out and all stores are sold out constantly. I can't find it anywhere for a decent price. Basically, I'm having a hard time too. But I know we both can do this. We have to be willing to change and put aside the fact that we've been through a lot of shit and focus on what we're going through right now. The goal is to finally get control of ourselves, right? And if it requires therapy and pills then we will have to try because we deserve to be happy. You deserve to be happy. I really appreciate you opening up because I really needed to know that I'm not alone. So thank you, and you got this!

June 27, 2021

Hello Kristen. My name is April. I am 46 and I just came across this site for the first time. I thought I was alone in my struggle. I thought I was weird because I never knew picking was a problem. I have been picking since I was 17. I can understand and emphasize with you. I am in need of a friend also. So hopefully we can become friends? I didn't know I was a picker until recently. My daughter has OCD and told me I probably have OCD too. I have other co-occurring disorders so I thought nothing of picking. Even when people would ask me "What's wrong with your skin?" I picked my legs so bad to the point of countless infections. My legs had dents in them. Most healed but not all. I was told " Oh, you have MRSA." and was given antibiotics and anxiety meds. I am on Zoloft and Wellbutrin and Trazadone and Strattera. I have so many other disorders. It gets exhausting! I recently left an abusive relationship [ he was a narcissist] and moved into an apartment by myself. I have never lived alone before. I get lonely a lot. It would be nice to talk to someone close to my age to talk to. Thank you for being brave and strong enough to post your story. God Bless you.

June 28, 2021

Hi Kristen, Monica and April. My name is Patricia and I'm 24 years old. Firstly, I want to thank you all for sharing your stories. I just came across this site today and I feel that it's an answered prayer - that I might actually be able to get freedom from this struggle that's been controlling me for a long time. I've been picking at my skin since at least high school - might have been longer than that - I've honestly lost track. I scratch pretty much every inch of my body now - arms, legs, back, torso, scalp, face. Over the years my face has been the worst. I pick and squeeze at my acne, scratch scabs, make myself bleed in the process. I don't want to do it and I always end up hating myself after. I've tried cutting my nails down to the nub, putting on mitts, hats, longer sweaters or pants - you name it, I've probably tried it. Nothing has worked yet to fix this. And I too have felt very alone in this. Same story as you guys with respect to family - they tell me to stop picking, sometimes offer to hold my hands so I can't pick or actually reach out and pull my hand away. I know they're just trying to help, but it gets exhausting hearing the phrase, "stop picking!" over and over or being told that I'm hurting myself or am going to permanently damage my skin. If it were that simple - just telling me to stop or informing me of the potential consequences - I would've stopped a long time ago. So it ends up being this negative reinforcement of someone telling me to stop, me not being able to, and then feeling worse about it. I struggle with depression and anxiety as well but am not on medication for it. I know that for me, this behaviour is partially my subconscious way of trying to control situations that feel too overwhelming or out of my control. I don't want to have control over this struggle. This struggle controls me and I don't think that responding by trying to control the behaviour will make this any better. I want to have freedom from what's controlling me and I hope that the therapy that this program provides will give me tools to gain that freedom. My picking has been my response to subconsciously gain control over situations that feel out of control - and now it's become a habit. This is why I think this therapy will help - because this behaviour has become a habit that's had years of reinforcement. I need help to break it. The seeking control is the second part that needs help - and that I truly believe can only come from me surrendering control to God. I'm treating it a bit like an addiction, because I think that in some ways, that's what's it's become for me. I've looked into the 12 step program for alcoholics anonymous - it talks about surrendering control over to God and a few other steps that I think are going to be really helpful for me in this journey to healing. I don't think all the steps are applicable to this particular struggle, but I definitely think some of them are useful.

I am so sorry that each of you are dealing with this too. We're not alone. We're going to get through this. I truly believe this site and each of you are an answered prayer for me. I'm not good at keeping up with messages, especially when I enter into intense self-care work, so I might not respond to these threads often; but please know that I am so grateful for each one of you (on this thread and in this group of people) and the courage each of you had to reach out and share your stories. You are courageous, beautiful and each a true treasure. Please know of my prayers for you guys.

Serenity Prayer:
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

July 04, 2021

I need a friend too…for the same reasons. Im 39. How can we chat, if you’re still looking? I only registered here because I saw this. It really hit home…anyhow- I’m on fb, Lydia Grogg. Send a friend request or a message on messenger? Hope you’re doing better than when ya posted this…

July 27, 2021

Hi, I’m 40yrs female and had a brain injury in 2018 which caused my skin picking to get much worse like yourself. I’m just starting to recognise that these habits of mine are not safe and even though I;m hesitant to give them up, I am at the point where I know I need help to stop before I cause myself serious harm. I don’t have any friends due to my disability and living very remotely so would love someone to talk to who is going through something similar. I don;t use social media as it makes my anxiety worse but I’m happy to connect with you in a messenger app or email if you would like to.

July 29, 2021

Hello all, I can completely relate to the feeling of needing a friend who understands this. I'm a 41 yo woman and have been picking for at least the past 2 decades. I have sought out help several times in the past but just signed up for the program here a couple of days ago when my husband gave me yet another ultimatum to get help or he was leaving. Much like the people in your lives he really doesn't understand what I've been going through and has no patience for my problem. I keep most of my scars and scabs covered but the pandemic has led me to start picking areas in relation to my face mask. Now I have sores around my ears and mouth, areas that I never had problems with before. Other than my husband everyone else in my life turns a blind eye to my problem and would likely be surprised to learn I have any sort of mental distress like we all do. I am very much a closet picker and feel to much shame and fear of judgement to confide in people who don't understand what we go through.

April 27, 2022

Hello!  My name is Margaret.  I’m a 47yo mama with 3 grown sons and one teenage daughter.  The oldest 2 live out of state, and the youngest two with me, as my youngest son is autistic, and my baby girl has severe anxiety issues, which we’re hopefully getting an official Dx for this week, and I would LOVE to have some friends who understand all the weird stuff that happens in my day-to-day life.  As far as I know, I’ve always been a picker, even when I was little.  Or at least, my older siblings say so, but I don’t have many memories before age 16.  I do, however, remember being a constant nail-biter until I was 17, and my sister started paying for me to get acrylic nails, which helped immensely, but, unfortunately, destroyed my nails completely.  The big thing is the scars.  I am literally COVERED in scars from where I picked something for 2 months that should have healed in 2-3 days, at best.  Right now my left arm and left leg literally look like I got attacked by a wild animal or something.  I have actually had people stop and ask me what’s been “eating me up,” and I sigh, give a little laugh, and just say, “me.  I did it to myself.”  Naturally they’re appalled by it, but try to be understanding.  Every now and then, my younger two tell me, typically quite gently, as I have A LOT of other mental disorders that I’m trying to deal with/ treating, so they’ve learned yelling or snatching my hand away ends up with worse picking than intended.  I also have short-term memory issues, and likely dissociation issues, so that doesn’t help much.  And I don’t CAUSE the scabs, at least not intentionally, but I’m in Florida, and there’s all sorts of little creepy crawly, flying menaces around that just love to take a bite out of me.  Then they itch, and I scratch, and I itch again, and… eventually the scabs start, and thus the picking starts.  Oddly enough, it’s not nearly as bad on my right side as it is on my left, but there’s still a lot going on.  But my thing is, it seems to have only gotten THIS bad within the past year or so, maybe even less.  I started taking a new medication back in October, and while it seemed to work, but when I think back, I realised about the time I started the medication was about the time it got really worse.  And now I’m wondering if that’s the problem.  I’ve tried everything to STOP picking, except gloves, which right now I simply can’t afford, and stopping the medication I feel jay be contributing to the problem, simply because I keep forgetting to call my shrink to discuss it.  Yay short-term memory loss!  But now I’m beginning to see it’s NOT just a “me” problem, there are others like me who understand, and… I feel SEEN for the first time ever in regards to this particular issue.  So thank you for being here, and asking for a friend.  It means a lot, especially to an introverted over-thinker like me, who thinks everyone secretly hates me, and I’m so ugly with all of these nasty scars all over me…  🫥

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