I have been reading some discussion boards here and elsewhere in the past few days and, like many people, am so relieved that I'm not the only one! I thought I would reach out a little bit because there is no one I can fully talk to because the details and problems can be really shocking to people who haven't experienced this. My mom has some idea of my problems since I've had them since I was little. I hadn't mentioned it in years and said to her yesterday that I was having "plucking and picking problems" again, but couldn't really explain. My fiance, who I have lived with for years, has no idea since he doesn't ever seem to notice my eyelashes and who pays attention to the bottom of peoples' feet?
I suffer from both trichotillomania and dermatillomania. As a child the trichotillomania began first with pulling out all my eyelashes and eyebrows. I rarely pick at my scalp except for one period where I had about a quarter-sized bald spot for a while. I can remember pulling the skin off the bottoms of my feet beginning in high school. This tendency seems to come and go, but when it comes I have a lot of trouble walking and feel that it's a significant problem. I usually use a nail clipper and peel the rest in strips. I also eat the skin, which has always made me feel incredibly ashamed, but now I've read that it's common in people who also have these impulses (and the accompanying shame is also common). I feel like I'm almost too good at hiding it. I haven't worn flip-flops all summer and I manage to walk with limping along because I'm just used to how this feels.
I've been starting a new job as an RN and this has been a really stressful transition. As a result my eyelashes are all but completely gone and my feet are bloody and red with deep gorges. This is causing me a lot of distress because I'm worried about making a good impression on my new coworkers and patients, and it's hard to feel confident about my appearance when I have no eyelashes. I'm terrified that someone will notice. Working 12 hour shifts while missing most of the skin on my feet is also very uncomfortable, and I'm scared that I will carry home some superbug on my shoes from a patient's room and end up with an infection with all these sores on my feet.
I feel like I'm at a turning point in my life in all aspects, and I'd like this to be a turning point for this problem as well (although it certainly turned in the other direction). I am good at loving and taking care of my family and patients, why can't I be kind and love myself? I am currently on meds for depression and anxiety and in therapy for my OCD, but I would eventually like to come off the meds and have never mentioned the picking/pulling to my doctor or therapist, even though this is such a huge part of the problem, because I knew that it would slow the process of coming off the meds. Has anyone read any books that have helped them? I've read reviews for "Stop me because I can't stop myself" and "Get out of your mind and into your life." Has anyone read these or have any others to recommend?
Thank you to the people who have shared on this and other forums. It has made a world of difference in how ashamed I've felt to know that I wasn't alone in this. I'd love to be part of a support group as I try to get over this set-back and move on. To be honest, I'm actually feeling pretty desperate and would like to connect to other people battling the same thing, so please respond if you have anything to suggest or if you just want to say hello!