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toxic2 , 24 Nov 2009

Tried it ALL-Nothing has helped-Now What?!

I'm a highly educated college professor, own my house, but I'm a complete failure! Late for classes, sick days taken, no show at parties and family functions, no friends--(its easier this way), many excuses to hide my dirty secret. Did it my whole life, meds actually made it so much worse (but helped my depression, ironically), did psychotherapy-2 therapists/once a week for 2 yrs., inositol, alternate stim.,and everything else that has been suggested. I've become a master cover-up artist (not proud), but it seems the damage is getting harder to heal as I get older (almost 40). I've distroyed my face and body. Seriously, now what? Get strapped down with a straight jacket? Please tell me someone has another idea on how to stop.
6 Answers
November 24, 2009
First, you've got to realize that you are NOT a failure because of this. Sounds like you're doing pretty well if you're a college professor and all. You need to accept that this is a biological problem for you and stop being so ashamed about it. If you had a tic disorder, it wouldn't be any different. A lot of very intelligent, successful people have some sort of OCD disorder. Picking IS an OCD disorder, meaning you have very limited (if any) control over it. It can be very embarassing at times, but it won't kill you. If you already don't have friends, then what do you have to lose? Get out there and be with people. Confide in anyone you trust. Secondly, figure out what feelings are behind the picking. They are there for sure. Anger, general stress, where does your mind go when you pick? Then, find something, search endlessly, for something that can replace the picking. If you own your house, try pulling weeds in the garden. Seriously, I wish I had more weeds, but I've picked them all!! ; ) Most of all, keep hope. Everyday you get up and move forward, you are not a failure. You are only a failure if you quit!
November 24, 2009

In reply to by polkadots

I agree with polkadots, we are not failures even if we think so at times. I know I do frequently but I was reading some info from a place called The Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center that is in Sacramento CA and one of the things that people with OCD or anxiety disorders do is distort things. Most of us are All or Nothing type of people and therefore think that if it's not perfect or we're not perfect then we are failures or losers. I do this all the time and feel this way at this very moment. I even do this with tasks like housecleaning, if I can't clean the entire house, perfectly in one day then I don't want to do it at all. So even though I detest a messy, dirty house, mine is frequently messy and dirty, which makes me feel like a loser! It's just insane, I have a terrible time finding balance, I mismanage time, I'm always late, I don't finish tasks or I procrastinate. I also take on too much, although sometimes there is just too much to do and then I don't want to do any of it. Can you see the distortion here? I have contacted this behavior center to get help, I will tell you how it's going and what they do in case it is helpful to anyone else here. Good luck.
November 25, 2009

In reply to by Kali

Polkadots and Kali, Thank you so very much for the validation and words of support. As I go through my every day life, I've never known, seen or suspected anyone else with this problem. It seems like I'm the only one who mutilates oneself to the point that I can't be seen at times. I shall say that being a part of a support group is the one thing I haven't tried. Maybe finding all of you will finally be my cure. In solidarity we might be able to overcome. All the best to you both.
November 25, 2009

In reply to by toxic2

toxic2, I know what you mean, I never knew that there were others like us either. I knew about those that pull their hair out or do cutting but I never considered that my picking could be a disorder. I just thought I had a very bad, unbreakable "habit" that for some unknown reason I could not control. Now I feel like there is hope and I also am finding great comfort and validation at this site. I have been a Mom and homemaker for the last 26 1/2 yrs, never really having to work much outside the home and could spend alot of time hidden away if I wanted. It's bad enough having to go to Church each week or do the grocery shopping or go out with my husband and be exposed to the stares of others. I can only imagine the stress of having to work every day and having to deal with this.
November 25, 2009
I've been biting and picking for over 20 years and have tried everything as well. I think the only thing that has ever worked for me is not being alone. If I am alone, I will pick. If I have no where I absolutely need to be that day, I'll pick. The times where I was the most busy, even if I was more stressed than usual were the times where my skin looked the best. I guess I don't know what the solution is. Obviously we can't be "in public" at all times, but I'm thinking that I need to fill my idle time with something concrete. My only real hobby is reading and that still allows me to bite and pick. What if I were forced to attend a class or work a 2nd job every day of the week? Would I still find the time to pick? I don't think I would, at least I think that my skin would heal enough that it would be an encouragement to keep going. Anyway I'm rambling. Just wanted to let you know that I'm in the same boat and we're not failures. I'm not surprised you're academically sucessful because people with OCD are often of above average intelligence. Small consolation, but consolation nonetheless!
November 26, 2009
I just discovered this website, and I'm reading the posts with interest. I'm a male in my 60s. I have psoriasis, and peel and eat the scabs and plaques that form on my patches. I apply medication (but not very religiously) and get UVB light treatments, but the scratching and peeling off of the plaques inhibits the therapy. About a half hour ago, I did a search and discovered a great quote that I had pasted up in my room over 40 years ago, when I was in my 20s. I was hospitalized then for severe anemia secondary to a stomach ulcer. No matter what the contemporary medical wisdom is about ulcers, I think stress is a major factor, and I was a bundle of nerves and very insecure when I was in my 20s. The same kind of stress that causes ulcers could also cause this skin-picking-and-eating behavior. So here's the quote: ‘An ulcer, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge for having been jilted. It is an unwritten poem, an undanced dance, an unpainted watercolor. It is a declaration from the mankind of the man that a clear spring of joy has not been tapped and that it must break through muddily, on its own.' (quote from John Ciardi, American poet, addressing a group of powerful businessmen) I used to be a musician, but quit out of frustration and due to financial problems, and due to lack of time for maintaining my skills. I played jazz in nightclubs, festivals, concerts, etc., and also wrote a few film scores. But there is almost no work in today's modern world, except for a tiny highly skilled elite group: I drive a cab to pay the bills (and attempt to pay down my debts). I also used to write chamber music for classically trained musicians, and my music was performed often while I was studying music in various universities. Over the years, however, my music skills have generally not been a good contributor toward paying the bills. I guess what I'm thinking is that if you keep yourself busy enough with meaningful pursuits, you won't scratch and eat. In my case, if a saxophone is in my mouth and both hands are busy playing it, I can't do this stuff to my body. If I'm composing music, even something no one will hear or care much about, perhaps this will distract me from this rotten habit and provide a much better outlet for what is churning inside of me. Probably some exercise would help as well. I'm doing some self-therapy here, but I hope my thoughts will aid others. And I will look forward to hearing others' reactions to what I have said here. (Maybe we could re-word the quote above as follows: "‘A skin-picking-and-eating habit, gentlemen, is an unkissed imagination taking its revenge . . . etc")

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