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GrinEvilly , 25 Nov 2009

I'm new here and I could use some help.

I've been picking scabs and my nose since I was a young child. If something in my nose does not feel "right" I have to feel around to pick it. I cannot tell you how many times I've done this and ended up with a bloody nose or blood on my finger and the mucus. This however is not my most serious problem. My most serious problem is picking my scabs. I have been treated for anxiety and when I am anxious I feel the need to pick at my scabs to calm myself and make me feel better. Whenever I think about them, have something brush against them or see them (in a mirror or not) I HAVE to pick them. It is in the back of my mind constantly when I do not. I have been known to sit in the bathroom for fifteen to twenty minutes just picking at my arms and legs, and when I am sitting on the computer I pull up my pant legs and pick. My youth worker has said this could be related to the environment I was raised in: It was very dirty with many fleas that would bite me. I sometimes feel as though they are crawling all over me which causes me to itch and pick at the resulting scratches. I have asked my family for help to get me therapy or even medication if need be but they tell me it is a "bad habit", not a disorder of any kind. It has had an extremely negative effect on my self-esteem, because once the sores are gone they leave scars. I have not worn shorts, t-shirts or gone swimming in years. I might not be a severe case as many of you, since I don't pick my face or anywhere on my abdomen, but I would love any sort of advice you could give me.
2 Answers
November 26, 2009
Welcome to the site! Sounds like the youth worker you mentioned has some interesting insight. If the environment was dirty, etc, was there other stress there as well? It might just be how you learned to deal with stress of any kind. Anyway, I would try reaching out to that person to see if they have any more ideas for a therapist or just support. Maybe start looking for other things you enjoy doing that could help relieve stress (even if you don't feel stressed). I totally know what you mean about feeling the healing wounds and not being to leave them alone, mirror or not. It creates this horrible cycle that is hard to break. On the bright side, if it's only scabs that you are prone to picking, just finding a way to get the ones you have to heal would help a lot, I would think. Well, okay, maybe not the nose. Hey, maybe you could where a big, red nose all the time so you wouldn't pick! Now, that wouldn't draw any attention. ; ) Hey, you gotta laugh a little. Hope you get some help and support from this site.
November 28, 2009
This forum seems a bit fragmented--so I'm pasting in a comment I made elsewhere. Sorry about the run-on nature of it, but the paragraph breaks I put in just go away when I submit it. 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. A day or two 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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