Meet Lauren McKeaney. She describes herself as a a writer, filmmaker, comedienne and storyteller. Lauren is also a skin picker. Lauren remembers being a skin picker from the tender age of about 4 or 5 years old. With the picking came great shame, guilt and memories of teasing and taunting through her childhood. Lauren never spoke about picking. Until one she contracted MRSA, which is a hard-to-treat life-threatening infection. It landed her in the hospital for two weeks, but when she came out, she discovered a new found courage to open up and share with anyone willing to listen about her struggles with the disorder. And so Lauren McKeaney, avid BFRB awareness advocate was born.
Sharing authentically about why my skin is the way it is has been life changing. I’m aware there is no cure (yet) for my condition, but there is something about advocacy that has taken the pertinence of the disorder away from myself, and has put my efforts and love and contribution towards helping others, which has in turn made my own self-acceptance grow stronger.
Realizing there was a lack of representation of this disorder and a dire need for more awareness and community building among those struggling with this disorder, Lauren launched "Picking Me", an advocacy organization dedicated to providing mental health awareness and inspiring acceptance about Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, in particular,
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Dermatillomania, also known as Excoriation Disorder/Compulsive Skin Picking, for sufferers, supporters, and educational communities alike. The name of the organization stems from Lauren wanting to to change her previously negative connotation of the word ‘Pick’ and turn it into something beautiful and meaningful. She came up with the hashtag #pickingme, encouraging sufferers to share why they are #PickingMe over their BFRB.
One of the projects of the Picking Me organization is the Fiddle Pack Project. Lauren was introduced to fiddle and fidget toys in the early days of her advocacy journey and felt that this was a resource that should be accessible to everyone who struggles with a BFRB. She hopes to raise $10,000US for Picking Me so that she can send out 1000 “fiddle packs” to people across the country. In the fiddle packs are sensory items that skin pickers can use to help keep distracted, but the items work double time, too. She says she also wants these items to help non-pickers understand or engage in the conversation of dermatillomania on a tangible level. The goal is to compile and ship world wide Fiddle Packs containing a bubble wrap envelope, hand out on Dermatillomania and BFRBs, support groups, 2 Fidget Toys, 4 small fidgets, and a nail file with the Picking Me organization’s information. Through Picking Me, Lauren hopes to change how dermatillomania is viewed and increase research for the disorder.
Picking Me booth at the International OCD Conference Chicago, Illinois – July 29, 2016
Picking Me BFRB workshop with TLC Foundation for BFRBs in St. Louis, Missouri – August 7, 2016
Picking Me benefit, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Jon Grant, in Chicago, Illinois – August 19, 2016
You can also follow the Picking Me organization on twitter and instagram: