This Is Part Of Me,but I Am More Than This

I have joined this website firstly as an outlet. I am sick and tired of my compulsive skin picking and I now I need some help. I can't afford to get counselling, however I am on the waiting list at the doctors and I have a free counselling service at college. I have been desperately trying to get counselling at my college because it is of the person-centred approach but I have had no luck getting past student services. I have encountered this woman there twice who seems to have taken a instant dislike to me, and I can't seem to get past her to the counsellor who probably doesn't even have my number yet after three weeks of trying to get it to them. It is more than likely not personal, as this woman I have met seems like she is one of those people who is just a cow all of the time. I feel a strong urgency to get help now and I feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall.

I have caused permanent damage to my skin and I don't think there is anything I can do to make it normal again and this fills me with guilt, shame and a lot of regret. I actually think I hate myself for doing this to myself,, and I don't want to hate myself anymore. I want to wake up and not have to worry about when I pick my skin. I know that I don't want to do it but the compulsion is too much, and it is almost as if I know that I will do it even though I don't want to. In a way that sounds like I am resigned to it, but I am not. I want to stop but I just don't know how. I have tried everything I can think of to stop. Personal writing, cutting my nails so they are short (they are never short enough because I always find a way, if I cut them off anymore they would bleed). I have also tried talking to my partner and my Mum in the hope that sharing this thing about myself will help me to accept it and then move on. My Mum doesn't seem to get how much of a problem it is and I don't think she is really listening to me but my partner has been good about things apart from a time when he got angry because he couldn't understand. I have also tried simply trying not to do it, and as you can probably guess, it doesn't work. I have tried to mend my skin with aloe vera, witch hazel, bio oil, some of this weird cream and other various creams. Chances are I can't fully mend it but I want to make it better but how can I do that if I keep damaging it?

I used to self-injure by cutting my leg (as well as picking my body) and I managed to stop the cutting after years and years of using it as a coping strategy, so why can't I quit skin picking? I am not a weak person however this disorder has a hold on me, and I need it to disappear. I have accepted that this disorder is part of me, but it is not all that I am therefore I can stop, I have to stop because I cant live the rest of my life like this.

I suppose I am writing this because there is no one else I know who has dermatillomania, and I just want my words to be among other people who know what it is like to suffer with this. I just feel so alone with this part of my life and that there is no one who can understand it, and it feels to me like a curse. I have people around me but they don't fully get what it is like so that's why I want my words on here. I don't expect anyone to read this because it is very long and I don't expect anyone to do a reply. It is just enough for me that I have been given a space to express myself. It might not be in counselling room yet but I am still grateful.

Paradox24 Paradox24
26-30, F
6 Responses Feb 15, 2010

I was wondering how you have been doing with this. Have you found help and are your recovering?

Hi mach2821, thank you for asking. The counselling I mentioned was useless. I quit it and went with someone else who was also not very useful. However I am not faithless in counselling as I am a counsellor myself (the spelling may confuse you as I am English and we spell counsellor that way ha ha ha). What has really bugged me is that I am now a counsellor on placement and soon to be qualified but I still have this issue and I have done my best to deal with it. What I have to say is that I have been doing really well with it and my skin is getting so much better. What has helped me is actually realising how low my self-esteem was and then dealing with the source of it, which was how my Mum used to ask me to pick at her spots on her arms when I was young. This was done as a way of showing her love along with brushing her hair and rubbing her back which she used to ask me to do all the time (yes I had a really weird Mum and it messed me up Lol) I pick myself when I needed to feel better and show my self love but I have been doing it in a really ****** up way. I'm going to find myself some person-centred counselling which is what I studied because it fits my personality best. But thank you I am doing good. How about you?

Paradox-<br />
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1. you are not alone<br />
2. I understand<br />
3. Fill your head with positive thoughts.<br />
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Negative thinking and feeling is where things start spiraling out of control. The first step to stop negative thoughts is to replace it with a positive one. Do not judge the negative ones, do not even acknowledge them. Send them away with love to the light, and then replace it with that same love and light. Hugs

Hi Paradox<br />
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I have never sought help for my picking disorder, as I didn't it recognize it as a disorder, up until I came across this site I just thought it was a really bad habit that I had developed. I feel I only have a mild case, as others on here pick most of their bodies, and at least mine in only on my thumbs (and toe). I know this sounds crazy but even though I really want to stop doing it, a part of me would miss it, it is comforting to do it, even though it causes so much pain, physically and emotionally, but sometimes the physical pain is comforting, it's like I get a buzz from it. My boyfriend hates to watch me do it, he is the one that said it was a form of scars run deep, emotional ones, I mean. I had a pretty crap childhood, I do not see my parents anymore because of that, and I even moved to another country to get some distance between us, that way I wouldn't have to put up with the questions why I don't see them. My brother was abused too, he suffers from OCD, and has recently had a break down, even he can't understand why I pick, I guess we all have our own issues and ways in which we deal with them. The other day I had a break through talking with my boyfriend, he was talking about certain ways that I behave in our relationship, and he told me that he thought I behaved like that because I missed out on love as a child. I am telling you that hit a nerve, and I just started crying, big time, it felt like I had bottled it up for years. I never felt loved by my father, and every little girl wants their Daddy to adore them, mine didn't. In the end he destroyed what love I had for him by abusing me, sexually, it wasn't bad sexual abuse, but it was enough to break my world, and he used to kiss me on my mouth, once he even stuck his tongue inside, God, it feels disgusting writing about it now.....but I guess to heal you have to get it out of your system. That day when my boyfriend told me he felt like I had missed out on love, he cried with me, it was like he could feel my pain, and it was so reassuring to share it with someone, even though I have been to therapy, but this was different. So at ba<x>se level I think I know the cause, but it's stopping doing it after 30 years that is the hard thing....perhaps I need more therapy, but I feel that talking to my boyfriend about it has helped tremendously. I am not picking so much now, is still revert back in times of stress, but I am becoming aware of doing it and try to stop before it comes too bad. I find painting my nails helps, but as I am a massage therapist, I can't have them painted all the time. It's really good to be able to talk to someone about all this, someone that suffers with the same condition. Thanks for reading this.Take care :-) xx

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story as I know it is a long one. Your situation sounds like a really tough one too. The despair you speak of and how fed up you are is what I am feeling too! I just want it to go away. It's so crazy that there are people out there who don't know that is is an actual disorder, but it is understandable, as it is quite taboo and people don't like to speak about it publicly because it is embarrassing. I didn't know it was a disorder until about a year or two ago and I've been doing it seven years. <br />
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I found a few videos on you tube about dermatillomania but compared to videos about other forms of self-injury like cutting, there aren't that many at all. I was thinking of starting doing some videos myself but I have never put any videos on you tube before, although I am a big fan of the website. I did find a girl on there who does the same things as you (picking at fingers) and it's so bad that she even does it in the video. I have put the link below in case you would like to watch it?..........<br />
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I hope all is going well for you. I know how hard it is to stop as I have being trying to stop for a very long time now and I don't understand why I can't. The compulsions are too strong and this makes me loose all sense of rationality and logic. It's horrible because I know that I don't want to do it but it always ends up happening. Even if I fight it, the compulsions start to become unconscious and it is almost like a black out and then I find my self picking five or ten minutes later and then it is so hard to stop doing it. By then some damage has been done and it has been out of my control and I feel like a mad person. <br />
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You said that you would like to understand why you do it, and I agree that finding out what the picking is all about is a giant step to giving it up. I went for some cognitive behavioural therapy but it didn't work for me as my therapist was only concerned with my behaviour, and stopping it. I stopped going to this therapy because it didn't go deep enough for me and the coping strategies my therapist gave me were not my own and they didn't work. I have found that no mater what anyone says to me I will always find a way to pick. Because of this I agree that the way to stop is to find out why we do this. It is a daunting task but I believe it is essential for me and my recovery and I wonder if this is true for you too? I'm getting some person-centred therapy now and I am beginning to understand why I do this and it is really helping. Have you ever had any help for your picking? Sorry if that was a bit intrusive and you don't have to answer that if you don't want to. However thank you so much for reading my story and taking the time to reply. I noticed that you had done a story too so I am just about to read it. <br />
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Kind Regards xxx

Hi there Paradox,<br />
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I really get where you are coming from, even though I only pick the skin on my thumbs and my toe, it still drives me to despair, I didn't even realise that it was a disorder, with a name until this week, I just thought that it was a really bad habit....but I have been doing this for 30 years and I am sick of it. I am also fed up with people assuming that I can just stop doing it, I have many times...and failed, this particular picking episode has been going on for months, in fact the only time I haven't been picking is when I have been sleeping, so you can imagine the state of my skin. Today I am wearing plasters, and this is the third day that I haven't picked, my skin is healing, I know because when I press down on the plasters there is no pain. I think the first step is to recognise that it is a real disorder, this is my first step, and the second is to work out what is making me do it, that is going to take a while. You can get there, at least on this site you are not alone, and that can be very assuring.

Hi there,<br />
I thought I'd comment on your story seeing that you were so nice to comment on mine previously. Thank you for your story. You are really not alone. I understand what you are going through. I have tried the same thing... tried to heal my ams with bio oil etc, but the problem was that you cannot use oil on broken skin as it becomes even more aggrevated then. So I had to force myself first of all to stop so my skin can heal enough so there is no inflamation in order for me to apply the oil. I believe the oil will work on the scars, but we just have to keep from picking at the scars so they can STAY healed.<br />
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Unfortunately like me and you (and a lot of other people) know.. it's easier said than done. Only we can understand each other. Other people won't understand, because they don't get how we can even attempt to do stuff like this to ourselves. They probably think it is very gross and icky. That is why we feel ashamed... it's the way other people perceive us, but in the meantime they are smoking and drinking and they have their own forms of addictions. We are not so weird. We just have an unique problem.<br />
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I really became confident that I can quit when I learned there is a name for what we do. It inspired me to quit. I actually got up and decided that I don't want to "have" any disorder! Suddenly it was just something that became unacceptable to me... I don't want to HAVE DERMATILLOMANIA! Before I knew there was a name I just thought "Oh man, this really is a bad habit...". All of a sudden it's a "disorder". It definitely put a different spin on how I perceived the situation.<br />
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So come on let's be strong and try our best to get rid of this terrible thing. We are not bad people and we don't intend to do this to ourselves. If it is a mental thing then we can think ourselves out of it. Let's learn some discipline!