Dermatillomania, I Quit You

7:00 am


Dermatillomania (now often referred to as Excoriation) is a body focused repetitive behavior that results in the uncontrollable urge to pick at your skin. It's a thing. With a name and, turns out, other people do it too!

I right this post today knowing that at least a couple of people who read this are going to have an A-HA moment just as I did and have the sudden realization, 'OH-MY-GOD, they're talking about me. I do that!' That's what happened when I just happened to stumble across a YouTube Video about the subject. It was simply titled 'Dermatillomania' and something about the thumbnail made me click, wondering what this word was and what the video was about. Well, my eyes widened as I continued to listen because they described me to a tee and in that moment I knew that this thing I had done for over 15+ years was actually a thing and others suffer from it too. See my YouTube Video about it all HERE.

What is Dermatillomania? 
As described above, it is essentially, an obsession with your skin and a compulsiveness to pick at it. It often effects more females than males, and while any area of the body can be targeted such as back, arms, legs, cuticles, freckles, scalp, it is often the facial area most commonly abused. Such as in my case. It is a symptom of a larger issue associated with OCD and/or anxiety. For some, it is obsessing about having what they deem to be imperfections on their body or, like me, it is a release for anxious feelings.

My Story
For me, this all started as soon as I started getting spots. I had awful skin as a teenager and have continued to suffer with mild adult acne. At the time, I would obsess over my facial skin and pick at the spots trying to make them 'go away' or 'heal quicker'. Of course, this never failed to make them worse as the more I would play and scrub at my skin, the more bacteria that was being spread.

As I got older, this intense habit remained but as an adult, needing to function in everyday life around friends, work and responsibilities, the habit become more.... calculated. I was able to pick in a way that fulfilled the compulsion yet caused less visible damage, or at least, it was easier to cover. And I became really good at covering them!

Also as an adult though, as any one person does throughout life anyhow, I started to become very self aware. I became much more aware of my triggers. The things that triggered the urge. Often, I would catch myself in the mirror, mid-pick and realize, 'Hmm, that thing, that happened yesterday' or 'that thing I have to go to next week'... must be bothering me more than I realized. The picking, was coming before the emotional realization. Then, I worked out, not only did I pick to get rid of spots, I picked to punish myself. But not just that. I picked to reward myself too! That 'good pain' kind of release.

It must also be noted that although this 15+ year habit of mine is deep routed, I am able to stop. Temporarily. When needed. When given enough warning! I was able to stop long enough for my face to clear for my wedding. I was able to stop long enough just recently before a camping trip away with friends knowing I would more than likely be bare faced a lot of the time in front of other people. But that first pick back, after days of pushing down that compulsion... it's the worst.  

That's when I decided enough was enough. 

My New Journey. Quitting.  
Every year, without fail, my secret New Years Resolution has been to stop picking. Every year without fail, the urge is just too strong, or life is just too stressful and I fail miserably within just hours. 

Something is different this year. This year, I decided to stop. And I did. Cold turkey, (post post-camping pick). I am a 28 year Mother of two. I don't want to be taking my 5 year old to her first year of school this year looking like a spotty teenager anymore. I don't. I want to stop. They say you can't help someone until they want to be helped. I want to be helped this year. 2017.

So I did. I stopped. I haven't picked since. AT ALL. Cold turkey.
And guess what? My skin is clear. Sure there's a few spots under the surface but they're not red! They're not angry! They're just chillin, doing their thing and I'm doing mine and because of that, I can rock my bare face confidently. My make-up is going on so smoothly and there is no better encouragement to stay quit than looking at a happy, healthy face. One I haven't felt so comfortable in since.... forever!

The odds are against me however. Because picking is a symptom rather than the overlying issue itself, a lot of articles suggest it's near impossible to quit cold turkey. But I have come this far and at the end of the day, I'm pretty damn stubborn. It's mind over matter. I'll find other other things to rain my OCD over ;

Help for Sufferers 
If you are nodding your head along to everything I have been describing, you could head along to your doctor to discuss thing or luckily, there is also an enormous amount of information, support groups and forums online to learn and discuss Dermatillomania further. 

See my YouTube Video about it all HERE.

 

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