Tweezers, BDD and a Bit of Background Info
I was thinking the other day about tweezers and how I got to using them. I’ve been trying to read up a little on Dermatillomania and have come across some information about there being a connection between Derma and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). This is most likely due to the fact that both Derma and BDD sufferers have an unnatural precoccupation with perfecting one’s image. It did not start this way for me but over the years I believe it has developed into this.
I started picking when I was four years old. Around that time we had just moved from one state to another – from a small country town in NSW with moderately cool weather conditions to a larger tropical touristy town in QLD which was often hot and humid. It was in this new town that I also met mosquitos and was constantly bitten all over by them. So there are two major things which could have contributed to the onset of my picking – the stress of the move and the itch of the mosquito bites. However it started; it soon developed into a habit. One that I could not seem to stop. Doctors did not know why I did it. Psychologists didn’t have an explanation for it. And I sure as hell copped a lot of bullying for it in school.
Then our next move came. Now I was a teenager – fourteen years old. I found it difficult to cover up my skin in QLD because of the heat and humidity but now we were in WA. A fresh start where no one knew about my picking and where the weather consisted of four seasons – which made it a lot easier for me to cover up my skin. So the heavy makeup started, as did the long sleeves and the long pants. Now I could keep my secret hidden which made the picking a LOT LOT worse! It was almost as if I could get away with it now.
At around the age of 16 – 17 I discovered tweezers. I’d only ever used them once or twice before to pick at a really difficult scab that I couldn’t get with my nails alone. Those ones where a tiny bit of white/green skin sits stubbornly amongst the deep red wound and you have to pull it out or it just stays there driving you crazy. And I felt wrong using the tweezers so I tried not to use them.
Then when I was 20, thanks to the internet, I finally discovered that my condition had a name. I also discovered that I was not the only person in the world who suffered from it, much to my surprise. For 16 years I thought I was the only person who did this to their skin. And all of a sudden I didn’t feel so alone anymore. There was a community of pickers out there. And they used tools on their skin too. So unfortunately for me, and it’s probably been the only downside to discovering other Derma sufferers, using tweezers on my skin became acceptable.
Picking was a habit. A way of releasing stress, anger, tension… happiness even. It was a way of controlling my emotions. Tweezing on the other hand was a way of “fixing”, “smoothing” and “perfecting”. I became obsessed with the wounds having to feel smooth, no excess or dry skin could be hanging from the edge of a sore. I would use my tweezers to tidy this up. To make it feel better. To make it “perfect”. And now I can’t pick without them. I do not get the same satisfaction from using my nails as I can with using tweezers. So I pick the scabs off with my nails and then “perfect” the sore with my tweezers. And this is my routine now. So I can see how Derma may sometimes be linked with BDD – tweezing has turned my Derma into an image issue whereas before picking just used to be a form of release for me.