Monthly Archives: June 2013

Educating the Uneducated

Why are people so damn naïve? And why do people keep saying “God can help you”? *facepalm* -_- I suppose this is what I get for jumping on the Dr. Phil bandwagon haha! For those who have no idea what I’m talking about:

Dr. Phil featured a fellow skin picker April on his show not long ago and reran the segment yesterday… unfortunately he portrayed April as having Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) instead of Dermatillomania. This has upset a lot of derma sufferers because it has made our condition look as though it is all “made up in our heads” despite it finally being recognised in the DSM5 as a condition in its own right. Soooo I decided to comment on his Facebook page underneath the post “Could YOU be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder” and of course the ignorant comments are now flowing in.

Here’s a link to his Facebook page where the above mentioned post is featured:

Dr. Phil’s Facebook Page

And here is a link to Angela Hartlin’s article where she interviews Dr. Phil’s guest April about her experiences with Dermatillomania:

Angie Asks: April, Guest on Dr. Phil

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Exam Results Are In!

So I got my exam results back today: 2 High Distinction’s, 1 Distinction and 1 Credit!! Not bad a for a single working mumma attempting her first full-time semester 😉 at University! I’m really proud of myself and how far I’ve come. This proves to me that I can do anything I put my mind to! There was a time when those results would have disappointed me as I am a perfectionist and so I always aim for the highest marks possible BUT I have learnt to be realistic. NO ONE is perfect! And I have other responsibilities on top of my studies so I don’t always have the luxury of time. Unfortunately I can’t go out and celebrate the way I’d like to as it turns out it wasn’t gastro I had… the Doctor found abnormal enzymes in my liver and he also thinks I may have a stomach ulcer (so I guess the stress was affecting me after all). News like this would have usually thrown me into a stressful state exacerbating my picking and my depression but I know there is nothing I can do except wait for the results and put my faith in my doctor and whoever up above is watching over me. I’m going to keep focusing on the positive and I think to celebrate my good marks I might shout myself some guitar lessons, a makeover or a professional photo shoot (one that shows off my scars)… what do you reckon?

Dermatillomania – It has a name!

Video Number Two: This was made at the beginning of 2009, a few weeks after I found out that my illness had a name: Dermatillomania. By this stage I’m getting pretty desperate for help… it’s very hard for me to watch back over these but I’m uploading them again in the hope that they will help other sufferers realise that they are not alone in this. Much love to you if you are feeling or have ever felt like I did in this video. x

Triggered Attack

Yesterday was really triggering for me. I’ve never been triggered by looking at pictures and videos of other people’s derma but rifling through my old footage really got to me. I stayed up until 1:30am picking last night. Angrily picking! Not at my face… but at my arms and legs. They were almost healed but I was so upset by my old footage that I just kind of lost control last night. I sat on the cold tiled bathroom floor, for I don’t know how long because I lost track of time, and gouged and ripped at my flesh until it hurt and bled. It was almost as if I was punishing myself for ever having experienced such a severe bout of Dermatillomania and for letting it rule my life to the extent it did. BUT in my new positive state I am not going to let it get to me. I gave it my energy last night and now I’m moving on from it. I can’t rewind the clock and change my past but I can pave the way for a better future. And that is what I want: A better future for myself and my son that is free from the confines of Dermatillomania.

I could only upload a picture tonight as I wasn’t mentally ready to rifle through anything more again so soon. The thing that troubled me the most last night was that I stumbled across an old goodbye letter that I had written to my son when I was planning suicide. I can’t believe I almost went through with my plan. To think I would have left my son all alone to fend for himself is utterly heartbreaking to me. I need to beat this not only for me but also for him. My boy is the most important thing that has ever happened to me and if it wasn’t for him I know without a doubt that I would not be here today. I only got halfway through writing that letter to him before I realised what I was doing and rung for help. The next day I became an outpatient at a mental hospital and a few weeks after that I did some Googling and stumbled across a name for my condition: Dermatillomania. It’s been years since I wrote that letter and although I’ve considered suicide many times since then – that was without a doubt the darkest year of my life. I am determined now to never let my battle with Dermatillomania or Depression take my life away from me. I’m worth so much more than that!

Kicking Dermatillomania

I’ve been looking through old pictures and thought I would share a comparison between how bad my skin can get (when my derma is severe and my stress levels are high) and how good my skin can get (when my derma is manageable and my stress levels are low). No matter how clear my skin can get I ALWAYS feel like the girl on the left. Having spent so many years in a continuous state of severe derma I struggle to see myself how I look now – I still think I look like the girl on the left until I see proof like this. Photos like this set out side by side show just how far I’ve come. As hard as it is to take pictures, especially when the picking is at an all time high, it’s worth it to see the progress you have made. It also motivates you to keep fighting the fight! Kicking Dermatillomania… we’ve got this!!

Shopping for Fidgets

Have finally decided to buy myself some fidgets in the hope they will help me in this stop picking journey! I’m shopping online at TLC’s Trich Store and am going on a little bit of a spending frenzy! My checkout total is already at $104.90… ooops! Here’s what’s in my cart so far:

FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary by Angela Hartlin

A TLC student membership

A Zipper Bracelet

An Adjustable Multi-Colour Beaded Bracelet

A FlexiBox Fiddler

Mala Bead Bracelet: India Agate Prayer Necklace/Bracelet

Unfortunately postage to Australia is a bit pricey which just goes to show I really need to set something up for sufferers over here!

Dermatillomania – My video to Dr. Phil

One of the very first videos I made about my Dermatillomania. Never before has this video been uploaded until now. This was filmed in 2008 when I was 19 years old and before I knew that my condition had a name. You can tell in my video that I have no idea what I suffer from or that there are other sufferers out there as I still refer to my condition as “scratching” which is the only name I knew for it growing up. This is painful for me to watch and intimidating for me to upload but I’m hoping in sharing this it may be able to help others out there. It’s also a way of showing how far I’ve come in this battle over the years. There will be more videos to come over the following days and weeks containing old footage of myself describing my struggles with Dermatillomania – so stay tuned!

Dark Memories

I finally set up my old computer and managed to locate the old Dermatillomania videos I had uploaded 4 years ago to YouTube plus one I made over 5 years ago for Dr. Phil but never uploaded or made public. They were so incredibly heartbreaking to watch! I had no idea my picking was that bad 😦 Watching those videos has literally crushed me! I was so broken back then and it bought me to tears watching how much I used to suffer. All I wanted to do was reach through my computer; give myself a massive hug and say:

DON’T GIVE UP! You are a strong young woman with so much potential and so much to give! You WILL get through this dark period in your life. One day things will be so much brighter. You will be so much happier. Beneath the sores and scars you are so incredibly beautiful – don’t let the marks define who you are! YOU ARE NOT YOUR CONDITION!

Keep those words in mind. They apply to you too. Even if the days are dark. Even if it feels like you are stuck beneath a storm cloud that never shifts and never lets any light through – one day there will be a break in those clouds and the tiniest ray of light will reach you. From there it can only grow until one day the storm clouds pass completely! There is HOPE in your STRENGTH! Life is too beautiful to hide away from it. LIVE IT!!

Much love to all of you who suffer with this. I’d forgotten just how hard it can be when your life is being severely impacted by Dermatillomania. I still pick. I’ve never stopped. But it has gotten a lot better and I’m determined to keep up the good work and kick this fucker once and for all! Expletive was totally necessary here!

Stay tuned for the videos that are to be re-uploaded.

Progress Is Being Made

I’ve been doing really well lately – so well in fact that my picking has lessened enough that I went to the dvd store last night with NO makeup on my face. I was devastated when I realised the dvd store was shut and I would instead have to go inside the shopping centre to return my rentals BUT I did it! I may have been extremely anxious, fiddling with my fingers in my pocket the entire time and turning my head or looking down every time I passed another shopper, but I managed to leave my house without makeup and this is a small step in the right direction! I’m also weighing in at 43.3kg, and that was after a yucky bout of vomiting thanks to gastro, which means I have managed to put on 4.7kg in 6 months (probably more now that I can finally eat again)! Which means I’m only 1.7kg away from my goal weight of 45kg and I am slowly starting to not be so paranoid about germs in my food. Next step will be buying and cooking mince or chicken. At the moment I’m only ok with steak!

If you’re wondering why I’m all of a sudden talking about food I too suffer from OCD and have done since I was a little girl. I used to spend hours checking locks, taps and light switches but I managed for the most part to overcome that. Now, after a stressful period last year, it has returned in the form of thinking my food is contaminated and being extremely cautious with what I buy and eat. And I also have to wash my hands quite frequently with hot water and soap! I thought I’d kicked my OCD but my psychologist told me that in times of stress it can return as it is the only way I feel like I can have some control over what’s happening in my life. OCD is about control and when I felt like I was losing control the OCD returned.

Does anyone else suffer with any other conditions on top of the Dermatillomania? My official diagnosis a few years ago, when my picking was at its peak, was: severe depression with suicidal tendencies, anxiety disorder, OCD and Dermatillomania. Fun times… not!! :/

Could I have BPD?

I learnt something very interesting in my psychology session the other day after I asked my therapist whether or not she thought it was possible that I could have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) due to my inability to maintain relationships and feel attachment to people. I dated someone with BPD whose similarities to me were uncanny and this, along with the fact he continually told me I suffered from it, prompted me to finally get up the courage and ask my psychologist once and for all. Turns out, there is a very fine line between simply having the traits and having the actual disorder. The way she explained it was this:

  • Picture a circle with three lines stemming from it. The circle is the circle of sensitivity and each line represents a sensitivity – these being Separation, Esteem and Safety.
  • The lines are like a continuum and if you sit in the circle you are what’s considered “normal” although there is no such thing as normal.
  • The closer you are to the circle the further away from a disorder you are but it is perfectly natural to experience traits in each of the three categories: Separation, Esteem and Safety. It is when you cannot control your feelings/traits that each of these can then become a disorder. Separation turns into Borderline, Esteem turns into Narcissistic and Safety turns into Schizoid.
  • Each person sits along these continuums and I just so happen to have Borderline traits but this does not mean I have Borderline Personality Disorder. It would also be perfectly natural for me to exhibit Narcisstic and Schizoid traits and again this does not mean I have the disorder.

My relationship problems (and she’s been my therapist through 6 relationships now) stems from my choice in men. I choose men who “need me”. Men who expect their needs to be met before my own. And that is where the problem lies. As demonstrated by the main female character in “The Silver Linings Playbook” – “Time after time, I do all this shit for other people. And then I wake up and I’m empty, I have nothing.” It is also when I am putting other people’s needs before my own that my picking gets worse. I pick at myself both metaphorically and physically.

When I am happy in life and happy in myself my picking lessens because I feel worthy! When I am in a relationship and my needs aren’t being met or are just outright being ignored I take this out on myself by picking at my skin. I also do this when someone is bothering me and instead of telling them I have a problem with what they are doing; I go to the bathroom instead and PICK PICK PICK! I need to stop internalising other people’s problems and picking myself because of it. My therapist said I need to realise that their issues are their issues and I don’t have to take them on. Their issues are for them to deal with – I have my own that I need to sort out!

Now this is hard for me to do because I like to help other people. In fact my dream in life is to help others. I feel like I have experienced so much pain in order to help others through theirs. I am also a good listener. BUT I realise now that I am not in the correct mental space to be taking on other people’s issues while I am still sorting out my own. This does not mean I have to stop being a kind, caring friend to others – it simply means I do not have to beat myself up (pick at my skin) when I cannot solve their problems. The best thing I can do right now is BE HAPPY and show them how they can be as well; and also to stop dwelling on the negatives and start focusing on the positives. Life is what you make it… and I choose to make life FANTASTIC!!

It’s been a week since I started on this stop picking journey and for the most part my skin has been getting better. I haven’t stopped cold turkey but I have definitely cut down! I was going to post a picture for you all to see my improvement but I had a little slip up last night and turned two almost healed scabs on my face into two nice open wounds. I started to get angry at myself when I saw my reflection in the mirror this morning and then I stopped. I decided to be kind to myself instead. I told myself “You’ve been sick in bed with gastro for the last two days and it’s stressed you out. You’ve only made two sores so just leave them alone from now on and don’t be so hard on yourself.” This is a big change from the negative internal dialogue I used to succumb to.

Anyway sorry all for the delayed post – this stomach flu has really knocked me. And also the conversation I have written about between me and my therapist is not to be taken as medical/psychological advice and may not be accurate word for word. This is what I remembered from our conversation and I thought the theory she discussed might make sense to others as it did to me. I have also told her I want to stop picking, I don’t need it anymore to which she replied something along the lines of “Wow this is the first time I’ve ever heard you say you actually want to stop; before you would always hold onto it because it was your only coping strategy.” So now, together with her help, we will be looking for healthy coping strategies that can be used to replace the picking as she mentioned I can’t quit until I find something to replace it with. Otherwise what will I do when I’m stressed? How will I cope without my picking?

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