Category Archives: Anxiety

I’m back… sort of.

What do you do when you’ve reached the stage where your derma could pass for acne, or pimples, or bug bites or just generally shitty skin? Do you still tell people you have Dermatillomania? Welcome to my current conundrum.

I mean obviously I still have it. Enough for people to still point out the scars and the scabs… but not so bad that I can’t pass it off as something else. Something everyday. Something normal. Something that anybody could have. “Oh it’s just pimples. Oh it’s just acne. Oh my cat just scratched me. Oh bugs must really like me. Oh I just have really shitty skin. Oh I scar really easily. BLA. BLA. BLA.”

And people believe it.

And I mean there’s some truth in it.

Yes I do get pimples. Yes I do suffer from adult acne. Yes my cats do scratch me. Yes bugs think I taste delish and they help themselves to a snack whenever they fancy a feast. Yes I have shitty skin. And yes I do scar easily.

But I also pop the pimples and the acne until I create sores that last for weeks and months on end. That 1mm cat scratch… I’ll turn that into something that looks like I’ve been attacked with Captain Hook’s hand… you know the one with the hook in it. And those bug bites… I’ll itch them until I bust them open. So I do have shitty skin and after years and years upon years of doing this to myself (24 years and counting) I am really really badly scarred. White scars. Brown scars. Red scars. Purple scars. Smooth scars. Lumpy scars. You name it, I have it.

And you know what… scars kinda suck. I mean, I love scars on other people. They’re cool. They tell a story. But on me… no. What story can I possibly tell?

I do this to myself. It’s self-inflicted. But it’s not self harm.

Derma is my demon.

I may go into remission from time to time and let my demons lie but relapse is always there. Within arm’s reach. At the tip of my fingers. What’s that saying… Idle hands make devil’s work.

You see the thing is my skin has been going kinda ok lately because I’ve been batshit busy. Like crazy super busy.

I graduated uni with a double degree… YAY.

I landed my first full time job in my chosen profession… YAY (sort of).

I bought my first house… YAY.

And I’m renovating it from scratch… HELL!

And so with barely any time to pick, my skin isn’t dotted with as many wounds as it is used to. But the scars tell a different story and they remind me that I still have this thing. This demon that I want to bury. To forget about. To never talk about. Again.

Notice I’ve been quiet on here. Notice I’ve been quiet everywhere. I shut off when things get too hard. I shut off from things. I shut off from people. I shut off from life.

I dissociate.

I’m in a dissociative state right now. I am writing this in an attempt to come back to myself.

But I still feel so detached.

So done.

Things have been hard lately.

I always assumed that when life started falling into place (degree, job, house, child, etc.) that I would fall into place. That I would start to feel normal.

But I don’t.

As the picking lessened (and not through any choice of my own)… wait is it bad that I feel sad about being too time-poor to pick… anyway where was I… Oh that’s right. As the picking lessened my anxiety sky rocketed. I mean like to infinity and beyond… Buzz Lightyear style because I haven’t really left Earth yet. But I mean WOAH. Like leaving my house is hard. Driving is hard. Shopping is hard. Breathing is hard. Thinking is hard. Being is hard. Living is hard.

ANXIETY

Is this what always lay underneath the surface of my Dermatillomania?

Because, shit, pass me the derma and depression any day over this anxiety.

It’s so suffocating.

To the point my heart is always beating twice, almost three times, as fast as it should be. The doctor reckons it’s gotten up to 180bpm. I wore a holter monitor for 24 hours and they recorded 167bpm at its fastest.

The diagnosis… inappropriate sinus tachycardia.

I feel like dying everyday. Not as in I want to die. As in my heart beating this fast all of the time makes me feel like I’m about to die.

And of course they’ve given me medication. And of course the anxiety and OCD have kicked in about taking the medication. And so it’s just one big vicious cycle.

OCD       DERMATILLOMANIA       ANXIETY               PANIC DISORDER             DEPRESSION

I know something needs to change. I know I need to get my shit together. I know I should give the beta-blockers and antidepressants a go. I know I should probably be reassessed by my psychiatrist because I know something’s not quite right.

And I know I probably shouldn’t be writing all of this because I don’t really want anyone to be in my head right now but here I am.

I never thought I would go silent. Disappear. But I have. And I’m sorry. I shut myself off from talking about this disorder – Dermatillomania and my other basket full of mental health issues – because I just didn’t want to be that person anymore.

But I’m still her.

And I’m still here.

Thank you to everyone who still follows me. Who still request to join my Facebook group. Who still enquire about my wristbands. Who still read what I write. Who take the time to leave comments, even though I know they go unanswered (I’m truly sorry).

But most of all thank you for being you. I could not survive this shit without knowing that there are other beautiful human beings out there just like me who totally get what it’s like to be a prisoner in your own body.

I love you all and thank you for keeping me going.

For bringing me back to life.

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Me 6 months ago… mostly scars.

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Me tonight

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Book Review: Forever Marked: A Dermatillomania Diary

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I have just finished reading Angela Hartlin’s book – Forever Marked: A Dermatillomania Diary. It has been a long time since I have found a book that has immediately captivated me and kept me wanting to know more. Usually I read a few pages, get bored of the content and put it on my bookshelf never to be read again; however this was not the case with Forever Marked. Right from the first chapter I became engrossed in the pages and I struggled to put it down as all I wanted to do was keep reading it. It came into the bathroom with me, I stood and read it while I waited for the kettle to boil and I even took it to the Doctor’s surgery with me and proudly displayed it in plain sight for everyone to see.

What  Angela’s book does is accurately depict the daily struggles of what it is like living with Borderline Personality Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Depression, Anxiety and of course Dermatillomania. To be able to glimpse inside the mind of someone suffering with these disorders is a unique experience and for someone like me, who suffers from Dermatillomania, Depression and Anxiety with Borderline and BDD tendencies the content was all too real for me. I could feel Angela’s pain as I have been there too many times to count – that intense self-hatred and all consuming depression that can darken even the brightest of days.  At times the content was difficult to read because it was so depressing and so real that you think to yourself “wow how did she survive this” and then “wow how have I survived this”. A part of me kept hoping to read about how she had gotten better and although it was made clear that she hasn’t stopped the picking, just knowing where she has come from to where she is now is hugely inspirational.

What Angela has done is put Dermatillomania on the map and given everyone who reads this book an insight into what it is like living with this debilitating, life-threatening disorder. While I still hope for a cure or a method to stop my picking it is encouraging to know that I am not alone. That I am not the only one to have felt so down about my Dermatillomania that I thought suicide was the only way out.

I recommend this book to anyone suffering with Dermatillomania or any of the other conditions mentioned above so that you can feel less alone in your struggles. It also helps to read about thoughts very similar to your own but from the position of an outsider. It adds a different dimension to our battles with these disorders when for once you can be on the outside looking in. This book is not a self-help book nor does it contain any information on how to stop picking but what it does do is REACH OUT to you.  This book is one I will most definitely read again!

So it goes without saying that Angie deserves a massive shout out for being so brave about sharing her innermost thoughts and feelings about what it is like living with these conditions! Thank you Angie!

Relapsing

Having a not-so-great day today. I’ve relapsed since coming on holidays. Most people find holidays relaxing – I, on the other hand, find that having nothing to do actually makes me incredibly anxious and allows my depression to creep back in a little. I didn’t want to get out of bed today. I felt sick (I suffer from medically diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome with the possibility of also having chronic appendicitis) so trying to push past the pain/discomfort barrier was a little difficult this morning. Since then I have spent the last 3 hours picking at my face… mostly while sitting here on the laptop but I’ve also headed into the bathroom a few times to have a session in front of the mirror with my tweezers. This is what my face looks like now, it is the same on the other side:

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I’ve been trying to figure out what about today is making me so anxious that I feel the need to pick. I’ve hit on a few things… someone is coming over today to feed the birds so being “skin-ready” for visitors always makes me anxious, I need to go to the shops to get something for dinner & because my OCD also manifests itself in the form of fearing all food is contaminated with bacteria, especially meat, food shopping is really nerve-wracking for me and I then need to cook dinner which is also making me incredibly anxious.

So I’ve since put on some makeup, brushed my hair & changed out of my PJ’s in the hopes it will encourage me to get off my ass and finally face the day:

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However even with the makeup on you can still see the pockmarks on my skin 😦

When People “Just Drop By”

I hate it when people “just drop by”. As a skin picker it is not only one of my biggest fears but also my greatest annoyance! I know that my skin, especially on my face, is nowhere near as bad as it used to be but I still struggle to see myself any differently and I am still caught up in certain ritualistic behaviours that have been created by my Derma. This includes jumping every time my dogs bark as well as anytime I hear a car on my street because I think this means someone is coming to my front door. I will also hide from my phone and my laptop in case someone is trying to call or message me wanting to catch up. And if someone does “just pop by” unannounced, and I don’t have any makeup on, my hands will constantly be playing with my face trying to cover up any spots and scars while they are talking to me. All of these behaviours may seem extreme but there was a time when there were almost as many open wounds on my face as there was skin and for some reason I still see myself as that girl… that hideous monster who people would ogle at because they thought I had some kind of contagious disease.

To people who don’t suffer from this condition they may not see the harm in “just dropping by” for a visit or coming over to say hi and even if they know about your Derma they may try to make you feel better by saying things like “but the way you look doesn’t bother me”. What they don’t understand is – IT BOTHERS ME! I CARE how I look! And no this does not make me vain. It makes me INSECURE! I do not find myself attractive with all these marks on my skin and thanks to many many people telling me the same thing over and over again for the past 20 years, I’m not sure I ever will. And if you don’t understand that then you don’t understand my Dermatillomania!

Sorry for the rant… I’m having a bad night 😦

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Anxious

I’ve been staying at a friend’s house while I get some space from my breakup and I have noticed that while I am here I don’t pick AS much BUT after a while I start to get some major withdrawal symptoms. It feels as though I am going a little bit crazy. Ok A LOT crazy!!

The first two nights were fine, I just picked a scab or two here and there, but then tonight (night number 3) my desperate desire to pick coupled with my anxiety sent my hands into a frenzy. I always find that if I have gone without picking for a few days that the next time I do pick, it is more agressive, more rushed, more frenzied. I gouge at my skin. Rip at the flesh. Dig my nails in further. I want my skin to tear. I want it to hurt. Blood goes everywhere. It’s not as controlled. There’s no need to “perfect” when I am in that moment – it’s all about the “need to pick”.

So I’ve done that now. But still I am anxious.

So I drank a cup of tea. But still I am anxious.

So I posted on here. But still I am anxious.

Usually the picking works. Why am I still so anxious? What can I do to help ease my anxiety?

Anxious About Food Shop

About to attempt the grocery shopping and already I can feel my anxiety levels rising. I break down and cry in shopping centres because I am that OCD about food. I NEED to get over this! I NEED to start cooking again! Food is essential to life. You can’t survive without it. I can’t. And I know my son certainly can’t. I just wish I knew how to fix this. Life was much easier when all I had to worry about was the skin-picking. This food obsession is a whole new confusing ball game.

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