Category Archives: Depression

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!

Why Can’t I Just Stop?

Why can’t I just stop?

Why can’t I just stop?

WHY CAN’T I JUST STOP?

The endless commentary that continually runs inside my own head!

I WANT TO STOP SOOO BAD!!!

I’ve had enough of this damn derma!! ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH!!!

I can’t stop picking 😦

I try so damn hard but I JUST CAN’T STOP!!

And it gets me down!

SO SO DOWN!!!

Don’t Suffer In Silence

Really upset tonight after hearing a fellow Dermatillomania sufferer is in a critical condition 😦 This highlights just how much we all desperately need greater awareness, education and acceptance of mental health issues and Dermatillomania. DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE! If you are suffering… REACH OUT! If you know someone who is suffering… REACH OUT!! We need to be in this together! ♥

Sometimes all we really need is a little push…

So you know how I was having a bad day… WELL I decided to put my big girl panties on… managed to do the grocery shop just fine and even buy meat! Then when my son suggested we head to the river before dinner I just had to say YES! And boy was it worth it! Check out that sunset:

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Then like the BIG KID I am, I just had to have a go on the swings:

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And there’s no faking that smile! I had butterflies in my stomach and I couldn’t stop laughing! Plus I didn’t stop there… I played chasey in the playground with my little boy and squealed going down the big “scary slide” with him, I even had sand in my shoes at the end of the evening… always a sign of good times had.

So I guess what I wanted to share with you all, is that even though my day started off plagued with depression, anxiety and all things Dermatillomania, I somehow managed to have the BEST afternoon I have EVER had with my son! And I laughed… I really laughed!!

Sometimes we build these things up inside our head to the point that they seem insurmountable but if we just push ourselves that tiny little bit then the possibilities are endless. Let this be your little push for today…

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 😦

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!

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.

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