I just had someone send me in a wonderful question but to keep their privacy I chose to answer privately; however in case the answer could be helpful to someone else I will include a copy of the question & answer below:
I was just wondering if you had any advice. I’m going to (destination) tomorrow with my music school, and I wanted to ask if you had any suggestions for coping with my derma while I’m there? Do you have any recommendations – distractions, coping techniques, how to hide it, especially considering that there’s a beach (meaning swimwear :/), I’ll be sharing a dorm room and I’ll be around other people 24/7?
Wow that sounds lovely 🙂 I hope you enjoy your trip!!
Ok when it comes to distractions it’s a matter of keeping your hands busy as much as possible… by the sounds of it playing an instrument would come in handy! You can also try fidget toys (beaded bracelets, bottle caps, stress balls, etc. as these are everyday items that wouldn’t really stand out); writing/drawing; wearing gloves at night (pretend you’re giving your hands a moisturising treatment if anyone asks); and perhaps try painting your nails as wet polish tends to decrease the urge to pick (so maybe apply a clear top coat every time you get a strong urge to pick).
How to hide it… Wear long pants/long sleeves if weather permits. If you’d like to go swimming but don’t want to bathe in swimwear alone you could always wear board shorts or ¾ pants over bikini bottoms and a polo shirt over bikini top. I have done this before and only had one little girl ask me why I was swimming in clothes… I just said I don’t like showing skin. Other excuses I have used for not going swimming is “it’s that time of the month” and “I don’t own a swimsuit”. As for hiding the picking… if I’m around people I try and limit my picking to when others will be asleep or a quick session in the toilet/shower. I would also wear pyjamas that covered my marks and apply makeup as soon as I woke up and after my shower or before going to bed. For peace of mind you could always carry around a little pocket mirror and a stick of concealer with you for touch-ups.
I find that when I am around people 24/7 my picking lessens quite dramatically because I become acutely aware of my actions and am more mindful than ever not to pick. Sometimes the urges do become overwhelming though and that’s why I suggested trying to limit the picking to when you are alone in the toilet or shower. I also find that having to keep makeup on also really limits my picking because I am aware that I have makeup on and so I don’t want to accidentally rub it off and I also hate the feel of it under my nails. I know wearing makeup, especially to bed, isn’t the best thing you can do for your skin but it’s a temporary solution just to get you through the trip!
Hopefully you will be enjoying yourself that much & be that distracted by all the activities on offer that you won’t think so much about the picking! I hope some of this helps… good luck!! Xx
Also for anyone that’s interested I have a page on this website titled “How to stop picking at your skin” that contains a compilation of different tips you can try straight away as well as strategies for the long term.
So apparently, according to my mum, I can just stop? I picked at my chin tonight because I am stressing out about a date this week. So yeah obviously the smart thing to do is pick at my skin because we all know that makes me look so much more attractive and makes me all the more confident ha! Anyway it’s my coping mechanism, not that it really helps, but seeing my chin like this has pissed my mum off. She became annoyed with me and said I should be able to just stop, to which I replied “If it were that easy I would have stopped already”. Of course she had an answer to this “I used to have OCD and I stopped”. Yes mum I also used to have severe OCD and I was able to control that and I’ve also managed to quit smoking but quitting picking is a whole other ball game! Well apparently she doesn’t believe that it is that hard to stop! *facepalm* hold on one second while I go and bang my head repeatedly against a brick wall … there much better!! Now where were we? Oh yeah that’s right JUST STOP!!! -_-
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!
My TLC order has arrived 🙂 & look at the wealth of information I got sent!! The only thing is they didn’t send me the right bracelet I ordered but at least I’ve finally got myself a copy of Angie’s book! Can’t wait to get started!!! 😀 Oh and I love my fidgets… so excited to finally have some… playing with two of them right now instead of picking… WINNING!!
This my friends is what a combination of stress, boredom and wanting to be “perfect” does to my skin. Stressed because I have found a painful lump in my breast 😦 & as I am still on holidays I can’t get in to see a doctor yet so of course my mind is racing with “worst case” scenarios; boredom because for some reason I must find an overload of study & work more relaxing than holidays; and wanting to have my skin looking “perfect” so I wouldn’t have to hide it when my family (who I’m housesitting for) came back from their trip. Well they are back and I am having to sneak into the bathroom first thing in the morning to apply makeup before anyone sees me, quickly apply makeup after my shower so again no one sees the damage I have done to my face, and yes folks I am also having to sleep in my makeup! Talk about Derma issues!!!
What causes Skin Picking Disorder?
“The cause of this disorder remains a mystery. However, research shows that some animals also pick or chew at their bodies, causing great damage. Because of this similarity, and the fact that in some women skin picking can fluctuate with the menstrual cycle, many believe that skin picking has an underlying genetic or biological cause.” – TLC
More research needs to be done to find out if there is an underlying genetic or biological cause because if there is it could pave the way for an effective treatment plan and/or cure. My family dog chews and licks at his skin to the point he is covered in lesions and loses hair because of it… the vets say that he has allergies but he has tried EVERY medication, steroid cream, and oral treatment there is and he STILL does it! Like my skin picking, which developed after I moved states from NSW to QLD, his skin chewing/licking developed after we moved states from QLD to WA. Just a coincidence?
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!!!
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! ♥
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:
Then like the BIG KID I am, I just had to have a go on the swings:
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…
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:
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:
However even with the makeup on you can still see the pockmarks on my skin 😦