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I AM Going To Beat This!

I decided that I am going to shout myself a ticket to Ballet Revolucion this week and so it prompted a spur of the moment try-on-every-single-dress-I-own moment at almost 1am in the morning. I originally started trying on these dresses (of course they ALL still have their tags attached) with a pair of knitted stockings and a cardigan. Then out of curiosity I wondered what they would look like without the arms and legs covered up. And you know what… it actually gave me a confidence boost! Yes my legs are scarred, scabby and covered in bandaids at the moment. But so what! I am sick and tired of hiding! I am SO OVER being this shy insecure girl when all I really want to do is go out and have FUN without a care in the world! I am done covering up! I am done making excuses! I have had enough! This Summer I WILL wear whatever the hell I like whenever the hell I feel like it. And I will go to the beach. And I will hit up the nightclubs. And if someone has a problem with the way I look… then that is THEIR problem… NOT MINE!!

I came across this quote on Facebook tonight:

“Never be ashamed of yourself. Because you are born into one skin. You can scar it, stretch it, burn it, mark it, tan it, peel it. But you are always in it, so you might as well learn to love it.”

It’s funny how such a little thing can trigger an epiphany. I only have one skin and I have been choosing to wreck it. I don’t know why. I may never understand why. But this is all I have. This is all I am ever going to have. So I bloody well better start taking care of it. I am almost 25 years old… I should be having the time of my life. I should be comfortable in my own skin. I should love who I am. And so starting now I AM going to have the time of my life, I AM going to choose to be comfortable in my choice to be comfortable and I AM going to love who I am!

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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 😦

Battle Scars

Battle Scars

“These battle scars don’t look like they’re fading… don’t look like they’re ever going away” from the song Battle Scars by Guy Sebastian.

Fading Scars

So when my sores start to vanish I start to notice my scars a lot more. This photo doesn’t really do the scars justice but you can still make them out – they are the purple spots on my arm/hand. The colder it gets or the colder I feel the more pronounced these scars become. And I have them ALL over my body. Legs, arms, face, back, stomach… bottom… you name a body part and I can guarantee you it is covered in scars. It gets me down. I know I shouldn’t let it get me down but it does. Even if I stop the picking I still won’t be able to enjoy my skin because I have essentially wrecked it. However I have heard somewhere (not sure where) that skin renews itself every 7 years. So I’m going to hold onto the hope that I won’t always be scarred… or at least they won’t always be so noticeable. In the meantime I am using this:

It is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula (with Vitamin E) Skin Therapy Oil. It has replaced Bio-Oil as my new favourite scar treatment. I found Bio-Oil quite greasy, you couldn’t put it on open sores and I didn’t overly enjoy the smell. This stuff, on the other hand, smells FANTASTIC (rosehip fragrance), is light & non-greasy, it doesn’t mention anything on its packaging about it not being suitable for use on open sores AND it’s gentle enough to be used on the face! WINNING! And as an added bonus not only is this stuff available for sale in the US and UK but also Australia and a few other countries! I’ll keep you updated on how well it goes on improving the appearance of my scars; in the meantime they have a website you can check out: http://www.palmers.com/

Sunshine and Scarring

Sunshine and Scarring

It’s Winter here in Perth, Western Australia but you wouldn’t know it! The sun is still shining and there’s hardly a chill in the air so yesterday I decided to catch a bit of the sun’s rays while they’re still hanging around.

I decided to take pictures so you could see the different types of scarring I have on my body. There’s the white lumpy scars on my belly. The dark purply brown scars on my legs. And then of course as soon as my skin is exposed a bit of picking is bound to happen. In that photo, not only can you see the freshly picked spots but also the white and brown scars. If I tan, the brown scars fade but the white ones stand out and if I remain pale the white scars aren’t noticeable but the brown ones are. So I can’t win either way really!

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.

Never Ending Struggle

Never Ending Struggle

Woke up… Started picking. Completely forgot that today was the day I was meant to start trying to stop. Got angry with myself. Went to the mirror, grabbed my tweezers and picked every spot I could find on my face. In this picture you can even see the indented scars by the side of my eye. They look like pock marks from acne but they are just from me picking continuously at the same sore over and over again until I’ve created a “crater”.

Time to Quit

I have decided that I want to quit picking… for years I have been holding onto this behaviour because I don’t know how I will cope with my feelings and my life without it. My picking has been a constant companion to me over these last 20 plus years… a “friend” even… helping me out in times of stress, calming me down when I’m anxious, not letting my excitement over things get out of control, entertaining me when I’m bored, helping me hide from the world and the list goes on. But my relationship with picking (despite the good things I have gotten out of it – if that’s even possible!) is an unhealthy one! It has destroyed my skin to the point I am badly scarred all over (both the darkish scars from recent sores and the white lumpy scars from old sores), it has made me hate myself to the point I don’t even know how to love myself, it has almost driven me to suicide on numerous occasions, it has caused severe depression and anxiety, it has kept me from forming friendships and spending time with family, it has stopped me from loving others out of fear that no one could ever possibly love me while I look like this, it caused me to fail year 11 (almost twice!) and drop out of high school, it has lost me jobs, isolated me, tormented me, tortured me, trapped me and taken precious time away from me that could have been spent enjoying my son’s early childhood!

IT IS TIME TO STOP!

For these last 20 years I have made a new year’s resolution each and every year to quit picking and I have never been able to do it. I would also set myself goals… I’ll stop picking by the time I’m 13… ok 16… then it was 18… 21 came and went and now I’m almost 25! Every milestone when most people would be excited to become a teenager (13), be able to legally consent to sex (16), be recognised as an adult and be of legal age to drink (18) and basically to party it up (21) my focus for each of these milestones was instead on stopping picking so that maybe I could wear a dress and start to feel good about myself. But again each milestone came and went and still I picked.

25 is now my new milestone! I’ll be a quarter of a century old! Still young enough to hopefully have some fun, enjoy my life and let the scars heal. And hopefully my scars will recover (as I’ve already noticed my sores and scars aren’t healing as well as they used to)! Maybe just maybe I could wear one of the many dresses I’ve bought over the years that still hang in my closet, tags attached, for my birthday this year. I turn 25 on the 15th October. My final exam for this semester is on the 14th June (and then I get 6 weeks off) so if I put this plan into action on the 15th June that gives me 4 months exactly to get this under control! Perhaps 3 months to stop picking… 1 month to heal? Now my question is do I try and quit cold turkey, like I did when I quit smoking, knowing that I will probably go insane and experience incredible withdrawal symptoms or do I try and lessen the amount of picking I do each day? And the second question is do I 100% never pick again or do I still allow myself to target a small area that I can hide so that I can keep the urges at bay? I’m not sure what to do yet but if you have any suggestions please let me know!

I’m nervous about putting this out there and especially online because what if I fail, like I have so many times in the past? Well you know what – I might just fail but if that happens I will have at least documented the journey and hopefully other sufferers will realise they’re not alone in their struggles because I surely am not the only derma sufferer in the world who has many failed attempts at quitting under her belt. Wish me luck!!

There’ll be more to come after my exams… Wish me luck for those too 😛 hehe

Pick

Pick

Bullying in the Workplace

The sores are healing but my scars still serve as a reminder.

The sores are healing but my scars still serve as a reminder.

I wrote a post recently called “Don’t let the bastards get you down” where I talked about an ex-friend of mine spreading rumours about me in my workplace and telling my work colleagues all about my picking (my biggest secret!). Two nights ago in the staff room, I was questioned intensely by another work colleague. I was sitting at the opposite end of the staff room with my back turned to everyone, watching the TV minding my own business, when she called out my name in front of everyone else (I think there were 7 of us in total in the staff room) and asked me if they were bites I had on my arms. I was quite taken aback by this. I haven’t been questioned over my marks in a LONG time and for the most part my picking has been getting better. Add to this I also wear long pants and long sleeves to work so I was not at all prepared with how to respond to this. I agreed they were bites, hoping this would end the conversation (as it usually does) but she continued to question me… When do they bite you? They must be big mosquitos where you live! Where do you live? You have to be careful you don’t get Ross River virus! And so she went ON and ON and ON! I was that ashamed and embarrassed I walked out of the staff room in complete and utter shock. This personal attack on me came out of nowhere! I’ve been there almost a year, my picking was a lot worse when I first started, she’s had plenty of time over the last few months to ask me one-on-one what they were but she chose this moment when the staff room was packed and right after the rumours at work had gone around about me to question me about my scars.

THIS IS BULLYING! And it brings back all my old memories of being taunted in the schoolyard for having “chickenpox”, “rabies”, “scabies”, parents recoiling in disgust, fearing I was contagious, teachers asking if I had the “chickenpox” (one even lifted up my shirt in front of another teacher in the staff room to “examine” my skin) and employers accusing me of being a drug addict and having to check my “track marks”! I am not contagious and I am not a drug addict! I am a girl that has seen and been through a lot and because I keep all of this bottled up inside of me, it has to escape somehow, and THAT is what the marks are that you see – PAIN ESCAPING!

As you can probably tell, it really bothers me that people can be so nosy and insensitive! I would never ever question someone on their physical appearance or on any condition/illness for that matter. Dermatillomania is a serious, debilitating, life-threatening illness that deserves the same recognition, respect and treatment that is given to other physical and mental illnesses. No one jokes about cancer. No one asks a cancer sufferer why their hair is falling out. (Or at least I hope no one does these things!). So why joke about me? Bully me? Torment me? Question me relentlessly?

LEAVE ME ALONE!

It would be so easy for me to relapse right now but my mum has told me that I’ve been doing really well lately and encouraged me to not let this woman destroy all the progress that I have made! So I won’t. Because you know what… I AM strong enough to fight this and my scars prove that!

I hope one day I have the courage to tell ALL the people that I meet, especially the nosy ones, that I have a skin picking condition, and hopefully educate them in the process! Education and greater acceptance are two things Dermatillomania sufferers urgently NEED!

Staying positive & strong!

Staying positive & strong!

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