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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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JUST STOP!

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!!! -_-

TLC Order Arrived!!

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!!! :D Oh and I love my fidgets… so excited to finally have some… playing with two of them right now instead of picking… WINNING!!

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!!

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/

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!

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?

Day 1

Ok so I woke up today aware of the fact that I have made a commitment to myself to quit picking. So far I have only played with two pimples on my face and I have given myself permission to do this. I am not going to get upset with myself (as this only causes me to pick more) and I am not going to assess the damage in the mirror. I am simply going to be understanding and compassionate towards myself today. I can’t change overnight after all!

This morning I have been laying in bed reading Pearls by Christina Sophia Pearson which is a book of meditations on recovery from hair pulling and skin picking. One of the lines in the first meditation really resonated with me, it reads: “Today I know that living behind bars of compulsion closes me in, and I no longer wish to stay there.” Many skin pickers refer to their struggle as feeling like they are stuck in a Dermatillomania prison, forged by their compulsive behaviours. I no longer wish to be in this prison. I want to break free. I want to experience freedom and taste it on the tip of my tongue. I want to be able to shop carelessly, dress carelessly, dance carelessly, love carelessly… basically experience life out of prison and without the constant fear of wondering if my skin is still covered (have my sleeves ridden up?) or if my makeup has run off (can people see my spots?). I want to experience life! I want to LIVE! Because as we all know, life with Dermatillomania ain’t really living!

I will keep you updated on my journey (daily if I can!) and share with you my successes and my failures along the way, as I know I am bound to experience the occasional slip up. So far I haven’t put any strategies in place so it kind of feels like I have set out on a journey without a road map, unsure of the final destination… BUT I WILL get there and SO CAN YOU! For now I will read a meditation daily from Christina’s book, gently tell myself “no” every time I am aware of my fingers touching my skin (it’s important to be kind to yourself) and go about buying some fidgets. Can anyone recommend any good ones?

That’s all for now but may I add… far out it’s hard not to pick at healing scabs… they are so dry and flaky and crispy and I just wanna… NO dermagirl NO!!!

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