About three months ago I put a plan in place to stop picking by my 25th birthday. In 1 minute, I will be 25 years old and my picking is the worst it’s been all year.
That photo is of me on Friday night… I spent my night picking for hours on end to the point I felt physically sick to my stomach and that depressed I contemplated suicide.
I feel worse tonight.
My back is on fire. I have a weeping open wound in between my shoulder blades that just won’t heal and I can feel it burning. All the skin around it is red, raised and hot to touch. My face is stinging and my arms and legs are covered in band-aids.
I haven’t felt this sad in a long long time.
I’m 25 tomorrow. That’s 21 years living with Derma and I’m not sure I can do it anymore.
I’m in so much mental and physical pain. I just want to cry but I can’t.
I can’t handle how much this disorder has consumed my life. I feel so ill. A sign I am infected once again.
Happy birthday to me.
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!
So you know how sometimes your picking starts to get pretty good and you’re like “Hey I’m actually getting better!” and then all of a sudden you relapse and your self talk goes a little like this:
“Why the fuck would you do that for? Now look what you’ve done! You were going so well! Your face/arms/legs were looking so much better… now look what you’ve done to them! You’ve totally fucked them up! Oh my God you’re so fucking ugly! You look hideous! Now how are you meant to go out tomorrow? Makeup is hardly going to cover THAT up! You’re such a failure!!!! What is wrong with you?”
That’s been me the past two nights. In fact everytime I relapse that is the kind of self-talk that goes on in my head. And actually even when my spots are clearing up I still tell myself how ugly I am. Why do us pickers do this to ourselves? It’s hard enough dealing with the physical afflictions of this illness, do we really have to torment ourselves mentally as well?
One thing that seems quite common amongst skin pickers is our desire for perfection. Most of us seem to be perfectionists at heart striving to make ourselves “look better”; to “fix” ourselves. We are the same when it comes to other things in life as well, such as getting high marks in school, doing well at our jobs, etc. The other day I got a D- for one of my university assignments and suicide was the first thing that entered my mind. I immediately assumed I’d failed, not realising that a D actually stands for a Distinction in University. But even a D is not good enough and neither are all the C’s (Credit’s) I’ve been getting. I want HD’s (High Distinctions). I want to be the best! But why? Why do I need to be the best? Why am I always so hard on myself? I’m passing, shouldn’t that be enough? You only need P’s (Passes) for Degrees after all!
It just feels like I’m constantly failing in life. The narrative that continually repeats itself in my head goes something along the lines of: “You’re such a bad mum! You spend so much time studying you hardly play with your son. You’re a terrible mother. He’d be so much better off without you. And you’re spending all this time studying and you’re still sucking at University! You’re only just passing and you’re putting in so much effort, you must be really stupid! And look at how ugly you are! No wonder you’re such a failure! You spend so much time picking, how do you expect to have time for anything else? You’re wrecking your skin. Look at it. It’s covered in spots and scars! You’ll never be beautiful!”
With a narrative like that no wonder suicide constantly crosses my mind! So maybe it’s about time I adopted a more positive narrative – one of self-love. Maybe it’s about time I started noticing the achievements I make, the things I do well and focusing less on the things I don’t do so well at.
“Ok yes you’ve relapsed! But who cares, tomorrow is a new day. Don’t take it out on yourself and more importantly don’t take it out on your skin!!! You’re doing such a wonderful job, you’re so incredibly strong! This is just a tiny slip up on a very long road to recovery. The spots will be almost healed again in a couple of days. You are beautiful! You are worthy! You are strong! Keep it up!”
Simply tell the negative thoughts to GO AWAY! You don’t need them in your life any longer. All they do is bring you down!
“Ok so you didn’t get a HD. But you still passed and you passed well! That’s one step closer to getting your degree. And who cares if this one particular tutor didn’t like your style of writing? Some of the best writers amongst us today got rejected SO many times before they became the best sellers that they are today! And you’ve got a lot on your plate! You work, you study full time, you have a son, you help out at his school. You’ve got a lot to juggle and the balls haven’t dropped. You’re doing such a good job! Keep it up!”
“And you are a good mum! In fact you’re a fantastic mum! Your son gets fed, bathed, clothed, and told he’s loved each and every single day. Everything you do is for him! The reason you’re working so hard right now is so you can provide him with the best future possible! You want to succeed so he can succeed! And you’re still here. You’re still here for him. It would have been so easy to give up but your love for him keeps you going. If this doesn’t prove you’re a good mum then what does?”
How much more uplifting is it to hear positive words of encouragement instead of a constant barrage of hateful and negative comments? Don’t be so hard on yourself! People AREN’T perfect. People CAN’T be perfect. So stop striving for perfectionism… strive instead for being the best person you can be, flaws and all! Something my mum pointed out to me and it is so very true, is the beauty of nature. Nature is incredibly beautiful, breathtaking even and yet what is perfect about nature? Nature is not symetrical, leaves have bumps and holes in them, rocks are sharp and jagged, trees weep sap and peel bark, creek beds dry up, rivers overflow. Not perfect at all but so beautiful… so perfect in its own way with all its flaws. This is what makes nature unique. And this is what makes human beings unique. We are all different. And we all have a lot to offer. There is no one such thing that defines a perfect human being. Learn to love yourself and others will too. See the positives in life and the negatives won’t be able to take such a hold on you. Live your life and lead your life alongside a positive commentary. Lord knows YOU DESERVE IT!!!!!<