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!
Over the past few days I have been trying to think of ways to help me achieve my goal of stopping or at least cutting down my picking. While I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror the other night I thought to myself “I know how I can stop picking: Cut my hands off!!”. If I chopped my hands off I quite literally would never be able to pick again, I mean I wouldn’t even be able to pick up my tweezers! But of course this is silly, one simply cannot do this. So then I started thinking what is it about my hands not being there that would help me stop my picking. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to pick up my tweezers anymore so that would certainly help but then I clicked onto a bigger discovery! I would no longer be able to feel for imperfections… no longer be able to run my fingers over my skin, searching for scabs, bumps, pimples, cuts, etc. So this is a trigger for me! Never before have I thought of what triggers my picking. I mean I know certain emotions usually trigger a session but I’d never paid much attention to the physical things I do that trigger my picking. So now I have to work out why I feel this desire to search for “imperfections”? What does it satisfy inside of me that keeps me doing it? This is something I will think about and perhaps even pose to my psychologist in my next session.
So now I know feeling for “imperfections” is a trigger, so are my emotions (stress, anger, depression, etc.) and when it comes to picking at my face mirrors can also trigger me. Steps that I may be able to take then include: every time I touch my skin (and am aware of it as I often dissociate) immediately pull my hand away and tell myself “no”, learn to deal with my emotions using healthy positive strategies (maybe meditation for stress, boxing for anger), cover up my mirrors, shower in dimmed light or the dark AND throw out my tweezers (curls up into a ball and starts rocking back and forth at the thought of doing this… eeekkk)! I have thrown out my tweezers before and literally felt as though I was going insane. I probably looked as though I was as well… I was screaming, crying, pulling at my hair, hitting things, so basically throwing a 2 year old tantrum fit!! Perhaps I’ll take that step after I’ve taken some of the others first hehe!
Anyway back to my exam revision… only one more to go for this semester! YAY!!! I just couldn’t stay away from my blog though, I felt compelled to update and it is thanks to all of you who hit “like” on one of my posts, comment under my posts, contact me on my Facebook group, send me messages and basically encourage me with your kind words to keep on going! So thank you to all of you who inspire me and encourage me to keep up the fight! 😀
Sometimes I can be judgemental. Especially when it comes to things like drug addiction. There is a girl I know who I used to go to school with who has three children currently being raised by her grandparents because she is too busy getting high to look after them herself. And so I judge. I hear this and I judge. I see this and I judge. I think to myself “Why can’t you just stop? You say you want to quit so badly… so stop talking about it and just do it!”
And then I stop. Because sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes no matter how hard you want to stop something, like picking, or taking drugs, or smoking, it’s not as easy to quit as you think it might be. Especially if it’s all you’ve ever known. Especially if it’s been your coping mechanism – the only way you know how to deal with life.
And then there are the triggers! There are always triggers! Family, friends, stress, peer pressure, work, study, life (in general) and then there’s the actual tools themselves… the drugs, the alcohol, the cigarettes, the mirror, the tweezers! How do you put distance between yourself and the triggers and tools? And this is where it’s hard for pickers because unlike addicts, our major tool is quite literally right at our fingertips – our nails! We can’t just chop our hands off and then quietly go insane while the urges penetrate our every thought because that is simply not possible. We can’t get away from our major tool! I remember when I quit smoking I felt like I was going crazy! I wanted a cigarette SO SO SO badly! I’d just found out I was pregnant so I tore up all my remaining cigarettes and then threw them in the bin, just like that! Then I did not leave the house… I stayed inside desperately wanting to go to the shops and buy some more but I knew if I could hold out long enough until the urges passed it would get easier and eventually it did! But had someone been sitting right next to me smoking the entire time I was trying to quit or had my fingers been made out of cigarettes themselves, I may still be smoking today. It’s only because I could get that distance that I was successful! And that’s not to say I don’t still think about smoking because every now and again I will crave a cigarette, however I just choose to stay away!
So I try to do the same with picking! I try to “stay away” or “cut down” or just “quit cold turkey” but sometimes without even realising it my fingers are already back at work: scanning, searching, smoothing, scratching. Picking! And other times it all gets too much and because my hands are right there I figure “Well why the bloody hell not!” It’s a vicious circle! One I want to break free from but short of chopping my hands off, I don’t know what else to do. And I get judged! People say to me all the time “Why can’t you just stop?” or “If you really wanted to, you’d just stop!” Well it’s not that easy. And who are they to judge, just as who am I to judge? We all have our own inner struggles and we all have our own way of dealing with them. Sometimes it really is a case on focussing less on others and more on oneself. So from now on I’ll try to be less judgemental and when I notice myself asking these questions of others, I’ll apply them to myself and my situation!