So, time for a school related post. As I mentioned earlier, I recently started attending grad school working on my Masters of Social Work (MSW) and it’s been great. I really love my school and the whole environment.
I was sitting in class one day and my professor said something that really resonated with me. She said, as a therapist you can’t expect to take away a behavior from a client without giving something in return. What do you give the client in return? Well, I guess it can be a competing behavior. An alternative.
She said that what a therapist can give is themselves. The relationship. But that takes some time to build. You can’t just meet a new client and expect to build rapport instantly and have them stop doing some behavior, like picking. You have to give them something.
And that’s what I remember that my own therapist said to me. During my stint at PTSD therapy, I asked my therapist why we weren’t really working on my picking. And right in the last few weeks before we terminated the relationship, she told me that she couldn’t take away my picking. She couldn’t take it away because it served me. Because that’s what I had been using for years to cope and deal with my life.
The interesting thing is that I did reduce my picking even though we never worked on it. Like reduced it drastically. Working on PTSD and my emotions probably helped me not need to pick. And having the therapist-client relationship was something she gave me too.
It seemed like we weren’t working on my picking. But we were, in a way. She knew that trying to take that away would hurt me. I would have probably fought back a bit too. I may have rebelled. So I think it worked for me that time.
Anyway, the take away is you can’t take it away sometimes. I think having a replacement can be anything. Like a fidget toy, or a new hobby. Drawing, yoga, or meditation. Therapy, swimming, music. Anything you can use to avoid picking. Or prolong that desire to pick. I hope this all made sense.
Yes, thank you so much for doing this! I think it’s a great idea to help everyone find each other.
Submit here everyone!
I married my very best friend on April 15th, 2014. I felt it was important to personalize just how lucky I was to have him and tell the world all that he has done for me in the last 4 years.I have a chronic case of a disorder called Excoriation Disorder (Dermatillomania) which causes me to pick at my skin compulsively. In my earlier years it caused me significant emotional distress which prompted me to publish my memoir, FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary right before I met my husband. He has created my website www.skinpickingsupport.com and encourages me to continue down my path of advocacy with no negative judgments.He is proud of me and contributes to the cause whenever he can. He is not disgusted by my scars and he accepts me for who I am, even if I am never rid of this taboo condition.
Rapper Locksmith released a powerful song called “Hardest Song Ever” which recounts his sexual abuse when he was younger. It’s so inspirational to have him rapping about being molested, and being depressed. There’s really nothing out there like it, so please watch it.
I started picking a long time ago and have been doing it for as long as I can remember, before puberty and acne. I probably started by just picking scabs of cuts or bug bites when I was quite little. I had chicken pox when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and I still have bad scars from that, so maybe it started around that time.
For a while I had wounds I picked at on my scalp, disguised by my hair, and my older sister discovered them while cutting my hair one day. I remember the shame I felt when she exclaimed her disgust. I don’t even know if I was 10 years old yet. Scalp picking episodes did reoccur in later years, but I haven’t picked there in the past decade, I’m happy to say.
There was a period around then that I went through a stage of chewing on the ends of my hair, whenever it was long, though I never pulled it out, so I’ve never had trichotillomania.
For the past few months, I have been picking at my split and dead ends, splitting or breaking them, which was kind of a replacement behavior for skin picking and much less self-destructive, but it still bothered me that I was doing it, leaving piles of hair everywhere, so yesterday I finally got a haircut.
I have to admit, I don’t love the haircut. You pay for what you get, and I only had to pay $28 in Chinatown, a far cry from my usual $75-100. But I love that it’s lighter (the Asian stylists always ask to thin it out because it is so thick) for the warm weather, and of course there are hardly any split ends now.
I’m also pre-makeup (and pre-hair-brushing haha) in the photo, so you can see my scars, a healing pink spot on my cheek, a large pimple near my eye (which was not as swollen and inflamed as a cyst-like pimple would be, because I’ve been using witch hazel, but it wouldn’t go away, so I couldn’t help but pop it last night, so I need some more acne help along with the witch hazel and am thinking about trying sulfur). Or maybe you can’t see them; I’m probably the one who notices those things the most.
My main issues right now are adult acne, which causes me to pick my face, neck and back; in summer, mosquito bites, which I always get because the bugs love my tasty blood; and hangnails, my go-to nervous/bored public picking sites.
I’ve noticed that both my father and older sister pick at their fingers as well, and my sister says our grandfather (my dad’s dad) did it, too. On and off, I have picked at the calluses on my feet, which my mother used to do, too, while she sat on the couch and read.
When I was in my early 20s, I remember my younger sister and my dad sitting around cracking up about my dad’s ability to squeeze his nose and make “cheese” come out of his pores. That’s the family humor, a lot of body-waste-focused jokes, and I thought it was gross but laughed, too. My dad’s the kind of man who at 80 still gets pimples, so you know he’s got super problem oily skin that has been passed down to us, and I think he used to pick at his face, too, because he’s got that Edward James Olmos sort of acne-scarred skin. After that, my sister and I then realized we could squeeze cheese out of our own nose pores, too, though mine more often came out as hard plugs. That’s when I started my own "extraction" habits.
I’m not blaming my family, just pointing out that sometimes we learn these behaviors or are more prone to developing them, so maybe they can also be unlearned or at least decreased in some way.
I only started to acknowledge and accept my compulsive skin-picking years after a friend told me she had trichotillomania, probably because she noticed my problem, but it took me a long time to process that my own habits were similar to hers. A few years after she told me about her hair-pulling, I looked up skin-picking and realized it was a thing with its own name, dermatillomania. That’s when I first told someone, my therapist and later my psychiatrist, that I engaged in the behavior. I was in my late 20s.
Kudos to all you young’uns who’ve acknowledged and sought help for your body-focused repetitive behaviors; you’re all brave for doing so.
It was around that time that I also began to try to wear contacts instead of glasses for my nearsightedness. It sucks, but I’ve never felt attractive in glasses, no matter how cool my glasses looked. But I also had this habit for years of taking my glasses off every time I was around a mirror, like in a bathroom, because I didn’t want to see myself. If I saw myself clearly, I would notice every flaw in my skin and feel horrible and ugly. It took me a long time to be able to look at myself in the mirror with my glasses on, accept the way I looked, even give myself compliments on occasion, and that was when contacts were possible. Now that I wear them, I feel prettier and, stupid as it is, that helps me feel better.
When I recently moved back to NYC, I had the luxury of finding a support group for pickers and pullers (through TLC), and I have been improving and more able to talk about BFRBs because of having a community that meets weekly to help each other. The main reason it helps, I think, is that it reduces shame, which takes some pressure off of an individual to just stop picking/pulling altogether and focuses on recovery (and maybe that just means reducing the picking/pulling) and which can also mean an earlier end to the vicious cycle of beating oneself up about the picking that can lead to more depression and picking.
I don’t currently go to a therapist or psychiatrist who specializes in BFRBs, because my insurance (thank god I even have insurance, though!) doesn’t cover those specialists. I keep planning to find someone, whether or not they specialize in BFRBs, but I haven’t because I’m kind of broke. It’s not a good excuse, I know, but now that I have a couple of part-time jobs, I feel better able to afford the expense of weekly copays. I do still go to a psychiatrist monthly, however, because I am on antidepressants and have been for several years, for dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression), and she helps me a lot.
I am aware of the fact that my CSP is not as bad as many of my fellow pickers. I don’t pick at my arms, for example, so I have no problem wearing short sleeves and sleeveless tops. I do have some scars on my lower legs from mosquito bites I’ve picked at over the years, which an ex from Taiwan ridiculed as red-bean ice dessert (don’t get me started on the Chinese penchant for pointing out everyone’s flaws), but even then I didn’t really care, so I wear shorts and short skirts, too. I’m more embarrassed about my back, so swimwear has been an issue for me on and off; for a while I wore a tankini, but I can’t see it, so I think I’m less worried about it now.
Today I went shopping, though, and while trying on some clothes, I saw my back pimples clearly under the horrible fluorescent lights, and I am sort of dreading warm-weather clothing, as much as I am overjoyed that the long winter is ending. It’s a process that will probably never end, but at least things are improving.
That’s a societal issue for sure. I think lots of cultures around the world judge people because of acne or scars. So yes, there are some values we have. I don’t know if people think they’re unlovable, that might be more of a personal thing. Everyone is lovable no matter what. I mean people may feel like they’re not, but that’s just a bunch of crap. It’s just negative thinking. It may be depression speaking.
The world isn’t black and white. And we shouldn’t think that way either. Just because you have acne, that doesn’t make you ugly or unlovable. The amount of acne on your skin doesn’t equate to how beautiful you are or if you will ever have a significant other. It just means you have acne. Which can be sucky, I admit.
But you can’t really change your acne much. I mean there’s medication for people with severe acne, or over the counter stuff. But what you really need to change is your thinking. Don’t equate acne, or spots on your skin or skin picking with your attractiveness. If people judge you for your skin or scars, then fuck ‘em. Find nicer people. Don’t let negative people into your life. You’ll find so many people who are nice to you, who like you for you, and your personality and your sense of humor and your smile or whatever. Those are the kinds of relationships you need.
Anyway, I guess that’s the best advice I can give. Change your thinking and how you deal or cope with your acne. Change your friends. Change your life. Take care!
One of the things I’ve learned recently is that I need to take care of myself. That includes taking care of my mind and body. I can’t wait and hope someone is going to come along and take care of me. I can’t expect anyone else to do it for me. Not a spouse, not parents or friends. It all comes…
Just reblogging myself because I’m feeling like I need more self care lately.
The crux behind Trichotillomania is that the person cannot STOP. IF you could “just stop,” which is a phrase that is commonly said to patients… Then, dontcha think that we would? If one can just sit there, and say to themselves, “Ok, I’m not going to do this anymore” & then cease to never pull again… Just like that. Using no techniques, medicines, vitamins, doctors, support groups, or therapies, exercises, methods, mantras, motifs, accountabilities or tools or any other form of weaponry to fight it down & regain control. … But to just plain stop? Then… I have the belief that they have a simple habit not a disorder, an extremely complex disorder, at that. Yes, habit is part of Trich for most but there are several other larger components that feed into BFRBs (Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, newly classified in the DSM-V: Trich & Derma), it is not just a habitual behavior. It’s a disorder that is very, very difficult to stop. A Trichster has to overcome the habit part but also the OCD, perfectionism, anxiety, curiosity, urges, impulse control, self-esteem, confidence, Trances, logic blocking, triggers, addiction to serotonin and other feel-good endorphins, and self harm/self mutilation (depending on who you’re talking to), idleness, ticks, control, anger, boredom, nervousness, fidgeting or otherwise, coping mechanism— That is one hell of a list to knock out and habit is only 1 of many parts of BFRBs. So my question is, if you can just stop, without any type of help, then would that person have Trichotillomania, a disorder? My opinion is no, they have a simple (in comparison), habit. The habitual part of Trich falls into the times when one is unaware that they are pulling/picking or if it’s an automatic go-to coping mechanism and unconsciously reacting to a situation causing tension yet the person’s focus is on something different. e.g. watching a scary movie or taking a test. Again, the crux and very meaning behind Trich is that one cannot just stop. If one can just stop then they would not have the disorder… Right?
There are people, very few people who are “Pull Free” but they didn’t just get up one day and decided to never do it again and just quit and go on about their lives… No no no, they fight it every single day. They are not “cured” they are still in support groups and teaching/helping/supporting others and sharing their methods and techniques, mantras et cetera… Everyday. They still need support, they still want to use methods of accountability even if it’s been 5 years since their last dance. If it were a simple habit, I guarantee they would not give their time to fellow patients. These “Pull Free’s” would walk away and never look back. If you have ever read or seen “The Hunger Games,” these Pull-Free’s are like Mocking Jays, they are symbols of hope. Hope is so important. Even just a little. Anybody…ehum… who says, “There is no hope” is lying to themselves and to others. Straight to your face. If it was true they wouldn’t be doing things like tying themselves down or getting their hair shaved as a precaution or pull from other places to keep themselves from doing damage elsewhere. Nope. If they deep-down truly thought that there was no hope they wouldn’t have a hair on their body because they quit trying and trying IS fighting and fighting requires hope. I think some who aim/wish to be “pull free” have this idea that they can just stop, as if it were a habit & as if they’ve never tried that one before. Just up and quit. They skip the tools, methods, techniques, etc. and just expect their brain to go cold turkey. “Cold Turkey” is a phrase used for stopping a habit. BFRBs are disorders. Some people don’t realize Mocking Jay’s are fighting side by side still. Why else would they be in these Trich groups? Before becoming a Pull Free or a Trichster who hasn’t pulled for a day or a week or whatever one’s own personal definition of it is, they have to use things/weapons to help. Finding things to help are called “trials and errors” that in itself is a STRATEGY. Trying and failing doesn’t mean YOU fail, it means whatever tool you tried FAILED. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing either, it means you’ve tried something, it didn’t work, toss it to the side, try something else & that’s one step closer. Eventually, you will find things that work, things that kind of work, things that work when you put them together, & things that do not work at all. One must give each thing a good honest try to know 100% it doesn’t work for them at all. It’s like a puzzle, if a piece doesn’t fit, you pick up another. Trials & Errors not Trying and Failing.
NoteEssay: One must learn for themselves. One can take suggestions but in the end, everybody’s BFRB is different. Customization is key. What doesn’t work for somebody doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for another person and vice versa. Patients can even make up their own tools and develop their own weapons- Get inventive. Because again, in the end, it is between you and your disorder. I have to be easy with myself and remember that I have a legit disorder. It is in no way my fault. I did not choose this, I do not want this. I have 2 options: A. Give up or B. Accept that I have a disorder but choose to fight it for as long as it takes. If it turns out that this is not some curable disorder then fine, whatever. I’m still going to try new things out and figure out how to reduce my pulling and picking to a minimum. Hope is not killed at all… due to internet there are millions of people coming forward with BFRBs and that creates noise and grabs the attention of physicians/researchers/genealogists/psychiatrists. We are the front runners right now. :) Yay! [sarc] Doctors might discover a cure that’s so simple, it’s stupid! Like, an imbalanced hormone or lack of a vitamin or too much of a natural occurring chemical in our brains… The point is, we do not know all the information… yet! :) Who knows what the next 5-10 years will hold. We are just now being paid attention to properly. The numbers are too big and BFRB’s will be regarded as a serious and mentally, emotionally, socially, romantically, financially, and physically damaging disorder. As a psychologist, I can tell you that Trichotillomania is by far, the most intricate and complex disorder I’ve ever studied in abnormal psychology. As a patient, I can also tell you that this is also a slow, tormenting affliction that causes deep pain in almost all areas of one’s life. It’s not to be brushed off as a silly habit anymore. Doctor’s need to think and ask themselves, “Where are these millions and millions of people suddenly coming forward from?” …Hiding, dummies! That alone should speak for itself. BFRBs are embarrassing, they create shame and people who have it [a form of BFRB] are obviously negatively affected by it to the point of hiding and deeply suffering from it in silence. The HATE that comes with it causes so much damage especially since it surfaces with the highest age and gender demographic of 12 year-old females. There is enough going on during puberty & then having to face school-mates. I have a bullying story that would make some people go pale in the face. It also causes suicide feelings, thoughts, ideations, attempts & completions. This is a big deal guys, I have hope that an answer is coming. Even if the answer means that there is no possible cure at that moment, I still want to know why I pull my own hair out or pick my skin. I would like to know why so that when other people ask me why, I can have a better answer for them other than, “I don’t know why I do it or why I can’t stop.” I want to be able to say, “It’s a genetic condition” or “It’s a chemical imbalance” or something… anything that’s better than the answer I have, right now. Ya dig?
Another thing I want to put out there is that I think “Trich” should be called, BFRB. I find myself talking about both disorders yet I tend to just say ‘Trich’ with the notion that I am implying Dermatillomania too. I have both but saying ‘Trich’ when I’m implying Derma as well, needs to stop. That is a habit. So unless I am only speaking specifically about Trich, or specifically about Derma, then I am going to try to use “BFRB.” To the derma-only community, that could be a bit demeaning. It may make those with derma only feel like everything is all about Trich or that Trich is the bigger issue when no, that is not true, whatsoever. They are both equally painful (mentally & emotionally).
Derma is something I’ve only known about in the last two years and after hearing many personal testimonies, I found that every single thing behind Trich matches up 99% to everything behind Derma. The one and only difference (that is mutual on both sides) is the medium. One is hair, the other skin. There is no reason why ‘Trich’ is more important or trumps Derma in someway; it’s belittling. For me, Derma was just new. Therein lies why it morphed into a habit. I had been slinging the term ‘Trich’ around for a decade before I was sadly introduced to Dermatillomania. (It was sad because I knew several million people were suffering from Trich. So, in my head, the numbers doubled when I heard about Dermatillomania. All that suffering!) :( Anyway, slinging around the term “Trich” when I mean both “Trich” AND “Derma” is a bit disrespectful. Even though I don’t do it on purpose, it is something I am going to work on not doing anymore. Essentially, if I say “Trich” but I am implying “Trich and Derma” then I will say: “BFRB”. (Duh, I know!) It sounds silly but I know that many others do this out of habit too. I’ve also heard Derma patients talk about it and rightfully so. It’s a respect thing and it’s just something that I personally need to & want to quit doing. Again, I CAN sit here and say I’m going to quit doing something that I want to quit doing/change because throwing around the “Trich” term is a habit not a disorder and because habits can quit. Disorders… Not quite like that.
My little motto, in the works! Let me know if you have any ideas to add!
Contain (pull areas)
Refrain (pulling from pull areas)
Obtain (new hair in pull areas)
Maintain (new hair and re growth from pull areas)
Stay sane (during re growth periods)
Remain (not pulling from pull areas)
Ehh… It needs work but you get the idea! Open to ideas/suggestions I’m trying this as a mental mantra and trying is fighting and that is all that matters.
Lastly, if you have actually read this, high-mother-effen-five! 👋 Thank you. Boxes are open! Please give feedback!
congratulations, you brushed your teeth for the first time in three days
you did the dishes and made your bed
you stayed humbled and strong
instead of broken and torn
you said “no” to the mirror
"no, I will not pick this skin from these bones
i will not weep
for i may be a…
Wikipedia. Cited: Brian L. Odlaug, B.A., Jon E. Grant, J.D., M.D., M.P.H.
Can we just talk about this for a moment?! I feel sick. This is why we need to be here for each other. I can’t believe how neglected our disorder is. We need better treatment options.(via kickingmydermatillomania) Group hug, you guys… I freaking love the derma and trich communities on here (via dermachick)