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Inside the Compulsive Skin Pickers Mind...


TailFeather
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My name is Brianna and I guess I am new here..... I guess I joined here because I thought it would be nice to talk to other people with either similar disorders or different and hear there stories. We all need a little pat on the ole back sometimes. Thanks for reading my story.

Growing up I've always had some mental health issues but the last 4 years it seemed to erupt like a volcano. I'm a different person now....But that's ok. My diagnosis is a combination of OCD- Perfectionism, ADD, and for the last two years Severe Compulsive Skin Picking. Its a long recovery, my life test! I can honestly say I'm thankful it happened.

I'm about to be 29 this Friday and I've dedicated the last 10 years to building a career in the Beauty and Wellness Industry managing spas, building spas, and assisting owners in saving their spas. I was very fortunate early on to have the mentors and training that some people don't get to ever experience, only dream about. [My business beliefs included: No matter how much I eat, sleep, and breathe business management perfection, its not good enough, I must do more. I can add this much more profit and complete this amount of work in time if I plan out the next month in my calendar for sleeping times including a few here and there to ensure I'm the best. I must constantly research sales techniques and training improvement because the perfect plan has to exist. Instead of having a balance of work life; I'm going to forget about my personal health ending up hospitalized with my body covered in MRSA and make sure anyone I cared about understands nothing comes before my business- bc it doesn't matter, I have to find the "it", and when I figure it out they will tell me how amazing I am and I'll finally be on top."] Thats what went through my head. If someone tried to get in my way I made sure professionally or personally they were rejected, because i had to beat everyone. Sure, I can sit here and say that the demanding sales goals each month had to meet 110% over the years prior same month or you are fired after 3 months. For fun, I remolded the companies inventory management system, developed an entirely new education program, and ran multiple locations without extra incentive voluntarily. After all I had moved 4 hours away to take this position after living in a town for 2 years for reconstructive foot surgery twice because I broke a screw after the first surgery re-learned how to walk again all in my early 20's. (Thats a whole seperate story!) With all of the records I placed, systems I made, and dedication i gave in the end our gym and spa lost money as a whole and I was the 1st of 3 let go. I didn't understand it. My boss flew down from Chicago to "fire" me and she sobbed the entire time which made it even more difficult to grasp what was happening.

Its taken almost 2 years to wake up and start realizing or understanding how I self destructed and ultimately did it to myself. Im still hurt. You can sit there and tell me to grow up, get over it, and move all you want because I've heard it all every day for the last two years. As well as "why am i not like i use to be or just stop picking its that easy just stop" or "You didn't always use to be like this, you had so much potential that its sad to know what you've become."

I was in such a shock after I got fired I felt like i was in a twilight zone. I sat outside in my car chain smoking for almost 2 days in the pouring rain picking a part everything I had done in that place in my mind. As I did that I was also picking at every open sore I could find on my legs, face, arms, and stomach. I would sit there thinking a scab didnt look right healing, or this one looks swollen, and this one is an odd color; so I should use my CUTICLE CUTTERS and cut away at my skin over my entire body that "bad skin" away until I feel fresh skin being cut. I would tell myself Im doing the right thing bc its the only way this will heal. Then half a lightbulb went off. I realized what I was doing after I placed the top of the cuticle cutters inside my leg to cut a piece of skin that I thought looked off (because I should know what 1/4 of an inch should look like automatically skin deep to make a diagnosis! haha) I called a friend of mine, a head nurse at a local hospital and she brought me right in. The MRSA was brought to light but I never said a thing about the picking.

Why would I? It felt Euphoric, I could always breathe again. I highly doubt a stress ball has the same effect! And no I dont do neighborhood walks, sorry, too many spiders on this planet that I'd be more ebarrassed walking down the street waiving my 6 foot broom in the air for spider webs!

I cant stand looking at some of these picker sites and some skins pickers keep posting the help me posts repeatedly saying they want to stop....... CORRECTION... Compulsive skin picking is compulsive because the feeling and relief you felt from that was so much much then anything you had felt that the last thing you WANT to do is stop... I know and understand I am causing harm to my body and its wrong... but I'll never WANT to stop. What will scare me is know that one day I'll have to stop. Its a guaranteed mood lifter, thats priceless. And I controled it. Noone at that point knew or questioned that fact I had a problem and I'm not going to say anything, because they wil try and take that from me and tell me what they want me to do. I had felt I lost all control in my life; you could have held me at gun point and I would NOT let it up. My fiance of 6 years left, family pissed at me, fired, MRSA, broke, and no longer spoke with friends. That picking was all I had. It was that friend, family member, job for hours.... all day sometimes. I compare it to when something horrible happens to someone and the only thing they want is for their loved one to wrap their arms around them or have that one friend listen and tell you everything is going to be ok and you slowly you start to whipe away the tears and believe that it will be ok therefore comforting and lifting some of the built stress. As someone that just lost all of that picking was my fiance holding me or friend at the bar taking back shots to cheer up and I alone controled how much or little exsisted. I think I went through 5 or 6 sets of bed sheets over the last 2 years along with a new wardrobe or 2 because of the amount of blood stains. Not a minute passed I didn't think about how great its going to feel to pick that next big scab off making up excuses to visit the bathroom or anywhere for just a min or so to breathe.... I was suffocating and drowning and I just wanted it to stop.

Tears pouring down, starring into mirrors for hours, and having to go to sleep every night no matter how hot with gloves all consumed the majority of time. I knew what I was doing was so harmful and damaging for the rest of my life that it made me cried BC I DIDNT WANT TO STOP.

Almost exactly a year ago a dermatology appoint that my father set up for me because nobody could understand why my skin would not heal and instead get worse. My hand was shaking as I filled out the new client forms because I was affraid he would jusdge me and down on what I did. I actually filled out the paper work honestly giving psychiatrist info and all medications etc. This doctor happened to be the one doctor i have met that read everything written, just my luck! haha I stood in the exam room with him and the nurse just about naked revieling everything. I starred at the wall because I couldn't look at him and answer the questions i knew were about to be asked. The question never got asked, they didnt need to. He did 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and called me out on everything, pinpointing my mental health disorders, and immediatly phoned my psychiatrist.

**Let me just add, when your Pyschiatrist say to you why havent we talked about this and i cant believe i missed this, we are starting from the beginning and looking at everything all over again.... Dont anwser with ummm, I forgot, didnt really cross my mind! The result will not be pleasant and will not work out in your favor.

I was most definitly put in my place. However, for me thats the only way my treatment was so effective. Being firm and direct because I need to believe you. I have so much respect for my pysch and look up to him. The statement regarding being called out is not to give the impression psychs are all mean rude people. Treatment plans work because they transform themselves for every client to comunicate in a way that will be affective for that client. This is what is effective for me.

That was September 6, 2011. He challenged me, and unfornutely if you tell me either i cant do something or use a little smart reverse psychology trick that always works on me like a charm, i will sit there on his uncomfortable and ugly coach confused. My thinking was imediately changed to I have to prove to you wrong. Yes Im dumb..... I like to call it creative.. He said "Your an OCD Perfectionist, who is motivated by approval and recognition, and the processes of letting go or giving up are not acknowledged nor comprehended by you, yet, you have let go of yourself allowing everything to walk out of your life and instead became involved with an obsession that you hide. However, I also know that even though you hide this from the world your still proud of it. How much is it eating you up inside that you cant be rewarded for doing this act for so long and show it of to the world as if it were a work of art. I was immediately confused and immediately the idea implanting into my brain was born and I had a new goal to beat!

It has been a learning process for both of us finding resources and information regarding the whole subject and controversal issues that tag along with this since very few do exist. It is something that is still newly aknowledged to the mental health community. I want to speak out it my experience. If you google depression help or ocd help at least 150 doctors in an area will pop up and hundreds or resource websites and information pop up. Google CSP and a couple random blogs pop up which I actually found insulting reading the info and a few organizations with available doctor that located in California is available for new patients.... I live in Northern Virginia. Being OCD I compulsively research the topics but what about people who dont. Everybody needs some sort of support system or something. This is a serious topic that includes just as severe conclusions as other mental health disorders and needs to start being taken more seriously accross the board. I can only imagine what my next step or tool to dig into my leg would have been if I hadn't chosen to go to the hospital.

Its been one year and the desire and desperate want to to restart the damage I caused as if it were a drug sits featuring in my mind every day almost all day. I still ocassionally pick but nothing severe or i'll catch my self doing when bored. If I am stressed I automatically put gloves on before bed. Few months ago I had gel nails put on because those dont allow me the freedom of grasping my skin very well. Ofcourse, certain tools are not allowed near the home at all. I dont have my entire life planned out anymore. Even though I may not want to get out of bed everyday, I've accepted it. Accepted the choices I made enabling the list of consequences from attempting to fix whats broken.

My family is sad and I understand that. I understand they miss the personality of the daughter they raised and at this point in life are not able to accept that I will not be her ever again. Life daily was lived like one big sale, my personality was made up of 50 personalities, which I would embrace depending what type of person i was talking to as I were selling something. I may have had this awsome fun laid back no worries personality they claim to have loved but I cant allow that back because it was so easily broken. I learning now who I want to be and I want to be proud and confident of the life I've lived. For the first time since this mess I'm looking forward to possibilities and maybe a goal or two to throw in for old time sake.

As I stated,

Its been one year.

Its been one year since I chose to live.

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Happy Birthday, TF, in more ways than one. :-)

I recognize that skin-picking is a different kind of self-harm, but do you see it as significantly different in its dynamics (having lived them) than, say, self-harm by cutting? Perhaps the things your dermatologist had to say (which sounded really good, by the way) would be helpful for others who self-harm? I was particularly struck by the observation that a harmer might well be proud of what they do, in a backwards way.

That's one of the things we try to avoid, by the way: anything that might be seen as promoting harming behavior. For a while I was worried that I might have to alter some of this, for that reason. It still might be better to have a trigger warning, because descriptions of harming behavior has been shown to have a contagious effect on susceptible readers, if a description seems to glorify it. I know that wasn't your intent, having read the whole thing, but maybe some vulnerable kid won't get to the end.

Welcome aboard.

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