Skin Picking (Topic#033)

A neat tree

A neat tree

I am inspired to write this post because I recently heard these desperate words from a family member, “If you love me, you’ll stop scratching your face.”

I’m sorry. I do love you. I would do anything I could for you & for the rest of my family within reason. But I will not stop scratching my face.

It’s not because I don’t want to or because I haven’t tried SO MANY, MANY TIMES. It’s because I can’t stop. I don’t know how to stop. No techniques have been successful thus far in my life.

I scratch my face. At least it’s pretty much restricted to my face now. It used to be my scalp, too. HOW many times did I hear my mom tell me to quit picking at my scalp in public… she said I’d make people feel uncomfortable, like I had head lice.

Scratching/picking has always come easily for me. As a kid, I had terrible eczema. I was almost sent to a specialist in another state. I have scars all over my legs from the picking and scratching. But a lot of it was done in my sleep. In high school, I got a pair of feeted pajamas and that helped a lot. I’ve learned how to manage the eczema much better now, plus it’s probably gone away with age. I just suspect that’s how it became so ingrained in my fingers.

Now it’s my face and typically only toward acne. And I scratch anything 3D off of my back, too, except for moles. Sometimes, I can resist for up to two days. But then it’s going to be removed. I’ll use my fingernails. I’ve used needles. I’ve used sharp earrings.

Many times, I’ve dug so far in that I couldn’t see my skin anymore from the blood. I get completely obsessed with getting out whatever is in my skin. I’ve had bruises all across my chin many times before, from pressing so hard. I wear band-aids on my face about once a month because I’ll pick too much to cover up with make-up.

It gets worse when I’m stressed. If I have a presentation to give, or an important family dinner or something, you can bet I will be picking at my face the night before. I learned about cover-up a few years ago, and that has helped me “save face” in public a lot.

Before my discovery of cover-up, I did things like wear a turtle neck and pretend that I was so cold and tuck as much of my face into the turtle neck as possible. Or scarves. I would leave my hair down and keep my head tilted so my face would hopefully be as hidden as possible.

It’s unfortunately extremely rewarding. The moment of getting out whatever was in the skin is too powerful a reward to resist. Not to mention that sometimes my face hurts much less afterward, because acne is very uncomfortable. I don’t WANT to have scarred skin but I don’t know how to resist. I WANT to leave my face alone but I don’t seem able.

The trickiest time of all is when changing band-aids. I re-pick it nearly every time right between band-aids. If I could just get the new one on without looking in the mirror or touching the area at all, I’m sure I could put the new one on without first destroying the area all over again…

What would it take to remove the urge to pick at my skin? A month of not doing it? Six months? A year? Would it ever go away? How could I make it that long without doing it?

“If you do this again, it means you don’t love me.” Well, I did it for twenty minutes last night. You can’t guilt me into not-doing it, unfortunately. I’d love if that worked, too. But I’ve felt guilt about it since high school. Plus, my mom has tried many things to get me to stop. I’d pay someone to get me to stop. I’d wear electrodes if that would help.

Here’s a link for more reading.

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