I have never spoken about this before. This is quite a new and raw topic for me (in some places literally).
For those of you who do not know, Dermatillomania is a skin-picking disorder often associated with Anxiety which can cause simple blemishes or small scabs to become deep, painful wounds through the process of skin removal. The sufferer feels compelled to pick for a variety of reasons; whether it be a sense of relief that the blemish/scab has been removed or for the ability to feel the pain that it causes. Sometimes pain is the only thing people can feel when numbed by crippling Depression or other Mental Health Disorders. There are many personal reasons for this, but those are the two that relate closest to my own condition.
Why am I choosing to talk about this, I hear some of you asking? Well, because Mental Health issues and associated disorders need to be talked about and de-stigmatised for the benefit of not only those suffering, but for those watching friends/relatives suffer. Reading or hearing about similar cases may further your understanding, which may then in turn allow you to support others should they approach you for help.
My experiences. The following are things I personally have experienced, (every person interprets and feels things differently) and are not medically/scientifically backed. My thoughts on my body is basically what I’m aiming for here.
Perfectionism. We all strive for it in some form or another. For me, that’s a big part of my problem. Having suffered with atopic eczema throughout my childhood and into my adult life, seeing and feeling my skin as imperfect is very much the norm. That unfortunately is unacceptable to my mind. The thought of someone running their hand over my skin or shaking my hand and feeling blemishes or scabs just makes me shudder. So, the natural next mental step for someone with Dermatillomania is to remove the imperfection. Get rid of it. Be gone. See ya later!
In and of itself that concept isn’t a problem IF you can maintain the mental balance of visual blemish vs tactile blemish vs pain caused by picking. When that balance goes too heavily to one of those areas it can go downhill very VERY fast indeed.
The pictures that accompany this post are of myself, taken after I got carried away with removing imperfections on my heel and foot… this caused days of pain walking on it afterwards. I didn’t really notice the pain while I was working on it, but afterwards I felt shame, embarrassment and stupidity. Why did I do it? I’ve done it before and know how much it hurts afterwards so why do it again?? Simply, because in that moment I HAD to do it.
I hope to be able to speak more about this in future posts… but for now, consider this an introduction to a difficult chapter in my life.
I will not apologise for the stark and unpleasant nature of this post (even though there’s a part of my brain screaming at me to do so) because as I mentioned at the beginning… Mental Health disorders NEED to be talked about and not hushed up, kept secret or shamed.
To those suffering similarly to myself; I see you. I feel your pain.
To those who suspect someone close to them may be suffering; ask if they want to talk about it. See if you can help.
Be the awesome humans I know you are! Until next time you wonderful lot!