May 15, 2012

I first became unwell as an adolescent. At age 14, I started experiencing severe depression, panic attacks and obsessive tendencies. The obsessive behaviours included compulsive skin picking, a disorder also known as dermatillomania. I began to pick at areas of skin on my face.

When I looked in the mirror, all I saw were imperfections, blemishes, spots, dry skin and black heads. Even now, I still pick at my skin and see all of these imperfections. I am also left with some scars from picking my skin for 11 years. Which feeds the vicious cycle even more as I see more ‘reasons’ to pick it.

I tried to hide the damage from skin picking with excessive make up and other ‘camouflage behaviours’. For many years, I spent 8 or 9 hours a-day picking at my skin and trying to clean and exfoliate it and then even more hours trying to conceal the damage.

I was so ashamed and secretive about my skin picking

I was so ashamed and secretive about my skin picking. I wouldn’t talk to my doctors about it. When I look back, I wish I had sought help sooner but I was always acutely worried what people might say or think.

My secret only came out nine years later when I was 23. I had come out of a psychiatric hospital again, and went from an out-going, life-and-soul personality to a full blown recluse.

To make matters even more complicated, I have other diagnoses’ including bipolar and severe anxiety which led me to attempt suicide several times and led to many hospital admissions and mental health sections.

It’s something which can be difficult to explain to others

My Body Dismorphic Disorder is the reason why I have become a recluse and why I pick at the skin on my face. I struggle every day with the fear of how I think I look. It’s something which can be difficult to explain to others out of fear that they think you’re vain. I believe many other BDD suffers feel similarly to me. The negative thoughts get so bad that more than frequently I think my life isn’t worth living anymore.

I try to distract from my negative thoughts by painting and playing the piano which can sometimes help at times when my thoughts are creeping up on me with an especially vicious and destructive edge to them.

it isn’t greatly understood by many people

I wanted to write a short blog about my experiences, especially compulsive skin picking, as I feel it isn’t greatly understood by many people, including psychiatrists and even for the people who pick themselves.

I, for one, didn’t know it was also something other many people did. For most of my life, I thought I was a freak and the camouflaging and secretiveness re-enforced my core-beliefs about being ‘different’ to others.

I now know, I’m not a freak for picking my skin, it’s just something I do because of my BDD. I see imperfections that other people do not really notice. It is a long-standing habit that is hard to break, although I have now dramatically reduced the amount of time I spend doing it.

Knowing it was something that other people did helped me realise I wasn’t alone.

It is a deeply distressing condition and I wanted to raise awareness about it. Knowing it was something that other people did helped me realise I wasn’t alone.

I would urge other’s who think they have a problem with these issues, including skin picking to try to speak with their doctor. It isn’t worth the harm of trying to cope with it alone. I wish I had sought help earlier but I am glad that I can now talk openly about it and not fear other people’s reactions when I tell them that I pick.

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Share your story

Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.


Oh my word. I am 42 years old

<p>Oh my word. I am 42 years old and I have never heard of this, yet I have done it for as long as I can remember. Nobody has ever raised it with me. I guess I must hide it well.</p>

Same here!

<p>I am 46 and I do it too! &nbsp; As a child my mum used to find spots on my face to pick at and I have done it ever since. &nbsp;In my late thirties I noticed that I would spend all evening picking and obsessively cleansing when I'd had a bad day and as a result I started to see this, not as the bad habit I'd always thought, but as self harming. &nbsp;I have made a huge effort since then to stop but I still have my moments and have to cover up with excessive makeup. &nbsp;I had never heard of this being a known disorder before or even of anyone else suffering with this other than my mum. &nbsp;Thank you for sharing your experience Rebecca. &nbsp;</p>

Mental Health Issues

<p>Any mental health issue is never treated with the respect its due. Its only people like this lady Rebecca that share their heart rending experience's that gives the attention mental health issues need. Its a growing problem one thats not to be swept under the carpet. More and more suffer every day. I have suffered since the age of 6! I self harmed at 6 for the first time and still harm to this day.&nbsp; me its normal to others I am a freak of nature. Why because they can't look beyond their own understanding. I like Rebecca pick at my face but not to the same extent by any means. Speaking out about one's illness is brave and so very courageous especially with the world we live in today where if your not a size 0 perfect health perfect education you are an outcast. People with mental health issues have feelings too. We seek help for our issues but come up against great walls of predudice and lack of understanding. More people like rebecca need to share their stories so more awareness of this horrible disease can be understood and openly discussed without stigma or shame.</p><p>Well said Rebecca for coming out and sharing your experience and I hope you continue tto progress with your issues. Your in my heart and mind and I wish you all the best in all your endevours.x</p>

Omg this is me!

<p>Every detail in this is me. I have been picking my skin for the past 4 years and have severe panick attacks and social anxiety and paranoia.</p><p>I have mentioned the skin picking to my gp although I do not want to take pills.</p><p>Having seen this and realising what I have has quite frankly scared me like you would not believe. I do not want to end up in some nut house either no offence.</p><p>What do you do?</p>


<p>Thank you Rebecca for writing this. I have been skin picking for most of my life. It is only in the lastfive or six years that i have been seeking help for it, self labeling it as self injury. I expect you do have some idea of exactly what it means to me to read about somebody else who does this and to have a name for it. It may well save my life.&nbsp;<br><br>I am unaware / disociate when I do it. Partly it is due to terror that i will get the type of ugly raised moles that my father had - I would rahter have flat scarred and bloody skin than that. I also skin pick my feet which is private and secret - again i pull at them untilthey are smooth. When I first read about self harm and self injury, although I did not use a blade, I felt what i was doing was akin to people who do. I do not mind the blood and pain. They are much more easy to deal with than the psychological pain that they draw my attention from.&nbsp;</p>

Bravely done

<p>Just wanted to say well done for speaking out, from a fellow picker. &nbsp;I don't have an official BDD diagnosis, merely depression/anxiety due to self-esteem issues, though I do seem to suffer from many of its traits. &nbsp;I can identify and empathise with the whole picking/hiding/worrying vicious circle. &nbsp;And I, too, help myself when I can by playing the piano.</p>

This is so similar..

<p>To my experiences, i thought i was the only one with both bipolar disorder and BDD. The BDD issue first became a HUGE issue when i was around 14 also, social anxiety and obsessive behaviors ruled my life, i hardly ever attended school of fear of rediculed for my looks.. Im nearly 19 and still have pshcycoligical treatment for my BDD. Although im enormously better from what i was in my early teens i still have a long way to go. This blog has made realise i am/was not the only one suffering.</p>

I have picked since my early teens - now in late 20's

<p>Thank you Rebecca for sharing your story - I have picked at my face for many years now, it makes my face really sore and stops me from going out as I hide away until sores have healed. I have visited my GP many times, mainly with the sores&nbsp;being infected and needing antibiotics. It’s a vicious circle for me as when I get a spot or blemish I pick at it until it is really big, sore and often infected, it takes weeks to heal, often with me sleeping more than needed as when I sleep it’s the only time I don’t pick. I then get another spot/blemish and the cycle starts over. I have very low self-esteem and find social situations really hard as I constantly worry about my appearance. </p> <p>I have recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, OCD and&nbsp;binge bulimia nervosa after being told for 10 years I suffered with depression. After reading your blog and reading more about BDD on the Mind website I feel this may have been something that contributed to my depression/self harm and suicidal thoughts at the age of 16, when my Mental Health problems began. I was bullied at school, always told I had a fit body (due to my love for sport) but an ugly face. Thinking back now this is when the picking started. In my early teens being told that by many people I guess it just stuck with me and started my obsessions around my body image and appearance.</p> <p>I am under the care of the Mental Health Team at present so plan to talk to them about 'my picking' at my next app.</p> <p>I’d like to thank you Rebecca for sharing your story as I always thought it was just me and accepted it as part of me rather than a problem that I can get help with. </p>

Thank you

I just wanted to comment and say thank you for writing about skin picking. It's something I've done for years and only realised it was related to my depression in recent years. People don't tend to realise that it is a form of self harm, usually seeing it just as a bad habit. Being told to just "stop it" by parents and my partner only made me feel more secretive about it.


I do this to its always when I'm anxious as I feel by correcting my skin I can fix problems I can't stop some days my skin is so bad I don't want to leave the house thank you for your blog

This is me

I never even realised there was a name for what I do,also suffer low esteem,depression and anxiety. No one seems to understand,not even my GP. My legs and arms are covered in spots and scars. At least now I know what I'm asking for help with,so thank you all for your posts.

Thank you for sharing your story.

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. When I was younger, I stayed at my nan's house quite a lot and she used to pick my blackheads every day. She said they made my face look dirty. I was told by a fellow classmate that I had lots of blackheads which kind of backed up what my nan was telling me. So I grew up thinking this was the norm to pick my face. I now know it's not and you can get nice face products to help your skin get better. I sometimes still get the urge to squeeze, which seems to be when I'm stressed. I have low self esteem and anxiety. I try hard to avoid picking so much now as I know it's only going to make my skin worse. I try to do something nice and rewarding instead. My heart goes out to all the people who have this.

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