I Have Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder)

I have Dermatillomania (skin picking disorder). This is the first time I have written about this on this blog or anywhere online, ever. I’ve only recently told one of my siblings that I have this. I’ve never told a doctor.

Here is my resource page on the topic that I created recently:

Dermatillomania/Skin Picking Disorder

This is really hard to address straight on. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety and worry. Anxiety just because it is so hard to admit to this issue, there is a lot of shame there that has been hidden for decades. The worry is that I will write this post and feel worse or more ashamed or that no one will respond, and again I will be alone with this.

I’ve had it since I was a pre-schooler. It got really bad the year that I was four years old. My mother was very abusive during that time period, both physically and sexually, and I was not very effective at ameliorating her rage or abuse. Well, I was four.

I was already biting my fingernails down so I don’t think that I had much nail to damage myself with. I started scratching at my nose and the area beneath that and I cannot say if the dermatitis issues started before or after I started scratching at myself. I had dermatitis for the whole year of kindergarten and the whole year before it, my parents were forced after one year of doing nothing into taking me to a doctor and getting a prescription cream because I was going to be starting school.

It took a long time to heal, the whole year of kindergarten. Not surprisingly when I was in school the whole day I did much better. I was able to eat three meals a day, that was heaven to me. Eating, such a normal thing and yet not something I was usually allowed to do when my mother was alone with me, without an older sibling or an adult present as a witness. I knew that things would get better and better the more that I could stay away from her and the older I became the easier it was to hide from her.

I was fixated on my nose for most of my childhood after that. I picked at my face through all my teen years. After some recent years of flashbacks about my mother I remembered that she was the one who fixated me on my nose and face, through her bizarre abuses of me.

As a child I could not stop myself from picking at any scab, over and over, so it took a very long time for anything to heal. I was very much an outdoors gal, for obvious reasons, (wanting to be far away from her and only having brothers my age to play with) and had lots of sores and scabs from all my adventures outside. Sometimes I will wake up and find scratches on my arms or legs and not know how they happened, scratching an itch and not paying attention or doing it in my sleep, I guess. That can still happen.

About ten years ago I woke up with several deep scratches on my nose and around that area. I had seen a new therapist a few times and felt that I should stop seeing him, that made me decide he was wrong for me. I was deeply disturbed to see that it had been happening again while I was asleep.

At eighteen I started having issues with my feet, dry, cracked, or flaky skin and that is a trigger and again I tended to try to make it better, but sometimes that doesn’t help. I still deal with this now. My feet get so dry and cracked sometimes, it happens so easily. It used to be the bottoms of my feet, but the dryness and issues there have improved a lot in the last few years, but it still happens on the sides of my feet.

I’ve tried so many things to make it better; the disorder I mean. Still it’s like I avoid it most of the time, but there are 24 whole hours in the day and it is hard to control us all and to stop everyone from focusing on something that will not make it better and will only make it worse and yet that truth does not deter me or us one bit in believing that it will make it better by getting one little piece of skin off of our body.

I am working on that, because I realized recently that I am not the only one of us who does this behavior, hardly surprising that I’m not the only one in our multiple system who has this issue. Now that I know, I am working on it more; by learning more, doing more, and speaking up more. I learned that many people with the disorder often only fixate on one part of the body, so that makes me think my issues are worse, since I have dealt with many parts of my body. I guess I need to learn more.

When I think of that time period from three to five years old now I am flooded with so much love for me/us. I have so much admiration and devotion to that strong willful child who knew she wanted to live, and survive, and grow, and feel the fresh air on her face, to walk in the tall grass and fields, to talk to her guardian angel, to love God, to stare at the night sky out in the country, to breathe the free air, to talk to animals and love them, to know her intelligence and to love it so much and to fiercely protect it, to laugh, and to never have to see her abuser ever again. That fierce beautiful skinny little girl. I love her. I love her so much. I love her fiercely. I love us. I have so much love and compassion for what we have survived, our mother abuser. We survived her! We are a fierce warrior. We are totally fucking badass. And we will heal from her.

Any hugs or good thoughts or prayers are much appreciated. Good and healing thoughts to you all.

16 thoughts on “I Have Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder)

  1. I know how hard it was for you to bring this up and deal with it so openly and honestly, and I admire you more than I can begin to express!! You may be helping someone else dealing with the same thing right now by sharing this side of yourself, and that is a kindness that cannot be repaid. ♥

    You ARE a fierce warrior. You ARE badasses!! And I wish nothing but hope and healing for you as you continue on your journey. You deserve love and kindness and everything that is good in this world (including freedom!), and I know one day you’ll have it all.

    safe hugs!!!! ♥
    Lauren

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lauren,

      Awww, thanks so much. You are so nice to me and I appreciate all your kind words so much. I feel the same way about you. Each time I read one of your posts I think about how brave you are. Keep going!

      Good and healing thoughts to you.

      Kate

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so courageous and compassionate to bear witness to a very necessary coping mechanism that, like many coping mechanisms, has a down side. But, also like all coping mechanisms, it served an important purpose in helping to keep you alive. As you’re learning, this is a pretty common one…which I’m saying not at all to diminish it, but just to confirm that you’re not alone. I do this too, on my hands, and often I wear a ring that I can play with instead (I found one that has an inset that moves, so it’s great to fidget with). It was really challenging for me to try to find something to do instead of destroying the skin on my fingertips…I broke several watches before I hit on the ring idea…I’d take them off and play with the bands, or overwind them, and that got expensive. The ring was a better idea.

    I love, respect, and appreciate all of yous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear David,

      Thank you so much for letting us know details of what you go through and what has helped. I have thinking for some time that I need to do something. I too have issues with the skin around my fingernails, as well as biting them. I’m glad that you have found a new coping method that works better for you. This was the area where I did a huge amount of damage as a child, around my fingernails and biting my nails down. Unfortunately it is still an issue for me, though not as bad.

      We usually play with a small ball when we are home and unfortunately we had stopped doing that in the last year, with all the disruption from the apartment building rehab. I will do that more often.

      As well you have reminded me that I need to try to have something available more of the time. I don’t wear watches or rings as we find them too distracting and uncomfortable. But I have some necklaces and need to wear them more often or keep them within reach. I have some attachments with Marvel superheros and Disney characters on them that I could hold and touch more often. I will see how that goes as well.

      I had been thinking of creating an small comfort box, that stays open and visible, in every area of my home space so that I can see something to help me at any moment. I’ve always liked the idea of a comfort box, but never liked the idea of having it closed up or putting some of my favorite things away into it. So open small comfort boxes seems to be the answer for me. After all I live here alone and don’t have to share it with anyone or consider anyone else’s opinion on what I do and how I fill it. It is meant to be my space, sacred and healing. 🙂 I’m working on that, everything seems to be a work in progress, that is good that I am working on them, but usually I can only focus on a few at a time.

      Thanks again for all your kind words and support and advice. It means so much to us. We luff yous.

      Good and healing thoughts to you and to the queens.

      Kate

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I love the idea of comfort boxes. If it became important to feel that they were shielded, while not being closed, you might be able to shield them with a sort of energy field that you put in place…I do that with things a lot, and depending upon who in the system is worried about security, I allow the energy field to be “unlocked” with fingerprint ID from that part. It’s worked pretty well for things like that which need to be visible or audible in order to be functional, but which still need to be safe…sometimes things need to be protected from other members of the tribe, or even from me, when parts don’t fully trust me.

        Much love to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi David,

        Thanks for all the good advice about the comfort boxes. A lot to think about for the future.

        I think that I can leave these planned boxes open, and see how that goes, especially since I don’t really let non-family in here and only let a few family members in here and only for a few minutes at a time. We like our privacy from them a lot. We don’t really let them touch our stuff, so that should be okay as well.

        Actually I think that I might find some baskets of some kind and start out with those for these specific comfort “boxes,” which are planned to be for everyone to use. I want to encourage myself and all of us to use them all day long and when sleeping as well. I’ll try to write more about this soon, as I work on these projects. Oh god I have lots of projects languishing, but writing about them here is always a good start to actually getting started on a project.

        They don’t mind sharing or having stuff out, but they hate when I get rid of something or decide to donate their stuff to charity. I am proud to say that I really don’t have much junk since getting rid of so much three years ago, but I always steadily accumulate things as much as we can afford to. In a small studio apartment I really don’t have room for furniture or anything more here that takes up space.

        I don’t really get new books, thanks to my library system, which is excellent, but we all miss buying new paperback books and being able to read them right when they are released. We miss beautiful new books to hold. Sometimes we get a new copy at the library and that is exciting. We get some great used books, especially expensive used children’s books for a dollar, but seriously that is not the same as a new book.

        We are very good at community property, so I am very blessed in that respect. I think that they are very loving, forgiving, and accommodating. Trust is another thing, and sometimes I really let them down. It is humbling how much they love me and look to me as “their leader” despite being a system and having so much broken trust.

        Another project that I have been working on slowly for some time and plan on writing about soon is making a personal healing altar. I used to have one, but it has been a long time and I have been picking out items and want to post about this process soon, as I would like to get it organized soon as well.

        Good and healing thoughts to yous.

        Kate

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for sharing all of this so generously with me—I love learning more about your process and your healing journey. I really like the altar idea, and I can see that it would take a while to assemble just the right things.

        Much love to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi David,

        You’re welcome. It is good for me to share about stuff, it gets me thinking and feeling about something and helps me to move along in my process. It is so necessary for me.

        I have several things that are the right objects for my altar. A few I have had for many years, a few for ten years or so, and a few others just a couple of years and still am on the lookout for a few more things. I am planning on starting to post photos and write about the things that we have picked out so far.

        Good and healing thoughts to yous.

        Kate

        Like

    • Dear Granny,

      Thank you dear. It is many times a day that I remind myself that we have your love and friendship. It means so much to us and we love you back. I’m so proud that my work in the last three years on self-esteem and self-love have brought so much of a wonderful harvest. If only I could have figured it out sooner. I did have to create my own kind of healing program on those issues and so glad that I kept at it. Thank you so much for your loving support and friendship.

      Good and healing thoughts to yous.

      Kate

      Like

      • Hi,

        Yes me too. I realize that I didn’t remember to write about all my areas. It was a long post once I got most of it written out and emotionally I wasn’t able to focus. I’m glad to say that I don’t chew on my inner cheeks in a long time, that was a horrible unconscious repetitive behavior that I was so happy to be able to stop. I still sometimes hurt my lips when they get dry and peel. And I have issues with my fingers and nails as well that have never completely gone away. Though I think going gluten free has helped the amount of dry skin issues that I have to deal with and that helps the disorder as well. Thanks so much for letting me know that I am not alone in this.

        Good and healing thoughts to yous.

        Kate

        Like

    • Hi,

      Thanks for letting me know of your struggles. It helps so much to know I am not alone in this struggle. I believe that I will get beyond it. Thanks so much.

      Good and healing thoughts to you and your family.

      Kate

      Like

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