Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Being Mindful

It's important to be aware, and be mindful of what you're doing.

As a skin picker, I've analyzed my weak moments and other vulnerabilities. (With the help of my therapist, of course.) For one thing, I realize that I have to actual think about not picking. Which is OK, but since it's a constant part of my mind, it happens all the time.

It means I have to be as mindful about stopping picking, as I am subconsciously picking.

My therapist said that I can't necessarily stop the urges to pick, but I can change the behavior. I can change my response to the urges. So I've been working on being more mindful of what I'm doing. That means stopping myself before I start picking or scratching. It means reacting to my thoughts on an on-going basis and trying to prevent myself from skin picking.

It's not easy. For days or even weeks, I can go without even thinking or trying to stop. It's a lot of work to stop.

But I'd rather stop than continue skin picking.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not Just a Bad Habit

I have been a skin picker all my life. I don't remember exactly when I started, but it was around the teen age years. I remember having favorites spots: my scalp, legs, thighs, even my face. I've had open sores for months, even years. I pick until I bleed. I pick out scabs every day.

I began cognitive-behavioral therapy around September 2009, after realizing that I had a problem and couldn't do it alone. I went one time a week for a few months and have tapered back to 2 times a month because I have been progressing well.

For years, I never even knew there was something called chronic skin picking. Or dermotillomania. I just thought I had a really bad habit and couldn't stop. I guess I knew it was some kind of compulsion, but I never really thought it had a name. Or treatment.

In the past few years, I would often research skin picking and scab picking on the Internet. I would find some interesting sites, and some sites with some people talking about their experiences. But it was only in mid-2009 that I finally found information. One place I found was which had some great information. After that, the flood gates opened. I knew what was wrong with me. I had a name.

Dermatillomania. Chronic Skin Picking. CSP. Skin Picking.

Having a word helped a lot. I knew I wasn't alone.

I knew it wasn't just a really bad habit.

It was a medical condition. A psychological condition, really. But at least I knew I could get help.

I called around for some local therapists specializing in skin picking, and asked my insurance. Finally, I settled on one therapist and have been going regularly ever since. It's only been a few months, but I'm already making lots of progress.

I think I'm making good progress because I want to get better. I reached out for help and got it. I want to change. And it's almost impossible to do this on your own. It requires help from depression, cognitive and behavioral changes and lots of encouragement, especially with the assistance of my wife.

For a list of professionals, see's page. Good luck!