One of our support group members Rebecca posted a small piece about tattoos and dermatillomania (skin picking) on our Tumblr, and it went viral! So she decided to elaborate on the topic of body modification & BFRBs.
Read the first post and new blog piece below:
Tattoos & Dermatillomania
I had such a good talk with an amazing tattoo artist downtown yesterday about dermatillomania. We talked about how deep my scars were and what the best options for covering them up with tattoos are. She asked where the spots I’m most likely to scratch are and we talked about how different inks would be better to use in those places so they’re easy to touch up. So amazing and so excited to get my next one in January on my thigh!
If anyone who has CSP is looking to get a tattoo for cover up or any other reason, make sure you research what scratching tattoos will do to your design. Also, if you’re comfortable with the artist, talking to them about what options are best for your body is never a bad idea!
Body Modification & BFRBs
Ever since I was 16, old enough to legally sign for my own piercing I would make a change to my body every time there was a major change in my life. Dealing with a break up in high school, I started stretching my ears. Another dramatic change in friendships, I got my eyebrow pierced and had that piercing for 4 years. My parents tend towards the more conservative side of the spectrum, and though they are incredibly liberal and open-minded, piercings and tattoos on my body has always been a sore spot for our relationship.
It’s been very difficult to explain the soothing, empowering nature of body modification for someone who finds it very difficult to control the damage they do to their body. My first tattoo, the word “fear” in Greek, Φόβος, has been strategically tattooed on my lower neck. A symbol of the ever-present anxiety that I feel due to various mental illnesses as well as DTM; it acts as a reminder to be afraid of fear. Will Smith, once said, “”I’m motivated by fear, fear of fear, I hate being scared to do something”. That resonates with me very much. I am afraid of the fear taking over my body again like it has in the past. Afraid of fear built roadblocks in my journey to recovery and self-acceptance.
After the worst depression I have ever experienced in my life, a depression that ruined relationships and my own academic standards. A depression that caused me to drop out of my University degree in Psychology, a depression that kept me in bed for almost 8 months of my life. I vowed, once the collective efforts of myself and my loved ones pulled me out of this deep void and I returned to school, I would get a tattoo to commemorate the change to the very core of my being. I made the appointment recently for January, and I also proceeded to get my nose pierced.
Piercings and tattoos are a test of will for my hands. The time that they need to heal without any dirty fingers prying, any nails searching, with regular cleaning and self-care to promote health. It’s as though they allow me to practice the acts of self-care that I neglect on my own if left to my own vices. In the past, have let wounds become infected on purpose, as a form of twisted self-hatred. Tattoos must not be picked at or else the ink will seep out from under your skin or get disfigured and ruin the design. Because it’s such a beautiful piece of art that I really do want to have on my body, it forces my hands down. It helps me keep my hands away from my skin.
I have had many inspiring conversations with my peer support group co-facilitator about DTM, but one particular conversation sticks out in my brain. We were discussing the similarities and differences between Trich and Derma. One major difference we noticed, is that I found with dermatillomania, I just have to wait the few weeks for a sore spot to heal over completely, and if I can control myself for that long and don’t have any other spots, I can go without picking for a little while. Unlike Trich, she explained it as being similar to having a horrible addiction take over your body, and your abused substance of choice being right on top of your head at all times.
I know not everyone is into body modifications and of course I respect that. But I hope this invitation into the pits of my brain has helped some people understand why tattoos help me come to terms with the skin around my body. Perhaps, other DTM and TTM sufferers can relate or have been inspired to take their self-care into their “own hands”.