My name is Titi and I have dermatillomania. I’ve been picking on and off since I was 2. When my mom stopped breastfeeding me, I started picking. Just like some kids suck their thumbs, this was just my way of soothing myself. We adapt in order to cope.
When I was an acne-ridden 13 year old, my derma began to consistently control my life. After googling skin picking, I learned that I was actually not the only person on the planet who picks. When I turned 14, I felt very anxious in general and that affected my derma. If you’re anxious, you pick more! If you pick more, you’re more anxious! When I turned 15, I saw a new counsellor at my school and I made A LOT of progress. However, I started experiencing symptoms of depression a few months later. Not to worry, I’m now seeing a CBT psychologist so I’m working on “getting back to my new self”.
I get through each day with my best fidget: a shoelace from the DollarStore. I tie simple knots to keep my hands busy and my stress levels down. It’s discrete, can be disguised as a bracelet, and it feels very satisfying.
To improve awareness, I emailed the Canadian Mental Health Association and I was disappointed to see that there was no information about BFRBs on their website. Hopefully, their website can use CBSN’s resources to update their information.
People underestimate the danger of dermatillomania and other BFRBs. Dermatillomania can bring other illnesses along with it: physical infections (cellulitis, staph), and mental illnesses (anxiety, depression).
Many people want to be “pick-free” in a day. A better option is harm reduction: trying to reduce how MUCH you pick rather than suddenly going “cold turkey”. That may mean setting a timer when you pick, or designating an amount of time that you’re allowed to pick each day.
Family, friends, doctors and therapists can give you all of the strategies in the world, but nothing happens unless you try. I struggle with whether or not I really want to stop picking, but this is my mantra: “I can do it whether I want to or not”. To me, it doesn’t matter if you want to stop or not. The truth simply is that we CAN do it.