Home > Dermatillomania (Skin-Picking Disorder) > Navigating Misunderstanding

One of the most common questions among the community is how do we tell our loved ones about these disorders, and those posts are always met with many responses of advice. But what about when we have told someone and they still don’t get it? When I say “get it” I don’t mean completely understand the ins and outs of the disorder; I mean get that it affects us, that it is tough, that it is not a choice, and that we could use all the support we can get.

When our loved ones don’t get these things, life can become difficult—well, more difficult than it already is. Whether we live at home or are visiting, there is a chance that people, even our family and friends, will be less than accommodating when they don’t understand. Maybe they won’t take down or cover mirrors, maybe they will make unhelpful remarks, maybe they just outright refuse to help in any way at all.

With any mental health issue, there’s the risk that some just won’t want to deal with it, either. We’ve all heard “just stop.” Maybe even “you’d stop if you wanted to!” They might even say they’re exhausted with you being sick.

These are the people who really don’t get it.

So how do we deal with it?

Well, we could just outright cut them out of our lives, or choose not to associate with them on a regular basis, but sometimes that is not an option. Sometimes we just don’t want to do that because they’re the people we love.

The other option is helping them get it. First, we have to figure out why they don’t get it, although most of the time it’s a simple matter of lack of information. So do we just bombard them with websites, books, videos and everything we can find? Maybe.

Maybe not.

It might be better to take it on an individual basis. One person might like all the info at once, whereas for others it might be too much. For some, small bits at a time is better. Maybe even something as small as a post-it note now and then with a tidbit of info.

Another thing to consider is how people like to receive information. Not everyone likes to read and sometimes people are better audio/visual learners. Maybe they’d even prefer to hear it form you, or a medical professional. Perhaps even have someone from your support system who does get it try to help out, or see if someone from the community will give their input.

If information alone doesn’t help, something else you could try is letting your loved ones know little things they could do to help. Sometimes people just get overwhelmed by the everything that is disorders. Giving them little ways that they can help and showing them how that improves your situation and makes you less “sick” could be enough to make them more inclined to help because they can see that it’s not all for nothing.

Most of the time when faced with people who don’t get it, it’s frustrating and we’re apt to be upset with them, whether that means we’re mad or sad. We think, “why don’t they get it?! Why don’t they want to help?!” That’s not the case most of the time. They want to help, but don’t know how or feel like their efforts are wasted.

It’s difficult for all parties involved, and while it sucks to have to be the one to do the legwork, in the end, you have to do it for you. Worst case scenario, none of this works, but at least you tried. Best case scenario, your situation improves and maybe your relationship with your loved one, too.

The chance that any of this will work in one shot is probably not too high, so make multiple efforts if you have to. Remember to keep the person as an individual in mind, too, that way you can have a better shot at getting through to them. Besides, people are more ready to listen when they’re taking into consideration and being spoken to, not spoken at. Not treated as a generality, but as someone important.

When trying any of this, though, keep in mind what’s right for you. Use the tools in a way that works for you and your situation. The most important thing in any of this, after all, is your well being.


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