By Samantha Wake

Body focused repetitive disorders such as Dermatillomania are extremely over looked. Throughout the past year I have been trying to change that.

Dermatillomania is an impulse control disorder characterised by the repeated urge to pick at your own skin. It is linked to illnesses such as anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Living with this condition is tremendously isolating, and time consuming. The majority of people that suffer with this do not talk about it, and hide it with secrecy, even from their closest of companions.

I am a sufferer. From my early teens, to my current age of 21, this affliction has gradually taken over my life. Late 2013, after gaining as much information as possible, and trying numerous prescribed ‘treatments’, I decided that I wanted to make a change, and raise awareness in hope for some kind of ‘cure’, not only for myself, but for all the sufferers, and give a voice for those who do so in silence.

I am very grateful to be able to say that I reached my goal and was successful in raising awareness; my story was published online, in newspapers, magazines, on the radio, and I was even a guest on This Morning! But most importantly, my story reached those who thought they were battling alone with this disorder. And I’m now able to offer my support and advice using my support network online.

I’m trying to stay hopeful that my journey isn’t over yet. I may have raised awareness, but along with others, I still suffer with this disorder. It still makes me late for work, and college. It still affects my social life and confidence. It still physically leaves sores and scars on my skin. But now, what bothers me the most is that it still takes up so much time out of my life. And everyday that goes by, and the hours I waste in front of a mirror, I will never get them back, or the time tomorrow, or the day after that…

Like everyone, I have my good days, and I have my bad days. I can go through a short periods that I have allowed my skin to heal. But any slight tension or stress can set off a relapse and before I know it all that hard work and discipline was for nothing as I’m right back at square one. This is tremendously disheartening, like giving in to that one cigarette or alcoholic drink after what has felt like a lifetime of going with out… Only difference is, with me, I’m left with it written all over my face.

It’s like living on a treadmill, continuous and going nowhere. When it comes down to it, it’s entirely down to the individual to beat this. But what I can’t understand, or except is that there is this many people that suffer with this disorder, but there is not a solid and successful solution to either live with it under control or not at all.

This is what I am determined to change. And together we will.

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Samantha runs the facebook page Dermatillomania UK. To follow more of her journey and her awareness efforts, head on over and like the page.

Samantha on This Morning.

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