Home > Dermatillomania (Skin-Picking Disorder) > Guest Blog: Beth’s Story

She was about 12 years old the first time.  She remembers looking in that mirror, trying to stop, but having no control.  A process that has repeated almost every day since for the last 26 years.  Open oozing wounds litter her face alongside the scabs and  scars from previous days.  Aside from her husband knowing the truth, her secret was hers for 25 years.  She dug and dug into her skin.  The more she dug, the more shame and guilt she felt.  The more shame and guilt she felt, the more she dug.  This was her endless cycle of Dermatillomania.

She is me.  I am her.  Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish her in my mind as me.  Acceptance has been a long journey.  Some days I can feel it close but some days acceptance of the fight I have with this  monster called Dermatillomania is wearisome.  For many years I kept my secret safe within myself.  Even with the outward evidence of what I was fighting, I never shared it with anyone. Most people thought I had bad acne.  I let them think that. It was easier than divulging the truth and trying to answer questions that I had no idea how to answer.

Dermatillomania is exhausting.  It is  burdensome, demanding, punishing, grueling, fatiguing, wearisome; it is controlling.  I often feel like it is a fight within myself.  The compulsive drive to pick, dig into and destroy my skin fights with my intellectual self.  I know the consequences I will suffer.  The infected blood soaked skin, oozing wounds, thick scabs and eventual scars, but I do it anyway.  Most days the obsessive thoughts win over any rational ones.  I must do it.

Beth image 1I always thought I was the only one.  Who else would do this?  What normal person digs into their skin to the point of injury?  I thought I was sick, abnormal, disgusting, and alone.  Two years ago I found out I wasn’t alone.  I found out that this was a real disorder.  My years of shame, guilt and  hiding didn’t have to run my life anymore.  I didn’t have to spend 4 hours a day in front of a mirror destroying my skin.  I could seek help.  So I did.

Honesty saved my life.  Treatment saved my life.  I was long down the road of anxiety and depression that often accompanies Dermatillomania.  I had thoughts of suicide.  I came out to my primary care doctor first.  His compassion towards me and encouragement to seek counseling gave me the strength to walk into a mental health center and get help.  I found a fantastic therapist and psychiatric nurse practitioner who have worked tirelessly  together to help me walk the journey towards recovery.

I didn’t know I could get better.  I thought I would do this until one day I just died.  I never thought there would be a day where I could spend just 5 minutes picking and be done, but that day came! Treatment has been life changing.   I’m still on the road to recovery.  It’s a long road with bumps, bruises, backslides and opportunities for growth, but it’s worth it.  The journey has allowed me to discover myself, learn ways to accept and love myself, and gradually make changes that give me power over Dermatological.

I’m not fully recovered.  I don’t know if I ever will be. One thing is true though; I won’t ever stop trying.  I promise to stay walking on this road, no matter how long it takes.  I deserve it.


6 Comments, RSS

  • Robin

    says on:
    June 23, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Hi Beth, you look great! Thanks for sharing your story. I heard myself speaking as I read. I too thought I was alone. I have yet to seek help, but your encouraging story is helping me to make up my mind to do so. I wish you all the success in the world! ☺

  • Julia Bowie

    says on:
    February 8, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    What a wonderful story! As I read this, I am lying on my bed after another picking session. The supper I planned for my family is cancelled…I have a “headache”…I wish I could find a therapist – the only one I found that really helps is 1000 lm away. I should look into videoconferencing. Maybe I will tomorrow…

  • Paige

    says on:
    February 9, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Thank you Beth for sharing. I have the same face picking and my photo could go up next to yours to match very easily. There are days I think I’ll push so hard I may break my nose and others where I’ve picked so much my eyes are almost swollen shut. I haven’t been able to find any resolution and I’m in my 30s…but seeing your similar story gives me hope.

  • Jayne

    says on:
    February 9, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story and well done for your amazing strength to tackle this condition, which I also suffer. x

  • Debra

    says on:
    February 11, 2016 at 2:40 am

    I am 63 and did not even know the name of this disease until recently. I have suffered from it as a child after having some terrible tragedies in my life. I too have been so ashamed and have used cover up constantly, if possible. I am so embarrassed about my scars I had to purchase a rash suit ib order to use the pool in our gated community. I have some open sores right now that I have been picking since last June and just cannot stop. I now have to always wear long sleeves and long pants. I finally have a therapist appt coming up after researching and finding out more about this disease. I sure hope I can get over this. It drives my husband nuts. I have now shared this with a few close friends. Thank you for sharing about yourself.

  • Jennifer

    says on:
    February 11, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. This could easily be me you are talking about. I am such a mess. I wish I had even a fraction of your strength and courage!

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