Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dermatillomasaurus

    WARNING: LONG POST

    Ughhh, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written anything. I've been wayy busy. Currently, I'm at work, my bosses are in a meeting, and I am at my desk doing "homework." I've made an honest effort at my math practice test, honest to goodness, but so much has caught my attention this morning.
     For one, I found an awesome resource for Dermatillomania/CPS/compulsive skin picking, etc, whatever you want to call it. I've had my dukes up against this battle for a year or two now, but if you saw my legs you'd think I'd been at it for numerous years. Though I've made some drastic changes to my thinking/behaviors, I'm still not free from CSP. It's nearly impossible to explain to someone who doesn't have any form of OCD or anxiety disorders what it's like to not be able to control your own behavior or suppress destructive urges. My mom keeps trying to scare me out of my skin picking. She's a physical therapist and a specialist in wound care, so she has seen patients who have had to have limbs amputated due to an infection from skin picking. I wrote about it three months ago when my mom first started noticing my sores:


When I'm bored, I feel unproductive. When I feel unproductive, I get antsy. When I'm antsy, I habitually pick at my skin. That's embarrassing to admit. But there it is. Merry Christmas.
Really, though, I've had an anxiety disorder for as long as I could remember. But it has changed over the years. First, I was insecure and depressed. Then, I was moody and mercurial. Now, I'm anxious and stressed (hopefully it goes without saying that this is not all the time. I am a fairly content person, but I go through temporary happiness eclipses).  I've always had the habit of biting my nails, but now, I've altered the habit to picking at my nails. Also, I pick at the skin on my legs. It's gotten so bad that I have sores and bumps. I don't like wearing shorts in public. I finally have the healthy, thin shape I've always wanted, but I can't show it because I have to hide my skin. The only place I felt safe from judgment was home until recently when my mom began noticing my skin.
"It makes me sad just looking at those," my mom said a couple of afternoons ago when I entered the room.
"Looking at what?" I asked.
She lowered her eyes to my legs. "Those sores." She continued to tell me how scary looking they had gotten and, honestly, she may as well have said that my legs were ugly now and that it was all my fault.
 "You could lose your legs, Danielle. If they got infected and it spread, you would have to get your leg amputated to stop the disease." By this time she had raised her voice to the point of almost yelling at me. "Do you want that? Do you want to lose your leg from MRSA or a staph infection?" She was yelling now. "Stop hurting yourself!"

My mom and I have an open, honest relationship, and I'm aware of and thankful for her protective nature over me, but I was now the bug under the rock who looks up to find a little kid standing over him instead of the rock. I know how it feels to be poked and prodded at when all you want to do is burrow yourself into some moist dirt where no one can examine you.

I've tried explaining to her that if I could stop, I would have a long time ago. If my health was enough to stop, I wouldn't have these sores and scars. I'm driven by the desire to have clear skin; maybe it's a touch of perfectionism. Ironically, though my mind is convinced that picking will solve my skin issues (acne, ingrown hairs, etc), it is the very thing causing my skin to deteriorate and become irritated. I know it to be a fact that picking will not fix my skin and that it is hurting me, but stopping cold-turkey only causes me to become more frustrated and antsy.
     I'm sharing all of this now because a) it's a major part of my life now and shouldn't have to hide it and b) resources for CSP self-treatment is so incredibly limited. The resource I found today is the first I've seen to actually explain the disease from the perspective of someone who has been afflicted with it, and it provides ways you can combat it.
     The thought of ridding myself from CSP thrills me and scares me at the same time. But I want to be able to say I conquered it so that I can be living proof that you can be free from the daily torture. I want to help people living with Dermatillomania and similar disorders to get their lives back. We could start a club, even. Secret handshake and all (and provide hand sanitizer afterward for those among us who don't like to shake hands).


I love this song. It's so uplifting. Ch-ch-check it. 

4 comments:

john said...

i wish you the best with this new discovered treatment. I dont know anyone else with this habit except you. Thank you for sharing it :)

Lori Nicole said...

Oh, my goodness, I'm sorry your mom can't get into your situation to sympathize and love on you for it instead of living you in a different, less-than-helpful way. I so know she would if she could, and I definitely know what at least that is like. I'm so pumped that you found a good resource and hope you can start trying out new things, but take it slow and don't get anxious when you mess up! Maybe you could shoot for serious treatment (not for the CPS but for the skin damage) during the winter when you'd be wearing jeans and not have to worry about it anyway.

But, boy, I really relate to the thing with your mom. You know my mom's crazy and old school and doesn't believe in any type of psychological or chemical disorders at all. She thinks everything is controlled by will power or lack there of. And it was fine that she thought that and I could just tell her my opinion against that years ago, but now, with my crazy mood swings, it's making things a whole lot worse. She gets really mad when I cry and she doesn't believe me when I tell her I can't help it anymore or that it only takes a little to get me upset. And when I tell her its a lot harder not to cry around her than anyone else because she hates crying more than anyone else she gets really confused and angry and tells me I don't make sense and shouldn't do that, and I can't explain it to her enough. She says even if she does understand, she can't convince herself it's true. Dad kind of understands because he drove me into a really big panic attack and had to calm me down a few weeks ago but he's just leaving it at "I get what you're saying and I don't like that, but I'll accept that you can get upset easier now."

It just stinks trying to communicate anything important to mom now, though. Even if its a normal, conversation tone, if it's serious and she disagrees more than twice I usually end up crying and then all we focus on is me being bad and.. mer. I hope you keep trying to sit your mom down and let her know more of what it's like and how much you wish you could do something. I bet showing her this post or telling her what it made you feel like when she said those things would really help.

Love ya, and hope to see you again tomorrow :)

Lauren said...

You're so sweet Dani. I used to have an issue with doing things to my self. I used to cut myself, a long time ago, but my biggest thing was that I would scratch my arms and back and neck when I get anxious. I haven't done it in a long time, but I always get the urge to. I understand how you feel. I believe though, that if you can see your own problems, you can help fix them. It takes SOOO much time to, but you can do it :) I have faith in you. You might not be able to get rid of the urge but at least you can teach yourself not to. That's what I did to myself, at least.
You should write a book about this stuff lol you'd be really good at it. You have a great voice and it's honest and I don't know. People always like to know that they aren't the only one who has felt a certain way. I dunno. Just a thought.
Miss you :)

Joy Palakkal said...

Nice..
Have Happy Week end!!