This first post might run a little long because I have a lot to catch you up on. Let’s start at the beginning. I’m not sure how accurate this memory is but it’s the one engraved in my brain as being the first time I picked all of the healthy skin off my fingers. You know those little white “bubbles” of skin you get on your hands sometimes? The ones you just peel off and then ignore? I used to love when I found those on my hands because I loved peeling off that little white bubble, I was obsessed with it. One day I walked into the kitchen at my granny’s house and saw her doing that to her own hand. So of course, little kid me started searching my own hands for one to peel off except I couldn’t find one. My hands were blemish free. But I REALLY wanted to peel that small bubble off! So I tried to “make” one, which resulted in me digging my nails into the skin on my fingers until I broke through the skin and started peeling it off. But this time I couldn’t stop and I haven’t stopped since.
Eventually, I ran out of room on my fingers and started doing the same thing to the outer ball of my foot and my toes. It started out as something seemingly harmless and I honestly thought that I would just be able to stop whenever I wanted to but that wasn’t the case. It got really bad for a while. I was peeling so much skin off my fingers they would bleed. My thumbs got the worst of it just because it was easier to peel off more skin from my thumbs compared to my other fingers. I don’t remember ever making my feet bleed but I would peel off enough skin to make them so tender it hurt to walk. I know, this all probably sounds really weird and probably disgusting but it’s my reality. At this point you’re probably wondering “Why can’t you stop?” “Why do you like peeling your skin off?”. I’ll answer the second question first. I DON’T like peeling my skin off. I can’t stand it. Not only is it painful but I’m super conscious of it. I hate when people notice it when I do things like go swimming or wash dishes because it’s so much more noticeable when my skin swollen from the water. I can’t go get pedicures randomly because I get weird looks and they can’t even do the whole pedicure because I have so much skin missing. I hate taking showers in the morning because not only can I notice my broken skin more I can feel it, and I hate the way it feels. So let me answer the first question now. I can’t stop the skin picking because anxiety and OCD are the underlying issues of it. When my anxiety is high, for whatever reason, I get this urge and need to start picking at my skin. For some reason it obviously provides me comfort and helps me calm down but I am not sure why honestly. I just know that the thought takes over my mind. It’s all I can think about, the thought just kind of consumes me. Once I start I can’t stop until I’ve peeled off enough skin to make it feel smooth again, or as smooth as my skin can feel with some of it gone.
For a while the skin picking seemed to calm down. I quit doing it as regularly and it turned into little “episodes”. I would go a long time without doing it and then one day I would break down and my fingers and toes were left completely damaged. This past year the skin picking started getting regular again. My thumbs experience no rest and haven’t been completely healed in months. I still have episodes with my toes but even that started happening more often. I hated that it was getting worse and I didn’t know what to do. I already knew that I had anxiety at this point from experiencing so many panic attacks and by doing research on it. So, I decided to do research on skin-picking because I don’t know anyone else that has ever dealt with it. I did my research and decided therapy was the best option for me. I have been in therapy for a while now and it really is helping me. After a couple weeks of therapy, I also decided to try anxiety medication. The anxiety medication is fairly new to me still and my doctor is still trying to help me find the right dose to take. I want to talk about my experience with therapy, medication and educating myself more and I hope you’re willing to listen.
Thanks for reading my first blog post. Check in next week for the second one!