Recently, I have begun to notice the amount of power I allow fear, cleverly disguised as anxiety, to have over me.
I now realize that fear, when it is not motivating me, is busily working away at weakening me.
The raw scalp beneath my hair and the scabs along my shoulders and scattered cleverly around my jaw line and sides of my face attest to this volatile relationship that I have with fear.
My favorite place, my go to place, is right at the back of my neck just below my hairline. My hands go there almost instantaneously when I begin to feel uncomfortable. Meeting someone new, running into someone I haven't seen in years, unexpected things I can't control, waiting in a long line at the grocery store, what if's, etc. will bubble up emotions that I don’t know how to process. Even writing this post has found my hands creeping to those spots. I count 7 bumps there already, results of my anxiety towards a dentist appointment tomorrow. To list all the things that drive me to pick would make this a fairly long post. It boils down to this, I pick when I become anxious
which is often.
This condition has a name. I just found that out recently. It’s amazing what you can find out when you google “picking and anxiety”. It is called dermatillomania also known as compulsive skin picking or CSP and it is very common. There are various levels to this disorder. My case compared to the others I've read about seems pretty mild.
I have never taken this behavior very seriously always assuming it’s just something I do to combat nervousness. I never took the time to really assess how seldom my hands are at my sides or in my lap.
With a hand full of people, people that may find themselves at my mercy when over come with the urge to pick, I joke about it. I elicit their help asking for gentle reminders to "stop picking" should they see my fingers start to dig and scratch their way to a less uncomfortable state. My husband has gone as far as pulling my hands away and sometimes he will hold on to them so they can't find their way back.
I have never looked at what I do as a compulsion
but it is.
When I pick I feel better. Even when the sore is raw and my hair sticky from the blood
I. feel. better.
Those feelings of stress and anxiety are lessened by this behavior, this thing I do, this compulsion.
For me, the first step in figuring out how to conquer this compulsion and the fear behind it is writing about it. If I vow to myself to work at this and share it with what could possibly be hundreds of people I will be more likely to hold myself accountable to changing.
I don't want it to get worse.
I don't want to eventually have to rely on medication to help curb the compulsion.
I want to rely on myself.
And maybe, by writing this, I will find just one other person who says "Hey...I know exactly what this feels like."
And then maybe we can hold each other accountable.
First and foremost I need to be more aware of when I do it and where I do it. I have to create distractions, I read about a woman who would place a barrette over every scab on her head so that when she went to pick, her fingers would touch the barrette and she'd immediately refrain.
I need to watch for high stress situations and be more constructive in dealing with the anxiety that riddles me. I need to find a healthier way to combat those stressors.
By continuing to pick I am allowing fear to win.
I have to place fear in front of me. Fear that if I continue to pick, my scalp will no longer be beautiful should I some day choose to be or become bald.
I will laugh in the face of fear. Picking is just merely a habit that I’ve formed, a crutch if you will, a choice I make to avoid fear rather then face it head on.
I am not embarrassed or ashamed about picking. I see it simply as a defense mechanism that my mind created for one reason or another to counteract fear/anxiety.
But as I said before I have a mild form. For some this is a very serious condition. I feel for them, for their need to resolve their anxieties, their stress and their worries by essentially hurting themselves. Picking leaves scars that serve as reminders. No one should have to bear those scars. No one should be okay with bearing those scars.
I am not okay with that.
I am a picker but when it comes down to fear vs. me.
I pick me.
For those interested in learning more about Dermatillomania or for those needing help please check out this site, Skinpick.
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