I’m a self-harmer, but I go through phases where I stop and let my wounds heal. These periods have, in the past, lasted from a few days to a few years. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t had clear, uninjured skin in a year now. So I’ve decided to take action, before it’s summer and I want to wear something that reveals skin. I am just starting on a healing program for my Dermatillomania (or CSP- Compulsive Skin Picking). (See blog post Evolution of my Self-Mutilation: Part II to learn more about this condition) My calves are currently covered in angry, deep, red wounds. Bloody and scabby and rather large-about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide. It all started as a small, pink rash. But I started scratching. Soon I had scratched all the skin off, and before long I had bloody holes in my legs, all over. I mean a dozen or so wounds, maybe more. I’m not sure how long it’s taken me to get to this point; I remember that my legs looked bad back in February. I got brave at my last therapy session and showed my doctor my legs. I decided at the last minute to do that; some part of me, inside, decided it was time to break my silence. So I showed Dr. H my shins. She said, “Oh my goodness!” and then suggested a few products for me to try. I got a prescription for a steroid cream, and I’m using Neosporin antibacterial cream and hydrocortisone. I put the Neosporin on first, then the steroid, then I cover the whole leg with hydrocortisone to prevent itching. Some of the more serious wounds need bandaging. I’m also using these 3 creams on my arms, as they’re affected by my CSP as well. So today is Day #1…sortof. I’ve been using the medicines I got for several days now, but today is the first day I haven’t picked or scratched or ripped off a scab. Of course, the day isn’t over yet. But I’m really determined to get my skin cleared up and smooth and healed and scab-free by the time sleeveless weather gets here. I don’t know what I’ll do if I’m unable to wear shorts or a dress this Summer. This healing plan MUST work. Now I’ve done it before, many times, but as I said earlier, the latest bout of skin picking has been constant and severe for the past year. It’s directly related to stress; when things get serious or difficult, I have to turn to something I can control. So I self-inflict wounds to my body. Yes, I’m a cutter, but even more so now am I a picker. It takes a lot of stress and negativity to get me to actually cut now with a razor. But the skin-picking, well that’s something I just cannot control. I lose time whenever I go into the bathroom, and I’ll often emerge hours later, covered in bleeding sores. Everytime I enter a bathroom, there’s a risk I will self-harm. If I have no access to any implements, that is, razor blades or scissors or tweezers, then I’ll use whatever I can find. An earring post. A nail from out of the wall. A bobby pin. Safety pins are a favorite; when I was younger I took great pleasure in sticking safety pins through parts of my body-ears, lips, hands. Sometimes I’d get a needle, thread it, and sew words into my arms. There’s just no telling what I’m liable to do to my skin. My Body Dysmorphic Disorder makes it impossible for me to see myself in the mirror the way other people see me, so while I’ve always been told that I’m very attractive, I just can’t see it. I’m obsessed with my skin, particularly on my face, but all over really. I can find any flaw, no matter how tiny, and within a few moments, I can have it large and red and angry and bleeding. But for some reason, in my mind, when I pick at something imperfect on my skin, then I’m helping make it go away. Logically, I know that by picking it I’m making it look worse. But I just can’t think that way. I just think “Must remove flaws” and I’ll do whatever it takes to dig out a perceived blemish.
Dermatillomania is a condition which causes tremendous shame, and it’s difficult to write about the subject. However, I really, really am going to try and make an honest attempt at getting my life back on track and healing all my body wounds. Plus. I’ve been asked to model again and I can’t possibly do it unless I get my face cleared up at the very least. So I’m doing it. I’m going to layer the three creams onto my scabby sores throughout the day and night, every chance I think about it. Dr. H told me that if I keep the area moist, I’ll be less likely to pick. So I’m going to try it. Giving me even more incentive to quit mutilating my skin is my desire to shave my legs. I’m unable to shave or wax while I have these large open wounds on my legs. It’s just too risky. So I have to admit that my legs are awfully hairy at the moment, at least where the wounds are located. I can’t wait to clear up all these sores, for all my scabs to fall off (on their own, not by me pulling them off), and for new skin to start coming in and renewing my complexion. Yes, there will be scars, some of these will be my worst ones ever…but many of the scars will fade (I have a scar-fading program I follow too) and by the time I’m invited to a pool party, I should be mostly “normal”, or at least I can appear that way through the use of waterproof body makeup on the most prominent scars. Other scars should fade to something pink and/or shiny by July. Yes, my body is covered in scars. All over my body. In unexpected places. But I can’t help that-I’ve been a compulsive skin picker since 4th grade. Dermatillomania is an impulse-control disorder which is also akin to substance abuse. It’s been a lifelong struggle for me. Hopefully, today is the beginning of a new upswing in my daily life. I’m hoping to replace my habits of picking with habits of treating the wounds and bandaging them. I’m determined to wear a short dress this Summer. Day 1 has been a success. Let’s see how Day 2 goes