My Experience With Obsessive Compulsive Self Harm - "Picking"

Wednesday 18 February 2015

I'm always the first one to advocate being open and honest when it comes to mental or physical illness.  One thing I've never really been, is ashamed of the problems I have, or have had in the past.  But I have to be honest and say that this is one issue I do feel ashamed of.  Or maybe it's more embarrassed, than ashamed.  I don't know.  I just know that this is the one thing I am constantly trying to cover up, and not let anyone see.  It bothers me, and it bothers others also, which is why I feel the need to keep it hidden.

It's something called Excoriation Disorder.  It goes hand in hand with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and basically it means that I pick at my skin.  When I feel particularly stressed, or when my anxiety is running high, I pick at my skin to the point that it bleeds, and of course hurts.

This disorder can be considered a form of self harm, although of course it is not to the same degree as cutting or burning.  It can however, be purely an obsessive behaviour in some people, and have nothing to do with wanting to self harm.  It really depends on the person, and the reasons behind why they began "picking" in the first place.

In my case, it's almost like a coping mechanism.  It's a sense of control, and a release when I'm feeling stressed and hopeless.  It has also become a habit, where I often don't even realise I'm doing it.

In all honestly, I didn't even realise this was a problem - or how bad it had become - until people started noticing the sores on my arms.  I felt so ashamed when friends started to ask me what had happened, or if I'd been bitten by something etc.  The looks of horror on their faces broke my heart.  I had no idea it looked so bad.

Nowadays, it's something I think about every day.  I feel embarrassed to show my arms, so I am constantly trying to cover them with long sleeves.  It's not always easy during Summer, but at the end of the day, I would rather swelter in the heat, than for another person to notice and be horrified by my sores.

My right arm
I'm doing my best to start healing myself from the inside out, and to stop hurting myself on the outside.  I am also trying my best to heal as much of the damage I've already done to my skin.  I'm using Bio-Oil each day, and praying that I won't be left with permanent scarring.

I'm no expert on this disorder, so this post may not be so helpful for those looking for facts and medical information.  But I just felt it was something I wanted to put out there, to share with whoever may or may not read it, and be dealing with something similar.  Just know - you really aren't alone x
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  1. I literally do the exact same thing! except for me its the skin around my fingernails... it's especially embarrassing because I always do it when I'm worried or stressed, and when people point it out, it just makes things worse. It also sucks cause my hands never look great after a manicure, what with the red spots and bumps etc. I had no idea it had a name though!

    1. It's amazing how many people do similar things xx


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