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If You're Frustrated That You Can't Stop Picking Your Skin...

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Living with dermatillomania is a very one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of lifestyle for me. As with most mental illnesses, and other body-focused repetitive behaviors in particular, every day is a battle.

Having dealt with skin picking for what’s now a decade, trying many different types of “treatment” and actively raising awareness in any way possible, you would think by now, I’d have some kind of “cure.”

But the truth is, there isn’t one. And I think holding on to the hope of there being one can be damaging.

While I am still picking and still fairly far away from where I want to be, what I have learned over the more recent years, and continue to learn, is how to truly understand myself, listen to what my body is telling me, and try to act on my thoughts and feelings before it’s too late and I’m trapped in the mirror.

For many people, including myself, skin picking is a way of zoning out and dealing with any problems or worries of everyday life. In my opinion, this is triggered by anxiety and followed by intrusive, compulsive thoughts which keep the behavior going.

I believe by challenging and recognizing daily thoughts and responses, we can teach ourselves how to become self-aware and help soothe ourselves in a more healthy way.

Having dermatillomania myself, I know this is a lot easier said than done. And fighting this battle is one of the most difficult and mentally challenging things I’ll ever have to do — it’s like reprogramming your own brain.

And although I am almost certain there are going to be more times still to come when I feel like I’m losing my battle and I will need to pick myself back up, I have faith. I have faith this maybe a long process, but it is a possible one.

So for now, just be OK with the fact that you’re not where you want to be yet; don’t let it stop you from living in the mean time. Let go of the need for perfection because it doesn’t exist.

If you or a loved one is affected by body-focused repetitive behaviors, you can find resources at The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.

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Thinkstock photo by lolostock

Originally published: July 20, 2017
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