Angela Hartlin

@angela-hartlin | contributor
Angela Hartlin is the author of FOREVER MARKED: A Dermatillomania Diary and star of the 1st documentary about dermatillomania, Scars of Shame. Learn more about Angela‘s recovery and advocacy at www.skinpickingsupport.com. Angela also writes about anxiety, chronic pain (living with since Oct. 2012)/ piriformis syndrome, along with related mental health concerns. Subscribe by e-mail to learn more about her upcoming book on dermatillomania recovery with Karen Pickett, EMBRACING DERMATILLOMANIA: Through Pain & Recovery, with updates to her blog through her website.
Angela Hartlin

Facebook Is Deleting Photos From People With Dermatillomania

Excoriation disorder, aka dermatillomania, is a psychological disorder that manifests through an overwhelming urge to pick at one’s own skin to the extent that damage is caused. People who pick at their skin are not doing it because they want to create marks on their skin; they cannot stop this compulsive behavior without various interventions, supports or therapy. In the past few months, Facebook has been detecting images of damaged skin in its groups and automatically removing them for violating Community Standards of depicting “self injury” or “suicide,” both which dermatillomania is not related to. Although the result of excoriation disorder is damage to the skin, the intention behind the urge is to fix a real or perceived imperfection while getting relief from anxiety through the behavior. There is no option to contest Facebook’s ruling other than to delete, mute or block the person who made the original post. The photo isn’t shown to group moderators, which makes it difficult for us to know what is being censored. When members join a forum about skin picking , they know that the nature of this disorder includes the harsh realities of blood, pus, scabbing and scars because they also experience shame and embarrassment first-hand from the marks it leaves behind. If it’s too triggering for some to see the images, there is an option to unfollow the group from their feed. For many others, scrolling through images of other people’s struggles is what makes them feel less alone and ashamed of their condition.   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by ░ ???????????????? ???????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????? ░ (@angelahartlin) After I publicly expressed my frustration toward Facebook for deleting images, I came across the article “ Borderline Personality Disorder Community Tells Instagram to ‘Stop Silencing Us ” and am more alarmed at how both platforms, owned by the same company, are restricting content due to the stigmatizing nature of these mental health conditions. As someone who was also diagnosed with BPD years ago, this is a double-whammy to know our voices, faces and diagnoses are being erased from social media platforms in misguided efforts to avoid possible liability in case someone’s life is in danger. If they wanted to improve their understanding of body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), they would allow us the space to interact with others so we can heal from the psychological and physical damage this isolating affliction causes. If they want to improve their response to BFRB-related content, they could always include organizations like the TLC Foundation for BFRBs in their round table of professionals who help create its rules to ensure that we aren’t being further discriminated against. Members of Facebook’s BFRB forums don’t encourage each other to engage in the behavior or offer tips on how to make it worse. They look to be accepted alongside a supportive group of individuals who understand the multi-faceted struggles of a disorder that is still dismissed by many health professionals. This includes showing our skin to a world that doesn’t accept the types of imperfections we have with its ideal — and unrealistic — standards of beauty, especially regarding flawless skin. Facebook is further promoting the idea that our appearance is unacceptable for their platform, which spreads the message that our bodies are offensive in the general public. Although our photos can be deleted, our existence in the real world cannot be erased. Our faces don’t appear with a trigger warning, nor do we need one for looking how we do or for being unapologetic in who we are. Tell Facebook #ipickmyskin by sharing a photo of yourself with your marks. Let them know that you refuse to cover-up or be silenced for having a disorder you never asked for. Never be ashamed for the condition of your skin.

Angela Hartlin

Why I'm Glad I Had Piriformis Removal Surgery

“Maybe you’re too sensitive and feel pain too intensely.” “Is this pain connected to an emotionally strained time in your life?” “Trauma could have activated a pain receptor that can’t deactivate.” After trying to explain my nearly six-year debacle with chronic pain to four physiotherapists, two chiropractors, three pain doctors, two GPs, four mental health professionals, two neurologists, and multiple massage therapists, I have heard one of the phrases above at least once. When trying to diagnose the pain deep in my left buttock that never went away, the MRI, EKG, and x-rays all came back clean. I went so long without answers and hearing the above speculations — even if the person meant well — made me second-guess my own experiences and wonder if I had a severe psychosomatic response to stress, manifesting in one butt cheek being in constant pain. What is wrong with the healthcare system when a patient can be gaslit so badly that they begin to doubt the alarms their body is sending? When professionals don’t have answers in their expertise, why do they place the burden back onto the patient instead of investigating symptoms and offering alternatives to look into? Is it not possible for a person with mental health issues to not experience physical health troubles? I have been hobbling for over five years on my left leg because my piriformis muscle was jammed into my sciatic nerve, making any isolated gluteal exercises cause more damage and pain. While Canadian healthcare is “free,” how do we ensure that those who may be the most marginalized (young people, women, people of color, mental health patients) do not get the worst treatment in an already broken system? If the average single Canadian pays $4,640 a year in healthcare, does that mean they receive it immediately or are they just paying for their place on waiting lists, while having to medicate themselves and watch their conditions, bodies, and lives further deteriorate? I learned that no surgeon in Nova Scotia will do the piriformis removal because there’s “no proof” that it’s a fix. Many orthopedic surgeons refuse to believe that the piriformis muscle is even capable of causing pain. While my husband and I didn’t have the funds to get the surgery, I knew that the cost of not having this matter dealt with would be far greater than the $15,000+ USD debt we incurred from this trip. I felt better after surgery than before I did going in. Having my butt cheek cut open (warning!) and a muscle taken out was less painful than the scar tissue buildup on my enlarged piriformis muscle that was pushing so hard into my sciatic nerve that nothing other than surgery could have cured it. I was right, as I always was about my health. Even after being forced to doubt myself and my body’s capabilities because of my mental health history, I don’t know how to stop the next doctor from writing their next young, scarred, emotionally vulnerable patient as a drug-seeker instead of considering their words as truth: that they are a desperate human looking to get life back on track.

Angela Hartlin

Why I'm Glad I Had Piriformis Removal Surgery

“Maybe you’re too sensitive and feel pain too intensely.” “Is this pain connected to an emotionally strained time in your life?” “Trauma could have activated a pain receptor that can’t deactivate.” After trying to explain my nearly six-year debacle with chronic pain to four physiotherapists, two chiropractors, three pain doctors, two GPs, four mental health professionals, two neurologists, and multiple massage therapists, I have heard one of the phrases above at least once. When trying to diagnose the pain deep in my left buttock that never went away, the MRI, EKG, and x-rays all came back clean. I went so long without answers and hearing the above speculations — even if the person meant well — made me second-guess my own experiences and wonder if I had a severe psychosomatic response to stress, manifesting in one butt cheek being in constant pain. What is wrong with the healthcare system when a patient can be gaslit so badly that they begin to doubt the alarms their body is sending? When professionals don’t have answers in their expertise, why do they place the burden back onto the patient instead of investigating symptoms and offering alternatives to look into? Is it not possible for a person with mental health issues to not experience physical health troubles? I have been hobbling for over five years on my left leg because my piriformis muscle was jammed into my sciatic nerve, making any isolated gluteal exercises cause more damage and pain. While Canadian healthcare is “free,” how do we ensure that those who may be the most marginalized (young people, women, people of color, mental health patients) do not get the worst treatment in an already broken system? If the average single Canadian pays $4,640 a year in healthcare, does that mean they receive it immediately or are they just paying for their place on waiting lists, while having to medicate themselves and watch their conditions, bodies, and lives further deteriorate? I learned that no surgeon in Nova Scotia will do the piriformis removal because there’s “no proof” that it’s a fix. Many orthopedic surgeons refuse to believe that the piriformis muscle is even capable of causing pain. While my husband and I didn’t have the funds to get the surgery, I knew that the cost of not having this matter dealt with would be far greater than the $15,000+ USD debt we incurred from this trip. I felt better after surgery than before I did going in. Having my butt cheek cut open (warning!) and a muscle taken out was less painful than the scar tissue buildup on my enlarged piriformis muscle that was pushing so hard into my sciatic nerve that nothing other than surgery could have cured it. I was right, as I always was about my health. Even after being forced to doubt myself and my body’s capabilities because of my mental health history, I don’t know how to stop the next doctor from writing their next young, scarred, emotionally vulnerable patient as a drug-seeker instead of considering their words as truth: that they are a desperate human looking to get life back on track.

Angela Hartlin

Body Image Lessons From Chronic Illness and Disability

I no longer care about my body being perfect. It’s taken a long time to get here, but I’ve realized my body has been through too much to spend time and energy caring about losing that extra 10 pounds or minimizing my scars. I just wish my body didn’t have to experience a lot of distress in order to give myself permission to accept it without wanting to achieve the next level of idealism. How can I expect my body to be perfect after everything I’ve gone through in the last decade? Having dermatillomania (excoriation disorder) for most of my life I was ashamed of the marks I left on my body. I’ve always had a kangaroo pouch for a stomach no matter how thin I became. Even when anxiety-related gastrointestinal issues caused me to lose weight, I always found it difficult to minimize my tummy size. Being physically disabled for the past eight years, I’ve learned to let go of the mental torture of striving for the body I cannot have. I developed piriformis syndrome on my left side after a fall, which lasted for nearly six years. Unable to fully sit on my bottom, dragging my left leg to walk, and being in agony, how could I work with a “broken” body to look how I wanted it to? After getting surgery in another country out of desperation due to my right hip compensating, I learned I have femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) in my hips. It explained minor undiagnosed pains before my fall, but its severity was accelerated from the stress of trying to get by. I endured a medical trauma in 2016 that resulted in severe panic attacks and a fear of vomiting. I also experienced a miscarriage with a D and C in late 2018. My next pregnancy resulted in extreme sickness the entire time with a C-section to accommodate my hip disability. Now that I have a daughter, I hope she doesn’t have to go through a fourth of what I’ve been through, but I want her to know she deserves to love her body no matter its condition or appearance. We are riddled with manufactured images in the media that include photo/video editing, good lighting, the correct angles, proper posing, and professional makeup from people who are also working to “improve” themselves to be in the public eye. The barriers to my perfectionism have been gifts in disguise. My body has failed me from the waist down but I no longer desire to work towards goals now out of my reach. There is no reason to, with no one to impress except my ego. If only I knew this years ago, I could have spent the time to do better in the world instead of focusing on the supposed betterment of my body. These days I aim to be strong. While I don’t know when I’ll be able to work on my physical strength, my daughter will know a mother who rejects the messages society places on us. I will be a better example for her to navigate the pressures of this world, emphasizing that our bodies house our souls and nothing can be as beautiful as a woman who loves her body and herself.

Erin Migdol

19 Signs You're Not 'Too Sensitive,' You Have Chronic Pain

Have you ever told someone about your chronic pain, only to be told that you’re probably just “too sensitive?” Many people with chronic pain have been told this throughout their pain journey, particularly when their pain can’t be easily understood or explained — ultimately leaving them feeling dismissed and abandoned. As Mighty contributor Angela Hartlin wrote in her essay My Pain Was Not From Being ‘Too Sensitive,’: What is wrong with the healthcare system when a patient can be gaslit so badly that they begin to doubt the alarms their body is sending? When professionals don’t have answers in their expertise, why do they place the burden back onto the patient instead of investigating symptoms and offering alternatives to look into? We need doctors, friends and family to understand that a person with chronic pain isn’t being “too sensitive” — they are experiencing real, physical symptoms that are not any less real just because the cause is invisible, not well understood or can’t be cured. So we asked our Mighty community to share signs they have chronic pain and aren’t “too sensitive.” People with chronic pain deserve to be believed when they say they are in pain, not brushed off. Here’s what our community shared with us: “When I have to stop eating and grab someone’s hand to deal with the pain.” — Mollie D. “ Just the overall daily exhaustion. Most people don’t get exhausted from doing nothing all day. Dealing with pain 24/7 will do that to you. Also, my lower back is inflamed 90 percent of the time. All you have to do is touch it and see for yourself.” — Larissa P. “Waking up in the middle of night with a muscle spasm so severe that you have to army crawl to get meds. Pain hitting you from head to toe as soon as your feet hit the floor.” — Deana B. “My veins start bulging, I limp, I cancel plans, to hide what’s really going on so I won’t be a burden. I try to do everything someone my age is ‘supposed to do’ when all I want to do is lay in my cool dark bedroom.” — Cindy A. “I’m not a hugger. I really don’t like people touching me period because I’m afraid they might unintentionally hurt me. All my pain centers around my shoulders/arms/neck and back.” — Allison M. “Just the simple fact that it never goes away. Ever.” — Terri D. “Where to start… Having to rest after I shower because it’s so exhausting. Or having to rest for days after spending just a few hours out with friends or family. Not being able to have my fiancé touch me some days because the slightest touch brings me to tears. Having days where I can’t even stand up because my pain is so bad my legs just give out.” — Sammi H. “Hmmm let’s see… The look on my face that just shows the sometimes all encompassing pain?” — Beth P. “I hold my breath a lot because I am in so much stinking pain. That’s one of the ways I deal with extreme pain so as not to make others uncomfortable with my ongoing agony. I do this instead of groaning out loud.” — Tonya W. “I slow down drastically and my chest turns very red, almost purple. Some people still think it’s me being sensitive until they see the signs and they start to realize it’s not me being overdramatic.” — June R. “When all of the color drains from my face and I look like a ghost means I am hurting a lot. When I start doing Lamaze breathing is the best sign I have to let others know how bad I am hurting.” — Stephanie F. “When showering becomes exhausting and migraines become frequent. The most tiring part of my week is having to take a shower.” — Liz T. “How many things that I miss that I really would have loved to do, from classroom teaching to sailing to nights out.” — Gabbie J. “The pain is always in the same spot and it never ever goes away. For me it’s in my thoracic spine and feels like I’m getting run over by a 16-wheeler over those vertebrae, oh and sharp pains when I breathe.” — Oriana A. “After surgery, I recover better than others do, with less or no pain meds, because I am used to being in intense chronic pain. Post-surgery pain is horrific for those without chronic pain because they aren’t used to that level.” — Brandy B. “When the lightest of touches seem to completely overwhelm me, when moving seems difficult and I withdraw from interaction or conversation, it’s a very good sign that that I’m not just being picky, I’m feeling everything way too much, and everything hurts.” — Thorø L. “When you rarely bother to take over-the-counter NSAIDs anymore… because if you took them every time you were in pain, you’d rot your stomach.” — Jessica L. “I’ve been through labor. I have a high pain tolerance (even doctors have commented on that). So no I’m not oversensitive. I’m in constant pain. Normal people aren’t in constant pain so I’m not just sensitive.” — Meriena K. “When I touch my body and it hurts.” — Melzinnia C. Read the stories below to find out how our Mighty community copes with chronic pain:15 Tips for Coping With Chronic Pain14 Products Under $20 People With Chronic Pain Swear By14 Products That Can Make Mornings Easier If You Have Chronic Pain

Angela Hartlin

Why I'm Glad I Had Piriformis Removal Surgery

“Maybe you’re too sensitive and feel pain too intensely.” “Is this pain connected to an emotionally strained time in your life?” “Trauma could have activated a pain receptor that can’t deactivate.” After trying to explain my nearly six-year debacle with chronic pain to four physiotherapists, two chiropractors, three pain doctors, two GPs, four mental health professionals, two neurologists, and multiple massage therapists, I have heard one of the phrases above at least once. When trying to diagnose the pain deep in my left buttock that never went away, the MRI, EKG, and x-rays all came back clean. I went so long without answers and hearing the above speculations — even if the person meant well — made me second-guess my own experiences and wonder if I had a severe psychosomatic response to stress, manifesting in one butt cheek being in constant pain. What is wrong with the healthcare system when a patient can be gaslit so badly that they begin to doubt the alarms their body is sending? When professionals don’t have answers in their expertise, why do they place the burden back onto the patient instead of investigating symptoms and offering alternatives to look into? Is it not possible for a person with mental health issues to not experience physical health troubles? I have been hobbling for over five years on my left leg because my piriformis muscle was jammed into my sciatic nerve, making any isolated gluteal exercises cause more damage and pain. While Canadian healthcare is “free,” how do we ensure that those who may be the most marginalized (young people, women, people of color, mental health patients) do not get the worst treatment in an already broken system? If the average single Canadian pays $4,640 a year in healthcare, does that mean they receive it immediately or are they just paying for their place on waiting lists, while having to medicate themselves and watch their conditions, bodies, and lives further deteriorate? I learned that no surgeon in Nova Scotia will do the piriformis removal because there’s “no proof” that it’s a fix. Many orthopedic surgeons refuse to believe that the piriformis muscle is even capable of causing pain. While my husband and I didn’t have the funds to get the surgery, I knew that the cost of not having this matter dealt with would be far greater than the $15,000+ USD debt we incurred from this trip. I felt better after surgery than before I did going in. Having my butt cheek cut open (warning!) and a muscle taken out was less painful than the scar tissue buildup on my enlarged piriformis muscle that was pushing so hard into my sciatic nerve that nothing other than surgery could have cured it. I was right, as I always was about my health. Even after being forced to doubt myself and my body’s capabilities because of my mental health history, I don’t know how to stop the next doctor from writing their next young, scarred, emotionally vulnerable patient as a drug-seeker instead of considering their words as truth: that they are a desperate human looking to get life back on track.

Angela Hartlin

3 Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors You Should Know About

“Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) is an umbrella term for any chronic behavior that causes a person to consistently cause physical damage to oneself unintentionally through a compulsive act in order to relieve anxiety. BFRBs are pathological grooming behaviors that are thought to be driven by similar impulsive urges, linking them together but manifesting differently in several ways.” While awareness for trichotillomania has been minimal in comparison to other disorders, public knowledge for it has been around longer than excoriation disorder (a.k.a. “d ermatillomania ”), which only became an official disorder in the D.S.M.-5, the diagnostic statistical manual for mental health, in May of 2013. Usually acknowledged as a “bad habit” in our society, compulsive nail biting is seen as more socially acceptable, although it may cause embarrassment to those w ho struggle with the condition. Aside from these three BFRBs, there are more that haven’t had attention brought to them. In online forums dedicated to these conditions, many people ask questions about additional behaviors they have. While BFRBs are not separately categorized in the D.S.M.-5, these conditions need recognition in order to remove the isolation associated with feeling like you’re the only one who engages in these behaviors. 1. Rhinotillexomania While most common in children, rhinotillexomania (compulsive nose picking) affects many adults on a universal scale. Most people who pick their nose habitually do not have a BFRB; however, it becomes problematic when someone struggling continually causes damage to his/ her nose and is unable to stop the compulsive behavior, much like dermatillomania — and both are treated in the same manner. Rhinotillexomania may have  the additional risk factor of infections because the “ danger triangle ” consists of sharing the same blood flow from the bridge of the nose to each corner of the mouth making it easier for infections to travel to the brain. 2. Morsicatio labiorum This condition is characterized by a person biting, chewing, or sucking their inner lip. When teeth scrape up against the inside of the cheek, our cells create a protective coating called keratin. In extreme cases, these calloused areas can be surgically treated by your dentist or oral surgeon. Laser treatments are one of the newer procedures that basically cauterize the keratinized tissue off, leaving a smooth surface. 3. Trichotemnomania This behavior is the conscious act of compulsively shaving or cutting one’s own hair. Someone struggling may be drawn to these behaviors as stress relievers because they can signify a form of cleansing or need for perfection, which can teeter into the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) spectrum or body dysmorphic disorder categories. The media may play a role in influencing this behavior with western culture focused on the cleanliness and perfection surrounding a flawless image when pertaining to a lack of body hair. Read the full list of body-focused repetitive behaviors here. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Angela Hartlin

Tips for Advocating for Yourself at the Doctor's Office

While a lot of health issues can be fixed with a quick visit to a family doctor, several conditions may require several additional tests, procedures and referrals before symptoms can be properly addressed. Unfortunately, some of us need to work extra hard to ensure that our concerns are being taken seriously. Men in pain may often be taken more seriously than women experiencing the same symptoms, but can face discrimination in seeking mental health treatment. People who are overweight can be automatically “fat-shamed” by professionals who won’t try to fix the issue until patients lose weight.Systematic racism and internal biases lead to practitioners not always treating people of color as effectively as their white counterparts. People who have a history of mental health issues may face dismissals of their symptoms or experience gaslighting. Younger patients can face judgment from doctors for being “too young” to have the described symptoms or be told that it will go away with age. Whether it’s caused by systematic failures of an overburdened healthcare system, apathetic professionals or blatant discrimination, many people face barriers in getting the treatment they need for their chronic condition. The following can help in preparing you to be your best advocate, despite the barriers in place that prevent equality in healthcare. 1. Bring Someone Ask your significant other, friend or family member you trust to go with you to your appointment. Not only can that person help be an emotional support, but their presence with you in the office can be more validating with the doctor seeing that someone vouches for your symptoms. It can also be a deterrent for some doctors to not speak over or dismiss the patient. If you are unable to find someone to go with you, look into local non-profit groups who may be able to connect you with an advocate for the appointment. 2. Documentation Always ask your doctor for copies of any scan or test result, even if they come back negative. Official paperwork is important to bring with you to all specialists who may have a differing opinion about your illness. In a notebook, make sure to document any changes in your condition along with what may have triggered it (if applicable) and how long the symptoms lasted so you can relay the information to your doctor. 3. Research Some conditions may have a host of treatments, but your doctor may suggest one you don’t prefer – if one is suggested at all. If you don’t have a diagnosis, doing your own researching online through medical journals and support groups may guide you in the right direction, leading to a formal diagnosis (or exclusion of) later. 4. Be Assertive While many doctors thrive on learning more about the health profession, some professionals can become disgruntled at what they perceive to be a dig at their educational skills, background or judgment calls. No matter how difficult a professional may be, sticking to facts regarding your symptoms and clearly articulating what goals you have for the visit will get you answers – even if sometimes they’re not the ones you want. 5. Find Another Doctor No matter how prepared or polite you are, there are times when the doctor you see isn’t the right fit. Whether it’s because your symptoms are outside of their specialty or their bedside manner is lacking, it is more important to move on than trying to “stay loyal” to a doctor who is not helping you. Find recommendations online or through other doctors and call their offices beforehand if you have any questions.

Angela Hartlin

5 Fidget Toys for Compulsive Skin Picking

In the wake of spinner toys becoming well-known to the public, many people have heard of using toys like this for children with ADD/ADHD or autism. What most don’t know is that fiddle (or fidget) toys can be helpful for children and adults in managing a host of mental illness symptoms. With compulsive skin picking (dermatillomania) not being a household name, those with the disorder might not know how to manage their urges. With a lack of resources and education on this disorder and other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), knowing what to do to abstain from this behavior can be overwhelming. Since picking your skin is a normal grooming behavior, if you have dermatillomania, it can be tough to heighten your awareness to a level where picking becomes a choice instead of a reaction — or seemingly the only solution to remedy the urges that will reoccur. The correct fiddle toy can be helpful in intervening on the urge if you catch it and combine it with other tools to cope with the anxiety of holding back. Dermatillomania is an all-encompassing disorder that requires us to learn more about our senses, especially touch, to help move through the urges. Learning what textures stimulate or calm us can be important in determining which type of toy is best for us. Investigating the emotional rewards of picking can lead to revelations regarding how the sound of a pimple snapping or the feel of a hair slicing its way out of our skin affects us. Although I am more reliant on barriers, these are the recommendations for skin pickers that can satisfy some sensory or stimulus needs: Fidget Toys to Help People With Dermatillomania 1. Fidget Cube Usually in the form of oversized dice, a fidget cube can keep your hands busy if you are drawn to the clicking noises that come from pressing buttons. The repeated motion of pressing buttons comes close to emulating the action of skin picking at pimples. (Bubble wrap is a great alternative!) Buy a fidget cube from Amazon. 2. Spinner Ring This is helpful in public if you don’t want to draw attention to carrying around a toy — especially if you are a hand or finger picker. Instead of finding jagged skin to remove, the cool sensation of a metal spinner ring can remind you to move your fingers toward it to fiddle with. Buy a spinner ring from Amazon. 3. Stress Balls With stress balls being known to relieve tension, the ones that create squishy/fart noises can engage a few senses to take your attention away from a skin picking trigger. If you can’t find one with sound, a mesh ball that makes the material poke through upon squeezing can be visually stimulating. Bonus points for finding prickly balls that can heighten our awareness with touch. Buy squishy stress balls from Amazon. 4. Slime While messier than any other choice on this list, slime can be amazing to get your hands fully engaged with another activity. The slow and controlled motion of molding it can release anxious energy. It is also fun, easy to customize and can easily turn into an activity instead of a fiddle toy. (Or search YouTube to see videos of it being played with along with ways to make your own at home!) Buy a slime kit from Amazon. 5. Edamame Key Chain One of the best toys to have on hand for dermatillomania is an edamame key chain.  With its rubbery casing, you can squeeze each of the three pods in several short directions to get a cathartic feeling similar to releasing pus or hair from under your skin. While fidget toys aren’t a cure for dermatillomania, they can help prevent some urges from manifesting, even if they can’t take away the urges permanently. Buy an edamame key chain from Amazon. 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 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Images via contributor

Angela Hartlin

7 Challenges for Eating Healthy When You're Chronically Ill

Whether you are facing a long-term mental or physical health condition, doing what the doctor says by eating healthy is not always an easy option. While it may appear as simple as going to the store and buying generic fruits and vegetables, modifying your food intake can have incredible challenges if you live with a chronic condition. Finding a way to reduce inflammatory or symptom provoking selections from your diet is vital in maintaining your overall health, despite already having a condition that you live with daily. The challenges that can make eating healthy feel nearly impossible are: 1. Expenses : With food becoming more expensive, it is more affordable to buy cheap junk food to stifle your hunger than it is to grab an assortment of meat, fish, fruits, or vegetables for a well-rounded meal. The cost of two peanut butter sandwiches pales in comparison to a meal consisting of haddock, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, and squash. Many people with chronic disabilities are unable to work full-time, if at all, which means the funding for food that will nourish isn’t in the budget. 2. Grocery Trips : The frequency of grocery trips may increase as you recognize that a lot of healthy foods cannot be stored for later. People with certain mental health of physical concerns may find it difficult to leave the house, which adds increased anxiety to the task- especially if your method of transportation is also limited. 3. Decompositio n: Prepackaged meals provide leniency in how long you can store them before they need to be thrown out. Natural foods aren’t loaded with the same amounts of preservatives needed to ensure that they last for ages. This leads to moldy food within a week or two (if you’re lucky), which then needs to be removed from the home via compost, which requires more work for someone who has limitations in their mobility. 4. Preparation and Time : Fast food can be a life-saver if you’ve had a long day and need to relax, but too much can lead to additional health issues. As a huge fan of microwaveable foods, I know all it takes to make a meal is to open food from a frozen box and heat it up. Two minutes later, I can have two pizza pockets ready for ingestion. Or, eight hours later, I can have a slow-cooked meal waiting for me at the end of the day. While the latter sounds and tastes amazing, the meat in it must be continuously strained, plus it takes time to wash, peel, and cut the vegetables. If you want to grate cheese or make your own bread to go with it instead of relying on high-calorie store bought bread, it adds to the work the person must do and the time it takes. 5. Energy : Most chronic illnesses come with lingering symptoms – most notably, chronic fatigue. Whether your mind is racing from daily intrusive thoughts from obsessive compulsive disorder, or your body is exhausted from becoming more sedentary than it was before an injury, it takes a lot of work to muster the energy to tackle the minor requirements of eating healthy. When given the internal decision to make something in less than five minutes or spend hours preparing a full meal with the recommended food groups, it is easier to save your spoons for another task you may need to do throughout the day, such as showering. 6. Clean Up : With more variety in your meals, there will be an increase in dishes. Instead of having to deal with a knife and plate for a sandwich, there would now be pots, pans, and a plethora of utensils to clean and put away – sometimes with the added struggle of having to scrape food off of them. This requires more time and energy to complete along with the stamina and ability of being able to maintain it regularly in order to have a healthy diet. 7. Vice : Many of us are attracted to delicious foods that aren’t the best for us, whether they consist of heaps of cheese, chocolate, sugar, salt, carbohydrates… or all of the above. When you have a chronic condition, the stresses that come along with it can be hard to manage. A person with chronic pain is negatively affected by the condition itself, along with the limitations it brings such as mobility, socializing, and strength. Someone with depression may have thoughts of inadequacy, confidence, and hope. Stimulating foods can be a temporary escape from the issue you have, which is why it can be hard to make better choices for ourselves. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Asking for help may be difficult, but in the long run, it helps you in managing your condition while balancing out healthier options for food. If you have someone you can ask to clean up the dishes, it may save you the energy to do strength-building exercises if your body requires it. For the time it takes to wash and peel an assortment of carrots and potatoes, asking a partner, friend, or family member to do it instead may give you time to sweep, clean, or even rest instead of being overburdened by everything you have to do and the little time or energy it feels you have to do it in. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock Image By: Ridofranz