The Dermatillomania Diaries is what I’m naming the decade of journal writing about my skin picking and attempts to stop it, which I’m sharing in this post.
I’ve been an avid journal-writer throughout the years, filling a bunch of those college-ruled black and white composition notebooks. It started slowly in my 20’s – I used only one book for most of that decade, often with large gaps between entries, and it’s again trickled down in my 40’s. My 30’s were my biggest journal writing years, and where I found most of the skin-picking related writing.
The large majority of my personal writings have not been related to skin picking. However, when I was reading through some of my journals recently, hoping to jog my memory for a totally unrelated project, I noticed there seemed to be value in the notes I had made about my compulsive skin picking over the years. And I thought you would find it interesting. So I decided to compile all the bits of my journals referencing skin picking into this “life with dermatillomania” blog post in the hopes that reading it will help you learn or understand something valuable about yourself and your picking.
Although I suffered in my 20’s and remember using lots of concealer, favoring long shorts and longer sleeved t-shirts and leotards to cover up, and although I remember particular times of embarrassment when asked about my skin, upon reading my journals I was surprised to discover that I never wrote a word about any of it until the year 2001! The first time I mentioned my skin picking or anything related was when I was thirty years old and I had taken my first real action to try and stop it.
Starting with that, I wrote about 10,000 words on the topic sprinkled throughout the next several diaries.
My hopes in sharing this is that as you read it, firstly, you see yourself reflected in my experience. Of course it won’t be exactly the same, but reading similar thoughts from someone other than yourself will hopefully make you feel less alone at the least. I also hope that you learn some things about yourself and your skin picking disorder, and how to make it better. You may recognize some of the same insights I had and wrote about. I hope you may feel some more compassion for yourself when you see how long I struggled against the picking, and how many set-backs happened along the way. Healing can be a gradual process, with fits and starts, and bumps along the way. (No pun intended!)
I have to admit, it is a bit scary publishing my personal thoughts like this. While I have a scientific mind on the one hand, I also have less rational emotional and intuitive side, and now you’ll see just how much “woowoo stuff” I’ve been into. But I do trust my intuition, which tells me to put this out there for you.
Note: This is a long blog post and, as this is a complete unedited account of every time I mentioned skin picking, squeezing, etc., some parts will be repetitive. But I think there’s enough variety that you could easily read it all.
A few more things to know before you start:
- I added a few notes in italics for clarity or context.
- I changed the names of most of the people I mention.
- “…” shows where words were skipped. Entries that don’t begin with “…” are not necessarily the first thing I wrote that day, but they are the first words of a paragraph.
- I often referred to skin picking as skin squeezing, because I mostly just squeezed my pores and pimples with my fingernails.
- There may be a few terms you don’t know that I didn’t define. But that’s what Google is for. :-)
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2001: (The year of my big move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles)
I just had a great funk class. After therapy, hung up “hello kitty” notepad on door in front of toilet so I keep track of leg picking, first victory. …
… I should make a list of things to feel good about my self when I’m being too critical, because I really am an amazing dancer for the very limited time I do and have been doing it, and I’m also an excellent writer. I have good friendships that I nurture.
I also need to make a list of things I need to work on or think about regularly, like situps and taking vitamins and meditating and not squeezing my skin. And writing more regularly.
…I’ve quit squeezing the skin on my legs for 2 weeks now. …
Squeezing my skin happens a lot when I don’t have a plan – I get in bed for example, too early to just turn out the light, and I don’t have a plan to read or a definite plan to write. I also realize I’m not quite there when I do it – my consciousness, I think is off somewhere else and I don’t really feel the pain either. Its an addiction, keep trying to get the great satisfying one that comes so infrequently.
I wanted to write about last Sunday with Tom. I just did it again – not sure if I wanted to write all about the wonderful relaxing day we had – I started squeezing my skin and there I was gone. I’m just going to do my chakra tape and go to sleep.
Lynn was asking what I get out of the stuff coming out of my skin, why is it satisfying. And I said it feels good, but I think I was wrong. It is the sight that I like, and then the smell. But primarily the sight – I do not do it when it’s dark, because I need to see it.
4/13 (anxiety, no picking)
… I’ve really been good about my skin lately, except somewhat today, although not so bad. It’s cleared up enough for me to wear skimpy low cut tank tops and feel that I look really good. Paradoxically, I think it’s this happiness with my skin, feeling that it looks good, that is helping me to not be into squeezing at it.
Today I was studying a lot of biochem and I really learned a lot and I wasn’t as bad with my skin as I used to be while doing desk work (reading, thinking), but I did it some. However, when I came back after going out to a store and my chiropractor, I didn’t do it at all. It’s 8:20 now and I feel very restless, but I don’t feel any urge to do that. I think the chiropractor and the massage at the chiropractor really help.
… I just hope I can hold up my skin until then. After doing so well for a week or so, I’ve started squeezing it again. Actually today wasn’t so bad, but I did it yesterday for an hour or so. Still, on the whole I’m very much improved and it looks a whole lot better.
I’m actually worried that Tom will be away Friday in St. Louis, the day before my mom comes. I feel like he is helping my skin and I also worry about being without him in LA.
That was relatively painless – my visit with my mother. She didn’t criticize me at all! I guess all that stuff I told her the night I got back from PR helped – a whole bunch of times I felt criticized by her in the past. I’m amazed that she didn’t say anything about my squeezing my skin, but actually I didn’t do it at all while she was here, so she didn’t have opportunity to tell me to stop, but still my skin doesn’t look that great and I sort of expected her to say something about it.
Tom is gone. He left and all I can do is wander around aimlessly or pick my skin.
I noticed some time before and also recently that when I’m feeling down I don’t squeeze my skin much, but when I’m arisen out of it, like I just did a little yoga before, then I start again.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2002:
… But I’ve been attacking my skin again. I think it’s just extra energy because I haven’t been running (or any other exercise) since Friday morning. I will go tomorrow morning.
The last couple of days I have really been disturbing my skin and I don’t know why. I had been pretty good for several weeks. My arms at least looked presentable, although my chest wasn’t so good the last few weeks. Tonight I finally stopped, and then put on a new petal pink very light sheer ribbed cotton tank. This was a good move because it makes me feel pretty. Which makes me less inclined to attack myself. It’s a vicious cycle because I think I tend to do it more when I feel bad about myself (not necessarily appearance) and it makes me feel bad about myself when I do it.
Why have I been doing it? I keep hoping an answer will appear.
I notice that my jaw tightens more when I squeeze my skin. I have to stop doing that.
The channeling book was talking about bad habits and how they are fulfilling a need, but are not the highest expression of that need. I was thinking about that with my skin squeezing and since I had read a long time ago something about touch making it better. I think my high road is physical affection and when I don’t have that with a lover I should go get massages.
Also I squeeze my skin more when I work intensely. I’d like to get that more under control. Exercise for one thing – tomorrow I will go for a good run. I really should get a massage this weekend. But I’m also a little embarrassed at my skin condition. Well, I guess they won’t see my front. (ha ha – I think I didn’t know how real massages work, assuming they only work on your back)
… So I definitely feel ashamed and very hard on myself and squeezing my skin even though I ran for around 35 minutes today. Please help me let it go and forgive myself.
It is getting bad – me squeezing my skin. I did it for so long tonight. But you know, I hardly ever do it that intensely anymore, but I used to all the time. I have to do something to destress after work, get the energy out. Those restorative yoga poses seem to help… I thought of dancing too – I should try to remember to turn on some music and dance when I get home. I’m always just thinking of food then.
I have to write. I’m squeezing my skin and thinking about old things involving my mother, and I don’t know why.
My skin is terrible. My face looks real bad. I have a red spot on my nose where skin peeled off. Spots and bumps. I really want them to go away. I want beautiful skin.
… Note to self: ask George for help on what’s the best way to stop attacking my skin. (George was a psychic medium my friends and I went to in Salem, MA. He has since passed on.)
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2003:
It’s hard to get grounded. Drastic change in weather / time (just returned from a trip to the east coast), and it’s windy here. I was so scattered and stressed at work. I have a million things to do, but it was hard to dive in and do one. I was sent my first grant proposal to review and I feel like such a fraud – I have no idea what to write. My jaw has been tight all day. Been squeezing my skin. I even went running this morning and was still stressed and scattered. Tomorrow morning I’ll go to yoga. I may need to get something to do with my hands while I read or think. Maybe a kneaded eraser. It never occurred to me that that could be the problem – it’s my hands that need to be busy, not my body that needs touching. Until what George said, “busy hands, busy mind.”
My skin looks horrible. My face has a lot of pimples, some of them seem to be semi-permanent. Shiatsu may help. I need to start doing something to address these issues.
… I still have my same problems although maybe they’re not as bad as usual. I’m thinking about tensing my jaw (which happens as I write now) and squeezing my skin. The squeezing thing it seems like I just like to do. But it’s out of control if I do it when I’m anxious or upset or ungrounded, etc. I’m impatient. …
… I notice I squeeze my skin with intensity today.
… I am so impressed with myself that I went straight for a run instead of my skin. I was squeezing the skin on my leg a little when I was talking to her (my mother), but then after I resisted and just went for a run. I was really good today. I’m motivated by wearing tank tops and short shorts and wanting to look good in my new bikini, etc.
… I am sick of PMS, sore breasts and squeezing my skin.
I ask for the will and ability to stop squeezing my skin. I am sick of it. My right arm looks terrible. If I have demons I ask that they leave and go far away and never bother anyone I know again. Well, we’ll see. I liked the way that psychic on the radio, Gary, got rid of these 2 demons that this woman had, who pulled her hair out. That was way cool.
Oh – that’s right. I’ve been thinking of not squeezing my skin for a month starting tomorrow if I can. Lydia says it takes 30 days to break a habit. I will try to lay off my arms and chest. My jaw will be less tight as a result.
So far so good with my plan. I think I need to write my success everyday to stay motivated. I didn’t squeeze the skin on my arms or chest yesterday.
Later that day: It’s really tricky – very hard – many times I start doing it a little and have to stop. Now I have the intention of trying this, and I’m realizing with such a habit I’m going to start doing it many times. But I have the motivation to stop, to try this out and see if it works.
Doing pretty well skin wise. A little here and there, but I always stop myself. Yesterday I wore a somewhat low-cut tank to hip-hop class and my skin looked pretty good.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2004:
… I was squeezing my skin from lack of exercise and lack of being in touch with myself.
I pretty much didn’t squeeze my skin the whole day. Yay! Once I leaned over the bathroom sink, but I caught myself in time. I had a motivation in the second half of the day: Bob called and I’m meeting him tomorrow, so I want my skin to look good. Im trying to go thirty days to break the habit, like Lydia says. Today was day two I believe. That means I have to make it through to graduation day.
Yesterday I gave up on the no squeezing thing (well, today, I mean before I went to sleep (technically yesterday. I want to start again, try again. Today will be day one. It just got so out of control as I did it, I couldn’t stop. It wasted so much time, tightened my jaw and threw my neck out of whack. I’m afraid I may wake up with a headache. It’s feeling that way.
Okay it’s May 1st. That sounds like a time for new beginnings. I am making the intention that this month, no more squeezing my skin! Nopes. I have to get it in shape for summer and I really want to break this habit.
… I didn’t exercise, yet I have managed not to squeeze my skin (much). This week I really want to feel good about myself. And by Friday I also really want to be able to wear my low-cut black top and look good, have my skin looking really good! And no headaches from crinking my neck at the mirror. …
… Roxanne takes Zoloft and when she’s on it she doesn’t squeeze her skin. I really don’t want to need drugs – I really would feel like a failure if I can’t stop on my own – do sort of feel like a failure, although I’m definitely making progress.
So that’s it then. I called and have a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow. When she asked what the appointment was for I said, “I think I have an anxiety problem.” “Ok, what are the symptoms” Silence. Uhhhh … isn’t that kind of a symptom? (Anxiety?) … Wait I thought of one, the main reason I wanted to go that I totally blanked on. “It’s something I’ve done for years but… I kind of pick at my skin.” “So this is an ongoing problem,” she said. “Yes,” I replied and she made me an appointment.
… I guess I’m starting to believe what Lydia said. “Life’s too fucking hard not to take a pill that will help.” I think that’s pretty close to a direct quote.
I took the first pill. I don’t feel good about it, but I feel like I’m at the end of my rope. I’m so anxious. I used to be fine after exercise, but now it doesn’t last at all. It’s made me self-centered too. I’m so caught up in my own misery I forgot to call my mother in Florida, and also with Roxanne I had been assuming she was sick of me rather than she’s having some real sadness of her own and she deals by retreating.
Later 2:45 AM. I am up and very upset. I don’t know if it’s the perversity of my mind being scared of this medicine but I had a horrible thought and really scared and upset myself. I thought, “I am going to kill myself” – something I’ve never thought before. As I write it, it makes me feel batter because I know that’s just not me, but I was scared. I was holding my wrists picturing horribleness. And I thought Cookie was leaning against me but it turned out to be a pillow. And after I had cried a while I called for Cookie and she came in and I petted her, but she moved away after only a very short time. She’s in the hall now. My liver hurts. I’m up in the middle of the night having horrible thoughts. I don’t know at this point if I should continue this medicine.
I’m a good person. I have to remember that. Just before I was thinking my hands are bad. They’ve done terrible things – actually I said perpetrated. I’ve wondered or imagined myself a Nazi in a previous life. And the horrors I’ve done have plagued me in my hands. They are hot in the middle now I have to remember they are good and will do reiki now. They can be used to do tremendous good. I will survive and do good. I want to bring healing, first to myself.
I’m so anguished. The way I feel with my stomach and my heart. I just am attacking my skin again, but luckily I didn’t do too much. I forced myself to eat something. It’s hard – I’ve been having a hard time eating – I’m queasy I think from the medicine.
… And I’m just attacking my skin real bad.
It’s a good thing I have these cotton gloves now, because I would be picking my skin like crazy now.
I’m having horrible inertia. Real bad. I came back from therapy, checked email and tried to IM Roxanne, and just started squeezing my skin. It really got worse after I read a bit and decided it was time to go for a run. I haven’t exercised yesterday or today. That’s when I really started squeezing my skin and I just felt so much resistance.
I’m done with my 21 days of reiki after the 2nd degree attunement, and I want to start tomorrow on a reiki program for conquering my skin habit.
… and it made me feel bad. I’ve picked at my skin a lot this morning and thought a bunch more.
… I’m doing the mental / emotional reiki to break my habit of squeezing my skin. Yesterday was the first day. I’ll do that for 21 days.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2005:
I think it is the fifth evening I don’t lean in at the mirror and squeeze my skin. This is a good habit I’m making, a bad habit I’m breaking. And when I don’t do that it is also way easier for me not to do my chest or arms. Writing about it leads to thinking leads to temptation though, so I think I will shut the light right away.
Geez, headache primarily from neck tension probably, and maybe dehydration. My shoulders – I think it is my scalenes are so tight from all the squeezing in front of the mirror I’ve done, and I’m just so sad.
… It’s depressing me not to be able to write much lately, with my arm hurt. But it feels pretty okay now. I’ve been pretty good – very good the last couple of days about not squeezing my skin. I need to heal my arm.
I so don’t want to go to the doctor tomorrow AM. It’s really awful how much I don’t want to go. I might not, and switch to someone else. It’s just so awkward because of the last time when I was in such a bad spot and all. And I’m so in transition right now with moving and my skin has gotten kind of bad again these last couple of weeks.
Last night I came home from dancing and attacked my skin at the mirror. I realized this morning it’s when I’m feeling hyper or ungrounded, etc. So tonight I came home after hanging with Ivana for a bunch of hours and I also felt like just going nuts on my skin and my jaw was tense, but I remembered that this morning I told myself I’d take time when I felt like that, to meditate or do reiki, something to relax and center, and that’s what I did.
… made me even more crabby. And I don’t know if it’s that or being with many people’s energy or what, but I’ve squeezed my skin quite a bit tonight. And on the whole I have been getting better with that the last few months. Better and better I think.
As the year is drawing to a close soon, I am thinking of ways to support myself in quitting squeezing my skin I will do the reiki on that issue for 21 days… And then in the new year, I have to not do it for 21 days to break the habit. I could do a clear skin collage and hang it near my bed (and/or in the bathroom).
12/31/05 (part of a multi-page review of my year)
I got somewhat better at not squeezing my skin, but then it seemed like right before my Thanksgiving visit to my mother and since then I’ve not done as well with it. This is going to be my big goal for the new year – to intercept and break that habit.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2006:
So I’ve completed 21 days of reiki to break the habit of squeezing my skin, and now I’m going to do 21 days of not squeezing my skin, in order to break the habit!
Wow, so much for that. (Arrow pointing up to 1/21/06 post) But really, I am doing much better with it, or at it. But man, I thought maybe it would go away.
… I’ve been doing pretty well refraining from squeezing my skin… I think it may be due to my fire breathing that I’m experiencing more willpower regarding my skin.
… I’ve been a little anxious that I haven’t been writing, and I’ve squeezed my skin too much the last couple nights.
No squeezing tonight. It actually helps when I watch a TV show and get ready for bed during the commercials, so never start squeezing. The problem is stopping once I’ve started. Oops I almost, well just started, but stopped in time.
I probably should just turn out the light now. So of course just then I started squeezing my skin for a while.
… I’ve been in the PMS stage where I’m really compulsively picking and squeezing my skin, but I think that’s past now. I just need to not do it at all in the bathroom. Play beat the clock again. And then the other problem is right when I get in my bedroom, the best thing would be to turn out the light right away. I’ve been reading and that’s only a problem because sometimes before I start reading I get sidetracked and squeeze a lot.
I definitely have to write a lot when school starts and I really hope that I do because the worry I have is that I won’t if my arms hurt. Hopefully my arms won’t hurt too much. I’ve got to stay away from squeezing my skin. I should ask Sue for a hypnotherapy recommendation.
The problem with writing at night is I stop every minute or something and squeeze my skin. And I cannot do that for my forearm’s sake.
It’s really horrible – I feel like I don’t know what to do with my time now and so I just picked my skin for a while before this paragraph.
… I’ve been squeezing my skin in the bathroom mirror way too much – I think every night for at least a week. My arms are hurting and my shoulders and my hands. I want to stop.
I really hate this – in between every other thought I write, I’ve been squeezing the skin on my chest. I don’t want to do that. I’ve got to have more willpower.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2007:
4/7/07 I hate it when I don’t know what to do. I ended up squeezing my skin fiercely in the mirror last night and this morning.
… But I will not squeeze my skin. I’m breaking the habit. I guess that’s one reason not to feel too bad about totally lying here lazy and indecisive about what to do – in the past, when I wasn’t sure what to do, I’d end up squeezing my skin.
I have been incredibly lazy today since coming home from work. I’m very PMS. I’ve squeezed. My shoulders hurt. My forearms hurt. … Now I might have an interlude of some Dave Barry, so I can raise my mood up to, “merely depressed.”
I feel so good after grading. I’m sleepy, but it was great to do and then step right into the shower with no squeezing anything and no thought of squeezing anything.
I have really quit squeezing my skin. The process – I was reading the bad habit book (the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Breaking Bad Habits) and doing the exercises. I started doing the bad habit log on Thursday and recorded four times. On Friday I only did it twice. The log was a deterrent! And then yesterday I didn’t do it all day and towards the end of the day I saw somewhere that it was the full moon (and a blue moon at that) and I decided that I would really quit for good and do a releasing ritual….
I noticed I had neck and shoulder tension building throughout the day and headache, so I thought I had to decharge. So I took a bath to recharge and then on the balcony I brought out one crystal (the selenite), I wore my star of david with the dove necklace and I burned some incense and lit the white Christmas lights on my balcony. I wrote on a square of paper a letter saying that I was releasing the habit, asking for support from God and angels, and thanking them for bringing me to this point, etc. Signed amen and burned it. Then I just sat there and watched my incense smoke….
(Writing about the next day) … And I had a headache again when I woke up coming from the right shoulder and neck, and my jaw was clenching and hurting too…
Then Paula called and I told her about my habit and she said, “ooh” – more like “eww” actually I mean. I could tell I better get out of the house and walk briskly or I’d probably end up squeezing my skin from that interaction. I may need to avoid her – she’s just pretty hard and overworked / burning out from teaching yoga everyday and not taking care of herself….
Anyway, so I walked straight to the garden again and did some weeding. …
So I realized at some point today that the muscle and head aches might be withdrawal symptoms, because there was a stress-reducing chemical benefit from my habit, and now I don’t have that. I hope it doesn’t last too long. Probably not – it’s probably like when I weaned myself off Zoloft 2 years ago – that felt like a headache and muscle-ache too.
I am filled with optimism! I have almost made it through my third day! My head was hurting pretty badly – nah, mostly like a dull ache until just before hip-hop class. I took half an advil and felt great for class and after. I have only the slightest headache now, like only if I pay attention.
I feel really great this morning although I got less than six hours sleep, probably closer to five. That’s been happening lately as soon as I quit my habit – probably another withdrawal symptom….
I can’t wait until my skin looks beautiful + clear! It’s improving, but not too much yet. I’ve done 3 days! Yay! That’s almost half a week really. Woohoo! Go me! Go Annette! You can do it! Yes! I am doing it finally! After all these years! This is awesome….
Later ~12 hrs: Progress report: still going strong, but am tempted a lot – like when I step into the shower – just before that / just after I take clothes off. Also Rita called me and I was extremely conscious of an anxiety / stress response. As I talked to her I walked around and focused on breathing deeply, so hopefully that helped somewhat. After we got off I went to my bedroom mirror and the urge was to squeeze my face but I stopped myself and sat myself back down at my computer to write which was what I was doing when she called. I did manage to write some too and then finally went to the garden. When I went in to the bathroom for sunblock I leaned over and squeezed my chin once and jumped back when I realized. I didn’t even realize, and it wasn’t a full blown “productive” squeeze anyway, not to mention not repeated by more squeezes, so it doesn’t count. I’ve almost made 4 days and handled a stressful situation! Rita and I are meeting Thursday so I’ll have to be careful then, and after the Dodger game / fireworks tomorrow night.
Well, it’s day 5. I’ve gone 4 whole days already! This is so awesome. I have to think of a treat for myself for Saturday, which will be one week. Maybe I should get a facial. Or buy myself something nice when I’m out with Christine. It’s amazingly hard to think of something. Actually, I can buy myself flowers – that is something I hardly ever do. Or something skin revealing, but that might be better for week 2, when my skin is better.
… I will have accomplished a major thing if I really quit squeezing my skin for good this summer.
I’m spending more quite time on my balcony before going to the Learning Garden ice cream social and then the Dodgers game / fireworks! No exercise today beyond walking to the Garden, so I have to be careful to stay calm, in touch with myself and breathing. And be very careful when I get home tonight that I just wash up mindfully and put on my gloves! Maybe shower with intention to recharge – that might be necessary.
~8AM – 5 days baby! I wanted to do it when I get home, to lean in at the sink, but I didn’t. I have been doing some looking but not touching but I don’t think I should do that. It’s like being an alcoholic and hanging around in bars. At some point you’re gonna slip up (maybe). Better to stop the habit of leaning over the sink too, and of closely examining my breasts and arms.
I am guilty of an isolated squeeze here and there a few times and I really have to say it’s all off limits. It’s driving me a little crazy. I have a little whitehead on my chest that’s driving me crazy. Damn it. I keep almost doing it. I should go get my white gloves out here. I’m on my balcony.
Later: I squeezed one on my nose too. I’m stressed. That dirtbag guy that semi-stalked me yesterday now stole my bike…. I think I better take a shower so I don’t attack my skin.
I bought myself flowers to reward myself for a week squeeze-free. I’ve done a little isolated squeezing, but I’m not giving in. I’m out on my balcony again wearing gloves and writing. And reading. The best reward I guess will be to buy new clothes to wear – low cut tops, short skirts, stuff like that.
It’s only been a week and a half and it feels like much more. It feels like endless amounts of time. It feels like I quit so long ago. It feels like nothing’s changed, that I don’t seem to have oodles more time, more energy, more productivity, a boyfriend. But it’s been no time at all. I need to be more patient.
I’ve noticed the last few days that when I do squeeze it hurts a lot more than it used to – stings, actually.
I’m so glad and proud of myself that after a long day of meetings and traffic I didn’t just crash but I went out for a run which I knew would be good for me – otherwise I would just be at my skin. As it was I squeezed a little anyway, but I am recommitting and putting up the good fight. I’m wearing gloves now. I think one of my September goals will be to recommit fully and diligently keep my log of when I’m tempted as well as when I give in.
Did well today. Long day at work, took an hour + 10 min to get home, but I managed to do destressing, recharging activities this evening and not squeeze my skin much. Now the gloves are on and I’m just going to read and probably fall asleep almost immediately.
First day of school was good….
… I was good about coming straight home and recharging with a run and a shower. Then had dinner and did some work. Now relaxing. Minimal skin squeezing. Great job Annette!
Second day was really good….
…Went for a bike ride after. Still had a hard time – did a tiny bit of squeezing and felt a lot of temptation – I’m really psyched that I put my gloves on.
I blew it at the mirror squeezing my face and then chest / breasts. Damn. I was doing so well. I just wasn’t present enough or something. It caught me off guard. I didn’t think I had to worry because I had biked to the garden and pruned basil for half an hour, but not good enough. The shower recharge after school (and of course vigorous exercise when possible) is really necessary. And gloves are already good habit too. Maybe I’ll just wear them all around the house now that it’s not hot anymore.
… I’m quite down in the dumps. I squeezed my skin for about half hour probably and now feel like I have made no progress. I should be getting my period tonight or tomorrow AM. It’s feeling terrible. Now my wrists and shoulders hurt, which sucks. I have to figure out what to do next year… (found out my teaching contract would not be renewed)
… Boy I’m feeling so sad and negative and stuck.
I also wrote that I was giving up squeezing and science and threw it into the fire at winter solstice party at the Learning Garden….
… Unfortunately too much squeezing a bit. It’s almost like it’s hard to know what to do with myself – yes – get the old log book out and start again with that.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2008:
… I felt bad. I didn’t do the errands I need to do. I squeezed my skin. I took a shower which made me feel somewhat better.
I want to remind myself to try hypnotherapy for squeezing and clenching my jaw too.
Boy am I blue. I’ve failed terribly in squeezing today, and I felt like I was good for so long. I hate falling off the wagon. But it did seem like I’d been slipping this week.
… After breakfast, I was feeling really anxious and agitated about what to do next, how I should structure the day, etc. And I could tell recently I’ve been slipping with the squeezing thing, Yesterday afternoon was particularly bad – I was writing a really difficult (emotionally) part… and I was just so compelled, and I just gave in to the compulsion to go to the bathroom mirror and squeeze. And of course my neck, jaw and shoulders were not too happy yesterday evening into even this morning. (Although certainly not their worst.) I ought to have done some meditation to relax my jaw before sleep, but I wanted to read, so I did. Not such a good plan…
Anyway, for Brain Gym today, I decided to do breaking my bad habit with the action balance for organization. It felt so good – it put me in such a great positive, empowered place, and it even felt fun and playful!
I hope this acts synergistically with the balances for clear skin and for relaxed jaw and shoulders. I think it will.
It’s pretty hard, stopping squeezing and all picking. I went to a hypnotist yesterday and honestly it felt like the biggest gyp. The whole entire session took 20 minutes if that and cost $100. The relaxing process was too fast for me – I don’t think I was really hypnotized and she was way young, which threw me a little. I don’t expect professionals that can help me to be younger than me. But she told me to press my thumb and forefinger together and breathe until the urge passes, and maybe if I do that every time I’m about to start (or start – sometimes today I’ve started just a touch) it will eventually work to break the habit. At the UCLA writing panels and then especially on the way home it was almost constant – my fingers always want to be doing something. Also when I was writing and reading earlier I had to do it several times.
Today is day 1 on my skin-breaking my bad habit day. I did a release ceremony last night at the full moon, burning a paper I wrote on and then taking a bath. So far so good, but all of a sudden I am worried about…
It’s my second day having quit my bad habit and this time I’m determined to quit for good. Addictions are second chakra things, and I am having second chakra issues – my ovaries and uterus problems. It is a real wake up call and I can see energetically this started in childhood and has only recently manifested physically. I really need to take good care.
I did my writing outside at the Learning Garden today, which really helped – when I tried it at home I squeezed my skin and felt anxious….
I’m cutting down my caffeine intake to see if that helps reduce my squeezing urge.
I feel really conflicted / stuck / squeezing too much….
Gosh, I realize I have been thinking in a very “hard” manner about myself and my 1) not writing and 2) bad habit.
I’m doing really well lately. Pranayama and, probably to a lesser extent because I don’t do it too well or long yet, meditation are awesome.
Like this evening after getting home from Orange County (2nd level Brain Gym course) I really felt the way I would normally in the past have done squeezing. But now I know – I did some alternate nostril breathing and lying around and took a bath too. Whatever it takes for me to feel whole and relaxed.
Went to my first Kundalini yoga class today and cool luck – it was first chakra exercises the whole time. It liked it – very interesting and you could tell it was stirring up energy and doing things. … I relinquish the fruits of my actions. That’s what I’m saying now when I start to obsess. When I start thinking bad habit thoughts (getting attached to idea off some guy being my life-partner or doing bad habit actions (yes, my usual one) I am going to catch myself (guerrilla technique) and then say either “I relinquish the fruits of my actions” or “Om Namah Shivayah” destroying my bad habits, my old self. Gail, the teacher today talked about the first chakra actions destroying bad habits, but I have to say when I got home I felt like (and did a little) doing my bad habit more than ever. It probably got agitated. Anyway now I have my gloves on.
I’m into mantras now – especially since Karen (my acupuncturist) told me I still had issues with my 5th chakra and I read in Anodea Judith’s book how mantras are great to use anytime, much better than having a dumb old song stuck in your head. I’m even looking forward to doing some chanting at Sivananda center soon.
I’m realizing the more time I spend on yoga, on any aspect of it, the better, because it will help me attract good things in my life via positive thinking and eliminating negative thoughts and bad-habit thought patterns.
Well, I think this is going to turn into a daily journal of bad habit log and dreams. And maybe everything. I’m too comfortable right now to get up and see exactly what I’m supposed to put in my daily progress log for quitting my bad habit. Well, so I’ll make it up. In the car on the way home from Miles I was doing some isolated squeezing, but I stopped and pressed my fingers together and breathed deeper. Also that’s what I did when I was doing a little yoga earlier and all of a sudden I realized I had stopped and done some chest squeezes. I stopped though as soon as I became conscious of what I was doing. Way to go Annette! Persistence wins.
7:45pm progress log: resisted mirror and praised self :-), did one squeeze after each of 2 phone calls before realizing what I was doing. When I realized I stopped and pressed my fingers together.
I did a Brain Gym balance for breaking my bad habit, but I forgot to put the goal into action.
I did a couple of isolated squeezes today, but I stopped each time reminding myself of the satisfaction of quitting. I said, “You can do it Annette!” I really need to write stuff as I go though, because I honestly forget the exact details of each time and I think I’ll be better motivated to not squeeze if I know I”m gonna have to write it down – it might not be worth the effort.
I did a number of squeezes in the bathroom mirror thus breaking my streak, but I did stop myself and press my fingers together and breathe. I don’t know how many times I’m going to have to “learn” that I can’t lean in and not do it, or do it just once. Of course sometimes I can and that’s the problem. If it always went wrong, then I’d probably learn sooner, but sometimes it doesn’t and so I think it’s going to be okay. But, on the whole to really quit, I need to not even squeeze once, not even lean in to examine my skin.
6:45pm A couple hours earlier I did a few chest squeezes and stopped and just now I was leaning in at the bathroom and felt how strong the urge was as I did 2 light squeezes. I let myself feel how strong it was before really giving in, and in that moment I gave myself, I somehow decided to press my fingertips together and breathe and step away….
Since I’ve been sick and not exercising, I have to realize the urge will be getting stronger, and same as PMS will be approaching, I have to be vigilant.
I’ve been reading on the sofa, and brought out my exercise putty to give my hands something better to do than pick at my head, because they really can’t stand still when I’m thinking. Now I know (from Smart Moves) that that is normal.
8:45 A few minutes of chest / breast squeezes. I think I need to meditate and then wash up and head for bed.
Ugh. I really fell off the wagon yesterday and today with my face at the mirror. I think later I need to do another Brain Gym balance for quitting (and do it right this time)…
Well, the good thing is that I haven’t squeezed my skin since the last time I wrote. The bad thing is it’s maybe because I’m depressed….
6:15 After soup I did a few squeezes, but then stopped – I just felt like something to do before I go tutor in 1/2 hour or so.
Whoops – got off the phone with Carol and did some squeezing. I have to be more careful of anticipating when I get off the phone.
A few hours after my dad left I ended up squeezing my skin a lot.
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2009:
… I want to go back to my bad habit log…
… And I did some thinking about the format of my book and how it can end, so also good. But at the same time I totally picked my scalp raw, etc. I need to use my exercise putty more.
I’m particularly “squeezy” today because of PMS. It’s always bad about a week before. And of course because of lack of exercise because of my cold.
I feel like I have more tension building in my body now that I’ve mostly stopped squeezing.
… And I’m back to not letting myself into the mirror because even one squeeze that feels like it’s going to be nothing, turns into a big thing and next thing you know I wake up the next morning with sore neck and shoulders and jaw and etc. I’m going to take a bath tonight. A salt bath. That should make me relaxed as a noodle.
Okay, I’ve been out here for ages reading my notes on Vidya’s thing and going over parts in my head, but I’m really not coming up with any new stuff and I’ve been picking my skin, so enough already.
My fingers are going crazy this evening. Oh well – tomorrow I’ll get some more energy out with exercise. I might even take up running again.
First night of Navaratri. Durga puja was tonight. I hope Durga helps destroy my bad habit….
… Had a good meditation this morning, which I haven’t in a while. I haven’t come at it with the right attitude, ie. Been going through the motions. But today I just felt so, like I can’t do this on my own, please help release me from my bad habits, and it was better.
Rose did an hour of EFT with me on quitting my bad habit. Whoa – I think it did a lot of stuff. After she left I ate lunch and after that I felt really lost, like I didn’t know what to do, was figuring out what to do next. That is a common thing for me, but this time it was totally different! I didn’t feel anxious about it, or compelled to do the habit – I felt more lost, but less anxious.
… I’m tired! I have my gloves on and earlier when I was studying algebra 2 for tutoring I was working the clay with my non-writing hand – otherwise I would have been squeezing my skin on my scalp and forehead and maybe chest. I had some intense craving before but it seems to be lessened with the EFT I just did. Only one round too.
Last night I had a bout, and I really realize it now, like Lydia said, I have to treat it like an addiction, that is 1) one day at a time and 2) I realize I’m powerless when I start and so I CAN’T LOOK AT MY SKIN and I CAN’T TOUCH MY SKIN (I mean, I can apply moisturizer or whatever and soap myself up, but I can’t idly touch it because I squeeze it. And since I can’t stop once I start, I have to stop before I start, one step before I start, one step before.
Reading people’s posts on the online support group made me more determined to stop. I’ll use all the tools at my disposal.
It’s interesting that I didn’t feel the urge at all early in the day. I don’t know if it’s because of the relaxing effects of sleep and meditation and the self-hypnosis. I even had tea this morning. I tend to squeeze when overstimulated – some people do it when they’re understimulated, some over, some both. I think maybe the effects of the day just accumulate, which is why I am tempted more later on and also why a shower helps me (feel less compulsive).
(In a list of things I did this day:)
– Skin-picking hypnosis tape
Well, I have gloves on, that is the good thing. Bad thing is that after satsang tonight I totally attacked my face in the mirror. Yikes. It’s like I wasn’t thinking on the way home of telling myself I wouldn’t, because it seemed like I stopped needing it, I wasn’t tempted anymore. And I let myself do 1 or 2 picks because of that. But all of a sudden it went out of control again I guess in the last couple of days. I’m going to have to pray and keep myself away from the mirror, not allowing even 1 pick, not even allowing myself to look.
I feel so much better the last 3 days – since I got my period. I was so happy to get it. And I was instantly not obsessive anymore in thinking anyway, although the squeezing is still a challenge. (Wearing gloves – yay!)
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2010:
Well, it’s later and I feel much better. Except for the neck and shoulder stiffness from the bad habit that’s settled in….
So I felt better after 1) a salt bath, 2) Rose telling me on the balcony that I could work through it with EFT, 3) actually doing the EFT. EFT’d stuff like … and “even though I just had a bad bout of skin squeezing…”
I started reading my addictions book. And then put it down after a while and EFT’d … and “even though I have this addiction to squeezing.”
The addiction book is saying that the addiction is being used to not feel the bad feelings, so I think I made a thought to feel and accept those.
Maybe more pranayama can help…
I’ve never felt so awful right after meditation. I’m sad and weepy. This addiction book is depressing me. It’s just too much. I feel overwhelmed by what little relationship skills I have and by how it’s hitting me how inadequate my childhood was. Then book talks about home as being a place that’s a buffer from the outside world, which is more difficult. Home shouldn’t be the hard place.
Well it’s a bit later and I brought up the OCD Center of LA again on the web (I looked it up a few months ago) and I’m going to call tomorrow.
I have an appointment Thursday for an assessment of my skin picking to join the group therapy. It’s feeling really out of control last several days – probably PMS and the garlic I took to ward off this cold I’ve seemed at the brink of starting for almost a week now.
… Then at satsang we were talking about books (at soup after) and I said how this addiction book was getting me down and he asked so I told him about my skin thing. He looked at my skin. He suggested shoulderstand, which is what he does.
I had my skin picking assessment today and am starting the group on Saturday.
Had my first group therapy thing, and the point that the urge will lessen the less you indulge it is a big relief and motivator. …
I have gloves on now so I don’t pick. I think I have to make that a habit whenever I get into bed. …
At least I did very well in putting my white gloves on before changing into pajamas. Otherwise I would have been picking for sure.
As for my OCD skin picking group homework, I relate to the all or nothing one a lot because a lot of times I feel like if I give in, then oh it’s no use, I can’t resist, like powerless. And another all or nothing is like once I get this kicked (or if I get this kicked) I’ll be all powerful in my life, because I have so much energy tied up in this and of course the reverse that until I kick it, I’m just floundering in life with no power and that’s not true. The emotional reasoning ties in too because because I have the feeling that I can’t resist, therefore I really think I can’t resist.
… Well, I don’t want to obsess anymore, and now, I probably did away with uncomfortable feelings and am high after doing some of my bad habit. Dang. I just kept taking the gloves off.
EFT … still have some of this remaining desire to squeeze my skin…
Even though I felt very anxious today sitting down to write, I somehow got it done (wore finger cots at the beginning to prevent picking, but after getting going at writing I took them off because they were too tight.
… Then it was far from ideal that I picked my skin way too much. Although still am much better than in the past. But I’m going to get back on the wagon.
Unfortunately (I guess) I had 2 face-squeezing bouts in the bedroom mirror. I feel like I could have avoided it – I didn’t feel compelled to do it (at first). I just really wanted to since it had been a while and the pores would have some really good stuff.
… I really want to squeeze my skin but I’m not doing it. I’ve been very good yesterday and today not doing it at all. That’s the only way it’s really going to work I think is a zero tolerance policy. The urge is pretty bad right now. … And then before she left she said I looked really great, that I’m glowing, and Nat said yesterday he told Ric after Sunday night that there’s something changed about me…
I’m exhausted. I took a hot bath which wiped me, but also cut my compulsiveness so I don’t pick. Awesome. …
I have a pimple on my nose and all I want to do is squeeze it. It’s horrible. …
So the bad thing too is I was so compulsive tonight and ended up giving in, though not right away – I did anuloma viloma and during the first couple rounds I almost kept getting up to go to the mirror and squeeze but I didn’t. I did a bunch of rounds and then lay down in savasana to decide whether to go to Bhagavad Gita class or take a bath (to reduce my compulsiveness). But unfortunately that was so close to the mirror and I started squeezing my face and did a lot. I finally tore myself away thinking how awful it would be if my shoulders and neck started to hurt again. I tore myself away and made a bath. Maybe next time I get to the bath before (and indeed instead of) picking. I think I need to do a picking log again, like start a nice new journal on it. …
I feel like I’m just wasting time, but I’m so tired from going out dancing last night, staying up late and waking up early. That is the picking danger zone.
Did EFT on …
“Even though I love squeezing my skin. Yesterday I also did a couple (of EFT). I came home and didn’t feel like doing anything other than squeezing.
And okay, coincidence that he brought it up in group, but Jon said to make a schedule of your day the day before, so you don’t have the indecision that causes the picking basically because of the anxiety. He’s a genius. Today I’m following the schedule I made last night and I love it! There’s a part of me that has not enjoyed having everything planned. The Vata would like to be free, but the whole person deals better when the Vata is reigned in and calmed down. But I’m definitely getting things done and enjoying not having the indecision between every activity. And I haven’t picked yesterday or today. Another thing that stuck with me from yesterday is saying that touching around your skin and looking at your skin are the same as picking – not allowed. That is hugely helpful because it is much easier to stop yourself there than to allow that and have to stop yourself at the next step.
…2. What aspects of my life need transforming?
…Quitting bad habits – in process.
…6. What is the biggest lie I’ve ever told myself?
…This time it’ll be different?
*I can just pick a little.*
I was reading the Dark Side of the Light Chasers and even though it’s not a person, I asked, “What is the gift of my bad habit?” and I thought, “Compassion for those that struggle.” If not for that would I be hard and unfeeling? Not sure about that but I can identify and have more patience this way.
I failed this afternoon but felt much better with some pranayama and meditation…
And possibly humility is another gift. I own powerlessness and I also see more and more that I can / will be powerful.
At the beach… Was feeling a little melancholy, joyless, also a bit fat, and I definitely didn’t want to pick, so I figured a bike ride to the beach would be the best strategy…
This whole issue of punishment that came up was interesting in group today. Because yesterday was the first time I had a picking session rather than individual picks in two weeks (at least), and also it happened to be the day that Doug and I got beyond small-talk,… and then I have this picking session and Rose thought maybe I’m punishing myself, like I don’t deserve him, or to have clear skin, or whatever. I guess I should go back to EFT. The fear’s gone, but something’s remaining.
… It makes sense this longing I have felt when going to pick. It’s a total longing to know God.
Even though I have this…
– remaining compulsive skin picking
… Friday night I was so nervous / compulsive at the macrobiotic talk… So Friday night I also started getting a sore throat. (And I just squeezed.)
… So much better than earlier today, when I was so bothered that all I wanted to do was pick. And I did a little bit! And then I felt bad and even though I had a sore throat I felt like I needed to run so I ran halfway to the garden, walked the rest and then went into Paul’s office and hugged him and cried, and then told him stuff. I was so grateful that he’s such a good understanding hugger and listener and he knows good things to say – told me about HALT from AA. That you’re vulnerable when you’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
… and never I think have I had such a lovely meditation and even took that good feeling home with me (despite having my back hurting during)… And I was still feeling compulsive earlier today w/ my skin, but after that class no more.
“Just picked my skin”
“Some of this remaining compulsive skin picking”
… I have been extremely non-compulsive since even before the balance I think, although I did feel compulsive after the chiropractor for a short while. I think it might have to do with the chiropractor, because my shoulders and neck are really unlocked, and the nerves of the parasympathetic system come from only the neck and very lowermost spine vertebrae so maybe it really activated my ability to relax.
EFT: … “some of this remaining habit of compulsive skin picking”
Dermatillomania Diary Year 2011:
EFT: “Even though I still have some this remaining bad habit…”
This morning I felt sure that I felt so down because I had refrained from picking even though all the anxiety of the day before (though I did go for a long run) and the disappointment of …
I’ve given up sugar and it’s been almost 2 weeks, and it’s HARD…
… I’m feeling deprived when I can’t have sugar. I need to buy a bunch of fruit tomorrow…
Gajananam: “Tapas is done to make willpower strong, but willpower needs to be balanced with devotion.”
… Wondering if I can successfully give up skin picking for Lent (even though some of it is over). If it is possible through willpower and devotion. Everything do 100%. “In his mind he was already in Lanka.”
… My preoccupying concerns this week have been Lent, cultivation of willpower and devotion and curbing my skin picking.
… – desire to squeeze pores
– remaining desire to squeeze
… – feeling of shame
– compulsion to pick
… Did only 15 minutes of writing. That’s probably what I feel worst about – well that and I had a picking session, which is worrisome, because I had been doing so well. I was just so indecisive… I should have gone to hip-hop – if I went I doubt I would have picked….
So, I’m going to start a new book, not necessarily right away, but maybe in November when Saturn moves into Libra, connecting my 3rd and 12th houses representing writing and addictions, on Picking. Maybe that will be the name. It will be part memoir, part self-help, part journalistic / scientific overview. It may have Yoga and Vedanta, come at it from that point of view also. … I wonder how much time this Integrative Nutrition health coaching program is going to take. I’m worried and I hope it was not a mistake!
Well, that looks like a good time to stop. What a long and winding road. I do mention picking a few more times, but nothing new and interesting. I did indeed write a book, although I started a little later than November. The Health Coaching Program was definitely not a mistake as it has enabled me to help hundreds of people like you (or thousands including my book) free themselves from out-of-control skin picking. If you are ready to take the biggest short-cut to freedom, contact me to learn more about coaching. If not, sign up for my free Freedom Kit and we’ll stay in touch.
Did you make it to the end? That’s amazing! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Perhaps you would even like to share a personal insight about your own picking…?
Love and support,