Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting Lauren McKeaney at the TLC Foundation Conference for BFRBs (body-focused repetitive behaviors). (Btw, if you want to see the talk I gave at the conference on Diet and Skin Picking, you can watch it here.)
Lauren is a relatively new voice on the scene of BFRB’s, and we’re blessed to have another advocate specifically for skin picking disorder (aka dermatillomania). Two years ago Lauren was in the hospital for two weeks fighting a life threatening MRSA infection in an abscess created by the behavior of obsessively picking her scabs. Today she is actively using logging, sensory tools and other techniques to manage the disorder that has plagued her since childhood. More exciting than that, she has founded a new non-profit (501c3) called the Picking Me Foundation, and through it is actively helping others with compulsive skin picking disorder and other BFRBs. She is also advocating and educating a variety of populations about skin picking disorder – even dermatologists (so needed!).
The foundation has various initiatives, such as the Fiddle Pack Project, Drawing with Derma, and the Picking Me pledge. I think the Picking Me pledge is brilliant. To do the pledge, you state “I am #pickingme over my BFRB” because… (fill in the blank).” The insidious nature of this disorder frequently means we focus so much on the picking and the negative impact it has on us that we forget the wonderful things about ourselves. It’s like a pledge to choose to remember that. Of course, the hashtag #pickingme is for those brave enough to pose with their pictures holding their pledge of why they are choosing themselves, and you can search #pickingme on twitter or Instagram to see them.
I very much resonate with Lauren’s emphasis on, and use of, the phrase, “progress not perfection”. It may seem paradoxical, but you will never recover from skin picking when you are trying to be perfect and holding up perfection as your standard. That only makes you feel disheartened and hopeless, which will only drive you to pick more. You could say that compulsive skin picking is a perfectionism disorder, and part of the solution is to let go of your perfectionism rather than reinforce it. There simply is no perfect. As holistic acne coach Brianne Grebil says, “there’s no such thing as perfect skin.” The most important thing is whether you are moving in the direction you want to be going in. And to focus on the positive steps that will get you there, rather than so much focus on the picking itself.
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I think you’ll really like listening to the conversation Lauren and I had a few days ago (see the video below). She talks about picking as a child, all the creative excuses she made up to hide her behavior and the damage it caused, about the low point in the hospital and the thrill of hearing a name for what she did – dermatillomania – and that she therefore wasn’t alone. She talks about overcoming the shame she previously experienced by beginning to speak out to anyone who would listen. And about almost not starting the foundation for fear that she “should” be perfectly recovered to do it. Thank God she followed her own advice of “progress not perfection” or we wouldn’t have any of the good works she is doing in the world!
We then discuss the Picking Me Foundation and its initiatives. You’ll really enjoy this one. Just get beyond the slow start (my fault – “progress not perfection,” I remind myself now) and there’s gold:
What did you think of the video? Did you have an a-ha moment or a take-away message you’d like to share? Please post a comment below.