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  1. #1
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    How do you stop picking?

    I have a question that is kind of long but I'll try and keep it short <g>.

    I've never been formally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or OCD but it's been mentioned that at the very least I have "strong traits", which I fully agree with and would also support a diagnosis of mild - moderate anxiety / OCD. It interferes to a certain extent in my life but it's certainly not disabling me in any way, shape or form. Yet.

    I've always been a picker for as long as I can remember. Injuries take a long time to heal on me because I don't let them. It's impossible to resist. I'm also a horrible, horrible nail biter but right now that's not a big issue.

    When I was 18 I had surgery and one of the possible outcomes was that I would lose feeling in that part of my body. It was elective surgery and I accepted that risk as it was still better than living with the issue that was causing me to seek surgery.

    That was 19 years ago (18 really as I was almost 19 when I had the surgery and I'm just barely 37 now).

    Last night, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I became convinced that the surgeon had left some gauze in the wound (18 years ago) and I should get it out. Because I don't have feeling in that area I think I did quite a bit of damage. I don't like going to the doctor at all because I always feel like I'm wasting resources, especially if something is self-inflicted. I would prefer to wait a few days and see if it starts to heal on its own and how it does. The problem, of course, is if I wait I will continue to pick and make things far worse. It's definitely not self-injury related the way we would think - I'm not depressed, haven't been suicidal in over nine months or even thought of it, things have been pretty hunky dory. I've tried putting a band aid over it but of course I can just peel it off.

    Fast forward now to February. I am having major surgery in February (was supposed to be October, then January, now February - I keep postponing to accommodate my holidays). Major surgery brings with it major trauma to the body, incisions, and healing time. I am terrified my six to eight weeks of healing are going to turn into six to eight months of healing. I don't *want* to cause damage or injury to my body...but I can't stop picking no matter how big or small the owie is. And small ones always, always become big ones by the time I'm done with them.

    So...how can I stop picking? I can go to the doctor for this recent injury and they might prescribe antibiotics for infection (I'm now convinced as well that I'm going to turn septic and die from it) but it still won't stop me from picking. It's automatic and uncontrollable.

    Does anyone have any ideas? Any at all???

  2. #2
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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    Hi Turtle,

    I have a friend who used this online program:

    StopPicking.com is an easy to use, on-line behavioral program designed to help individuals reduce unwanted skin picking, nail biting, cheek and lip biting behaviors.


    StopPicking.com is not therapy and is not intended to replace individual behavior therapy. It is an interactive behavioral program that will help you to identify situations associated with your picking or biting behaviors, and will recommend strategies to help you to change those behaviors.


    StopPicking.com is intended for people 12 years and older. The program can be used in conjunction with behavior therapy for people who are already in treatment with a therapist who is familiar with treating body focused repetitive behaviors. StopPicking.com can be a nice complement to therapy, however, if you are currently in therapy, let your therapist know you are considering subscribing to StopPicking.com so that they can integrate the program successfully into your treatment.


    StopPicking.com can also be used by people who do not have access to appropriately trained professionals in their area, i.e., someone who knows how to treat body focused repetitive behaviors. Because so few professionals are trained specifically to treat these behaviors, it is oftentimes difficult to find either someone in your area or someone on your insurance panel. While StopPicking.com is not therapy, it can provide a useful alternative to a self-help book or to treatment with a professional who is not trained in helping people to reduce these unwanted behaviors.

  3. #3
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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    Similarly:

    The primary treatment modality for Compulsive Skin Picking / Dermatillomania is a combination of various types of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Perhaps the most important of these is called Habit Reversal Training (HRT). HRT is based on the principle that skin picking is a conditioned response to specific situations and events, and that the individual with Dermatillomania is frequently unaware of these triggers. HRT challenges Compulsive Skin Picking in a two-fold process. First, the individual learns how to become more consciously aware of situations and events that trigger skin picking episodes. Second, the individual learns to utilize alternative behaviors in response to these situations and events.

    Other Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy techniques can be used as adjuncts to HRT in the treatment of Compulsive Skin Picking. Among these are Stimulus Control techniques and Cognitive Restructuring. Stimulus Control techniques involve utilizing specific physical items as "habit blockers" to restrict the ability to pick skin, while Cognitive Restructuring helps an individual with Dermatillomania learn to think differently in response to the urge to pick their skin.

    One of the most effective CBT developments for the treatment of Compulsive Skin Picking / Dermatillomania is Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. The primary goal of Mindfulness-Based CBT is to learn to non-judgmentally accept uncomfortable psychological experiences. From a mindfulness perspective, much of our psychological distress is the result of trying to control and eliminate the discomfort of unwanted thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges. In other words, our discomfort is not the problem ? our attempt to control and eliminate our discomfort is the problem. For those with Compulsive Skin Picking / Dermatillomania, the ultimate goal of mindfulness is to develop the ability to more willingly experience their uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, sensations, and urges, without picking their skin.

    COMPULSIVE SKIN PICKING - OCD CENTER OF LOS ANGELES


    ---------- Post added at 10:02 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:12 AM ----------

    Trichotillomania, Compulsive Skin Picking, and the Resistor?s High | OCD Center of Los Angeles

    Habit Reversal Training - Basics of Habit Reversal Training

    ---------- Post added at 10:47 AM ---------- Previous post was at 10:02 AM ----------

    Dermatillomania - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  4. #4
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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    Thanks for the info, guys. I'm also going to once again embark on the great therapist hunt and see if I can find someone who knows something about this.

    Growing up, my mom was constantly saying "stop picking" "leave it alone" "let it heal" "you're going to be scarred for life"...it's a behaviour that's been happening for as long as I can remember...but just now is it becoming concerning.

    ---------- Post added at 08:59 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:54 AM ----------

    The wikipedia article on dermatillomania says that acrylic or gel nails may be helpful in stopping certain behaviours. It's how I quit biting my nails (except if they come off, my fingers are almost instantly in my mouth) except that now I have better nails to pick at the rest of me with.

  5. #5
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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    OTOH, where you live it's socially acceptable to wear mittens indoors most of the year

  6. #6
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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    It's almost mitten season, Daniel. No question there!

    But seriously - I had no idea how big of an issue this is. It's been such a habit my whole life, and now as I read and read and read some more, I'm absolutely shocked that I've never tuned into this until now. I thought I was pretty in tune with things, and pretty on top of things with my mind and body, and I'm horrified by some of the stuff I'm reading and saying "oh yes that's what I do". I'm convinced now that this behaviour needs to stop - like a lot of dysfunctional behaviours I grew up with, it has always been my normal and I just assumed that everyone does his. What jolted me wasn't the picking but the fact that I was worried about gauze - I thought I was losing it.

    I did find an anxiety centre here in town that has a therapist who deals directly with compulsive behaviours. I'm going to contact her and see what she says. I'm going to keep an open mind because I can clearly see this isn't normal but by the same token I don't think I suffer from low self esteem, depression (at this point in my life), or some of the other triggers. I do think I have more anxiety on a day to day basis than a lot of people but I have no idea why. There's no reason I should so I'll see what can of worms this might open up.

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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    I did some research and there is an anxiety and ocd treatment centre in LA that does distance therapy for dermatillomania via Skype. They also operate on a sliding fee scale. Due to U.S. laws they can offer distance counselling/therapy only to those within the state of California and those outside of the country. I have scheduled an initial appointment to try and get the ball rolling. The surgeon called yesterday and my surgery is officially booked for January 24th, so I have less than four months to get this under control.

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    Re: How do you stop picking?

    I've also made an appointment with my psychiatrist to get some medication for anxiety to help. I thought my anxiety would get better in time but it's getting worse while everything else gets better. I think that will be more beneficial than anything else. I'm also speeding up the delivery of my pet pig so I have something to focus on and relieve some boredom which also leads to picking episodes.

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