I am a grown woman, almost 40, and I have a dragon.
This dragon is like a force, always there, always watching me and wanting to get my attention. He sits quietly, waiting for a moment of distraction and then jumps to get my attention. This dragon’s name… Dermatillomania.
Let’s call him Dermy, for short.
Dermy is one of the Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) that I’m have experienced for most of my life. Dermatillomania is a skin picking disorder, in my case, where I pick at the skin around my fingers.
While this doesn’t sound “too bad”, in my case, it’s daily, all the time, and sometimes until my fingers hurt or bleed. It’s truly terrible.
It’s essentially “self harm” though it can also be considered an OCD behavior, an ADHD behavior, or simply a reaction to anxiety. Some call it a condition, some call it an illness. It’s not yet something that’s understood enough by professionals to truly “label” it, which I feel I prefer since all humans are different and unique, with the good and the bad.
What I do know is that most shrinks don’t “get it”… yet.
In my case, I would say it’s relating to my anxiety, at the root, but has turned into an OCD/ADHD behavior over time. A true habit of mine. If I’m anxious, I pick. But I also pick if there are any little areas of my fingers that are dry or uneven or broken; over time, my brain convinced itself that picking would help remove the imperfections and leave pretty fingers.
Sadly, that’s not the case when you pick so much that blood soon follows.
And to top it off, I also bite the skin, which (let’s be honest) is super gross for a grown woman to do! This is not a good dragon. This one is called Dermatophagia (yes, they all have long names) so we’ll call her Gigi!
Dermy and Gigi are my dragons.
Some would call them “demons” but I’m a gamer girl who likes to see life as a series of levels and side quests, which all makes it sound so much more fun. I rather look at this as trying to slay a dragon, than an illness to heal.
Life is meant to be fun – this is one of the greatest problems I hope to resolve in my life someday, so by turning this into a side-quest, I’ve decided to raise the vibration of an illness into that of a challenge that I can SLAY!
That is the reality of it for me, and something I have briefly written about before, but it’s time to talk about it. Put it out there. Try to understand it.
BFRBs affect 1 out of every 25 people, I hear. That’s a lot.
How many people will read this and feel comfort that they are not alone?
It’s hard to feel like you are stuck with a behavior over which you have barely any control, if any at all. Most of the time, I have no idea that I’m picking when I am. I do it so subconsciously. And even if I do realize, mid-pick, that I am doing it, I always find a way to convince my brain as to “why” and giving myself a good reason to continue. “Oh, I’ll just pick this little corner and then I should be good…” And the cycle continues…
So, how does on “beat” this?
Is it something medical? I’ve done the therapy, the meds, the different by doctors who really have no idea that there’s even names for this behavior so they certainly don’t realize that it could be considered a condition or something deeper than just a “bad habit” or something we can stop. How do I convince my brain to stop doing this? I’m stronger than this habit…
…. aren’t I?
How do we heal an unstoppable compulsion?
I will write a lot about this, over time, as I work on healing this myself and discover new ways and thoughts around it. Follow me if you wish to know more. We can beat this. We can slay the dragons. Buh bye Dermy and Gigi.