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Day 19: Whatever It Takes

Posted by thatwillnotfly, 10 May 2013 · 403 views

acne skin picking dermatillomania psychology
So I've been reflecting a little bit more on how it is that I've managed to make it more than two weeks at this point (!) without picking, squeezing, scratching, or otherwise disturbing my face's irregularities. And I think if I had to pick just one thing that has been the most critical to my "success" (I have so far overcome picking, but not the urge to pick) it has been making not picking my face virtually the number one priority in my life. I know that sounds a little bit crazy, but hear me out. 
 
I decided, really and truly, that I was absolutely done picking my face. Period, end of story, never again. And I decided that I would do absolutely whatever it took to stop picking my face. I wasn't sure exactly what that meant at the time. (Saying "whatever it takes" is kind of like writing yourself a blank check. You aren't sure what it's going to cost, though you might have some idea, but regardless, you're willing to pay it.)
 
So here's what it meant, at least for me: it meant giving myself permission to do whatever it was that I wanted, if only it meant that I wasn't going to pick my face. Here's how it went: I reached up, skimmed my face, and suddenly felt it: that little lump, bump, kernel, thing that didn't belong in my skin. I got that rush of anxiety, of oh god, ANOTHER ONE. In the before times, this would have been the precursor to making an immediate beeline for the mirror, and doing whatever I could to dig that thing out.
 
But this time, of course, I had promised myself that I would do "whatever it takes" not to pick. So in that key moment, how did I decide not to pick? How did I overcome the overwhelming compulsion to get that foreign, disgusting, awful thing out of my face? By reminding myself of my promise, and then by delivering.
 
"If you choose not to pick," I told myself in that moment, "you can have anything you want."
And then I thought, "Anything?"
"Anything."
 
So I made the choice. I treated myself to the other random thing that sounded good at that moment: the new nail polish "Taboo" by Chanel. Instead of picking at my face I bought myself Chanel nail polish online. This was fun for me, because I had never, ever bought Chanel nail polish before. Just drugstore stuff. I just like looking at fancy nail polishes on blogs.
 
And you know what? It worked.
 
And now, two weeks later, I am now the (proud?) owner of FIVE bottles. Of Chanel. Nail polish.
I know at some point nail polish might get old, but it got me through two weeks. And then there's Chanel eyeshadow palettes, and lipsticks, and mascaras...
 
So here's the bottom line: I have clear skin. Worth every penny. (And my short, stubby nails look pretty amazing, too.) 




lol reading this made me laugh so much and it doesn't sound crazy rather cute actually and am glad yur skin cleared up!!

Haha...thanks! Also, too, every time I so much as glimpse at my hands or feet, it reminds me how awesome it is that I've made it this far. Plus, I have all of this glorious new nail polish to play with, so lately when I've been tempted to pick at my skin, I literally just replace that thought with, "my nails need a touch up!"

 

Seriously, by the time I'm done fussing with my nails, my brain is consumed with "LOOK pretty color with sparklies!" and the urge to pick has been quashed.

 

I'm not exactly made of money (far from it), but 30 dollars x 5 for two weeks is about 300 dollars a month, right? If that's what it costs me to break the compulsion to pick my face, then that's what it costs, and that's what I'll happily pay. It's given me my life back, and that's priceless.

I think you're onto something with the reward scheme! Somehow giving into the temptation is oddly rewarding so replacing it with something else is definitely a good idea...although if I did this I would probably get soooooo fat lol I did read on stoppickingonme.com that doing your nails can help pickers as a deterrent or false nails make it harder to pick apparently. Honestly though well done and keep up the good work! So good to know someone is breaking the habit! Just a word of warning (pretty sure you already know this!) every time I've had periods of not picking it manages to creep up on me and I think it's because I get complacent. Sounds like you're in control though so really hoping you carry on :)

Elliew8 you are absolutely right about becoming complacent. And I am glad I sound like I'm in control...I feel sometimes like I'm thisclose to going on a scratching rampage, but so far I guess I've been lucky. One day at a time, right?

Definitely one day at a time :) just read your next entry and think it's good you're being vigilant about it, although yeah you honestly sound like you're in control - that plug you're talking about would have been scratched off/ squeezed out or had some kind of meddling by now if it was me! You're obviously really determined not to give in! You have a lot of willpower...I find I can MOSTLY stop picking rampages but always end up justifying to myself minor maintenance picking which just makes it easier for me to fall into a picking session trap. I always think that the better I feel about myself the easier it is not to pick so keep writing/ reading the quotes like in your next post because I'm guessing they help your self-esteem and perseverance! You're doing so well, it's inspiring me to make it a priority too.

"MINOR MAINTENANCE." Ugh. This is also what just kills me! My skin is dry right now, and I am constantly tempted to try and "exfoliate" my skin. But it turns into rubbing my fingers onto the couple of small plugs I have. It's like I literally have a devil in my brain telling me that "it's ok, just this once, just remove that little tiny fleck of skin right there...see? it was just dry skin, it came right off, you didn't even have to try..."

 

And I know that this is just edging up to that line of going into a full-fledged scratching, squeezing session.

 

I am so glad you liked the last post! I actually came here to blog precisely because I wanted to have a space where I could articulate what's going on in my head, and to put it out there. Writing out things like that last quote have been hugely helpful for me. It's like rehearsing a new thought process. I really believe that my picking comes down to thinking a certain way about my acne, and it's like a mechanistic machine: I think, "ew, that's disgusting", and then "I can make that go away," and then "and if I do, it will feel soooo much better." And then I feel compelled to pick. It's been difficult, but I've been trying very hard to articulate and then counter these thoughts when I have them. It's something I've had to do over, and over, and over again. But it's getting easier! I have the hang of it now. I think.

 

I also think for me it comes down largely to motivation. I reached a low point, a breaking point, and decided that this Just. Had. To. Stop. Like I said, "whatever it takes." Even if I have to fund a reward system for a year just to trick my brain. For reasons that are too numerous to even contemplate, my picking has really affected my life. We only live once, and I don't want to spend it living ashamed and with infected scabs on my face.

 

Right now, I feel a little bit like I've been given the key out of prison, but I have to make the decision to keep using it. Over, and over, and over. :/

I totally understand what you mean, it's like our brains are wired to justify any reason to pick. I think that repeating something over and over to yourself actually works, I used to do this with food by pretty much shouting at myself 'you're not hungry!' lol might start doing it by saying 'you're not making it better' because even though I know that it's true...subconsciously I'm telling myself that by picking it's somehow helping/ speeding up the healing process which is just sooooooo not the case!

 

It's so good you've got to 25 days, just to let you know that experts say it takes between 21 and 30 days to break a habit so you're almost there! I know that picking is more of a mindset than a habit, but if you break the habit of picking I guess it's much easier to deal with the psycological aspects. I always try to stop picking but it only lasts as long as my skin stays clear really, but I think if I set myself goals like not picking for the next 3 days, and if I reach that point I'll try for 4 days the next time.

 

Picking really affects my life too :( I think sometimes it's more about how ashamed I feel after picking that affects me so much more than the actual damage I do to my face (although looking at the evidence of the picking is just a reminder of the shame!). On a side note I have no idea how you're still touching your face and still doing so well because that's the worst part for me...I've almost managed to stop skimming the surface I think, which is good but I guess it's just eliminating one trigger at a time.

 

You've got to use the key, you know that this is working for you so you have to keep going! Plus I strongly believe that if something is easy it's generally not worth doing...no matter how hard it is you know it's worth it in the end - plus the longer you go without picking it's making me realise that it's achievable if I really put my mind to it! :)

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