Moonlit, I`ve done the car and shop window thing too. On more than one occasion, I`ve gone to look at my reflection in a car window only to find that there is someone sat in the car! Talk about embarassing! Worse than that though, in my local Sainsbury`s there is a sunglasses stand and every time I used to shop in there, I would pretend to look at the sunglasses just so that I could look at myself in the mirror at the top of the stand. Can`t believe I`m telling you guys this - you will probably think I`m completely mad.
Thinking back, the main reason that I would constantly look in mirrors and reflective surfaces would be to seek reassurance that my blemishes (real or perceved) did not look too bad. The problem was that 95% of the time, every time I looked at my reflection, my flaws would look more hideous and repulsive - I suppose this would be similar to what you experience when you look in the mirror for too long.
CBT has really helped with the mirror checking. It was one of the first things I discussed when I started CBT and with the help of my therapist I managed to cut down the times I look in the mirror to three times per day - first thing in the morning when I wash and shave, when I get home from work and last thing at night. At first it was really hard not only to resist the compulsion to look in the mirror but also the anxiety that was provoked by not being able to see if there were any blemishes on my face. However, by strictly adhering to the alloted times that I can look in the mirror, over the course of the past few weeks it has helped me to focus less on and feel less anxious about my appearance.
Edit: Just off to have my nightly wash so that I can get my mirror fix!
Thanks GUNNKE, it's so good to know I'm not the only person who's ever engaged in this ludicrous habit! I always get paranoid that there'll be someone in the car one day but thankfully it hasn't happened yet. If it ever does I think I may just die of embarrassment! I can totally relate to the sunglasses thing. Anything in a shop that's reflective is just another temptation for me. It's pretty pathetic.
It's great that you've now managed to ration your mirror checking. I try so hard to do the same and I can sort of manage to get it down to about 5 times a day when I'm staying at home but if I'm leaving the house I literally cannot stop myself from doing it constantly to check my make-up's covering the acne well enough and that I haven't somehow reverted to looking like a monster again. I'm also obsessive enough that I have to check my skin in at least 3 different mirrors in my house to check how it looks in different lighting before I'll actually go out the front door. It's totally ridiculous, I really need to gain some self-control and willpower!!
It's interesting how people with the same difficulties can have such total opposite behavior. LIke how I completely avoid mirrors and reflective surfaces at all costs, except for my morning and nightly regimens. I feel every time I look in the mirror, something on my face looks worse or worse than that, something new has appeared. It's gotten to the point where I need my mother to apply my make-up and 9/10 I leave the house wearing a hat to cover my forehead. I swear I would wear a shawl over my face if I didn't run the risk of looking completely mad.
Moonlit, I can totally relate to your mirror experiences. If I stare long enough, everything starts to look bigger, or redder, or even I can find imaginary bumps all over my face. It's completely insane. Sometimes when I look too long I start losing touch with what I actually look like. Almost as if it's not me in the mirror. All I can see are the bumps, the scars, and red/dark marks that cover my T-Zone. Ergo, I COMPLETELY avoid mirrors even though not knowing what I look like provokes intense anxiety.
Something that I have recently started doing, right before I fall asleep, is to state the things that I am blessed with. First I'll start with superficial things like "I'm blessed to have clear cheeks" and "I'm blessed to have no active pimples right now". Then I move into things with more substance like "I'm blessed to have a boyfriend that has loved with clear skin, with broken out skin, and with acne covered skin" and "I'm blessed to have a roof over my head, while there are people sleeping on benches". I find that it temporarily eases the anxiety and helps me go to sleep feeling blessed, even though I may be struggling to no end. Because in the end (even though I may not believe it), I can logically state that I am blessed with more positive than negative. If I can believe that statement for 5 minutes out of the day, then that's enough for now.
That is interesting that you've had completely the opposite reaction! Although I must say I would definitely never be able trust my mum (or anyone else for that matter) to do my make-up for me! I totally get the shawl temptation. I had to go to the doctor's with no make-up on a few weeks ago (literally the first time in 8 years that I've stepped foot outside my house bare-faced) and even though my dad drove me to the door of the surgery I still had to wear a scarf to cover my face up from the eyes down... in July no less!! I know I must have looked like a complete weirdo but to me it was the lesser of two evils if the other option was anyone seeing my horrific skin.
Counting your blessings before falling asleep sounds like a really good idea but I don't know how well I'd be able to do it. I really struggle with any kind of positive thinking and the hours it takes for me to get to sleep each night are always filled with billions of negative thoughts flying around in my head, some of them so bad that they feel like being physically kicked in the stomach (and yes I am aware that sounds completely insane...). But I will definitely try your technique! As you say, even thinking positive for 5 minutes each day would be significant progress!