This Common Nervous Tic Could Be a Serious Mental Illness
— Laura Donovan
August 11, 2016

I was actually surprised by the way this article is written.

It started out like any other article I’ve read full of misinformation, and that’s what I was expecting. Then it took a turn in the right direction and was very informative.

I, personally, didn’t take anything away from it. It certainly wasn’t the most informative piece I’ve ever read about dermatillomania.

Dermatillomania is so much more complex than they describe it here, if you’ve never heard of it before, this is a good place to start, but I recommend doing more research.

Dermatillomania is something I’ve struggled with for a very long time, undiagnosed. In fact, I’m still not officially diagnosed but I know I have it – I’m not self diagnosing, I promise.

I have mentioned it to my doctor, but I was sort of deflecting the conversation about self-harm, which he only brought up because the nurse who talked to me first saw some scars and put a note in my file. I was aware of dermatillomania and trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling) prior to the conversation. I mention the picking and that I had pulled out basically all my eyelashes (at that particular point everything was really bad). He mentioned trich, but not derma or excoriation. I’ve since told my counselor about it and he acknowledged the skin picking but not the trich, so I think it’s really just a lack of awareness on their part.

My dermatillomania is really bad right now. I’ve picked off 4 small moles and have about 30 spots in different areas of my body that are not healing because I keep picking. My eyelashes are a bit of a mess right now too.

This article I just read on The Mighty is an excellent description of what having a BFRB is like: When Biting My Fingers Took Over My Mind

Whether mild or severe, anxiety triggering or triggered by anxiety, it is difficult to live with and not easy to get over. If we could stop simply because we wanted to, trust me, we would!

I know I have tried so many times to stop picking at blemishes, even the smallest ones, (dermatillomania) or plucking or pulling out any hair that looks even slightly out of place or like it doesn’t belong (trichotillomania). I’ve tried countless times.

I even try countless times to stop when I’m in a full blown picking/pulling session, my mind will be screaming, STOP IT, STOP IT NOW!, but I just can’t get my fingers away from my skin, or put down the tweezers, or stop my eyes from noticing that one other spot that I missed.

Long before I knew these were actual disorders, I thought that I just had this super weird habit and that no one else did this, and was so embarrassed by it that I never told a single person because they would think that I was crazy. But now I know differently. I’m not the only one!

For me, it is easier to hide, most of the time, because my target areas are generally covered by clothes. However, I do often target my face. I can’t go out with my face covered. I try to hide it with makeup, but the instant I notice a new pimple, whether I see it in the mirror in the bathroom at work or I just happened to touch my face while driving or sitting at the computer, it is all I can think about. Even when I’m NOT actually thinking about it, I’m touching it, trying to judge whether or not it will explode when I’m not looking or if it’s noticeable enough for the people around me to see it and think, eww, she has a pimple.

I fight the urge to actually pop it because I know it will bleed and/or turn into a huge red bump. No matter how hard I try, eventually it will get popped. No matter how much I know I shouldn’t and how much I fight the urge, it will happen. Whether in aware I’m doing it or not, it will happen. I often don’t realize what I’m doing until it’s already happening.

That is only part of the daily battle of having a BFRB.