Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Suddenly I see

As long as I can remember, I've had a fascination with picking at myself. Not just any part of me, but specifically, my head. Even when I'm not itchy, I scratch. At one stage, as a child, I used to rub sand into my hair to have something to pick at.

Pretty odd behaviour, right?

I found it became even more pronounced when I'm stressed; this year has been hell on wheels, for the most part, and it got to the point I was giving myself actual sores on mys calp. Let's just say that going bald was never an option.

Today, I found out that what I'm doing is an actual mental condition. Yes, it seems that I may well have Dermatillomania.

The hell?
Hmm, as a semi-hypochondriac, I have to wonder if it's not just me jumping on the mental-illness bandwagon. But I know that's not it.

I don't pick at any other part of me but my scalp, and yes, I end up feeling humiliated and ashamed about it - but I can't stop. I've even found myself doing it in my sleep. If that's not totally whacked out, i don't know what is.

So, Dermatillomania what's that all about?

From Band Back Together:
Dermatillomania or Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP) is the urge to rub, pick, scratch, squeeze or dig into the skin, often to remove some perceived irregularity or flaw such as a flake of dry skin or a pimple or scab. The action may be performed with the fingers, nails, tweezers, needles or any other instrument.
Picking can happen on any part of the body or in a combination of places.
Picking is usually preceded by an intense urge to "fix" the spot.
Yes! Even when it's not a good idea - like when driving
The urge becomes the focus of attention until relief is found by acting on the urge.
Often the picking happen in a trance-like state and in severe cases, a person can spend several hours a day performing the actions associated with trying to "smooth out" or remove all the problem spots.
The picking is almost always followed by a feeling of guilt, shame and regret about the damage done to the skin. Sufferers often are also diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and depression.
Many people do not realize that CSP is a real illness and do not report it or seek treatment.
You can be damn sure I'll be telling Des about this when next I see her.
CSP is not listed in the DSM-IV. Dermatillomania labeled as an impulse control disorder (grouped with things like kleptomania and pyromania).
CSP is now often considered by many professionals as a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB).
Some professionals will classify it as an subtype of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder because a large percentage of people with OCD also pick their skin.
Many of the emotional and psychological processes resemble those of Trichotillomania (Compulsive Hair Pulling) and you may find the resources for Trichotillomania helpful, as well.
Wait, there's something ELSE?

Okay, no, that part's not like me. I'm interested in my scalp - not my hair.
Dermatillomania has a much higher incidence in women than in men.
CSP is not the same as self-injuring or self-harming behaviors (like cutting or burning). Dermatillomania sufferers are not trying to inflict damage upon themselves. Instead, people with CSP are trying to "correct" some imperfection.
So why do I do it?
Some believe Dermatillomania is a natural "grooming instinct" gone haywire. These people theorize that there is a genetic or biological component.
Others think it is a self-soothing mechanism or emotional outlet because many sufferers report being "zoned out" or trance-like while picking.
That's for sure.
Is there any treatment? Well, apparently anti-depressants might help. Since I'm on Ritalin, Valdoxane and Esperide, maybe that combination will help. Time will tell.

So, there you have it. Sorry; this blog has pretty much been light-hearted until now. But what the hell. You always knew I was a freak, right?

* I should mention that this post was inspired by Chibi Jeebs' Break-up Letter to Dermatillomania, which was what sparked off my realisation.

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