Excoriation – Understanding My Skin Picking Disorder

Since I was a kid I always had the “bad habit” of picking at my sores. It was a compulsion that I didn’t understand, I just knew I did it and in result I would get peroxide or alcohol (whichever was available) doused over my raw areas to keep them from getting infected.  My mom used to tell me “your going to get infantigo!”  I figured this was bad but never had any idea what it meant. So at a young age I started creating scars on my arms and legs.  You can only imagine what a severe case of the chickenpox’s did to me! My desire never really went away, my focus later changed to nail biting and cuticle biting and pealing.  I thought this was normal behavior as well, just another “bad habit”.  One my mom would tell me “your going to get worms!”.  Again, it sounded gross but my compulsion was stronger than my moms words.

As an adult in my late 30’s I had a minor mental  breakdown that resulted in a diagnosis of Bi-Polar II, OCD and social anxiety. The more I learn, I realize this is a common cocktail of problems for a lot of people.  During my breakdown I used outbursts of rage to expel my feelings and experience release and control.  Not the best medicine I can tell you that!  But after I was properly medicated and the tornado inside of me came to a low churn and I was no longer angry, I had no outlet for my anxiety (which even with medicine does exist). I noticed I was picking again. A grown woman, picking her sores! Grow up!

I think what I have experienced is that medicine takes care of the major swings, keeps the extreme anxiety, depression and OCD tenancies at bay, but there is still a lot left to behavioral modification and self control.  I have never had a drug/alcohol, smoking or any other type of addiction, but I understand the undeniable, uncontrollable urge that it takes with every ounce of your being to talk yourself out of giving in.  It’s a mental battle that I often lose.

So now i’m 42 and over the past year the picking has gotten worse. I have accounted it to the amount of stress in my life with one of my daughters going to college, a new job, and life in general.  It has gotten to the point where my arms and wrists are a plethora of open wounds and gnarly scars, and thanks to pesky mosquitoes assisting me in opening new wounds they are also on my legs now as well .  It got so embarrassing that I actually wore gloves at work trying to keep from picking at them and also using that as an excuse to hide them from people that may not understand. I try make-up on them, which never works, I wear long sleeves in the summer, and I am terrified of what people will think at the public pool, or even the Walmart cashier when she sees me hand my money over. It’s embarrassing and just plain gross.

Another thing that I experience is what I call “phantom itching” which in my case is directly anxiety related . There are no bites, no topical reasons for the itch, yet it gets in my head and I cannot control the desire to scratch.  I experience an itch that is so deep under the skin that it’s impossible to satisfy, resulting in scratching layers of skin off to try and reach it.  Sometimes wrenching my hands and feet will sooth it, but often times I just have to compulsively itch it until I feel that it’s gone, leaving “rub burns” and open areas to later pick at.  Seriously, who can ignore the most annoying thing in the world, to have an itch where you can’t scratch it.

The act of picking to most people is absolutely disgusting, painful and they avoid it at all costs.  For me, the compulsion comes in a few of different ways. ONE: I mindlessly search my arms and legs while I am preoccupied watching t.v., talking to someone or driving in the car.  I don’t even realize I am doing it, I find a nice easy scab that is raised off of the skin and without even acknowledging my behavior I pick it off and end up in a bloody mess. There is no purpose to this other than “idol hands do the devils work”.  TWO: This one is directly anxiety related, if I am under a lot of stress and can’t seem to get release, I will close myself in the bathroom and literally pick every thing I can find. Not only does the amount of pain it brings “hurt so good”, but the letting of blood makes me FEEL better. It lets out a relief that allows me to calm down and regain control (man, this sounds really sadistic). The THIRD thing is directly OCD related, when I come across a scab that isn’t easily accessible. Generally it’s deeper in the skin, with no raised edges. It’s like a challenge that I cannot turn down.  I become hyper-focused on picking it out.  Not because i’m stressed, but merely due to the obsession. I have gone to great lengths, such as using tools, needles, tweezers, or any other objects that will help accomplish my mission. These generally hurt a lot, but pain does not seem to bother me while I am this focused.  After I finish the dirty deed, these tend to the be my “go to” sores for weeks to follow, making it very difficult to heal, and leaving the worst scars.

In a less intrusive but still very aggravating compulsion that has the same release is choosing certain areas of my body and over cleaning it.  Not my whole body, and I’m not a germa-phobe but I will get in my head that this area is not clean enough and I will rub it until its raw, which feels SO good at the time, then soon after I regret.  The more irritated it is, the more I want to scrub, it feels good, then bleeds, then hurts like hell creating a vicious cycle.

I have recently done some research and found articles on this disorder called Excoriation (see link below).  It was very interesting to read and be able to FINALLY have something that described EXACTLY what I was experiencing. Its in the OCD family of issues, but it’s classified as Skin picking disorder – a type of repetitive “self-grooming” behavior called “Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior”(BFRB). Other types of BFRBs include pulling or picking of the hair or nails that damages the body.

If you experience any of these issues, you may want to research and learn why you do what you do. I am not at the top of the scale in this compulsion, but nonetheless, it’s damaging to my skin, my confidence and my social interaction with the general public and even my family.

So if you happen to see me or someone else, and wonder “geesh is that person on meth?”, which people laugh and say to me all of the time, consider it might be a disorder that can’t be easily controlled and there is more to the story than you realize.

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/skin-picking-disorder#1

 

 

 

 

Never Again

shoulder to shoulder
chest to chest
breath on breath
sweat on sweat
forced movements forward and backward against my will
can’t see anything but the ceiling, not even my shoes
flashing lights, yelling, sour smells
no exit through the wall of bodies
elbows gouging, feet stomping, heads thrashing
assult from all sides
so damn loud its deafening
the only escape is behind my eye lids
i’m all alone I tell myself
breath I remind my lungs
I create a bubble around me in my mind
and when the music stops
I fight my way out of the crowd
it was a mash-pit panic attack
never again.

 

Struggle Between the Sheets

between the sheets

Slipping between the silky sheets
bare skinned and anticipating
that intimate moment we all long
the satisfaction that will soon swallow us whole
the soft rising and falling of our breath
and just when you’re about there, in bliss…..

you’re RUDELY awakened!
moments away from sleeping climax
the sheets get STRIPPED from your body
it becomes a full game of tug-o-war
struggling to steel a corner back
he’s wrapped like a burrito
he lays like a rock
fighting against his 200 lb body
as he snores peacefully
all of his parts warm and cozy
while you lay exposed
naked, cold and sleepless.

The struggle between the sheets is real folks,
don’t let it happen to you.

I am Here

This is my very personal, raw and painful experience with Bi-Polar Depression. These words have been read by very few. I truly hope none of you can relate.
(Thank goodness for medication, I do not feel this way anymore!) 

It’s the dark side of today’s daily post – Pensive.

I AM HERE

Standing still, a blur of motion surrounds me

Screaming in my head, muted by my thoughts

Watching but not seeing, blinded by my own hand

Smiling with my mouth, eyes fixed in a stare

Happiness lies on my skin, laughter settles in my throat

Light fills the skies; still it rains down my face

Loved and misunderstood, cherish is lost on me

Simplicity is complex, everything is questionable, WHY?

Living behind blinds, only slivers of reality getting through

Sleep…… long…. Swallowing…… sleep……….

Rage breaks my teeth and scars my face and it feels good

Other’s tears bring more tears brings more sad brings more rage

Sifting through the rubble, mending, bending, repairing broken pieces

Little bodies around me, mouths moving, smiling faces, saddened hearts

Hear me! HEAR ME! I AM SPEAKING…. HEAR ME DAMN IT!

Why is no one listening? I speak into silence.

Back in my world, standing still, a blur of motion surrounds me.

Screaming in my head.

Repeat.

Bipolar Depression

Working Mom Woes

I have struggled with something for several years and it’s getting stronger and stronger.  I will assume a lot of working mothers deal with this, so I am not alone in this struggle.  But sometimes I feel like I am being looked at as if I am being “dramatic”, or “ridiculous” for feeling like a failure.  Maybe they are right.

A friend posted something on Facebook that left me with a profound feeling and a heavy chest.  http://momlifenow.com/2016/02/02/naked-love/.  Although I do not proclaim to be a spiritual person, this spoke volumes to me and made me realize the very tiny, important, impressionable moments that I am not giving my children. I have a 17 year old that I have not applied this to, I was there when she was little, I did all of the mom stuff, school events etc.  She has turned out great!! My other two “littles” have never experienced that “mom”.

Yes, I give my kiddos lots of hugs and kisses and they know that I love them, without question.  But I do not believe that is enough. Everyday we are molding their very little beings, personalities, motivation for the future, how they will raise their families and treat their spouses, even what kind of housekeeper they may be someday…. It all matters, and for that to be fully effective I think I need to be more present in their lives.

cropped-cartoon-multitasking-housewife-illustration-51245428.jpgSome days I feel like I raise them over social media, Facebook and Snapchat.  They get snippets of my time, minutes of my undivided attention, and very little quality time.  It’s like summing a movie up into a III Act Play. Skip all of the important stuff and squish as much as you can into an abbreviated version of the real thing. I think a lot of you will recognize this very typical “day in the life of…”

ActIACT I: Morning ritual. “Good morning girls, (in my sweetest voice), it’s time to get up (gently rubbing their back and legs to simulate them awake)”…10 minutes later…”GIRLS (in a firm voice)…it is time to get up, lets go…”….. 5 minutes later…”OK GIRLS, this is enough, your not going to have time to eat breakfast! Get Up Now!”…sound familiar? Please say yes! Now we are running late, and from that point it’s mostly yelling, running around, threatening to take away their toys if they don’t find their shoes and brush their teeth.  It is not a happy time and usually sucks the life out of all of us before our day even begins.  Then we go and do what we all have to do, work and school.

photo-originalACT II: The kids get out of school and are bused to yet another “facility” where they are monitored by other adults that work very hard to show my kids (among hundreds of others) guidance and limited attention.  Now, after dealing with a day of work and 45 mins of interstate traffic (shoot me now), I get to pick up my very tired little girls who are running at me with open arms yelling “mommy!!!, guess what happened today!”, it’s all a murmur and blur as I am still wearing my weary face and can’t understand a word they are saying.  I round them up with quick side hugs and shuttle them out to the car, because we have places to go before we get home.

Act3ACT III: Now it’s 6:30 and we are doing one of our many after-work activities that keeps us away from home even longer (groceries, gymnastics, this, that, and the other thing). The kids are in the back of the van fighting with each other because they are exhausted from a long day and just want to be home, and my frustration is further building and generally explodes in a rant or yelling fit, all because I want is the same.  By 7:30 or later we roll into the driveway where the dogs greet us hungry for attention and food and the kids are hungry for the same.

We walk in the house and drop our stuff at the closest piece of floor to the door, adding to the total disarray, ok down right disgusting excuse for a house.  The very first question out of everyone’s mouth is “what’s for dinner mom”. Now that seems to be a logical question, but it seems more and more the question comes out “ARE we eating dinner tonight mom?” You can only imagine the enormous blow to your emotions when you hear those words, knowing you are doing something very, very wrong.  I sigh very heavily, almost aggravated at the question, and tell them “I don’t know, we will figure something out”. Cooking seems to be one of the banes of my existence, laundry being the other.  But before the thought even finishes about dinner, everyone is talking over each other about their day, knowing that “she who gets dibs,gets the longest time”…It’s usually the oldest because she commands it.

It is now 8:00 or so and still no dinner.  We now have to prioritize the importance of the evening tasks (a) dinner, (b) baths, (c) chores, (d) homework.  Inevitably it is a sandwich for dinner while we do homework, then maybe…just maybe one kid gets a bath (the other will have to go another day…or two). Forget reading before bed…who has time for that? While they are eating I hear, “but mom you didn’t paint our nails like you promised”, “you said we would watch a movie tonight!”, “you always say you will do something then it never happens”…….. I let out another VERY heavy sigh feeling utterly defeated.

Its 9:00 bed time. Technically, 30 minutes later than we had originally decided in parenting school that we would allow, but whatever, pick your battles.  After 45 minutes of “were thirsty, still hungry, my belly hurts, i’m not tired…etc”, they finally fall asleep.  My husband is relieved that I finally have some time for him. We sit down exhausted from the day and as he looks lovingly over to me to have our first conversation of the day, …. I am sound asleep.

Framed-Curtain-CallCURTAIN CALL: Heaven forbid one of the kids wake up in the middle of the night with a bad dream, or sick. Because (in a voice even I don’t recognize) “mommy doesn’t have time for this, I have to get up in a little while and go to work!”.  Then I get a sad look and a little whiny voice that says “but why can’t you stay home mommy, I need you”.  Somehow I have to explain to my little 6 year old, in her very tiny understanding of the world and say in a tired aggravated tone “because honey I just have to work that’s why”, when all the while what I feel I am really saying is, my work is more important than you needing me.

Some moms say, “well gee, you already got them to this age! They don’t need you as much anymore why do you need to stay home?”  Well, because they do need me. They need me to keep a clean house, to keep laundry done and put away, cook healthy food, go to the grocery store and run errands, take care of myself, my health and mental health, then when I pick them up from school (not daycare) and they are happy and wanting to tell me about their day, I can give them my undivided attention. I am not aggravated, short tempered and have nothing emotionally left to give them.  I already did my work when they were at school, and now my time belongs to them…and my spouse.  In the end I feel accomplished from my day, and in control of my family and life.  I had this once upon a short time, and it was blissful. At that time I only had one child and our family unit worked nearly flawlessly.

ENCORE: Life makes up of a series of cogs in a machine… family, home, work and fun. When the home cog breaks, the rest suffer, then before you know it, the machine does not work properly.

So what is my plan to change my situation?  I have no idea.  We have been a two parent working household for so long it seems an almost hopeless situation.  I could quit my job, but what about insurance?  My husband is self-employed so no benefits there.  So, my saga continues long after this rant is over…

FOOT NOTES: Please know, this is not an “anti-working-mom” blog in the least.  This is what I need for my family, it’s how I feel,  what my heart is heavy over, and the direction I want to go in.  Only you know what your family needs and how to fulfill that.

CREDITS:  Thank you to all of the moms that let me vent, cry and whine about my problems. It’s not easy no matter your path. I love you all! 

 

Quote of the day: It doesn’t take a village to raise kids, it takes a family. 

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