How I Hacked My Skin-Picking Disorder
I’ve never described it in these terms, but I hacked my skin-picking disorder. Excoriation disorder used to control every aspect of my life—physically and emotionally—and I was certain I’d suffer forever. Today, I can share with you that this is far from reality. I might have skin picking disorder, but it doesn’t have me.
3 Things I Did to Hack Skin-Picking Disorder
I want to emphasize that these are things that worked for me, but I can’t guarantee they’ll work for everyone. My hope in talking about these steps I took is that others who struggle with skin-picking disorder the way I struggled with it will see there are ways to overcome it.
1. I learned about skin-picking disorder and how it impacts me.
Previously, I’ve separated these two into their own points, but as I think about it now, I see they go hand-in-hand. Self-education, for me, was a matter of informational learning and a sort of self-case study.
Learning that skin picking disorder is a body-focused repetitive behavior and classed diagnostically as a disorder related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) gave me the foundation to understand what I was going through. With that information, I was able to unravel my triggers for the behavior and develop coping mechanisms.
2. I joined peer support groups.
If there’s one commonality among people who pick their skin, it’s the feeling of isolation. Somehow, we get it into our heads that we’re the only ones in the world who do this and that there’s not a soul who could possibly understand.
Joining peer support groups was key to me seeing that’s categorically false. Research suggests 2-5% of the population lives with skin-picking disorder.1 Who knows how many more people may be flying under the radar? Underreporting due to shame and misunderstanding is very real.
3. I stopped trying to quit cold turkey.
Of all the things I did to heal from skin-picking disorder, I think this is truly the one that made the biggest impact. When I first started tackling my skin-picking disorder, I tried to stop outright. Meaning I wouldn't pick anymore. I had "days since" apps that would count how many days since I last picked my skin, but the problem was I could never make it past a day. It was so discouraging, and I thought I was too broken ever to recover.
That's when I changed my plan of attack. Instead of quitting cold turkey, I'd reduce the amount I picked. I ditched the apps and decided I would choose one or two spots that I would leave alone and then not beat myself up if I picked anything else. And it worked. Doing this gave me the opportunity to feel like I was making at least some progress and took the pressure of perfection off me.
Using this method taught me that I could recover and heal from a disorder that I was certain would control my entire life forever. Not only that, but I learned how to give myself grace, which helped monumentally with my emotional healing.
Don’t Give Up on Hacking Your Mental Health Struggles
Full disclosure, it took me years to figure these things out. The big thing is not to give up, even when it feels like you should. It’s mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, but it’s possible to make it out on the other side better than where you began. For me, that looks like still having skin-picking disorder but no longer feeling ashamed and no longer suffering. Now it's just a part of my life.
If you need someone cheering for you in your corner, consider it done. I’m cheering for you.
- Skin Picking – TLC Foundation for BFRBs. (n.d.). TLC Foundation for BFRBs. Retrieved March 18, 2023, https://www.bfrb.org/bfrbs/skin-pickin.
Barton, L. (2023, March 20). How I Hacked My Skin-Picking Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, October 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2023/3/how-i-hacked-my-skin-picking-disorder