I’M BAAACK! Sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve written; life has been a bit crazy in Spain. When I made my last post, I had finally moved into an area with way less dog shit like I hoped, but my living situation still wasn’t ideal. This past weekend, I made my second move in less than two months—here’s hoping it’s the last! In the last month, I also traveled to a beautiful area in Spain called Salamanca and left the EU altogether to visit Morocco. I guess you could say I’m an intercontinental traveler now!
So, how have my cuticles been taking all of this excitement and stress? Not too well. In the comment section of my last post, someone asked me if moving here has made my picking any worse. Surprisingly, it hasn’t. Because this disorder is driven more by the stress I create in my own head rather than the reality of a situation, my picking really hasn’t worsened since this move. (I was internally going crazy trying to prepare as much as I could before I left and losing it over other things.) Also, as I mentioned in part 1, my picking has become automatized—I’m doing it whether I’m anxious or I’m happy. It’s the beast that now consumes every emotion.
Another warning: This post also discusses self-injury and contains somewhat graphic images. That back arrow is still there and available for you to use if you’d rather spend your free time viewing happier things…
For those of you brave enough to read on and who DON’T suffer from Dermatillomania, allow me to describe what delightful sensations you’re missing out on:
When I make the bed, my jagged skin snags on blanket fibers. This is just incentive to leave my bed unmade.
My raw skin pulses from sink water that is too hot when I need to do the dishes. I already despise doing dishes. This is just a personal bonus.
When I shampoo my hair, I have to use my fingertips—if the chemicals hit my cuticles, I hit the shower ceiling. Sometimes I push through the pain because it’s not a satisfying shampoo unless I use my nails.
Peeling an orange feels like ten thousand citrus demons stabbing my cuticles with their pitchforks. The punishment continues as the citrus demons pierce the inside of my upper lip—a more inconspicuous spot I pick. I suppose it’s what I deserve for clawing them apart and devouring them.
Tasks that others don’t think twice about require careful manipulation of my hands and contemplation beforehand: How much will doing X hurt me? How can I do X and have it hurt the least? Is it worth even doing X at all?
Dermatillomania does not care where I am or who I am around. I have unintentionally left pieces of myself in so many places.
I have picked on school desks—with gusto while taking some of my high school math tests. I like to think the anxious cells I left behind went on to spread panic to the next student who took my seat.
I have picked in cars—especially when I’ve been the one behind the wheel. When you think every drive is going to be your last, picking is the least you can do to maintain your sanity.
I have picked on job interviews—very, VERY carefully. No one wants to hire a visibly nervous applicant. Simply rubbing my raised cuticles is enough to calm me down, keep me focused, and prevent the interviewer from detecting the nut case I am.
I have picked while teaching—and my students have noticed. It’s hard not to notice when your teacher is literally bleeding onto your assignment. (Yes, that’s really happened and I cringe just thinking about it.) I’ve heard, “Miss F, is your finger okay?” More times than I’ve ever wanted to. They’re generally concerned that their teacher is going to bleed out from the fingers. They care more than most adults I know.
For those of you who do struggle with this disorder, you’ll understand when I say how ashamed I feel about it on a daily basis. Having a brain that convinces you it’s perfectly normal to rip your skin off—even when it hurts and is bleeding, even when every rational cell screams for you to stop but you’re compelled by some force that feels stronger than yourself so you simply relent—every single day is FUCKED UP.
The other day, I caught a man staring strangely at me on the train. When I met his eyes, he diverted his away. I looked down and saw that pieces of my thumb were spread out over my backpack that lay on my lap. I was only half conscious that I was picking. I tried to cover up what I had done, but simply hiding the pieces could not erase the man’s disgust.
‘I am right there with you,’ I thought. ‘I hate you for looking but I don’t blame you. I hate this, I hate this, I FUCKING hate this.’
While others battle addiction to the bottle or heavy drugs, we wage our war with our skin: our inability to keep from shredding it off. We can never set our addiction down; we are forced to carry it with us, shamefully—these bodies we have gradually destroyed over time through self-infliction.
This disorder has robbed us of our dignity. It’s hijacked our self control. It will stop at nothing until we’re fragments just laying on a dirty bus floor.
Sorry this post was so dark, but I warned ya. Here’s something cute to make you smile again:
For now, I am signing off. I hope you’ve enjoyed the ramblings of my black hole mind.