A Slip

May 10, 2016 § Leave a comment

Been worrying about some things and it’s made me have a bit of a derma backslide. Nails are bitten to fuck too. It makes me angry at myself and it also makes me angry at the situation that’s caused it.

But hey – I am in control of what happens to me. If I am unhappy, only I can bring about a change. I just told a bunch of new copywriters that they have to fight for what they want – but I wasn’t doing it myself. Whether I get the results I’d like or not, I would rather try than live with myself in quiet disappointment.

I have my first bloody zumba class tonight. Can’t complain about putting on weight and not do anything about it, can I? I also have an assessment for counselling soon.

MOVES! Making them!

Let it never be said I didn’t hustle.

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Dermatillomania Take 2

March 31, 2016 § 2 Comments

I wrote a while ago about my skin picking thing, which is a thing that sucks. Or it was a thing that sucked.

Yes, that’s right. I have a HEALED scalp. Picking in general remains and I’ve returned to throat clearing (remove one and another pops right up) but for the first time in two years, I’m not directly hurting myself.

I went to the doctor, you see. So simple! The thing one is supposed to do when one has a health concern.

I was ashamed; this is what perpetuated the problem for those two years. Two years of hiding it even from my boyfriend. Hiding the pain from my mam every time she dyed my hair. Not writing about it, in this place where I’ve been so honest.

Shame has quite a beautiful distinction from embarrassment – remorse. It’s a valuable emotion in the human range but so often it stops us taking steps that would relieve us of it.

Mental health is surrounded by shame. If I’d talked to my boyfriend or my mam a year ago, I would have come round to the idea of going to the doctor a lot sooner. It doesn’t matter now but it could matter in the future.

You see, this isn’t the first time it’s happened: four years ago, I had a seriously bad patch behind my right ear that I endured for at least a year and didn’t tell anyone about. When it finally gave me an ear infection, I went to the doctor. Antibiotics gave it a chance to heal and I didn’t go back to it.

I didn’t think I would be taken seriously. There is a pattern of projection with me: I don’t admit a problem fully so I don’t think other people will. Back in the panic attack days, it took two emergency ECGs to convince me that my mind was powerful enough to sabotage my body. That means it’s also powerful enough to stop too.

When I finally managed to mention it to my boyfriend, I started to break the barrier that had kept me in the cycle for so long. I began to write about it here, I discussed it with my mam and in my diary. At this point, the freedom of having admitted it allowed me to explore how sad it made me and realise I needed to stop.

It seems silly but it was making me so unhappy. This hidden pain, secret shame. I was being cruel to myself about it and not allowing any exploration of a solution. I really believed the doctor would say it was nothing – I even caught myself thinking maybe I should make it worse in the days before my appointment, so he would take me seriously.

He asked to see it and I thought “He’s going to think I’m being stupid,” but he didn’t. He said I’d caused a skin condition that would need treatment. He urged me to try CBT again. He asked if Citalopram was working for me.

I left so happy. I’d been listened to, I’d been given some solutions – in a 10-minute slot at an NHS health centre.

When I got home, I showed my boyfriend for the first time. His shock shocked me and I felt so stupid that I’d just dealt with it for as long as I had. I started with the steroid ointment I’d been prescribed, and the combination of it accelerating the healing and acting as a physical reminder was just enough for me to really try to give up the habit.

And I did. It’s been two weeks since I saw the doctor and I resisted long enough for my head to totally heal. Now there’s nothing to scratch and pick at, I’m barely thinking about it.

I think I’m free.

Dermatillomania

February 8, 2016 § Leave a comment

Over the last year or so I’ve endeavoured to share more about my mental health. I don’t really think anyone needs to hear my ‘truth’ but the idea of discussing mental illness and harmful feelings needs to become so mainstream that it’s frankly BORING and you’d go to your doctor at the smallest signals, just like flu.

So, here’s something I’ve never shared. I have something a doctor might tell me is dermatillomania. It means I find flaws in my skin that are basically not there or unnoticeable to another person, then scratch and pick at them until they become an actual problem – which I can then scratch and pick at.

I’m lucky enough to focus this mainly on my fingernails and scalp. Being blessed with reasonably good skin gives me less to pick at on my face (though Lord knows, I sure try) so I doubt anyone would guess who hasn’t noticed that one of my hands is nearly always at the back of my head, digging my nails into my scalp. It hurts – dying my hair with open cuts is a burning hell neither I nor Garnier would recommend – and it makes me ashamed. I loathe this about myself and wish I could stop.

When I went back to the doctor about my anxiety the year before last, I mentioned the scalp gouging but it got lumped in with the rest – filed under ‘Citalopram’. Yup, that shit works on the old palpitations and panic attacks. But the dermatillomania is still there. Worse than ever as I’m now back on the skin around my nails. As I type, my right forefinger is sore and red, bloody around the nail.

Having tried cognitive behavioural therapy, I’m afraid the NHS isn’t going to cut it for me, counselling-wise. I heard on the radio a while ago that thousands of children – some abused – are turned away without counselling each year. I can see why shoving pills at people like me is the easiest option. And I’m SO GRATEFUL for the pills. But I’m still bleeding and sore and ashamed, like any self-harmer.

Boyfriend says: “Just don’t do it!” Unfortunately, I often don’t know I’m doing it. And once I’ve started, it’s easy for me to write it off as a bad day and keep going. I’ll try again tomorrow. Every time I wash my hair, I feel like it’s a fresh start – today could be the day I manage not to hurt myself. It hasn’t worked out so far.

It’s not like I’m taking a razor blade to myself but the cycle is the same: release, guilt, anxiety, release, guilt, anxiety. Apart from my nervous cough, it’s the only physical remnant of my awful times, so things could be worse. I just wish they were this tiny bit better.

But hey – if a sore finger is the worst part of my day, that’s a good day.

Update: find out how it’s going with the old dermatillomania now.

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