Dermatillomania and Self-Sabotage: Why it Happens


Within this blog, I am continuing from my last blog where I stated “I will demonstrate how to investigate, understand and find the source of thoughts, forgive them, and re-script a new way of being/thinking/doing while incorporating Mr. Schwartz’s suggestions.” Within this statement, what I am referring to is the thoughts that cause the internal energetic environment, or feeling/emotional state that leads to picking. I am going to look at where the thoughts come from/what leads to them, pulling them out like strings. I will then forgive them, which releases and diffuses them and the energy they create within self. Then I will ‘re-script’ a new way of being and doing.


In my previous blog I had documented an example of how I negated a picking session. To briefly re-cap, I identified a moment where I knew I was setting myself up to pick my skin, I defined that moment in words and used the tool of self-forgiveness to ‘diffuse’ my mind. I then made a plan for how my afternoon would play out upon walking into my empty apartment, and I lived the plan instead of participating in derma. Please read that blog for context by clicking Here.


It was really amazing to walk this solution and have it work, but unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as finding a single solution and having it work like magic or like a quick fix. Everything has multi-dimensions and layers that have to be exposed and walked, and so here I will describe a point of self-sabotage that opened up the next time I tried to employ the same technique of ‘making a detailed plan and sticking to it’:


I was trying to think of a plan for when I would wake up in the morning. I knew I would have free time so I knew there would be the temptation to pick. I tried to think of a plan and I became continuously distracted; I felt bored and frustrated by making a plan. I would go ‘blank’, and then I started really resisting making a plan, saying to myself, “it’s the weekend, I’ll figure it out tomorrow, why am I putting myself through this now? “ The feeling I had within me was a strong defiance and negative emotion towards pushing myself to do what should be an act of self-support. But it did not feel self-supportive at all. I felt like I was depriving myself or losing something and there was a strong presence of fear.


This entire play-out was me using my mind to sabotage myself within living a solution I had found and proven to myself mere days prior. I am going to investigate these reactive thoughts by using self-forgiveness as follows:


(side note: at the end of this blog I gathered the realizations I revealed within and through the self-forgiveness process)


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to have an adverse reaction to making myself a plan for the day so that I can support myself to do something OTHER than pick my skin.


Now to describe the reaction in words through self-forgiveness:


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not want to make a plan for my day because I feel it is ‘boring’ and ‘constrictive’ and it makes me feel ‘trapped’ like ‘I can’t move’ or have ‘no freedom’.


Now to figure out WHY I feel this way:


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to manifest the energetic experiences of ‘boredom’ (which is generally avoidance), ‘constriction’, ‘trapped’ and ‘loss of freedom’ in connection to the thought of making a self-supportive plan to help me avoid a picking session.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel ‘constricted’ and ‘trapped’ when and as I would make a set plan for myself for a period of time because I think/believe/perceive that if I stick to that plan there will be no time for me to ‘do what I want’.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think/believe/perceive that making a plan prevents me from “doing what I want,” when I can see clearly that “doing what I want” means picking my skin because I subconsciously want to repeat the pattern and live out the compulsions because I think I need to satisfy the urge, within this I see, realize and understand that I subconsciously fear having a plan because I see it as a threat to my picking sessions, and if I don’t get my picking sessions, I will feel horrible.


Here I have to now recognize the distinction between ‘what I want’ – which is to stop picking, and ‘what I think I want’ – which is to satisfy the urge to pick my skin by following through with the compulsion.


Within the following statements I am using Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz’s techniques of re-attributing and re-valuing thoughts, except that I’ve added the dimension of self-responsibility. (For example, where he would say “this thought is not me, it’s my OCD, I would say “this thought is my creation, I take self-responsibility to investigate how/why I created it, I realize it is merely a mind-creation and that it does not support me in my living, I forgive myself for having accepted and allowed this thought, and I will no longer accept and allow it to exist within and as me, I commit myself to…..” and then I will specify the change I intend to live). I’ll expand on this in my next blog.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think/believe/perceive that being free to pick my skin is the same as being free to ‘do what I want’.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think/believe/perceive that I want to pick my skin, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that it is the OCD, the disorder that I have created within and as myself as my mind which leads me to believe this is what I want due to myself having used skin picking as a coping mechanism for various reasons throughout my life.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not see, realize and understand that what I really want is to live out the self-supportive plans I make for myself, because they are plans made within self-direction, meaning plans that I made to intentionally support myself, benefit myself, and assist myself to walk towards stopping this disorder and healing.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel trapped if I think I won’t have a chance to pick my skin.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear not being able to pick my skin within the thought/perception/belief that I won’t ever feel better and I will feel intensely uncomfortable forever if I don’t get to pick.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think/believe/perceive that the bad feelings will last forever and that I can’t prevail or wait them out or survive them, and within this I remind myself that all energy eventually runs out.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel an intense fear when I think I’m not going to be able to pick because I feel like I am losing/denying a piece of myself.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to identify so much with dermatillomania that I have begun to believe it is part of Who I Am and a part of me that I couldn’t survive without.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to think/believe/perceive that I would die without derma, and to translate this subconscious thought/perception/belief into extreme fear and anxiety on a conscious mind level which seems undefinable and inescapable whenever it comes up.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to feel suffocated when I make a plan that doesn’t involve derma, and within this, I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to associate the acquiescence of myself to this disorder to breath itself, as if without it, I couldn’t breathe.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to associate breathing and freedom to derma instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that I have it exactly backwards, wherein this disorder is controlling me, suffocating my natural expression, and it has me trapped like a prisoner in my own body.


I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to sabotage myself by adversely reacting to making a plan because in reality I subconsciously want to continue to pick because I have lead myself to (subconsciously) believe that if I don’t pick I will suffocate and die, within this, I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to place this disorder as more important and more vital than myself and my real life and my real breathing and Who I Really Am.


So what the this investigation process reveal? Reality check:


1) That I sabotage myself from supporting myself to heal because deep down I don’t really want to heal, I don’t want to let go of derma because I believe so strongly that I need it and that I would die without it. I have led myself to see and experience it as a coping mechanism that I cannot cope without, although here I remind myself that I have never actually tried, and that it might not be as bad/difficult/terrible as I imagine. Please read a similar blog I wrote on the topic: The Fear of NotHaving OCD.


2) That I had never clearly made the differentiation between ‘what I want’ and ‘what I think I want’. This point needs to be hammered home because ‘wanting to pick’ is my default programming that I immediately go to, I trust it and follow it through despite experiencing the same consequences each time.


3) That I blind myself to the reality consequences I create for myself when I pick. It’s like I forget each time I start a picking session, that the consequence of that session will probably feel just as bad or worse than the feelings I’m escaping through picking.


4) That I feel trapped if I see I’m not going to be able to pick. When I look at this statement now I see that I am only trapped to face myself and the feelings/emotions I have created. I will look into this in blogs to come. Conversely, I feel that if I can get the opportunity to pick, I feel free and liberated. I have this exactly backwards in my mind.


5) That I irrationally believe that if I don’t participate in derma I will die, and this deep deep belief creates an underlying fear that builds up regularly.


I will go up till here for this blog, and continue with scripting my self-commitments and self-corrective application in my next blog.


Defining the Sensation That Causes Me to Compulsively Pick My Skin – What’s the Plan?


Are we even aware of what it is we are thinking or feeling the moment we are so compelled that we start picking our own skin? I seem to think that in the past, before I knew this was a disorder and before I knew it wasn’t normal and that it is actually quite harmful, I don’t recall being aware of what was going on inside of me the moments before I would begin to pick. With the process of self-forgiveness I’ve been able to slow down a little bit, and actually have a look at the feelings I experience within myself the moments where I feel like it’s time to ‘pick or die’.

Of these internal emotional energetic experiences, one stands out in particular. It moves in and takes over quite regularly, and the last time it was intense was today, on my way home from work. It was an overwhelming sense and presence of fear. It was a dizzying uncertainty within which I felt a lack of control. Within this experience, as I was walking home, I knew that if I didn’t do something about it, I would end up getting home to an empty house, finding a mirror, finding some tweezers, and picking in an attempt to make this feeling go away, to ‘ground myself’, and make myself feel better.

The reason why I knew this is because this is the pattern I have become familiar with: I get the feeling, I ignore it and suppress it, and then I act out skin-picking compulsions in order to regain a sense of comfort, focus, and closeness with myself. Because I realized that in these moments, it’s hard to admit, but I don’t like myself very much. I don’t like what I’ve accepted and allowed myself to be and become; I feel alien and awkward, and like all my bad qualities are exaggerated. I feel like I’d rather disappear and not exist except for in the small safe bubble that is created when I pick.

However, I am now continuing to walk a process of no longer accepting or allowing old habits and patterns to control me. I am slowly scripting out new patterns and moving myself as my own self-directive principle, moment to moment, no matter what my internal experience and no matter how I’m feeling. This is the goal, and this is how I took a step today to achieve it:

First I did some self-forgiveness out loud, yes, right in the middle of the street as I was walking, because self-forgiveness can immediately ease the overwhelm experienced in these moments. It actually creates a beneficial closeness, self-acceptance and self-intimacy in these moments that is a cool transition from the detrimental closeness created by skin-picking (detrimental – like being in an abusive relationship of dependency).

Have you ever tried forgiving yourself? Try saying the words out loud and see how it feels, it can be intense… or it can be nothing, depending on our mind-state at the moment you are doing it. When you do it you have to mean it, and I meant it today because I was scared. I was walking into a suffocating trap (an empty apartment) and I knew I had to do something, so my self-forgiveness went something like this:

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear going home to an empty house.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to become overcome and overwhelmed by this feeling of absolute fear and dizzying uncertainty and I forgive myself for accepting and allowing overwhelming fear and dizzying uncertainty to exist within and as me.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to fear not giving myself a plan or a strategy to use to direct myself in these moments where I need it most, moments where I am in fear and uncertainty.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not be there for myself to arm myself with preventative measures when I know I need them most.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to abandon myself and abdicate myself, my ‘Who I Am’ to this disorder, within the belief that subconscious submission to the disorder will somehow ‘work’ and make me feel better, instead of seeing, realizing and understanding that if I continue to submit, I will simply cycle and loop back into the same position, but worse because I will have hurt myself and caused visible damage, and I will have let myself down again.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to not trust myself that I will be able to control myself when I get home into an empty house.

I forgive myself for NOT accepting and allowing myself to think, believe or perceive that I will be able to direct myself when I get home to an empty house without first preparing myself with a plan or blueprint for how I will go about spending that time between getting home from work and going to bed.

I forgive myself for NOT accepting myself unconditionally, even when I am feeling like self-judgment and self-hate are who I am.

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to judge myself

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to hate myself

I forgive myself for accepting and allowing myself to ignore and not realize that if I push myself to go home and NOT pick, I will feel SO much self-empowerment and control, and I will create self-love, self-worth and self-intimacy, which are the things I have been depriving myself of through the use and act of skin-picking.

After speaking to myself in this way, the OCD/dermatillomania feeling subsided enough so that I was able to think more clearly. I gave myself a step-by-step plan for when I got home:

Put away my things, take a shower, put on comfy clothes, make tea, make a snack, watch a video, write a journal entry, prepare food and clothes for the next day, go to bed (each step can be broken down into mini-steps for me to focus on when the urge to pick becomes ‘loud’ and distracting).

So instead of accepting and allowing myself to subconsciously feed the fear and uncertainty I was feeling, I occupied my mind with the practical concept of making a plan that I could then live out. This is like using the mind as a practical tool, instead as a generator of overwhelming energetic reactions. This is empowering. When I would start to feel the bad feeling creeping in again, I would push and direct myself to think of the little details of my plan: what kind of tea would I make exactly; what would I prepare for a snack, what will I put on, how will I feel in those clothes. I even began to feel comforted thinking about the nice things I would be doing instead of picking my skin and re-generating the aweful feelings that come with and after a skin-picking session.

So did it work? I only picked a little bit before the shower, but I stopped myself, then I started, then I stopped myself again, turned off the lights, and got in the shower.

The main point or realization within this blog and within this experience I had today is that taking preventative measures can be HUGE when you see you are walking into a difficult situation. The self-awareness and self-discipline it takes to know when, how and why to do this, and then to move and shift your mind into this new way of thinking (instead of falling into the usual patterns), AND THEN moving yourself physically to live out the plan you’ve made for yourself, can be difficult and may not be achieved right away.

Then again- maybe it IS possible, one never really knows. I am certainly not there yet, but I am taking notes and I am practicing. For me it is a step by step labour of self-love, because taking preventative measures is actual self-love made real, tangible and visible.

The feeling I get when I see these things through is indescribable – thus far short lived- but I have seen glimpses, and it’s like breathing for the first time after enduring suffocation.

So to recap:

Look into self when you start feeling like you’re going to pick. Try to define in words   what it is you see and what it is you are feeling.

Do self-forgiveness on that which you have clarified for yourself as your internal experience, in order to clear the mind for practical use.

Make a step-by-step plan for what you are going to do INSTEAD of picking.

Keep focused and the details of the plan and get specific, get VERY specific if you have to. You know how specific and detailed you get when picking? Channel that into plan-making instead.

LIVE the plan.