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Started "skin picking" since EMDR

I'm also wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience.
Starting using a coping mechanism to deal with increased stress? That’s probably all of us.

Started using an unhealthy coping mechanism, to deal with increased stress? That’s probably most of us.

Started using an unhealthy coping mechanism, that we dislike, to deal with increased stress? That’s probably a helluva lot of us.


There are COUNTLESS coping mechanisms that people with PTSD can and will use in an attempt to self-regulate / deal with increased stress.

My own self, I have 4 broad categories of what I term “nuclear coping mechanisms” that saw me through some very dark times. (f*ck it. Fight it. Get f*cked up. Make it go Faster.) As well as a few score of other less SHAZAAM! coping mechanisms in a half a dozen or dozen different loose categories.

I have never, in my life, found any kind of direct substitution. IE Been able to replace 1 coping mechanism I don’t like with 1 coping mechanism I do. Which makes sense, as every single one of them? Does different things / hits different areas, in different ways, to different levels.

So, my experience is that if I ever want to switch out a single coping mechanism? I need to look at ALL of the areas it’s hitting (and how, why, to what degree) and look for subs that also hit those areas*.

Which is actually kind of cool… because it means I’m switching out 1 unhealthy &/or disliked thing for bringing something like FIVE fun/interesting/amazing/soothing/exciting things into my life. Even if on the front of it? It “feels” like a terrible sort of deal to have to find more than 1 kind of awesome? 😵‍💫 <<< Definitely come to see that as a picture in the dictionary next to “Feelings aren’t Facts” 🤣

* And if I’m still craving the unhealthy/unwanted thing? To look again. Because, clearly, I’ve missed something!

(Not clearly, to begin with. Just something I’ve learned over the years. Oh. It’s also doing THIS. And maybe even that?!? Didn’t even realize / would never have thunk it. Okay! Time to play around with things that also hit this’n’that!
Radio . I listen to bbc radio four in the U.K. or the world service if I’m not when I can handle news. I like these because they are informative without being hysterical. I have another talk radio station I listen too at certain times of day but not others - because what I listen to must not wind me up.

I listen to audio books at almost all other times . These are across genres and range from gentle childrens literature, through to ‘the great courses’ , through sci-fi and fantasy.

If I am going to have running audio it might as well be educational or entertaining:)
A couple of people mentioned replacing one compulsion with another. I think one example was picking ➡️smoking➡️sugar.

This got my attention because I consider myself riddled with small addictions widely spread out. And like whack-a-mole, if I push one down, another one rises up.

And I have read that OCD compulsions are kind of like habits and kind of like addictions. And there was even some push about 30 years ago to classify addictions with OCD—haven’t read much about it lately.

Anyway, for me I consider my skin-picking as one of my addictions. And my counting compulsion too. Because they get better when I can substitute other behaviors. But also I can’t substitute other behaviors unless I feel supported by others, and unless that support is internalized. It’s like a bunch of background stuff has to be in place for me to substitute behaviors for habits/compulsions/addictions.
Excoriation disorder, also known as a skin-picking disorder or dermatillomania, is a form of nonsuicidal self-injury.
Wow. The more I learn about all the stuff I have been doing for so so long - the more I think about how sad it is that physical health medicine can't put the pictures of mental health disorders together, even when they treat the results of it all the time.

Truth is it is starting to scare the hell out of me to think of trusting those people to diagnose physical health problems............
Truth is it is starting to scare the hell out of me to think of trusting those people to diagnose physical health problems............
Funny how that works, right?

Expecting them to know and be able to be not only conversant but expert in 700+ disorders & conditions that they don’t specialize in… whilst losing trust in their ability to diagnose the equally large number of things they do specialize in, and 10x that number in things they have generalized knowledge in, but if that issue is in play? They send one on to a specialist.

I can’t remember the name of the thing (yes, it’s a cognitive distortion; but in the same way that a defense mechanism is a cognitive distortion; IE it has its own specific thing under another umbrella) off the top of my head, but it’s a very human thing to judge people’s ability to do A by how they perform at Z.

- Like an auto mechanic who can’t speak French fluently? Clearly cannot be trusted to know anything about engines!
- If the kitchen staff at this cafe do not have masters degrees in applied mathematics? I won’t eat there!

Don’t get me wrong, I chose silly examples, but it’s grounded in logic the same way PTSD is grounded in logic (touch a hot burner and get burned!)… where the mechanism is a useful thing… that got tangled up.

Remove the generalization? (One of the cognitive distortions in play) And it stops making sense, as well.

Like would you see a dermatologist for open heart surgery? Of course not! Because they’re 2 different specialties. A dermatologist may be able to recognize signs in the skin that you’re having heart problems that an anesthesiologist, podiatrist, ENT would miss… and vice versa. But None of that means any of them are qualified cardiothroacic surgeons. Nor would a heart doc be expected to be expert in the brain (neurology) or psych (psychiatry).

But it still FEELS right… as soon as we start generalizing… that a doctor “should” ______. Because of the logical fallacy, that makes up the cognitive distortion, of ________ (the stupid name of the thing I’ve forgotten)
I remember a story I heard at my uncles funeral. He was a doctor (I guess I'm shooting hole in my own theory here in a way because I lived with him for a few months after my cornea surgery - mind you that was a year after the diagnoses of PTSD was introduced.) specialized in emergency medicine. When I lived with him he was working at LA County medical centre, and later opened a clinic in the City of Industry to treat stuff hospitals refused.

There was a couple with a child and they told how they ended up at his clinic after visiting a bunch of hospitals etc because there was something wrong with their baby. As they said he walked in, looked around the waiting room, walked to the desk made a quick phone call and then came over and told them to go out and meet the medivac helicopter that would land in front of the clinic in a minute and the hospital they were going to would treat their baby that was having a heart attack.

When you know this might be a mental health issue - that's all you need to know. You don't need to diagnose it. You need the signs it may be and engage a specialist. When you put the story together that says: traumatic childhood injury, chronic adrenal fatigue (Addisons) chronic pain issues, and way more.

As I now know - the chronic illness alone is enough reason to look to mental health as a cause. Especially the one I have. When I mentioned it to my doctor it was still news to her, and it shouldn't be....
Hey, how are you doing at the moment?
I'm no doctor or expert, buy believe me when I say skin picking is incredibly common. I work in the beauty industry and have a few colleagues who work as podiatrists, and few friends who are senior nurses who also offer cosmetic enhancement treatments as a second job.
We've all come across differing levels on the spectrum of skin picking, from picking/biting nails and cuticle, to ripping/digging holes into the skin. Please know there will be absolutely no judgement here whatsoever so please be gentle on yourself and try not to feel ashamed or embarrassed by this. And I promise you a beautician or nurse will have seen x10 worse than you picking your feet!
I agree with everyone here that it sounds like a stress response from the initial start of the Therapy. I guess Therapy for us is one of those "it will feem worse before it feels better" kinda situations? Maybe t can help with some techniques for stress to help ease the urge to pick?

I hope eventually the Therapy, along with maybe a regular pedi or chiropodist treatment, will help ease/prevent the urges and your discomfort x
I learned from one of my Zen golf books. If you want to change it, decide that the result you want is.

Then notice when you are doing it.

Sounds hard right? I thought crazy at first but it works, for all kids of habits.
I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I've begun skin picking since starting EMDR a few months ago (for childhood abuse). I used to pick at my nails since I was very young (before the abuse), and could never fully stop doing this. It's an OCD or stress reaction thing I'm sure. But the skin picking is disgusting even to me, and I can't seem to help myself. I pick at the rough part on the bottom of my foot, and because it's hardened skin, etc. whole swaths of it peel off, leaving another layer underneath (so no blood). But it's raw and it hurts to walk after. I know how badly it hurts as it heals over the next couple days, and yet I keep doing it.

Again - I only started doing this since EMDR started. I'm sharing this because I have to admit it somewhere safe. It's embarrassing and quite gross, but I need to share this as a way to confront my problem. I'm also wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience.

I'm also paranoid that I'm going to cause some sort of skin irritation and infection, and that I'll get a horrible disease from this. (To be safe, I'm already planning to find a podiatrist and get my feet checked up). So if anyone can offer some words of comfort in the meantime, that would be greatly appreciated.
Hi so I pick sores on my head. I hate that do ita d yes its disgusting. I associate this with having been a cuttier in the past. I am aware that it's only when I'm stresses. I've always done this. I do it to the point my blond hair will look red. I am in therapy and have discussed that it being the same outcome as cutting- that being controlled self inflicted pain. I have done this for a few years & overthe lat 3 week I now have 10 sores on my head also I stared doing it on my left but cheek. Idk, idk. Idk how to stop, why .my butt why to the point of pain.