I’m a Picker and a Puller

As I wrote out my title, I was singing that Steve Miller song, The Joker, in my head.  However, this post is not about music.  It’s about some issues that became clear this week.

I see both a psychiatrist and a psychologist.  They work out of the same office, but unfortunately, due to health insurance restrictions, I can’t see both on the same day.  On Monday this week, I saw my psychiatrist.  On Tuesday, I saw the psychologist.

Patients at this office fill in a sheet prior to each visit.  The sheet has a list of symptoms, (depression, anxiety, hopelessness, etc.), and a ratings scale.  At the top of the sheet, is a code representing the patient and some numeric codes, corresponding to the patient’s diagnoses.  So, imagine my surprise, when I picked up my sheet on Tuesday, and there was a new diagnosis.  My psychiatrist had added obsessive compulsive disorder to my list.  It was a surprise to me because although I have been showing some O.C.D. symptoms recently, I didn’t think these symptoms (which I shall soon discuss) would qualify me for a diagnosis of O.C.D.

Have you ever heard of Tweezerman tweezers?  They’re super sharp and are hand-filed. When you purchase a pair, the company promises that you can send the tweezers back to them and the company will sharpen the tweezers for free.  They are pricey ($22), but in my opinion, totally worth it.  They are fantastic and I won’t buy any other tweezers.  TweezermanBut this post isn’t about tweezers, or beauty tools, or beauty of any kind.  This post is about what led to my newest diagnosis.  About two weeks ago, I began plucking again.  When I was in middle school or high school (I can’t quite remember when), I would use dull tweezers to yank out the hairs on the inside of my lower legs.  More recently, my mother told me that when I was in pre-school, the teacher told my mother that I would sit and scratch myself until I bled.

Approximately three weeks ago, I pulled out my tweezers and started yanking out ingrown hairs on the inside of my lower legs once again.  This time, it’s a combination of dermatillomania (compulsive skin-picking) and trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling).  You may find the next part gross, so I’ve hidden it, but you can read the text if you select it.   I can’t explain it, but I get such satisfaction out of digging into my skin with the sharp point of my tweezers, finding the dark line of a new hair, and yanking it out.  It is especially satisfying for me, when the hair I pull out has a wet bulb attached.  And of course, once a scab has covered the wound, I just have to pick it off.

It’s crazy, I don’t know why I do it. I can become so fixated on getting those hairs out. I’ll be sitting, maybe in front of the computer or the TV, and I’ll just grab my tweezers. And once I start, I keep telling myself that I need to stop because I’ve made such a mess of my legs, but then, I’ll see another hair, and I just have to dig and pluck. I’ve found that I lose track of time doing this. The other day, I did it for 45 minutes when I could have been doing something productive.

I’ve linked to the picture of my legs, because I realize that some readers will be disgusted. And I agree and understand, my legs are disgusting.  But I promise, I’m not posting this to gross readers out, I’m posting this because I want to find people with similar experiences.

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3 thoughts on “I’m a Picker and a Puller

  1. chanelamorous

    I have the same problem (and, coincidentally, the same exact tweezers), except that I tend to fixate on my eyebrows. When it’s really bad, I end up digging at the hairs that haven’t fully ‘surfaced’ (if that makes sense), which ends up marking up my skin and/or turning into tiny scabs (which are difficult to conceal with make-up). It’s satisfying to a certain point but I find that when I start, I usually get sucked into doing it for a really long time and end up hating myself for wasting my time (like you said, I could be doing something productive) and I hate seeing the damage on my skin afterwards. I recently managed to stop doing that, probably because now I just pick at my pores with one of those extraction tools, which is even worse for my skin (ha). If you or your psych figure out a way to curb trich/dermatillomania, please let me know for the sake of my not-for-much-longer youthful skin.

    Reply
    1. Miss Anonymous Post author

      Thank you for sharing that with me. It’s reassuring to learn that someone else has the same issues as I have. Sometimes, I feel like I’m crazy because of this behavior (as well as other “strange” behaviors), but hearing that other people do the same thing makes me realize that I’m not nuts, I just have a few issues.
      The only advice my counselor gave me was to find another activity to occupy my time. Easier said than done!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Back At It | Little Resolutions

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