Why "71º & Sunny?"

I consider 71º to be the perfect temperature. Not too cold and not too hot. I also love perfect sunny days. The vast majority of days are not 71º & Sunny and yet, all days were created by God's hand and they are still gifts, even if they don't fit my ridiculous definition of perfection. My struggle with OCD has at times imprisoned me in an impossible attempt to achieve perfection. I'm now learning to love all kinds of days that don't even come close to 71º & Sunny.

Please leave me a comment below. I really want to know what you are thinking!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Compulsive Skin Picking - My Dirty Little Secret

So now you know. Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP), a/k/a dermatillomania, is my deepest shame. I've gotten to the point where I can tell lots of people about my OCD and GAD. But CSP, well, I don't know. There's just something so disgusting about it. Very often it makes me feel disgusted about myself. What kind of person purposely disfigures her skin for no good reason? This kind of person. I can no longer wear tank tops because of the scarring on my upper arms. It is even getting embarrassing to wear short sleeves. I recently confessed my struggle with CSP to some friends of mine. I was so humiliated I could only stare down at the table when I told them. I am working on the shame component though. As I explained it to a good friend a couple of weeks ago, I was actually able to look at her. I told my doctor this week that I was finally ready to deal with it.

Enter Habit Reversal Training (HRT). With HRT, it is first important to pay attention to when you pick. For me, it is when I'm bored, agitated, anxious, in the car, reading, or watching T.V. It's a pretty long list. Initially, my doctor told me to take about a week to keep track of all the times I pick. Once you are aware of when you pick, you can take action. The minute you feel the urge to pick you are to perform what is called a competing response. You should either pick up some kind of exercise ball in each hand and squeeze hard, or sit on both hands, or make tight fists. Whatever you do you need to do it by putting pressure on your hands, hence the tight fists or something similar. Then, and this is the important part, you need to do this competing response for a full 60 seconds - with a timer. Not less than 60 seconds and not more. Research shows that this is the optimum timing. If you do this each time you have an urge, apparently the urges will come less and less frequently. This is my assignment for the week.

I share this with you because I can find so very little written about CSP by others. I have only found one blog and one memoir that mentioned CSP. The memoir only briefly discussed it. It certainly was not enough to be of any real comfort. This is painful to write about. Sometimes I feel like a freak. I often wonder if I am one of only a handful of people who struggle with this. I have been assured that I am not. If you struggle with CSP, you are not alone. Would you like to work on this with me? Maybe we can encourage each other.


  1. I wonder if I have CSP. Since I was a teenager, I pick at anytning on my skin that even resembles a bump. It's hard to leave alone. I will sometimes pick at a place until it bleeds. Perhaps it's more than a nervous habit.
    I thought the HRT therapy sounded very interesting. Do you know if it works with other compulsions? I see my doctor on Friday, and I'm going to ask him about CSP and HRT. Thank you!

  2. Hi Tina! First, I have to correct myself. It is called Habit Reversal Training, not Habit Reversal Therapy. So I updated my post and label to reflect that. If you think you have CSP then it's definitely a good idea to talk to your doctor. With CSP it is really, really hard to leave stuff alone. I keep telling myself I'm not going to do it anymore, and the next thing you know . . . I believe HRT is the main treatment used for Trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling). I know it is also used for Tourettes, tics, and nail biting. Good luck on Friday!

  3. Tina sent me here ... I am all about CSP. It drives me NUTS!

  4. Hey Anxious Gal! I've enjoyed reading your blog. I'm sorry you struggle w/CSP too. It also drives me crazy. I haven't had the best success with fighting it, but then again I haven't exactly been following the HRT rules either. So . . . I guess tomorrow's another day!

  5. Hi there. I have this same exact thing. I have struggled with it for 5 years now. I am going to turn 20 and I decided this is not what God wants for me. He wants ALL of me.. even the things I do behind closed doors. Thankyou for your blog, it is an inspiration and know I am fighting the same battle. It can be won:)

    1. Welcome! Oh I'm so sorry you struggle with this too. It's a battle that is often fought in secret because of the terrible shame. It was really hard to come out in the open with it, and I still struggle with the idea that people know, but on the other hand, I'm glad it's out there. There are so many people who struggle with this, and we need to support each other. Please "visit" again!