Facing My Shame

By Jennifer Loring: For More Info, Go Here…

My struggle with the mental disorder that almost no one knows I have — and many people have never heard of.

There is nothing nice about the word “excoriate,” which means “to strip off or remove the skin from.” Excoriation disorder, a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder, is characterized by:

repeated picking at one’s own skin which results in skin lesions and causes significant disruption in one’s life.

Individuals may pick at healthy skin, minor skin irregularities (e.g., pimples or calluses), lesions, or scabs. This disorder is usually chronic, with periods of remission alternating with periods of greater symptom intensity. If untreated, skin-picking behaviors may come and go for weeks, months, or years at a time. It is common for individuals with this disorder to spend significant amounts of time, sometimes even several hours a day, on their picking behavior.

Also known as dermatillomania, it’s one of the few mental illnesses that isn’t invisible. I pick at my face. I pick at my arms. I especially pick at my scalp, and this I can’t stop doing even in public. Believe me, I try. I know how gross it is. And I’ve been doing it for most of my life.

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