For 6+ years I have suffered from an OCD that has controlled my life more than I like to admit. I have lived in shame and denial trying to hide the thing I hate most about myself, my skin. It's not easy to accept that I have a mental disorder, but I’ve realized that I need to fully embrace every part of me, even the parts I don’t like. I no longer want to live in fear of people staring or what they might think or say.
Because of this disorder I have become so introverted. Choosing not to go out, not because I’d rather lay in bed and watch movies (which is partly true), but because I feel ugly and I can’t wear normal spaghetti strap dresses like other women. Having to find something that’s cute but covers the scars and scabs on my shoulders, chest, and arms. Feeling stupid because my outfit isn’t weather appropriate because I’m hiding under clothes. Worrying about people saying “girl aren’t you hot” or “why don’t you take that off” are the encounters I avoid. When people ask about my skin I lie and say it’s a condition, as if it were something I was born with and couldn’t control, because the truth that I do it to myself is too embarrassing and shameful, because I hate myself for it.
Scared they won’t understand what an OCD is.
Scared of the judgments and stigmas that might come with the truth.
But it’s ok to be scared, be scared and do it anyway! “These scars?
They are my torment and my peace.
They are the stories of my life.” - yarrow
I don’t wear tank tops, tube tops, or camisoles. I don’t go swimming; the courage to step out in a bathing suit is like climbing a mountain. I don’t do any activities that would require me to show more skin than I’m comfortable with. I almost didn’t go on my first spring break because of my skin.
Summers are the worst for me. For years I have convinced myself that I don’t like summer because of the heat, when the truth is I can’t hide my skin like I can in the winter. I don’t buy a lot of summer clothes because most I’m not brave enough to wear. I tailor my shopping, fun, and entire life around hiding my skin. These are the thoughts and decisions I have lived with. Its exhausting and debilitating.
Anxiety, stress, and boredom are my main triggers. I have picked for hours at a time, leaving behind bloody wounds. The scars and scabs have even interfered with me getting jobs. I’ve tried so many different solutions, including silly putty, stress balls, wearing gloves, cutting my fingernails etc. I pick holes in my skin that risk infection. Bleeding is a norm. It doesn’t even hurt anymore. The pain is actually soothing. It’s a compulsive addiction, a coping mechanism. It's an addiction I can never escape from. A change of environment like rehab can help drug addicts and alcoholics, but for me, the culprit is my own hands. Always there, always tempting me.The anger I feel after causes me to do it more. It’s an endless cycle. When I relapse I stay in bed all day, sad and feeling hideous. I dream of being a normal woman, wearing, buying, and doing whatever I want and having clear skin.
These are the ugliest parts of my disorder.
This is my truth “We are so much more than our scars”
Excoriation Disorder, Dermatillomania, Skin Picking, whatever you want to call it, I want to raise awareness about it. I am confident apart for my skin and the disorder, but now it’s time I be confident with it. Because there is nothing worse than hating the skin you're in. I can’t just love parts of me. I can’t expect anyone to love and accept all of me when I can’t love and accept all of myself. So now I’m on a mission. To share my story and not live in fear. To wear whatever I want and be ok with anyone asking questions. To not lie and hide my truth. To leave shame in the past. I will live with this for the rest of my life, but that’s ok with me now. I will love me anyway.
~So here is my testimony to you... ~
You only get one life, so live it freely.
Free from fear
Free from shame
Free from self-doubt
Free from insecurities
The path to self love is not a gradual, increasing straight line, but a bumpy one with many hills and valleys.
Whatever you are going through, don’t run from it. Embrace it. Don’t let it control you. Take back your power.
Be unapologetic and tell your truth, because you have nothing to lose and literally everything to gain!
If you want change you have to be willing to be uncomfortable.
You are strong , you are capable, and most importantly you are worthy of happiness.
I hope that sharing my story inspires people to practice transparency and to fully commit to loving yourself. ~
“She conquered her demons and wore her scars like wings” -Atticus"
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