In the last month or two we’ve been experiencing new and added challenges. Many people are experiencing increased worry and anxiety, and naturally that has translated into many people who pick having a hard time with more or renewed picking.
Is this you?
It’s common but not universal. Some people are experiencing less anxiety, especially if work is easier at home now that they can interact less with difficult people at work.
Some people who pick have found it helpful to hear repeated reminders of “Don’t touch your face!”
Like everything, there are challenges as well as upsides, and it’s all how we look at it.
I wanted to share a video I made recently. It covers a lot, including:
- 3 reasons today is a terrible time to be a person who picks
- 7 reasons today is a great time to be a person who picks
- how the coronavirus crisis affects different people who pick in different ways
- comfort eating
- how to handle a relapse
- inspiration from readers who write about how they stopped picking
- a totally different strategy one of my readers used to stop picking
- please let me know if you try it and how it works for you!
Skin picking in the age of Coronavirus, lock down, shelter in place, quarantine, all that. That’s the topic for today. And we’re going to do a little Q&A. We’re going to do the good, the bad and the ugly and a little bit of inspiring messages from around the world. I’m Annette Pasternak, the stop skin picking coach. It’s been three months or so since I made a video. And the reason is because I’m working on the sequel to this book. Skin Picking: The Freedom To Finally Stop. The sequel is Skin Picking The Freedom We Found with all kinds of advice from you guys. So if you’ve got some, feel free to contact me because I’m still working on the book. So look out for the book, subscribe to this channel if you’re not already and definitely subscribe on my webpage so you’ll get an email when the book comes out.
So I’m going to start with, we’ve got some three reasons it’s a terrible time, a difficult time to be a skin picker and five reasons or more, I think I kept adding, that it’s actually a great time. So I know a lot of people are discouraged and having a really hard time. Hopefully this will help you and I have some people who have written into me and either expressed what’s challenging for them or ask questions and so we’ll do a little Q&A.
Okay, so three reasons it’s a terrible time to be a skin picker. Isolation. Got a lot of comments from people talking about that’s their difficulty. I know people I’ve met with, it’s really hard now if you live by yourself and you can’t go out and see your friends and stuff like that.
Too much family closeness. That also, if you find your family stressful, this is like another one. Hearing all kinds of variations on this. Young adults moving back in with their family. Adults whose kids are now with them 24/7 and they have to work at the same time. It’s just a lot.
And the third reason it’s a really terrible time to be a skin picker, it’s just the added anxiety, like we needed a deadly pandemic to be anxious about. Aren’t we doing it well enough on our own?
So those are the reasons it’s a terrible time to be a skin picker. Let’s take it up a notch and tell you about five reasons why it’s a great time to be a skin picker. All of this, like don’t touch your face, don’t touch your face, don’t touch your face.
So firstly there is those extra reminders to not touch your face constantly. Actually heard from several people who said that this has been really helpful, just kind of having that in the general consciousness where everybody’s very aware not to touch their face. Not to mention there are extra consequences from it. So this is actually helping some of my clients and others who’ve written in.
Yes, the extra motivation why not to touch your face, I already touched on that.
It’s fun how everyone has a problem not touching their face now, isn’t it? It’s not just you. It’s not just me. It’s a thing amongst humans.
Another reason it’s a great time to be a skin picker is for the first time we’re really in our lifetimes anyway, in the Western world, we can wear a mask and gloves in public. That both cuts down on the touching and the picking as well as if you have anything to hide, you can hide it and not worry about people thinking it’s really weird that you’re wearing a mask and gloves because lots of people are doing it. It’s smart to do it.
You can jump in the shower in the middle of your work day. A lot of people can now and this is kind of helpful if you’re having urges, if you’re just like pent up, just kind of relaxing in the middle of the day with a shower. Thanks to Whitney for that one.
Less anxiety. Actually, some people are experiencing less anxiety rather than more anxiety, so that’s interesting. Less anxiety from fewer decisions of sophistication like Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He had the three stages. How do we eat? Then why do we eat? Then where shall we have lunch? So there’s definitely fewer of those decisions to make.
And for those of us with social anxiety, well there’s a lot less of that because there’s a lot less opportunity to be social now.
So there’s just such a variety in how we do respond to all of this. And I’ve heard completely opposite ways that people are affected or people’s picking is affected. For example, I’ve heard, “I’m so much busier with work and the kids at home that it’s been impossible to work on my skin picking.” But I’ve also heard, “I’m so much busier with work and the kids at home that it’s been great for my skin picking.” I’ve heard, “It doesn’t matter if I pick, I don’t need to see anyone now anyway.” So yeah, there’s less motivation as far as that in the near future. But I’ve also heard, “This is the perfect time to work on my skin picking.” Just having more time and bandwidth, less to focus on. How are you dealing with all this? Please feel free to leave a comment below.
Okay, so I’ve gotten some mail. Let’s do a little Q&A
[Tyrus 00:06:10] says, “I’ve moved in with my father and his partner, but I am still teleworking at a relaxed job. I’ve found that since I have so much more time at home, I am more susceptible to picking. The lighting in the bathroom is a lot better. Therefore I can see more in the mirror. I have more time at home. Therefore I feel more comfortable picking. This quarantine is not doing me super well.” So that’s kind of what we’re talking about isolation, family, anxiety and I guess less motivation to not do it. If you know you’re not seeing people. Also if you have lots of time being unwatched.
Couple of things you can do Tyrus that should help. Just based on what you said, the lighting in the bathroom is a lot better. Do you have any control over that? Maybe even just using one of those nightlights and then just not to turn on the regular light. Or if you can swap out the light bulbs for lower light bulbs, that would be really good.
On the plus side. Ruth says, “I am doing pretty well. Yes, a lot of people are freaking out. I’m just doing my best to keep my eyes on Jesus. He is unchanging amid the chaos, which I am so thankful for.” That’s wonderful Ruth. Thank you for sharing.
We have Danielle next. So Danielle wrote me a few emails. Things really went downhill for her recently but she says, “I’ll be honest, I was really extremely bad with eating sugar. I was going out and buying boxes of Yodels and it only got worse from there.” Those things, like we tend to want to comfort ourselves with sugar, but they make us feel worse. They usually make us depressed and they usually increase our skin picking.
So I was recently in touch with Jasmine who currently has the most popular blog post on my website. She wrote a blog post, actually she wrote an email to me and I asked her if she would like me to put it on the blog and she was so happy to. And so I wrote her recently to see how she’s doing but also to tell her because I thought it would make her happy to know how many people were reading that post because it’s really a great and helpful post. And I’ll put it in the description and she sent me this email recently and she said, “That’s incredible. Thank you so much for letting me know. I’m so happy that I was able to help so many others with that email. I was able to keep my picking habits in check and my skin clear for about a year and a half and was even able to have a mirror in the bathroom again.
However, last month I relapsed a little due to work, study, life stress being a bit too overwhelming and good habits I’d formed, meditating and using pimple patches to cover areas I wanted to pick at et cetera, began to drop away. It was devastating to fall back into old habits and routines. But I’ve gone back and rewatched your YouTube videos to remind me of ways I can help myself. I’ve removed the mirror from my bathroom again now and I’m trying to add the good habits back into my daily routines. It’s not easy, but my skin is clearing up again now. It’s crazy how quickly it clears up when you just leave it alone. Ha ha. At least this time round, I know I can break the cycle because I’ve done it before. Lesson learned. No matter how stressful and busy my life gaps, I absolutely cannot let these important self care habits fall away.”
So I thought this is really, really important, what she’s saying here. She had no problem for a year and a half and then she relapsed because of increased stress, which a lot of people are dealing with, but she went back to the things that she was doing that were helpful and even taking the mirror away again out of the bathroom. And it’s really important to do that and not to feel ashamed or like a failure or anything that you had to go back and do something that you maybe thought you were done with. Okay. It’s always best just to be prepared and just to go back to the things that you need to do. Just take it matter of factly and you will get better again. I mean, I love how she points out how quickly her skin cleared up again when she didn’t touch it. Thanks again, Jaz. This is wonderful.
I got another really lovely message last week in response to the email that I sent about the new skincare blog post. She says, “Annette, I would like to unsubscribe from your newsletter as I don’t pick my skin any longer. It’s been three years now after decades of suffering. Don’t know what changed my picking urge. It just fell off eventually. Maybe also because I grew beyond 48 now, hormones working differently now, I suppose. Your newsletters gave me lots of support and inspiration. Thank you so much for your passion and endurance and love. Thank you, lots of love. Good luck and stay healthy.” And I answered and she said, feel free to talk about my message with my name and all that.
And she says some more. “I also had to think about my comment more and I would like to share some further thoughts. As a matter of fact, I see myself on a lifelong healing journey in a way. And the skin picking was a huge issue among many others like BDD, bulimia, perfectionism. ‘I am not lovable’ which all point to the question, can I welcome my being as I am right now? Can I accept to be loved unconditionally as a reality? This turning inwards and letting go of the grip on others, the outer, my mother made and makes a difference for my behavior towards my skin, my judgmental thinking, my body, my approach to and in the world and so on. These are all sparkling insights for me and today I’m grateful for my dermatillomania. It helped me find the reality of love. And also looking back, relaxed, I realized how small, tiny and in fact innocent the pimples, scabs and scratches were. No gigantic craters or holes in my complexion that I suffered from perceiving. How weird life is. Wonderful. Heartfelt hugs, Almut.
And I’m sure that’s how it’s for you as well. Oh, was I having this in front of my face the whole time?
Another inspiring one a few years ago, another person who when unsubscribing, wanted to share with me and with you and I don’t think I shared with you. So here it is. She says, “Annette, good news. I am 10 months free of skin picking. You were great and really supported me. No secret, but I managed by gradually reducing the amount of areas of my body that I allowed to scratch. Took me many months, but I’m there now after 10 years, at peace with my body. It can be done and I’m living proof. Years and years I scratched myself senseless, enjoying skin falling like snow, repulsed at the same time. Can’t now picture myself in that place. It takes relaxation rather than determination. Thinking of you all, love Louise.”
And I of course, asked if she could share it even though it sounded like already she wanted. She said, “Of course you can share it. Everyone is different and we all have our own methods. Mine followed a principle of allowing myself to scratch rather than restricting myself. So I would say that I could scratch my legs and my right arm, but leave the left one alone for the time being. This takes a while until the urge to scratch the left arm subsides and the skin heals. Then I allowed myself to scratch the legs and so on until the beginning of the year when I allowed myself to scratch only my ankle.
“I don’t bother with that currently. I get eczema and dry skin, but the cream now works wonders. Not a solution for everyone perhaps. And it’s not a quick fix. It would be lovely though if someone else found it useful. My legs had been out all summer for the first time in 10 to 12 years, short shorts for running and next year I’m running the London Marathon. Life really has to be enjoyed to the full now and I feel released to go and achieve mad challenging goals. Thank you for your support and that you were instrumental in getting me through.” So I’m sure Louise, you’re helping someone else getting through right now. Of course, she probably won’t be watching this video, but that’s okay.
After a certain point, actually I was deleting them in the beginning, but at a certain point I started to save all the messages when people unsubscribed from my newsletter that said they had stopped picking. And so I want to just show them to you as a inspiration. Just so you know, like loads and loads of people do stop this behavior and in many, many different ways, but it can be done.
“No longer need. Have been treated successfully.”
“No longer require.”
“I managed to stop picking.”
“I stopped picking my skin.”
I’ve stopped picking and don’t need these emails anymore.”
“I’ve stopped picking. Thank you.”
“Not relevant anymore. Have managed to overcome my skin picking.”
“No longer a picker. Thanks for all your help.”
“Not picking anymore.”
“I no longer need your assistance. I cured myself. Thank you.”
“My daughter stopped picking as soon as she went off Vyvanse.”
“I am healed.”
“I went off psychiatric medications and skin picking went away.”
“I have fixed myself.”
“This is no longer an issue for me.”
“After five months, set free from skin picking by a wellness retreat in Utah.”
“Got it under control. Thank you.”
“Healed by prayer after 32 years of picking.”
“I no longer struggle with dermatillomania.”
“Don’t need this anymore. Thanks for all your help.”
Please share your comments below.
Love and support,