One and a half years after I started to pick, I actually went to see a dermatologist (yesterday). I was extremely anxious before I went, and my mom was only making things worse: she said not to say I had ‘OCD’ because it would make me sound insane. It seemed like she wanted me to lie about my condition and say it wasn’t self-inflicted—“We’ll let the doctor diagnose you.” I didn’t know what the doctor was going to be able to do about my mental condition, except refer me to a psychiatrist. I half-jokingly suggested that the dermatologist would have to prescribe me beta-blockers, to which my mom said I was too young to be taking medication (and that I’d have to change schools if I had to go on anxiety pills).
I went in to an examination room and told a resident about my multitude of problems (the others being keratosis pilaris and a toe infection). Then the dermatologist came in with 2 other residents or interns who all oogled at me as the doctor riffed through my hair, making me feel extremely self-conscious. I have only told 2 people about my condition, and having the doctor examine me felt like I was on display at a freak show.
Ultimately, she said I had psoriasis. I’ve read about psoriasis before when I was still trying to diagnose my condition, but I dismissed it because it’s a physical disease, not a self-inflicted injury. After she prescribed five medications (one mousse, two shampoos—one that has to set on my hair for no less than 4 hours, and two ointments), I left, sullen and depressed. My mom seemed great though: she found out her daughter had a condition that could be treated just by slapping on medication. Best of all, she wasn’t loony, and she DEFINITELY didn’t have OCD. My dermatologist said that picking could exacerbate the psoriasis, but she never once thought that maybe the scabs on my head, were, I don’t know, there because I created them?
I’m so confused about my diagnosis. Part of me is relieved because I feel that it’s not my fault, and that I can treat this disaster through medication. Part of me is angry that my mother is in denial, and that no one really seems to listen. Maybe I do have psoriasis. But I also know that I have CSP. I feel like my doctor just wrote this off as a medical, physical condition and didn’t really stop to think. Has anyone been diagnosed with psoriasis? Any comments at all would be so helpful. I just feel lost.
So I told my mom… I spent last night crying since I have an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow. She was surprisingly not surprised. She told me she’s had spots on her scalp before and that my aunt has trich. I really wasn’t expecting that. She said she’d make a call to a dermatologist but that I’m keeping my hair appointment because we’ve had it forever.
Wow. I have never been so bummed about this before. Yesterday I bought some anti-dandruff shampoo, which I thought was a step in the right direction. I should have realized when my mom was saying that my “dandruff” is the worst she’s ever seen that she either forgot it’s not dandruff or I failed to mention that it’s not.
So today we got into a huge fight, and she summed it up with that I better wash my dandruff-ridden hair because she doesn’t want me to be seen in public since it looks like I have lice. That really wasn’t the worst of it, and I was already bawling, but after she said that I started crying uncontrollably. I realized how much she didn’t know about my condition. To this she said, “Well, that’s not as bad as what you said to me” (which is definitely not true since I had to listen to her tirade about how her childhood was worse than mine, full of profanity). I had pretty much given up my goal by then. There’s no way I can ever tell her I really have CSP and not dandruff, because she’ll probably send me to a mental hospital (which she has threatened to do it the past, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be carried out), or she’ll be angry that I never told her (which I guess I dreamed I did). She keeps trying to figure out why my dandruff is so bad (am I blowdrying too close, do I need to wash it everyday?) and it makes me feel kinda sad that she never noticed that I pick it. Plus, now I’ve noticed her picking, but I may just be paranoid.
This goal has never seemed less unattainable. While I was washing my hair I was just ready to pull it all out. Why does my mother want to make me feel like shit? Does she really know how insane she acts? I’m sure if she heard herself on a tape recorder she’d commit herself to a psych ward. After I washed it she said it looked so much better, but I examined it and it was the same… So I told her it looked the same, and she said, “No, before there was so much dandruff.” I don’t think she knows what “so much dandruff” is. She’d scream if she looked at my scalp up close. Sorry for the long/slightly unpick-related rant. But this is probably the biggest problem I have in my life. I was planning on telling my mom about it in a month. Now I’m not sure if I ever can.
So much for my plan of being pick-free by June 1st. My mother just notified me that I have a hair appointment the day before memorial day, so that makes me lose almost a week. I’ve already started scheming that I might pretend I’m sick. I wasn’t expecting a hair cut until mid June or July. My scalp has never been worse, and last time I had to listen to my hairdresser talk about all the “sebborhia.” It has to be 50 times worse since then. Plus the dye on my scalp burned severely. I don’t think you’re even supposed to dye it. So the question is if I don’t pick from TODAY UNTIL THEN, will my scalp even be in a halfway decent condition? I guess this sure gives me incentive to stop… I’m so screwed.
I wish I had kept count of the days I hadn’t picked… It was a significant amount (4 days, maybe) of absolutely no pick-fests and minimal picking. But a few days ago it’s been really bad. I think I’m going to stop using conditioner, because my hair is really greasy (and I just washed it yesterday). I was reading about how dandruff is formed from some bacteria living on your scalp (gross, much?)... I think the gross factor might be the incentive to make me stop once and for all. 42 days left.
Do you guys know anything about swimming? I’m going to a retreat this weekend and I’m a bit hesitant… I don’t know if swimming is going to hurt my scalp like the dickens or if the chlorine might even be good for it. I can imagine a few potentially embarrassing situations if bits of my dandruff are floating in the pool.
I read the whole book last night… And the passage describing Hope seemed eerily familiar. I did a double take. Just for background info, Running with Scissors is a memoir about Augusten Burroughs childhood—he is taken in by his mother’s shrink’s family due to his mother’s mental illness. But the family is pretty crazy as well. One of the shrink’s daughters, Hope, is about 30 and a very nice, loving person, but it is evident she has problems. I’d recommend reading it… I’ll type the passage that I am referring to.
“The stress had caused the psoriasis on Hope’s scalp to produce extraordinary quantities of snowy flakes. For hours, she would sit on the couch in the TV room or on her chair next to the stove and read The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson while she scratched slowly and steadily. It was as if she entered some sort of trance, her fingers only leaving her head to briefly turn the page. The flakes would collect on her shoulders and scatter down the front and back of her shirt. This gave her the appearance of an actress taking a break from shooting on the set of a blizzard.
‘That is so disguisting,’ Natalie commented on afternoon as she reached into the refrigerator.
Hope ignored her.
‘I said, you are disgusting sitting there like that and scratching. Christ, Hope. Have you looked at yourself if the mirror? ... Look at you,’ she said. ‘You’re like an animal, tearing your flesh off.’ ...
Then she reached forward and began scratching Hope’s head vigorously with both hands. A flurry of dried white skin cells rose like dust from Hope’s head.’”
I emailed Mr. Burroughs this morning to ask if he had any additional information. I am anxiously awaiting a reply.
...pick free. Well, for all practical purposes. I haven’t had any real sessions where I sit and pick for minutes or hours, but I have occasionally picked a few flakes. However, my shirt is still covered with dandruff. I washed my hair yesterday with only some Head & Shoulders conditioner and some other conditioner I normally use (but I didn’t let it touch my scalp). My hair looks pretty shitty but whatever I’ve been doing in the past doesn’t seem to be working. Doesn’t hurt to experiment. I also noticed I’ve been picking the insides of my ears. At first I thought it was a good thing since it was a change from picking my scalp, but now I’m worried it’s going to develop into another habit. The last thing I want is to end my scalp picking but go onto something else. Well, if I get through the next 3 hours without having a major picking session, this will be a new record—- two consecutive days without picking!
And I just remembered I had a strange pick-related dream last night. Since I pick my scalp, I can’t really see much of the damage except (like yesterday) when I inspect it closely… It was pretty bad. And in the dream I had my hair was much less dense so I could REALLY see the damage. Except it didn’t look like the way my scalp actually looks… Instead of flakes there were just hundreds of uniform bumps evenly spaced out all over my scalp. That’s it, but it’s interesting that I am now dreaming about this obsession.
I’ve decided to look for new resources. I have been caring less and less about ending my picking and today I was even doing it during a test after I had a fight with my mother. But I found a website with an interesting narrative at the beginning, plus several techniques to stop picking. My favorite one is to imagine your picking hand and, as it’s getting ready to pick, transform it into a healing hand. Instead of picking, lay it on your head (or wherever you pick) and visualize it healing the itch. Here’s the link: http://grossbart.com/sd/Skin_Deep9.html
I went to the hairdresser last week, and for the first time she mentioned my scalp, but I chocked it up to my “seborrhia.” She seemed to believe it was that and not something I was purposely doing to myself.
My mom asked if my dandruff shampoo was helping my scalp, and I replied with a distressed ‘no.’ Does no one seem to understand that this is not just dandruff? It won’t work unless I stop picking.
I haven’t honestly been trying. At least before I was trying and trying to fight the temptation because it itched so badly. Now I scratch even when it doesn’t itch. It must be pretty bad for my hairdresser to notice. She kept pointing out hotspots where I had scabs.
Even worse, I’m back to collecting the flakes (gross, I know). I’ve just been overwhelmed with so much other stress in regards to school that this has kinda been put on the backburner. I keep thinking I’ll deal with this later, what the heck. I have the rest of my life to stop picking. I can stand to wait another day, or week, or month.
Sorry for the not-so-encouraging post. (Hopefully) someone will be more optimistic than me.
I’ve made a few attempts to seriously stop picking, but each time I try my determination dies a bit more. I agree with the previous poster: Lent (though I usually don’t do anything) might just be the catalyst to get me started. I have 100 days left until I want to finish this goal (according to my challenge), so let’s see if I can spend the first 40 of those days pick-free! I don’t think I’ve gone more than a day without picking before… BUT I AM GOING TO DO IT!