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I'm a 25 year old woman. I can't stop picking at my skin. Its disgusting and I hate myself for doing it, but I can't stop. I think I do it to cope with things that I can't control in my own head. I obsess over everything in my life.
If there is something that I'm not happy with, I think about it constantly until I feel like I'm going to go crazy. Sometimes I listen to the same song over and over again for hours at a time. I get so sick of the song. It drives me crazy, but I just keep playing it over and over. I've been this way for as long as I can remember but I feel like its getting worse.
Sometimes I spend days or even weeks worrying about whether I will go insane. Worrying about whether I will go insane is driving me insane. I know deep down that I won't. I have no reason to believe that I will, but it is just something that I worry about all the time.
My brain never slows down, never stops. I'm so exhausted all the time that I can't get things done. I'm living in a constant state of distraction. It is affecting my relationships with the people I'm close to. I don't tell anyone about it.
I do everything I can to cover up the scars and scabs on my face from constantly picking. I used to love to swim but I can't anymore because the water will wash off my makeup and everyone will see what I'm doing to myself. I also repeat phrases or parts of songs over and over in my head. Sometimes I write down phrases over and over on a pad of paper. It makes me feel slightly better but does not really solve anything.
What is wrong with me?
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Thanks for asking for help on this site. I can tell you're having a very hard time, and I'm sorry things have been so painful and difficult for you. There are good reasons for what you're doing, and I'll see if I can help you figure out what they are.
Generally, this type of obsessive thought and repetitive behavior serves the purpose of masking a deeper pain and/or trauma. Our task is to get to that underlying trauma and heal it, so you don't have to continue with the self-destructive thought and behavior patterns.
It is good that you know deep down that you will not go insane. Trust that. That knowing is coming from your inner wisdom. I realize, however, that when your thoughts and feelings go on and on, you feel like you're going insane--but that's all it is, just a feeling.
Here is what I recommend:
1) It is very important that you write in total and complete detail about every physical, emotional and sexual trauma that you have ever experienced. You don't have to let anybody else read this--the important thing is that you think through the memories rationally enough to write them down. This will help you. It's not just my opinion, it has been found to be very healing in research by Dr. James Pennebaker, author of "Opening Up: The Healing Power Of Emotional Expression."
2) This might open up a lot of emotions in you. You may need counseling to deal with some of your emotional trauma. You will know if you do. If you do find you want counseling, look for a counselor in your area, or you can contact me to discuss sessions. I offer telephone sessions for clients outside the Dallas area.
3) When you get in touch with these memories, you might want to try some of these emotional healing processes. These techniques are powerful, and will definitely help you to overcome your emotional trauma.
4) I can't over-emphasize the importance of writing (journaling) your thoughts and feelings. This page will walk you through the steps, and give you more info on the benefits.
I believe strongly that you can overcome your difficulties. Don't give up on yourself. You have what it takes to heal and reach your goals. I can tell from how well you express yourself in your submission that you are intelligent, and have a lot of good things going for you.
The journaling should interrupt and "soothe" the anxiety behind your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The imagery I recommended will also give you some things to do with your mind that will help as well.
When you get up in the morning, picture yourself going through your day relaxed and at ease. Picture yourself being good and kind to yourself (and leaving your skin to heal and feel good), and enjoying your interactions with others. Then imagine this actually happening.
Follow all of my recommendations here, and I assure you that you will get some relief.
Feel free to write again if you would like to.
My best to you,
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