OT- Breaking a bad habit and want support!

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FitzyK23
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Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 2/12/2008 9:09 PM (GMT -7)   

Here is a copy of a blog I wrote for my friends:

Ok Friends.  Here is the deal.  I have a bad habit.  It is gross.  I warn you.  I like to pick at my scalp.  I have been doing it since college so I have probably been doing it at least 5 years now, maybe more.  When I am stressed I pick.  When I am bored, I pick.  Anxious, nervous, pick.  Typically I have one or two "spots" that I am working on.  Here is the gross part, they bleed, they scab, and that just makes it that more fulfilling to pick it off the next time I am anxious.  And maybe a little skin around it.  I never realized how incredibly disgusting it is until I wrote it down.  I part my hair so no one can see the mark.  My hair dresser usual just calls it a "boo boo."  A boo boo that has never exactly healed.  But I do eventually let it heal and create a new one.  Usually there is already some dry skin there or something to get me started.

So, ok, I've known I have had this problem for a long time.  My husband has always encouraged me to stop and I never have.  I say I will, but I don't.  Nor have I made any major effort to stop.  In undergrad at my moms suggestion I started writing "i will not pick my head" on a sheet of paper every time I got caught.  It just pissed me off.

So, as a side effect of one of my crohns meds my hair has been thinning out.  And I know that the picking does not help and that I lose hair in that area.  So, if I want my hair to stop falling out, I am going to start treating my scalp better.

Today I committed to NO PICKING.  Only once did I catch myself touching a scab and I caught it before I picked it.  I was driving and it was so hard not to.  I dug my nails into my steering wheel.  I realized I needed repetition.  So I started saying the "our father" "hail mary" and "glory be" over and over and over on my commute until the urge to pick passed.  It can't hurt to get some divine intervention on breaking this habit.

It could be my lenten sacrifice although its been so long since I have been to church I don't think I can call it that.  But, in keeping with any good 12 step program I have admitted my problem.  I have hit bottom and am grossed out by it and truly want to stop.  I am asking God to help me break my gross habit.  And I am asking my friends to follow my progress.  I think I have done it for so long because I can cover it up and no one has to know how gross it really is.  Unless they are 6'5" and look down on the top of my head (which my husband is). 

So I have gone one day, about 14 hours awake so far, without picking.  And to be honest, that is the longest I have gone in years.  I considered cutting my fingernails short to aid in my crusade but then how will I pick my nose? Just kidding!!!

So if you are not too grossed out, stay tuned for updates!!!

-----

Just edited out someone's name as you all wouldn't know who it was anyway lol.


26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!
 
 

Post Edited (FitzyK23) : 2/12/2008 9:55:35 PM (GMT-7)


Roni
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Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 2480
   Posted 2/12/2008 9:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi, I've heard of this before. Have you done some research on it? Obsessive skin picking is a compulsion disorder. If you are unable to stop on your own, you may need to speak to your doctor. And you'll need to address "why" you do this.
 
We all have our quirks. ;-)  Best wishes.

UMDTerp2001
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 246
   Posted 2/12/2008 9:49 PM (GMT -7)   
I have my fair share of compulsive disorders like many others so you are definitely not alone in this. I think a lot of people have unique quirks that they wouldn't want to admit too in a public forum. Anyhow, like any addiction, I dont think there is a single fix that can be applied across the board for any one person. However, what helps me with my quirks is to continue to have a positive outlook and visualize myself in a higher light if you will and continually reinforce the desired outcome in my mind. It seems the issue ties back to your self-esteem, where picking causes you to lose some and not picking will cause you to gain some. You have to have continual awareness of the matter and not get caught up in the angst of the moment. Practice breathing deeply when the desire occurs and breathe your way through it. You have to continue to visualize yourself scab-free if you will and the positive outlook and positive energy that will come your way through regaining your sense of self-control. Don't be disappointed and become frustrated if you can't stop right away, just continue to reinforce what you want and visualize your desired outcome. In time through keeping your awareness in the present and regaining your sense of control you will overcome your syndrome. I have some minor skin issues as well so although I talk the talk I am right there with you at the moment. But I keep trying and that is all we can do !! 
 
 
__________________________________________________________________________________
- 29 y/o professional male residing in Northern Virginia
- Indeterminate UC Diagnosis - April, 2006 - Symptoms were sudden and drastic - with appearance of fistula now testing for Crohns
- Completed 3rd Prednisone taper on 4/13/07 - Tapered from early January through mid-April after being hospitalized from a bad flare with anemia & severe joint pain.
- Currently in remission and enjoying life again since getting out of the hospital in early Jan 07' from a nasty flare
- 4 Colazal/day, Multivitamin, Fish oil & Primal Defense Probiotics
- Enjoy the outdoors, relaxing and spending time with family and friends


pb4
Elite Member


Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 20576
   Posted 2/12/2008 10:18 PM (GMT -7)   
You can get help for this, and do NOT feel bad about yourself or ashamed because of it...this is not an uncommon thing, many people suffer with this type of problem and it can be fixed, you need to seek help as you already know...the sooner you get help with it the better you'll be in many ways, since you'll discover that if you can conquore this (and you can) then you can conquore anything.

:)
My bum is broken....there's a big crack down the middle of it!  LOL  :)


randynoguts
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Date Joined Jan 2003
Total Posts : 6049
   Posted 2/13/2008 3:04 AM (GMT -7)   
not to make light of your problem, but have you tried picking your butt? then at least you will only do it in private which would cut down signifcantly on the amount of picks. plus if you got caught in public, you would die of embarrassment and solve your problem. ;0) .... hope you can stick to your goal!!!
randynoguts 



     http://www.geocities.com/randynogutsweb/


HabsHockeyFan
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2006
Total Posts : 3130
   Posted 2/13/2008 6:25 AM (GMT -7)   
Fitzy...no shame in this so please keep talking. it will make it easier to get past this. Let us know how you progress.
I am a constant thumb twiddler. Something I picked up from my father and do it when nervous, bored, stressed. I have found being conscious of the reason I am doing it distracts me to thinking about that (which is what I needed to deal with the things) and helps to stop the physical manifestation.
Keep strong and keep talking
Dx'd '90 (emergency rupture), symptoms ignored long before that, '03 fistulas and bad flagyl reactions, B12 weekly, Pentasa [until I surrender to the bigger meds]
I'm riding on the escalator of life....


gumby44
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Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 4095
   Posted 2/13/2008 6:33 AM (GMT -7)   
Picking at oneself is common, and is a compulsive anxiety reaction. Any and all relaxation techniques may help such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, etc. You may need antidepressant or anti-anxiety meds to help you stop. I agree with Habshockeyfan- please do not feel this has anything to do with your will power or character. We deal with a very difficult disease and we all react to stress in different ways. The "Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Bourne is a great self-help book full of relaxation techniques and ideas. If you are struggling with other issues, therapy may help as well. Good luck and let us know how you are doing
49 yr. old female, diagnosed with Crohn's in small intestine and terminal ileum Sept-Oct. 2007
currently taking Pentasa 2750 mg- 9pills/day and on and off Prednisone for flares


Optymystic
Regular Member


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 218
   Posted 2/13/2008 7:04 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Fitzy,

While reading your description of your bad habit, I was trying to relate to you by thinking of something I do, which is picking my fingernails. Most people bite their nails, but I pick mine until they are painfully short.  I get what you are saying about how fullfilling it can be. It's strange to think that, though. I do it so unconsciously that I don't even know about it until it hurts.  The only  thing that ever gets me to stop is having fake nails put on, and then for some reason I don't even feel the urge.  I guess it's because my self esteem is increased (like UMDterp said).

But anyway, I thought maybe if you tried wearing a cute hat, like a beret or something, you could at least stop yourself from unconsciously picking because there would be a barrier there. And feeling cute and fashionable might give your self esteem a boost (or at least distract you from your anxieties for a little while).

Just a thought.  I also take meds for depression and anxiety so I advocate that as well. 

You can do this. Remember that. Your divine intervention is coming to you at all times in various ways.

Love,

Jennifer


Age 41 female.
dx'd in April 2007 - feeling better now
4000mg Pentasa and 75mg 6-MP
Primal Defense probiotic by Garden of Life


belleenstein
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 1010
   Posted 2/13/2008 10:08 AM (GMT -7)   
Isn't the key to this, addressing the underlying physical problem associated with the dry skin, sebbhorea associated with it? Have you ever been assessed for rosacea? psorrias? eczema etc? Maybe you could start by using a really good scalp treatment product -- one that is designed to treat these problems associated with fungus or an over-production of skin tissue.

I think you are being way too hard on yourself Fitzy! I think you have a skin condition that causes scalp problems and those problems lead to the picking, itching etc. It's normal to pick at a scab. What's not normal is the scab. I had problems on my scalp most of my growing up years and certainly as a young adult. I would pick at it too and sores would develop, evolve and then migrate to a new spot over time. It wasn't until I developed a rash on my face and had a thorough dermatological assessment that I found out I had roasacea and that the scalp and the face conditions were linked. (Talk about embarrassed when the guy looked in my hair! This after telling him during his history that I didn't have any problems with my scalp. He was disgusted by what he saw. Who knew?

Anyway, I started using a zinc based soap three times a week on my scalp -- along with all the other crap for my face. and within six weeks I wasn't itching anymore and within six months my skin and scalp were clear. Now I know if I start picking at my scalp it's time to bring out the scalp treatments before it reaches the point where I have bleeding oozing scabs.

Just my take, but, before you label yourself obsessive compulsive, get assessed and/or start appropriate treatment. If the need to pick continues even in the absence of symptoms, then look at behavior modification and counselling, but make sure you know what you're dealing with first.
Belleenstein:

30+ years living with Crohn's.


FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 2/13/2008 10:55 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks for the feedback!! I am first going to try to avoid the picking on my own. I have made it this far today. The most difficult point was when I touched the spot. The longer I go without picking the bigger and more tempting the scab gets. I have a piece of velcro on my laptop for securing my cords and I picked at that until the urge went away.

Belle- I saw a dermatologist a few years back and got a shampoo and some drops. I can't remember if it made a difference or not. I am going to see if self-control will allow this to heal. If I continue to feel itchy or can't pass up the temptation to pick than I will def. see a doc about it.

When I was in therapy for crohns anxiety I mentioned the picking and she was going to try to help me deal with it but never mentioned any OCD issues. I stopped going to that therapist when I went back to school.

I think it is a combo of both. I think I had some initial issue causing dry pickable skin that scabbed. Then picking at it became my outlet. Now that I have recognized it and am making a valiant effort to stop I think it will get easier.
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!
 
 


njmom
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1884
   Posted 2/13/2008 11:32 AM (GMT -7)   
I do the same thing...will pick at scabs on arms, neck, wherever. My daughter informed me that this is an anxiety disorder. Seems she did a paper on people, especially women, who cut themselves and this is in the same family of disorders.
 
I have taken to wearing long sleeves, etc.,  so that I can't get at my skin. Maybe you could wear hats;)
Daughter (20) Dx'd Crohn's 3/06. Misdiagnosed for two years, including by top pediatric Crohn's specialist as stress and needing more fiber but landed in hospital in 3/06 with cramps, vomiting, stricture. Now in remission with Entocort 3 mg (one pill), SCD multivit, yogurt, vit D3 1800IU, 900+ mg calcium, 50 mg B complex vit, 25 mg iron. Off SCD diet but wheat was iffy so back on SCD modified to include potatos and rice.   


pb4
Elite Member


Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 20576
   Posted 2/13/2008 12:19 PM (GMT -7)   
Rub extra virgine olive oil into your scalp and through your hair at night before bed, this will help heal your scalp and give you amazingly healthy hair & scalp...just remember, baby steps is key...

When I was a kid I used to pull hairs out of my head for no other reason than anxiety, I didn't know it at the time because I was a kid, I thought I was weird but realize now that it was a direct result of anxiety...I was also addicted 2 times in my life as a kid and again as a teenager to dristan nasal mist, that was tough to break too but I did...although I'm now addicted to putting lip balm on all day, so basically I've traded one OCD for another but at least the lip balm thing doesn't come across as being a problem (even though I know it likely is).

:)
My bum is broken....there's a big crack down the middle of it!  LOL  :)


indigosunrise
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 497
   Posted 2/13/2008 1:03 PM (GMT -7)   
I honestly will do the same thing! If I feel a scab on my scalp, I pick, pick, pick until it finally goes away. This is probably REALLY GROSS, but if I get a pimple in my ear, I do the same thing!

I DO have an anxiety disorder--my internist gave me something for it and said anxiety could make my possible Crohn's worse if I don't learn how to relax.

Best of luck with this, and if you find an easy way to quit, let me in on it so I will stop doing my picking!

Post Edited (indigosunrise) : 2/13/2008 1:08:13 PM (GMT-7)


praying4healing
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 739
   Posted 2/13/2008 1:21 PM (GMT -7)   
i've picked, i also have a bad habit of peeling the skin on my lip! when my mom sees me, she pops me on the hand lol or says STOP! lol sometimes i dont even realize i do it. We all have quirks, i have some that I will never tell! lol

U just made me realize to that I need to hurry up and figure out what i'm giving up for lent....hmmmm
25 y/o female- crohns disease since 14
Ileostomy pending-very worried
Tried asacol,pentasa,prednisone,remicade,6mp,azasan, no avail
Seatons placed
Worst year ever!

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear....."
Where does mine come from?!
 
Temp Ileostomy performed 1/29/08
Still Adusting
 
Healingwell.com has been my Godsend...Thank you


sjkly
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 2/13/2008 4:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Picking at your hair or scalp is a genuine illness and their are medications and behavioral therapy thay help people enourmously with this I would call a mental health center and ask who you should see.

FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 2/13/2008 5:57 PM (GMT -7)   
Well guys I have gone another day without picking. So far so good. The weather has been horrable so it has been a very stressful day too. Trees coming down, having to tell boss I can't get in, losing power, doing homework and paid work from home... I really feel like I am making progress this time and all this support is really helping!
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!
 
 


pb4
Elite Member


Date Joined Feb 2004
Total Posts : 20576
   Posted 2/13/2008 8:37 PM (GMT -7)   
More power to you Fitzky, hang in there, it'll continue to get easier.

:)
My bum is broken....there's a big crack down the middle of it!  LOL  :)


Sarita
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 2/14/2008 12:27 AM (GMT -7)   
YOU GO, GIRL!!!

You are amazing! Wow, if only I could be so determined to chuck my bad habits like you have the courage to do so intensely...I admire you. I can't wait to see the days turn into weeks and months of non-picking. I worked with several children who picked at themselves so terribly they had infected wounds...it was awful for them. So this is a very important step to take. I will be here for you!!!
Co-moderator - IBS Forum


Sugarmarie
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 1205
   Posted 2/14/2008 11:03 AM (GMT -7)   
That is soooo gross just stop it.
Confucius say : He who goes to bed with itchy butt wakes up with stinky finger.

Words of wisdom: Never trust a fart

:) Sugarmarie A.K.A. Poopy Pants :)


FitzyK23
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 2/14/2008 11:24 AM (GMT -7)   
With all due respect Sugarmarie- I am very aware that it is gross, and that is why I am trying to stop. And if it was so easy to just stop, I wouldn't be posting here asking for support.
26 Year old married female.  Diagnosed w/ CD 3 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD.  Currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day, hysociamine prn, nexium, and ortho evra.  Good times!!!
 
 


Sarita
Veteran Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 2/14/2008 3:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Sugarmarie, please be more respectful towards other members and watch your manners.
Co-moderator - IBS Forum


gardenlady
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 3103
   Posted 2/14/2008 3:59 PM (GMT -7)   
I have all sorts of quirks. I pick at my lips, too, as someone mentioned before. I ocassionally pick at my scalp. What's really bad? I pick at Kerry when he gets an ingrown hair or something like that. I would tend to agree with you -- there is probably some underlying skin problem that makes the scalp "pickable." But the picking turns into a habit all its own. Kerry tried Nizoral for his scalp, and it worked really well. So I say hit this thing with both barrells -- relaxation techniques, research anxiety disorders/OCD, and treat the physical scalp as well.
"Let me light my lamp,"
Says the star,
"And never debate
If it will help to remove the darkness."
-- Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore


mama2jmt
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 301
   Posted 2/14/2008 4:06 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Fitzy,

I also used to pick at my scalp nonstop,until last spring that is.You see,I got an infection on my scalp from picking at it so much,I just had to force myself to stop.Like other bad habits,it wasn't easy to break.

Ocassionally I still catch myself w/ my fingernails on my scalp,but I tell myself "don't do it!",and I am able to stop.I have come to realize that this was something that I did to soothe my nerves.

I wish you great success.....You can do this!!!!


p.s. I nearly peed when I read your post, I thought that I was the only one...hehe
~Jennifer~
Official Crohns DX-march 2004.Pentasa 4000mg,B12,Probiotics
         1 resection
Cardiomyopathy DX-may 2004.Coreg,Altace,Digitek,Lasix,Potassium,very low-sodium diet
          


indigosunrise
Regular Member


Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 497
   Posted 2/14/2008 4:13 PM (GMT -7)   

I think it is great you are working on stopping, Fitzy!  Honestly, I got nervous driving to work this morning...and my hand went for my scalp!  I thought about this post while driving and quit picking.  :-)

EVERYONE has some habit or another they are trying to break and I am really glad you were brave enough to mention yours--it helped me realize my own bad habit (s). 

 

 


sr5599
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 1202
   Posted 2/14/2008 10:43 PM (GMT -7)   
I didn't ever think of this as an anxiety disorder, but I do the same thing. I know I do it more when nervous. I've stopped before because I recognize it's not good for my skin. But, it's completely unconsious. My hands just go there. I know how hard it is, but if you're committed, you know you can do it! Good job on grabbing the steering wheel. I used to play with my hair but it's too short so I guess I replace it with the picking. I never realized others would have the same habit!

Good luck! And, hair loss is very motivating. You've given me thought as I have lost half my hair too, thanks to steroids...
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