I have dermatillomania......

I've battled it on and off since I was 14.

28 years.

It started when I was doing my mock exams at school and had a really stressful home life and I developed psoriasis on the back of my head. Back then I had an area of psoriasis about the size of two oranges on my scalp. The picking has gotten much worse in the 8 years I've had Fibromyalgia, as chemical sensitivities plus some kind of dermatitis or a recurrence of psoriasis on my scalp means there's always something on my scalp to pick at. Every time I wash my hair, some of my scalp scabs over. I pick at it until my head bleeds, until I have bald patches, until my lymph nodes become inflamed under the onslaught. Even then I can hardly stop. I have to stop for a few days before I can henna my hair or else it'll find its way into broken skin and cause an allergic reaction, but for those few days I cant wait to pick again.

One of my hands is always poised to pick at the front of my scalp and doing this on and off for over 25 years means my shoulder joints are wearing out. Arms just aren't meant to spend so much time in the air, and when I put my bra on in the morning my shoulders crunch. I've been cutting the top of my head out of photos for a while because my hair is so thin there from constant picking. When Im focusing on the pain I can't focus on anything else. I know it's a form of self-harm and I just can't stop.

I don't even know I'm doing it half the time. It's like I'm in a fugue state. I don't even know why I'm writing this, except in case it reaches someone else who's feeling terribly alone. And it DOES make you feel terribly alone. I've only ever told one person about this in my entire life, although no doubt those closest to me will have noticed my behaviour. So far in writing this - in a space of about 5 minutes as I'm taking my shame and anger out on the keyboard - I've stopped to pick my head twice already. When one of my hands isn't picking at my scalp I keen for it. I know it's stress related, and I'm really stressed out at the moment so I'm gouging away like I'm trying to reach the centre of the earth via my scalp.

My hair is really really thin at the front. I need help.  I know I need CBT or medication to treat it. But how do you break a habit 28 years in the making? Fuck.


I'm embarrassed and ashamed to admit I have this, but if it touches one person who's going through it alone, then it's worth it.

Leah xoxo

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