Friday, 22 March 2013

My Derma Toolkit

Back again :) Trying my best to be productive today. Got to keep moving! Anyway  I am excited to share a project I finished this morning. I finished two projects this morning, but one is still top secret!

I made this Noodlehead Wide Mouth Pouch to hold a few tools which I find helpful in dealing with my skin-picking. It was important to me to have a special bag which I would love and be likely to use everyday, so I chose my favourite hot air balloon fabric. Those smiley balloons perfectly represent the feelings of peace, hope and optimism I need. I lined my pouch with cherry sketch print and used another print from Handle With Care to fussy cut a hexagon for the zip tab. The reverse of the tab has a snippet of Happy Thoughts text print.

Going to talk a little bit about my plan to control my dermatillomania now.

In my pouch I like to keep back-up cotton gloves, wet wipes, antibacterial lotion and moisturiser. My main tactic for fighting my derma right now is minimising the contact between my finger tips and the rest of my skin. So, in risky situations, such as at the computer or reading, I'll be wearing my cotton gloves. They are the single most useful tool I have ever found for myself. Currently, I am also wearing them to sleep in. And I don't care how silly that looks :) I keep plenty of wet wipes to hand to keep my skin clean without touching it, and in case of uncontrollable itches. Theoretically, apart from in the shower and applying ointment and moisturiser, I should never be touching my skin.

This plan is working really well, but it has a problem. If I choose to be in a situation where my wearing gloves would be too awkward, and it's too dark/inappropriate to be knitting or stitching. Part of operation 'improve quality of life' involves me going out more. My favourite type of 'out' is probably the cinema. And in the cinema I would wear my gloves, so not a problem. But sometimes, such as last night, at a gig in town, I can't wear gloves. Obviously, I *could*, but the likelihood of awkward questions is a bit much for me. So I need to figure out a way of distracting my hands so I don't pick. Last night there was picking. I think that the enjoyment of being 'out' made the picking setback a justifiable cost, but I clearly need a better plan for next time. Some sort of touchy toy that I can keep in my hands constantly to occupy both fingertips and brain. Not sure just what that is yet unfortunately. Another option would be too acquire 'night out gloves'. They need to be lightweight and pretty enough that keeping them on all night won't look weird. I'm going to have a look in town later and see if anything might suit.

So far you'll see that I'm concentrating on building a barrier between me and my skin. Those who don't have derma, or any other compulsive disorder, might be thinking that this is a rather impractical approach. Over the many years I have tried practically every approach  apart from  being more open. My previous need to keep my derma secret meant I was doomed to fail, as any coping tools had to be hidden in company, and no amount of will power alone ever worked for me. But I really think that physically stopping myself from picking will eventually make my will power stronger too. I see it as creating 'pods' of time without picking. A few hours with literally no picking makes me feel so much stronger  At the moment, I most definitely need a physical barrier to create these 'pods'. I'm not prepared to look ahead right now, just coping with each day on it's own merit.

My short term aim is to let the skin on my calves heal to the point where I can get the tattoos I've always wanted. I have never ever been tempted to pick my other tattoo so I'm fairly sure that, once tattooed, my legs would become something more that just a surface to pick at and would hopefully be safe. Claimed back for my own, if that makes sense. And (though I never ever look at my legs these days to avoid any temptation) I believe they are getting close to normal in skin texture. And I feel really proud of that.

And now it's time for my walk. Finally seems to have stopped raining!


  1. I really appreciate your sharing this. My daughter is five and has some related behaviors we've been helping her learn to recognize so she can redirect herself. At this point, she needs both "pods" and physiscal barriers of various sorts (though the report from preschool today is that one of our latest tries didn't work, which I'll get to report to her counselor today) and I've thought about what this will mean to her life as she grows up if she still has these tendencies, and I assume she always will at least in times of stress. It's great to get to see your proactive approach toward keeping yourself safe while treating yourself and your compulsions with gentleness. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for reading :) I have been reading your blog tonight and you sound like a great parent to me. Hope that sounds right, I'm not terribly good at expressing myself! Anyway, I have had a problem with skin picking since I was about your daughter's age. I'm 28 now, so back when I was young there was no awareness of conditions like this, at least not to my knowledge. It's only recently that I've been seeing it in terms of an actual disorder, and not just a bad habit I have. And, as a disorder, it seems easier to fight, because now I know I'm not alone. And I feel so much happier being able to talk about it.

      It will likely always be an element of her life, but the sooner she can find better ways to manage it, the better. The most important thing is to be open and not to turn into into a taboo or shameful secret. My driving force right now is that I have wasted so much time missing out on so many things, mostly due to the pressure I felt to hide my derma, and my complete inability to control it on my own. I would love to be completely free from the actual act of picking one day, but even then I think the driving desire behind it will always be there. I don't mean to sound negative, just truthful. I hope you don't mind my rambling reply.

    2. I really appreciate your thoughts. Didn't get to respond earlier because we spent Friday night in the emergency room getting treatment for an infected finger from a nail-biting gone wrong.... Mara's problems are mostly related to eating things that aren't food, which is scary as a parent because once she's done it you can't really check what has happened! But I know her birthmom and at least one sibling grew out of the habit and that may happen for her, plus she's getting treatment for some of the urges that arise from her early neglect, but she'll probably have this as her fallback coping technique for the rest of her life.

      I have a history of compulsions, though they were only strong and debilitating when I was in high school and also deeply depressed. I think you're being very realistic in expecting them to stick around in one form or another. I'm not sure if this is how you experience it, but it's very hard to have to feel like you're carrying the burden to make the world right within your body, and the psychological toll compulsions take can be heavy.

      On a lighter note, your upcoming trip sounds wonderful and I hope you enjoy it! I do have a quilting blog I'll update someday and am also a hand-stitcher, not just some strange adoptive mother who is following your blog for no good reason! I'm looking forward to seeing what you hex up in your time away!

  2. It sounds like you're doing great...even being able to recognize what you need to balance a more active social life with your goals for the derma is a huge accomplishment! One idea: I inherited from my grandmother these incredibly sweet black cotton crocheted gloves -- little garden party gloves, I suppose, but the colour makes them look cool. Searching around, I saw that they still sell similar gloves in bridal wear (!, but I definitely think that made in a colour they could be worn out (not necessarily to weddings!).

    1. Those gloves would be perfect :) And also, thank you for reading! I was a little bit worried about coming out about my derma here. I have found a stretchy lace pair in Claire's Accessories which will do for now, but I'll order myself a nice cotton set on-line shortly.