It’s All in a Name

Many people who chronically pick their skin also suffer from a co-morbid disorder; it varies from person to person whether the picking comes first causing a symptom of self destruction to mutate into a disorder on its own. For me, it all seemed to fit into a neat little package of destruction called Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), gift wrapped by the perfection of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

To say I am recovering from BPD is questionable because I believe I will always have self-imploding tendencies, but I no longer live my days waiting for the one that will tip me over the edge nor do I obsess over my own demise like I did consistently for years. These two afflictions have been my partners-in-crime, feeding off of what is possibly left of an average female, leaving behind the scars of Dermatillomania.

Only in recent months have I admitted to having OCD tendencies. I’ve denied this fact because the compulsion part of my OCD seems to only manifest in my skin picking. It’s hard to differentiate an impulse control disorder and OCD because Dermatillomania is all-consuming whereas any other possible OCD behavior of mine can be rerouted through positive outlets. Having a condition as chronic as Dermatillomania made it easy to dismiss my OCD, but it is the obsession part of the diagnosis that fuels the need to pick at my skin and obsess over anything and everything.

Procrastination, perfectionism, worrying, playing out worst-case-scenarios- rinse and repeat. I don’t possess ritualistic behaviors other than skin picking (that I’m currently aware of) but when it comes to household chores, as an example, I can’t commit to certain chores until minor ones are done first. It’s to the point that it becomes overwhelming because I can’t do the little ones until something else is done, which cannot be done until the initial goal is completed.

It doesn’t disable me or leave me paralyzed in a pressure cooker, but it’s a nuisance. My coping mechanisms for life are below average because I don’t handle stress too well. I am currently unemployed and have been experiencing many barriers in obtaining anything… which includes what society considers the “lowest of the low minimum-waged work”. This will be discussed in a future blog post, but I thought that mentioning my own dual diagnoses would set the stage for an upcoming entry.

OCD, BPD, and even the mention of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) have been thrown at me from all psychiatric directions. Then there are the more commonly used diagnoses such as depression and anxiety that have been incorporated into my self-description when referring to my struggles.

In a DSM covered nutshell (certainly no pun intended!) I sound like I have a plethora of issues to work through. In reality, most of these issues have been controlled for awhile or do not affect me to the point of interfering with abilities to trudge through the muck of rainy days. But what happens when a potential employer Googles me to find information before considering me for an interview? All of my ducks have been lined up and are on display for the world to see. Have I ruined any chances of working in the mental health field by telling my story to the world? Does indirectly attempting to help others with this disorder in turn destroy my chances of building a financially stable and secure future? Do the very fields that are supposed to be tolerant of these struggles discriminate me by considering me a liability?

If anything, publishing my darkest times with my ‘little secret’ should have given me an advantage to show employers that I am willing, and able, to do what it takes to remove stigmas attached in the mental health field. I have the dedication of a bull and challenge fear head-on with the PASSION to do more than my share in this profession. I am mentally healthy but have struggles, which is no different than the average person. I am an asset as an employee but do not know how to prove myself…

While these terms have been associated with me, I have less destructive ones that better apply to who I am: Motivated, Driven, Passionate, Determined, and Persistent.

  • Nora

    Me again. Aren’t there suppose to be some personality and intelligence tests before employing someone? I mean, that’s what should prove you’re capable of normal working. No one’s perfect. The disorders we have are mostly part of our privacy and the act of skin picking isn’t visible to our work colleagues.
    I have problem, as a student, that I’m very unable to focus on lessons whether they’re boring or interesting. Even in public, I’m unable to completely avoid hair-pulling (and people around me see that, only no one says anything). It’s less intensive than when I’m on my own but it’s still present and I miss many important things teachers say. When I’m at home, I both pick my skin and pull my hair. There are phases when these obsessions are not equally intensive (most of the time) but it’s not that rare when they are. Trichs gives me headaches but the satisfaction is bigger, I guess. I feel like I’m living on the (some kind of) edge.