I feel so bad because I keep picking at acne and I know that's bad to do I just can't seem to control myself. I guess I just need to get myself a toy that requires both hands because if I have a hand free I always instinctively go for my acne. Sorry this isn't really a question.
You don’t have to ask a question, anon, or apologise for its lack. Sometimes you just want to express yourself. Sometimes you want to let us know you found something cool or that you’re rocking your new Tangle. Sometimes you want support. Sometimes you want a bit of reassurance, or just to know that you’re not alone, or talk about something to someone - especially if it’s something you can’t talk about offline.
Please do not feel bad for picking at acne. I mean, it’s a raised swelling on your skin. If some deity didn’t make that for picking, what did they make it for?
It’s doubly hard if for whatever reason our bodies decide to give us a constant supply of things at which to pick. (Especially since most of those conditions, like acne or dry skin, are difficult to manage.) You’re unconsciously picking before you realise that you shouldn’t. Society acts like we should just be able to decide not to do something bad for us and not do it, but if that were the case, well, I’d never be working myself into pain flares. Humans are more complicated than this idea that recognition and understanding results in behaviour change, especially when that trigger is always there.
Anon, it is really hard to not pick (or peel or pull). It’s often a stim that fits a need we have. It can be sensory-seeking, it can be an attempt to calm or manage emotion, it can be a kind of self-harm, it can be the removal of bad texture, it can be many different things. I like the feel of peeling dry skin off my lips, and while I don’t like the bleeding, I do like the pain. When I get a good sensory experience from it and the absence of the dry skin (bad texture) that annoys me, how do I stop? Especially when I’m doing it subconsciously?
(As a case in point, the entire time I was typing this, I was worrying free a cuticle beside one fingernail because the pain of pulling at it is pleasant in ways I can’t quite identify or articulate. I didn’t realise I was doing this until halfway through writing.)
It’s hard, anon. Know that it takes a lot of work to recognise when you’re picking, stop and redirect the behaviour elsewhere. Or, in my case, get up, cut away the cuticle, clean the wound and bandage my finger. This is a habit you might be a long time unlearning, and that’s normal.
We’ve discussed some replacement stim toys for picking and peeling (and we have a tag you might like to check out). Here’s some links to a few different posts for replacement stim toys that you might want to think about:
- Painting a Tangle/snake puzzle/plastic stim toy in PVA glue (scroll to bottom of post)
I’ve also noticed (in playing with my mermaid sequin pillow) that when some of the sequins get pushed around the wrong way (so gold shows when they all face black) that I have the compulsion to grab the sequin and turn it, because I dislike that flash of a different colour. This is quite hand intensive (first I push back the sequins around the wrong sequin and then turn the wrong sequin over) and you might find grabbing and turning sequins to be a sufficient distraction.
Lastly, I’ll refer you to this post for a list of various stim toys that are good for keeping hands busy. You might find some good alternatives there if you don’t want to redirect to a similar stim, just a distracting one.
But please, please don’t feel bad. We’re cheering for you, no matter how well you do or don’t manage to accomplish the seriously difficult task of redirection!
By the way. Talking about something you’re struggling with? Thinking about ways to redirect it? They’re all pretty awesome things to be doing, anon. Please take the time to applaud yourself for doing the mature (and not easy) thing of acknowledging a problem and considering better ways to manage it.
- Mod K.A.