Skin Picking & the Power of Sharing!

Mar 26, 2019 | Mental Health, Talking Anxiety

I’ve known two things for a long time.

Firstly, I have always picked or clawed at my skin – sometimes wasting hours at a time doing it until I felt ‘done’. I put this down to me being nervy or a worrier.

Secondly, I masked it by wearing make-up, by convincing myself that no one would notice and even by avoiding people or events if it was really looking bad.

What I didn’t know – until recently – was that there was a reason.

In my case – it was linked to my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) – more of a remnant nowadays as the majority of my OCD was in my younger years.

I only knew this through being open, honest & sharing in my Keynote Seminar #TalkingAnxiety.

Nick Elston. Inspirational Speaker setup to speak in conference hall.

You see – when I open up about my experiences of OCD, GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) & Anxiety in Life & Business – people open up right back at me – about anything & everything.

Essentially, people just want to be heard & understood – that’s it.

For those who have attended one of my events – you will know I say that Speaking is still my Therapy – that the audience are part of my Therapy session – which always gets a laugh – but it’s true!

When I Speak about my own experiences, my adversities, challenges, recovery, resilience – not only am I learning about my audience – through engaging them on their own lives & situations – but I also learn more about myself.

When I ask for questions at the end of one of my Seminars or Keynotes – especially in a Corporate setting – then open questions are fewer – but people always stay on to talk with me one to one.

Going back a few months, I was Speaking at an event in Bristol – it went amazingly well, I felt absolutely bulletproof, the audience were on their feet & applauding – notably engaged & enthused – then I offered – as I always do – to stick around as long as I needed – to ensure I spoke to anyone who wanted to speak to me.

It was the very last person who was waiting to speak to me – who absolutely blindsided me – she remarked on my skin (which is visibly scarred for those who have seen me up close!) & told me about Dermatillomania – a Skin Picking Disorder – which she also struggled with.

Firstly, as always – I feel humbled & honoured when people decide to share their own story with me – especially when they are visibly upset & it’s taken a lot of courage to step up & share with me.

Secondly, for some – labels on conditions doesn’t help them – however, for me – I like to know what I am dealing with – and her bravery in coming forward really lowered my guard & made me explore this condition for the first time ever – despite having done this for as long as I can remember.

It’s no coincidence that my Skin – especially on my face & arms – is always badly damaged – which I now see is self-imposed – when I have been at my most Anxious.

WOW. I spoke, I shared, I learned – all from being ‘brutally honest’ & not wearing that mask.

Speaking is such a powerful therapy and a force for good for others – when delivered authentically, emotionally & with power.

With that in mind – I found the amazing & inspirational Liz Atkin on Twitter – who has done amazing work – forged from her own experiences with Skin Picking – when I watched her TED Talk (below) – it was so emotional & I resonated with everything she said…there is so much power in community. Please grab a brew & have a watch…

Liz Atkin – TED Talk – Re-imagining Compulsive Skin Picking

The reason I’m sharing this?

Because it’s true, it’s real & I know the power in sharing – both for me & for my audience.

Also – because it will raise awareness on something which I managed, hid & was ashamed of – something that I didn’t even know was a thing.

Maybe someone reading this now won’t take 30+ years to figure out something that they could learn today.