I am a 24 year old college student and for as long as I can remember, I have had obsessions and compulsions. I don't know if I have OCD and that is why I am here with my story. I also want some advice on figuring out what the initial cause is and the triggers for them. I want help, but don't know who to turn to because I am so embarrassed to discuss this face to face with somebody, but will if I have to. Here is everything I can describe; it may take two entries.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a compulsive skin picker. I hate pain and bleeding but for some reason, when I have inflicted the pain on myself in my picking areas, it doesn't hurt mentally the same way. I have compulsions to feel this pain that I like. I have had so many different ways of inflicting pain on myself, usually only one or two areas at a time, but it's gone on since I was very young. I am very good at hiding it because its usually not in an area that anyone can see, except for my fingers. I've always bitten my nails and picked at my toenails. But it's not just a nervous habit because I'd pick at the edges until they were raw and sore. I'd also get nail clippers and clip off skin around the nails and needles that i would push through my skin and tear. I've also bitten the insides of my lips and cheeks for a long time. With two or three times in my life looking like I have a fat lip because I've bitten so deep. I've also had four or five times that there has been a scab on my scalp that I cannot let heal because I have to pick it, sometimes lasting for 6 months. I have also been a compulsive nose picker since I was young. It used to be so bad that I would get nosebleeds, scabs, headaches, scar tissue, and have thinning cartilage on one side.
I still engage in all of these things on occasion, but not to the severity that they once were. I now have a problem with finger and toe skin picking. It is something that I feel can be obsessive because the worse my fingers look and hurt, the more I want to pick. When I do pick, I use these sharp tweezers that can get any nook and cranny. I have on many occasions started picking and gone into a trance where I will lose myself and the next thing I know, hours have passed and my fingers look like I put them in a blender. I try to hide it if I have an obligation but have called in for work or avoided social situations because of this. I do not engage in this activity every single day but when I do it does interfere with productive activities I should be doing (such as schoolwork). On my hands, I have a "scapegoat" finger, meaning that if I have things to do and dont want anyone to know, I will tear up my right middge finger so I can cover it with a bandaid and still look normal. I used to be really compulsive at picking my toes when I was younger, because I could hide them. But I got over that for about 3 years until a few days ago when I tore up my beautiful toenails and picked the skin so bad that it is now infected and very painful. But, once again, this kind of pain isnt like other pain. It's very strange because as much as I have heard about people cutting themselves, I could never understand how someone could do that to themselves and like the pain. This was before it dawned on me that I did the exact same thing but in a different way.
I have other forms of what I believe to be OCD. I am obsessive about grease and wash my hands ritually to make myself feel right. I have also done this since I was young, with my first memory of it being in third grade when we had a Sega Genesis ganesystem. I remember washing my hands before I would play with it but it not feeling right, or greasy. Sometimes opting not to even touch it because it would cause me to be irritable and uncomfortable. This has continued all my life, with being the most obsessive about my computer feeling greasy. I will sometimes wash my hands 5 times before I get on my computer and have ritualistic steps while I do it. While it is not the same all the time, there are certain things such as after washing my hands a few times (until it "feels right") I have to get a bit of soap on my fingertips and end up turning off the faucet with the hot water, because that is the knob that is "clean" becase I touched the cold knob with greasy hands. And therefore would have to rewash my hands if I turned the water off touching the same thing I touched when I started. I also cannot dry my hands with a towel that isn't for "clean hands only" because it may contain fragments of oil. I sometimes get so obsessive about it that my hands will be dry, cracked, and sometimes bleeding because I don't want to use lotion because it creates a "greasy" feeling. It is strange because I am not like this all the time; it is only with certain situations. For example, I could use lotion if I am going out in public and not going to touch anything that I hate feeling greasy (pens, pencils, computer, phones, remotes, books). But if I am going to work, or a friends house, I am not like this. Hand washing definitely takes time out of my day because sometimes I so badly do not want to wash my hands before touching something because I know it is unnecessary, but I have to. Many occasions I will be on my computer or writing with a pen or pencil, and even though I have just washed my hands, I have to go and re-wet them to feel that they are not greasy. And if there is any feeling of not having resistance (any "slippery-ish" feeling whatsoever) I will rewash them.