Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Community
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Avatar universal

I think I might have OCD and CSP

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.

3 Responses
Avatar universal

I have also had issues with eating and food, and have had counseling about these issues when I was in my mid and late teens. I have never been bulimic, but I credit my lack of a gag reflex for that, because I 100% believe I would have bulimia. I'm not sure if I could've been classified as "anorexic" because I never reached a dangerous weight. I was obsessive about what I ate and could never stand to feel food in my stomach. If I ate, the way I knew when to stop was to suck in as much as I could, then press on my stomach. If I could feel the food, then I stopped (not meaning feeling it with my hands, but pressing my stomach and feeling it from the inside, like the feeling of being full). I also believe I have had a form of body dysmorphic disorder, because I would see myself different than what I really was. I see pictures of myself in high school, and I had a very slender body, but saw myself as fat. I would try to fast for as long as I could (my record being 4 days as the longest with no food) but always felt like a failure when I couldn't go for the "full body fast" at 30 days. I am a relatively normal eater now, but feel I will never have a normal relationship with food. A day usually consists of not enough food or too much food and base my opinion of myself and my life around which one I have chosen. Once again, no one would be able to tell that I have this problem. I am excellent at keeping it hidden from others and got help when I was 17 because I told my parents that I needed it.

From other people's perspective, I am a completely normal individual. I go to school and make good grades, have a good job, lots of friends, an amazing boyfriend that I have been with for many years and am going to marry, and what I would consider a normal life looking from the outside in. No one really knows what is going on with all of my obsessive and compulsive behaviors. Some people close to me know that I have some compulsions, but no one really knows how bad they really are. Nobody knows that I do have certain "rituals" and I don't know how I am ever going to be helped or find the reason for these if I can't talk about it. I am so embarrassed by these issues, I dont even think I would be comfortable talking to a therapist about it in person. I do not want to be plagued by this when I am married with a family and want to get this taken care of. I just am unsure of how to go about this since many of these have been around for almost 20 years. I want to know if I have OCD or something else, and what I can do. Thanks for taking the time out to read this; I have never told this to anybody in such detail and hope someone can help.
585414 tn?1288944902
Yes ocd could be the cause of all that and its a strong possibility. But since only a psychiatrist can make a diagnosis it would be worth seeing one. OCD is treated with medication of course but also talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. A lot of this sounds uncontrollable but clearly harmful to yourself and it is good you aware of it but its best to have this addressed now. A psychiatrist would be able to help you.
869695 tn?1239655933
Hey , hi

First congratulations on taking the step to seek help even here where of course you are shielded by the forum and aspect of being anonymous.

As the previous person points out and as my experience goes with my own OCD this sounds very much like one , BUT until you have gone to a specialist and gotten a proper diagnose , none of what i or anyone else says can be taken as 100% correct.
I understand your embarrassment as i myself have been there and it took time to eventually talk to someone , but at the same time i will encourage you to evaluate yourself more deeply and ask what is worse , to not tell and not get to the core of the issue now and save yourself embarrassment which is perhaps only in your mind (meaning you will be amazed at the degree to which therapists are helpful and non-judgmental )  or be open about it and free yourself from the troubles sooner than later. Embarrassment is real for you i know , but it is not working for you at the moment , so try and see it this way, start thinking in terms of what is working for you , or what could work for you and aim at that.
You have certainly thought that writing in here will work for you and thats great as it is a form of getting over the embarrassment even if it is a small way its still a step.
I am here for you to listen and will share anything of mine that i think might help  

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