Another high-functioning loon has decided to represent. Jen McCreight suffers from dermatillomania.
I pick at the skin on the pads of my thumbs and fingers, and at my lips. It starts with a bit of dead skin that many people would pick off. But my problem is I can’t stop. You know how little kids like to put glue on their hands, let it dry, and then peel it all off? It’s the same fun – except I’m pulling off skin that’s not ready to come off.
Sometimes I go too deep, or go too far, and I’ll bleed. The result is bright red, scarred thumbs that look miserable and hurt to bend, or bruised and chapped lips that I perpetually blame on the weather. It’s clear that it’s a compulsion. You’d think the first time I made myself bleed I’d stop, right? But I’ve done it probably hundreds of times, and most of the time I can’t even stop while I’m bleeding – the job has to be “finished” until everything that can be removed is.
Jen is a public figure, so this type of admission is daunting. However, as I’m well aware, it’s like skydiving – once you make the leap it’s freeing. She has gotten so much support in the comments section of her post and elsewhere, but she is also getting something else: people coming out of the woodwork, many who may have previously thought themselves freaks, with the same disorder. Some are now seeking help, as Jen has done.
I feel like I’ve never been confident of anything I do because of it. I’m going to make an appointment with psych tomorrow morning.
This is the effect of putting a successful face like Jen’s on mental illness. It speaks even more highly of Jen that she has excelled at all she has done despite the illness. She has greatly assisted in dissolving the stigma on mental illness and, in doing so, she has made the lives of many more valuable, more enjoyable, and she may have actually saved a life.
Mental illness is normal. Period. Jen puts it very well.
If we don’t mock people for being deficient in insulin, we shouldn’t mock them for being deficient in serotonin.
True fact. Of course, I have long known that Jen is the type of person to be this brave, so the fact that she has done this is no surprise to me. Vindication is so sweet though, and it was awfully sweet of her to prove me right. I am grateful to Jen for her strength as are hundreds out there who now enjoy solidarity with a malfunctioning brain.
Congrats Jen, and thank you. You’re amazing.