What is OCD?
Many people are aware of the mental health condition of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) a disorder that occurs when a person gets stuck in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. These obsessions are usually unwanted thoughts that bring upon distressed feelings.
OCD and the Skin
Now normally we associate OCD with someone obsessively washing their hands, opening doors, and checking if things like the stove have been shut off. But when it comes to OCD it doesn’t just end there. When you have OCD the compulsive thoughts can be about anything including the skin.
After research and my own experience obsession over the skin has been referred to as Acne Dsymporhia and in even more extreme cases is called Dermatillomania. This disorder involves extreme skin picking that results in lesions. I myself never experienced this but did experience Acne Dysmorphia, where my thoughts were centered on my skin and worrying about it where it caused me emotional distress. It caused me to not want to go out and not want to look in the mirror but at the same time obsess in the mirror. Obsessively checking my skin and feeling if I had any blemishes or bumps.
Living with OCD can be quite exhausting and make it a struggle in terms of focusing and concentration, but is possible to overcome. There is medication for OCD which can be the same treatment used to treat anxiety. Some have found success with medication, but for some and from my experience it was not the answer.
It actually gave me more anxiety, made me feel numb at times, tired, and heightened suicidal thoughts. But this was my experience and everyone is affected differently. Counselling, exercise, meditation, keeping busy, and using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are effective tools to use to treat both anxiety and OCD as both maintain a relationship. My skin obsession was caused by stress and anxiety and a mindset that was hard to get out of. It took me about 8 months to overcome. Self-compassion, and realizing my blessings and being grateful were huge ways to look at things in a different perspective. It was my obsession that was making my skin worse and acne, hives and bumps were taking over my life. I was missing out on life.
Some other tips to help stop OCD behaviours are to stop seeking reassurance, to not let thoughts maintain a power over you, and to accept your unwanted thoughts and then try to move onto something else. When you come to realize that maybe that thought is inaccurate then you won’t react to it as much. Not reacting with fear and panic to thoughts is very important. Thoughts we have are just thoughts and not always accurate or reality. Our minds can play tricks on us into believing things that are in fact not true. Something I learned from Youtube videos by OCD recovery coach Ali Greymond. Her videos were very informative and helpful. She also struggled with OCD and continues to provide support online as well as with books.