There is a lot that we do,
that can easily get out of control.
Some of you can arrive early, while I am at a battle with time itself.
Others can express their emotions, while I repress mine.
But more inconceivable to me is the idea that
most of you can keep your hands off your body,
when I can’t.
I’ve tried.
We all know the feeling, a fresh round white head on your cheek, ready to be popped.
Most of you will chastise and say
“Leave it alone!”
But I will retreat to a room with a mirror and get the satisfaction you refuse to give yourself.
But I don’t stop there.
You see, there is a theory
for my obsessive behavior
that is associated with conditioning.
Does that ring a bell?
Let’s start with the basics:
I pick my skin when I am stressed,
becoming transfixed with the real and imagined imperfections.
I spend hours in front of a mirror
And I feel no stress.
That momentary relief convinces me to perform the ritual religiously.
Overtime, a pathology is born.
What started in my face,
brought me to other parts.
I won’t tell you the extent of my shame,
but the pale fading scars and fresh scattered scabs are clues to my lies.
The only witness of my mutilation is my reflection.
If you wonder if you are afflicted as well,
casual picking is no reason to worry.
Casual picking is harmless.
It’s a habit that can easily be broken.
My disorder is like a drug of choice,
and I’ll do anything to get a hit.
Anything to feel the an ephemeral existence.
Have you ever felt that way?
Stress is a trigger,
and I am always stressed.
At my best, I pick less - no lasting harm done.
At my worst, I pick more - blood and scars ensured.
My greatest fear is being exposed.
No horror movie could ever replicate the dread of someone finding out.
A hallmark of my disorder,
Is being ashamed of picking.
It’s easy to misunderstand,
what sounds like mutilation is liberation.
Please try to understand.
What started as a coping mechanism, took a turn towards self-destruction.
I can feel myself losing control.
I fight back,
with plans to distract myself from my habit.
The P in ‘plans’ does not stand for ‘perfect,’
if you’ve ever been addicted you’ll understand.
The craving makes you crawl to relapse.
The shame multiplies and adds to self-hate and loathing.
It’s only after you stand naked and bare in front of the mirror,
forced to accept each of your lesions,
that you understand.
Scars may heal but your psyche won’t.
like the scab you keep scratching,
Eventually you’ll be raw and vulnerable.
Some days your skin will be clear as the blue skies above,
some days your skin will bleed when you change your clothes.
But you should not forget that the compulsion is opportunistic and merciless,
waiting to pounce.
I would be lying if I said that I am not afraid of what is inside of me, neither should you.
But I’ll attempt to have the courage to try everyday; to face my inner struggles.
Picking my fights,
and maybe picking my skin.
Frida Victoria Perez is a writer born and raised on both sides of the Rio Grande River. Due to this, she developed a bi-cultural identity and a desire to be a champion for mental illness awareness and other taboo issues surrounding Mexican-Americans. She is an alumni of the BMED program at UTRGV and a first-year veterinary student at AVC.

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