Impulse Control Disorders
Why is red hot and blue cold? Why is green considered calming and yellow uplifting? Somewhere along the line we are trained by society that certain colors mean certain things, even if we learn that red stars are cooler than blue stars.
I have a new therapist - who I am loving, by the way. He does what a therapist is supposed to: he gets me talking, doesn't judge, and helps me work through my issues. I saw him for the third time just the other day and we ended up having a fascinating (at least for me) discussion about color.
We were talking about the usual stuff and I mentioned I had managed to paint one painting that week and I had put it on my wall because I found it very calming. I showed him a photo of it on my phone and it started a fascinating discussion on perception and color.
You see, the painting is red. Pretty much blood red. In the photo it is still wet so it is glossy and pretty much still dripping. Once it dried, I sprayed it with a high-gloss finish so it would still look bright and shiny. I guess most people don’t see blood red - especially dripping blood red - as calming unless they have a history of self-harm, which I do. So he started asking the usual questions regarding if I feel like hurting myself, etc.
The truth is - and what I told him - is the color red doesn’t calm me because it makes me think of blood. It calms me because it looks cooler to me (as in temperature) and that the wavelengths are slower. So it is calming. Blue can make me agitated because the wavelengths are faster and it is hotter. Green is OK, because it makes me think of plants and growing things, but it isn’t as calming as red.
Somewhere in my schizophrenic brain, I have broken the cultural preconceptions on color and I didn’t realize I was doing it. Red is the root chakra, the earth, the coolest-burning stars. It is the slowest of the visible colors and leads down to infrared and other deep, cool, slow, calm places. Blue and purple - at the other end of the visible spectrum - are hot and fast. They have their place, but if I am already agitated or stressed they just make it worse.
I didn’t even mention to him how the different colors sound. I think I’ll work him up to it slowly. We don’t want to freak out the therapist after only three sessions; I rather like him.
An estimated two million people deliberately cut or injure themselves.
This is her story, and she needs our support.
Some days I wake up feeling mean and hateful and angry and tired. I'm not allowed to hate anyone in my life. Thus it makes sense (I guess) for me to decide to hate me. I'm a mean and hateful person. I deserve to be hated.
Today I wish I could cut. I wish I could beat my head on concrete. I don't want to teach my children to do these things any more than I want to teach my children to be mean and hateful.
Today I've got nothing to give. They don't really care. They will still be demanding every five minutes all day long.
I don't know how to be nice today.
If you or someone you love feels the urge to self-injure, please call the National Self-Injury Helpline at 1-800-DONT-CUT (366-8288).
I am angry at the counselor that I went to for a few months a while ago.
I described this feeling to her so many times and not once did she give it a name or suggest that I might seek medication. Now that I've put the pieces together, it seems so obvious.
I describe the feeling as running down a hill and not being able to stop. I do and say things that I wouldn't otherwise because I can't stop running. I can't stop seeking approval from others. I can't stop being disruptive even when I can see the consequences. And when I get to the bottom of the hill I hate myself.
I don't have a name for that state as a whole, but the behavior and feeling is poor impulse control.
Last night I lapsed into it.
I wrote before about being on a new antidepressant. It has been amazing once I got adjusted to it. I feel so much more even-tempered and I don't agonize as much over social situations.
Yesterday I forgot to take my pill (I'm terrible at remembering to take pills, but I've been pretty good so far, missing only two doses in two months) and so midway through my Sunday night tabletop roleplaying game I realized that I was running down that hill again.
I was being disruptive. I was interrupting and being snarky and rude. I was chafing against authority figures in and out of character. I was telling things that weren't mine to tell.
I cried last night afterward, hating myself for my poor impulse control. Realizing that even if I wasn't fully in control of my behavior, I am fully in control of whether or not I take my pill.
It is a hard lesson.
Dermatillomania is an impulse control disorder characterized by the urge to pick at one's own skin, often to the extent that damage is caused.
This is her story.
I have now diagnosed myself with dermatillomania.
I am beyond embarrassed by this disorder. I cannot look at myself in the mirror naked as I am in disbelief about what I have done to my body, my skin. I am hideous and gross.
I am very desperate to stop this behaviour. I do it all the time. The only time I am not picking is when I have caused so much damage to every scab or sore it hurts to touch it or is bleeding. Then as soon as it has healed slightly, just enough for it to feel itchy, I scratch it all off again.
My entire body looks like I have a very severe case of chicken pox, only grosser. I have seen a dermatologist in the past who has given me steroid injections directly into the sores so they would heal quicker. I am surprised he never mentioned this illness known as dermatillomania.
I apply a prescription steroid cream daily and am not getting any better. I am in constant pain due to the open sores that I won't let heal. I have also brought this issue to the attention of my psychiatrist who has prescribed medicine to help with the compulsion. It has now been a week since the medication change and there is no change in my behaviour.
I need to stop!
What is wrong with me?
Dermatillomania is a condition of compulsive skin picking associated with anxiety and depression that can greatly affect self-image.
This is her story.
A good day, regarding skin picking in particular, is hardly ever NOT picking at all.
On a good day, I wake up, get ready, go to work (and I love my job), and am in a positive mood when I go home. I eat dinner and I wind down before getting ready for bed.
In the bathroom is Temptation #1: in the mirror, under bright lights, I see all the KP and blackheads on my upper arms, some on my face. I lean in, without even trying to resist at first, and scratch and pick at a few larger specimens. I probably spend 5-8 minutes picking in the bathroom before I stop myself and finally get to bed.
Once in bed, I try to read my book, but I notice more bumps and things under my bedside lamp - so I scratch and pick a few more. Another 5-10 minutes pass just picking. I've got some red welts, but only a few. Good day!
On a bad day, I wake up and as soon as I'm in front of a mirror, I lean in and scan for things to scratch at. I leave the house in relatively good condition (if only because of a lack of time). At work, if I'm alone in the bathroom (or even in my office), I'll pick some more, maybe for a couple minutes or so.
When the day is over, and I'm at home winding down, I can spend up to 45 minutes picking. Today my arms are COVERED in red welts, nail-shaped scars and scabs; all my skin is aflame and stinging. I picked at the skin on my chest, back, shoulders, forehead, cheeks, chin, forearms, upper arms, upper thighs, and lower abdomen. I look like I have the chicken pox right now, and after I pick that much, I feel dizzy, sick, scared of being in public, and supremely fatigued.
I've analyzed myself a million times over in so many ways, it makes my head spin. I don't think I can afford counseling - nor do I even see much offered for this sort of condition.
I'm so desperate for an answer as to why I do this, especially when it brings me so low.
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