By Aimee Braniff Cree
THIS WOMAN who was told to “get her stupid face out of here” by strangers in public is now a brave advocate for skin picking sufferers worldwide.
UPS driver Karalin Matthewson (30) from Gloversville New York has suffered from skin picking disorder since she was 16 and suffered comments including “you look awful”, “what’s wrong with your skin”, “get your stupid face out of here.”
Now she has faced her demons and come out stronger since growing her Instagram account to 1980 followers inspired by her skincare journey and self-love advocacy.
Dermatillomania or excoriation disorder, skin picking
Skin picking disorder is usually treated with talking therapies and medicines.
It’s not clear what causes skin picking disorder. It can be triggered by boredom, stress or anxiety, and feelings of guilt or shame.
Karalin’s skin picking came with feelings of embarrassment and isolation and actually made her condition worse.
Because of her skin she was embarrassed to go out and therefore stayed home, only enabling her to pick more.
“We can start to let ourselves off the hook in a sense of knowing we won’t have to see anyone because we aren’t going out,” said Karalin.
“The more time I have at home, the more likely I am to pick. Additionally being isolated in any sense can affect your mental health and therefore increase picking in and of itself.
“Skin picking was hard to bring up for awhile, due to the embarrassment. I had talked to therapists about it but hadn’t always mentioned it to my primary care.
“However when I did start talking to my primary care doctor and gained a referral for therapy in which there was transparency between her and the counsellor and the option for medication, it became easier to address and treat.
“I am currently attending therapy and also taking anti-anxiety medication to help ease the symptoms.
“The main symptoms are obsessively picking at one’s skin, accompanied for me by isolation and shame.”
People have said some harsh things to Karalin over the years as she shared her journey.
“People can be mean as they have said ‘you look awful’ ‘what’s wrong with your skin’ ‘get your stupid face out of here,” she said.
“I tried to focus on the far outweighing positives.
“My lowest moment has probably occurred more than once, when I felt defeated and like I had no ability to overcome this and stop picking.
“It can be extremely hard whilst in the thick of it, to see past the current pain and self-disgust we experience.
“However, much like everything, nothing is permanent. This too shall pass.”
Karalin is always looking to the positive and advice on her instagram encourages her followers to do the same, they have given her marks the nickname Strawberry Freckles.
“Changing how we view our marks and similarly what we call them can truly change our outlook on ourselves. I can now look in the mirror, marked up, and still feel beautiful,” she said.
“That’s a huge win against Dermatillomania.
“You don’t have to hide yourself away when you’ve been picking. If you feed the monster it gets bigger I find that my skin picking wants to keep me isolated.
“It wants to keep me exactly where I am to continue to feel low and use not having to see anyone to encourage more picking.
“So I starve the monster instead. I don’t stay home and stay sad. I get back to my life, that was put on hold.
“My most unique feature is my capacity for empathy.
“I receive some great compliments but the best one is that I’m inspiring.”
Skin picking is a form of OCD, sometimes it gets obsessive for Karalin and can be linked to genetics.
“Skin picking disorder is on the OCD spectrum and can have a genetic component but no-one in my family has skin picking disorder, that I know of,” said Karalin.
“Picking then ruminating about the picking. Feeling bad, picking, feeling worse. The cycle is an all too familiar one. The more we focus on not doing it, the worse we feel when we do.
“Failure, scum, pathetic, deserving are some of the thoughts that cross my mind. Changing those can be hard, as it doesn’t feel authentic.
“The low is the head space I think we chase. I think that’s become our comfort zone. It’s easier for us to sink into our ruminating thoughts. But if there is anything we aren’t, it’s weak. You are stronger than your thoughts.
“You bring yourself to the depths of sadness and back out on repeat. We survive, we try, we search for hope and we get by. You are a force to be reckoned with. Your marks and scars are the living proof.
“You’re here right now because you’re in the good fight. You’re a skin picking survivor, a skin picking warrior, a beacon of hope. My skin is proof I am capable of doing hard things. I’m here, I show up, I never give up, because of my strength. You’re here because of yours.
“I struggle with my confidence on a daily basis.
“If I did not suffer from skin picking I would have a lot more time and less fear of putting myself out there in any regard.
“It can be a lonely place and it helps to know there are others out there struggling with the same thing.
“If you or someone you love is struggling with their body just remember beauty is so much deeper than what you outwardly see. Loving yourself starts from the inside out.”