acne and ocd/bipolar disorder (picking)

I struggled with acne since I was about 14 years old — menarche. That’s 8 years of spots and spending money on over-the-counter/herbal remedies that never quite worked. Until I saw a dermatologist in ~November, I was taking stabs in the dark as to how to make my biggest insecurity go away.

I was also “taking control” as only someone with OCD can. I picked. It mixed with my hypomania in a vicious way. I’d focus in on one thing — the texture of my skin and how I could make it better! Of course!

And I picked and I picked and I picked until I looked like a meth head and then I picked some more.

I was always fully aware that picking made it look worse and was likely to make it more infected. But my mind is not quite logical with some things. (a symptom of OCD is being fully aware that your rituals make no sense in the logical world.) I didn’t really have any reasoning for the picking save for this:

*hand drifts to face* (bad habit) oh no there’s a little bump maybe I can squash it *squeeeesh* oops damnit Martha you’re not supposed to do that maybe scratch it until it’s completely smooth *uses dirty fingernails to damage layers of skin and create dime sized scab from pin prick sized pimple* maybe that other scab on your chin is ready to go and *peeeeeel* damnit where’s a tissue I’m bleeding in public this is embarrassing

Sound gross? I know, I know, it was like I couldn’t help but publicly shame myself multiple times per day. And that was part of getting through picking — remember the shame, don’t touch your face. Remember the shame. And you don’t have any tissues.

Top ways to stop picking:
-wear fake nails. this makes it near impossible. this is by far my top tip. It gets you out of the habit of picking, even after you stop wearing nails.
-knit/crochet when you have idle hands. and keep at it. and start a new project when you finish another.
-eat. something that requires two hands, like shelling peanuts.
-shift your focus from picking to moisturizing. it doesn’t happen overnight. but it is another way to control skin texture and it is also a way to be kind to yourself.
-sit on your hands if you feel them drifting toward your face.

and of course,
-read up on OCD, if you have been diagnosed. once I was diagnosed, I read a lot of articles on picking and OCD, and they helped me to recognize patterns that were the disorder. I previously thought I had no self-control, and I was destined to have scabs on my face 5ever.

But now I have clear skin, nothing to pick at. If I get a hormonal zit, I let it be. It dies, thanks to RX creams I still have on hand.

Another note– I see a lot of beauty bloggers and people on the acne tag who haven’t seen a dermatologist but complain of horrible acne and spend hundreds of dollars on anything that might work. I have spent a total of $150 on three months of seeing a dermatologist, and less money on new skincare items/medications that have all worked that the doctor recommended. Below I include all products for acne, scarring, and hyperpigmentation. It’s a lot cheaper than guessing in the dark for years with spots on your face. My advice is to see a doctor!

Products I currently use:
-Cerave A.M. and P.M. facial moisturizers ($28 total)
-Cerave eye cream ($12)
-Cetaphil facial cleanser ($4)
-PCA pigment bar ($30 bulk)
-Avar-e pigment lightening gel (RX) (free)
-doxycycline every other day (RX) ($10)
-Cetaphil cream ($15 bulk)
-Aquaphor ointment ($20 bulk)

seldom use anymore now that acne is dead:
-Epiduo (RX) (free)
-Aczone (RX) (free)
-Eletone (RX) (free)
-PCA blemish bar ($30 bulk)

This is just an example of what clear skin has cost me financially. I consider it money well spent. Most of these products last me forever (the bulk bars claim to last a year) (the bulk creams will probably outlast them).

If you pick your skin, do some research and free yourself. πŸ™‚ And cough up and see a doctor about those zits if they really bother you and lower your self-confidence. You deserve to feel great in your skin.

~*treat yo self*~



  1. Zoe · January 26, 2015

    I had acne as a pre-teen. It went away when I was 14, with the major pimple around PMS. After 25, I got acne again. Worse than ever before. I went on all the derma treatments, especially the Epiduo, nearly burned my face off… developed dermatitis… only to realize that the cause of my acne was milk.

    As soon as I removed milk from my diet, the acne went away. I also eliminated wheat / gluten. I previously had milk / wheat allergy, but I never guessed it was the cause of my breakouts until I started eliminating foods to see what was up.

    Now, I’m acne free. I use rose hip oil (helps a whole lot) and have started using brands from Australia, New Zealand, and S. Korea for my skin care. The ONLY thing I didn’t ditch was my beloved CeraVe Moisturizing Cleanser.


    • MarthasMakeup · January 26, 2015

      I was vegan and gluten free previously, but now that I follow a pescatarian diet my skin is clearer than ever. I drink a lot of green juice. I agree that gluten and dairy can be huge for acne but thankfully, mine just needed some doxycycline and a few Rx gels. Glad you found stuff that works for you! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cRazyCatDame · January 26, 2015

    OMG this is like reading about me. I have never been diagnosed but the damage I have done from obessive picking is insane and now at my age my skin has the most horrific texture. I am still using my Aczone and Tazorac while washing and moisturizing with Cerave. I think right now my biggest issue is that my pores on my nose and chin are still congested with crap and since I lost my insurance being off the BC means that I randomly get hormonal acne due to my lovely PCOS.

    Any ways can you give a bit of detail on the PCA pigment bar. This is something I have never heard of, do you wash with it at night or day?

    I really have been enjoying your blog!


    • MarthasMakeup · January 26, 2015

      We’re not alone! Picking sucks, doesn’t it?

      The PCA pigment bar is sold in some derms’ offices and on amazon. It works on the causes of hyperpigmentation. My dr explained that it works on pink spots, not brown spots. I was previously buying lots of dark spot treatments which are apparently for brown spots, which I don’t have. Pink spots, however… I’m a pink dalmation, lol. But rapidly improving! The bar doesn’t work super fast or anything but I’ve been using it for about two weeks and I see a difference. I definitely give it 5 stars, I haven’t broken out, I’m getting more even, and it smells wonderful (but natural). I use it at night with my knockoff Clarisonic (CVS brand, around $15), then a gentle cleanser in the morning.

      And a great thing for pores that I found at the drugstore is the Biore charcoal cleanser, it’s a black facewash. If you mix it with a fine scrub it makes all the gunk go away. I used to do that daily but now I seldom do it now thay my acne has calmed down. I think a clarisonic type thing is also very good for pores, but I’m no doctor, ha.

      Liked by 1 person

      • cRazyCatDame · January 27, 2015

        Thanks! I am going to take myself right on over to Amazon. I also have more pink spots and really will try anything to help my face out HAHA.


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