It's odd, concerning, and a bit surreal when you begin to realize there's a possibility your child may be the cause of her own pain and suffering.
I began wondering if her head was ever itchy. Was she imagining or creating the few flakes by picking at her scalp? She told me (because her therapist told her) that she realized the picking was a mechanism used to help her cope with stress, but she couldn't stop doing it. It's no wonder since it has been found that "the behavior functions as something that is both arousing as well as calming." It was a compulsion and it eventually spread to her chest, back, and face. The article: Dermatillomania: When Self-Harm Becomes a Compulsion describes Jordan's behaviors so well. Especially this section:
In the end, this disorder is very debilitating in a social sense. In its initial stages, a person can hide their self-inflicted wounds with makeup, but as time passes, if it isn’t treated, the marks get worse and more difficult to hide, leading a person to avoid social contact in order to avoid drawing attention to their disfigured skin.Ouch. In more ways than one...
Jordan still struggles with this, although she has it much more under control. At this point in her life it rarely disrupts her ability to get to classes and social functions, although I'm not sure about her ability to shower and get sleep at a "healthy" hour. I tend not to ask very often.
She's almost 21, and it's her life. (This may sound harsh, but I certainly don't mean it that way.) I have faith that if she is struggling, she will call me no matter what time of night (as she has done before) and ask me to help her get through it.
Which I will always be happy to do.