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23 Pictures That Show The Reality Of Living With A Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior

"My hand always strays to my back, shoulders, face; always searching, scratching, picking."

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"Body-focused repetitive behavior" (BFRB) is a general term for any disorder that makes someone touch their hair and body in ways that result in physical damage — like bald patches, skin discoloration, bleeding, or scarring.

Trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), compulsive nail-biting, and dermatillomania (skin-picking disorder) are three common BFRBs.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share what living with these compulsions is really like.

Here are just some pictures and stories that they shared. By the way, we know photos like these can be triggering for people who deal with BFRBs, so we've opted to blur them so you can choose if you have the bandwidth to look. As a heads up, though, some of the responses also contain detailed descriptions that might be triggering as well.

1. "This is what a divorce from a seven-year marriage looks like when you have trichotillomania."

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"I had a full head of hair in January. I wear bandannas every day to hide the damage. I've had trich since I was 5 or 6 and dermatillomania since 17. My brows are microbladed and I only have top eyelashes right now. BFRBs are exhausting and frustrating and destroy your self-esteem. BFRB awareness is crucial to sufferers who are ashamed and isolate themselves socially. Let's end the stigma." —misswit1821

2. "My hand always strays to my back, shoulders, face; always searching, scratching, picking."

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"Short nails, fidget cube, bubble wrap, gloves, jangly bracelets, meditation, hypnosis therapy, creams, throwing out my tweezers...I will try anything to stop, but I constantly feel compelled to pick at my skin. I am resigned to having dry, cracking lips, red marks and scars; but I have hope for clear skin, someday." —mishl029

3. "The funny thing is, I started biting my nails in an attempt to stop biting my lips and the inside of my cheeks."

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"Obvs, it didn’t work, and now I’m stuck with both. But the cheeks are way worse. The left side of my cheek, around the lips, is deformed due to the years of biting the skin from the inside. When I get anxious, biting that tender skin is so satisfying and I can’t stop until it hurts and burns like hell. I’ve tried a number of fidget toys but nothing has worked thus far." —moumer

4. "I tend to wear jeans and long sleeves as much as possible, which sometimes feels like it severely impacts my quality of life."

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"Five years of picking habitually from anxiety and OCD. Can’t wear shorts, dresses, or fun clothes anymore." —malenav3

5. "I'm currently 36 weeks pregnant with my first daughter and my stretch marks will sometimes split open and bleed. I've had to take to wearing two to three shirts during the day to keep from picking at them and sometimes even wrapping myself up like a mummy in bandages."

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"When I was younger I never realized just how much I was actually hurting myself. I've always had some minor acne on my back, but if you look at the scars you'd think I'd had the worst case of acne you've ever seen simply because I wouldn't stop at popping a pimple I'd dig until my fingers were coated in blood. It's recently started to get bad again." —cassmeeks4

6. "Four years later, I have overcome my eyebrow-picking problem!

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"I have trichotillomania, and a couple years ago my eyebrows got the worst of it. I barely have any eyebrows in the first picture. Still have issues with my hair, but conquering one thing at a time!" —hunterm473dc19ee

7. "I have dermatillomania and pick at any 'imperfection' I find on myself."

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"As you can see my main issue is on my arms. In order to let them heal I cover them in Band-Aids, then cover my fingertips in Band-Aids to ensure that I can’t pick. It seems excessive but it’s what works for me. Also keeping a simple skin care routine makes me not wanna ruin my work." —supernaturalcat

8. "My thumbs are bloody, painful, Frankenstein fingers pretty much all the time."

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"It’s normal to me, but sometimes I hide my hands around other people so I don’t gross them out." —blairi

9. "I have crippling anxiety, and one of my coping mechanisms is picking at my gums and chewing on the insides of my lips and cheeks."

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"I almost always have a sore on the inside of my mouth somewhere and my cheeks are all scar tissue. My gums have also receded on my bottom teeth because of how often I rub them with my fingers." —savannahrainew

10. "My anxiety is awful, and the way I cope is by tearing my ear to shreds."

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"I have no idea why it makes me feel better, but it does. I always have blood under my fingernails, it’s so gross. I rarely wear my hair up because of it." —brees42caebe7e

11. "I started in 8th grade and I’m now 30 years old."

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"Panic disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety, watching movies...all leads to this. I’ve tried everything to stop." —carlyk2

12. "I always think if I can just get my feet smooth, I can stop, but that only leaves me with aching, bleeding feet."

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"I pick at the bottom of my feet and have been doing so for almost seven years. The skin is so tough now that I have to use tools (nail clipper, tweezers, cuticle clippers, etc)." —emmaf4a26a8ca8

13. "The skin is so tough and scarred now, I try to hide my thumbs so people don’t see."

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"Since I was around the age of seven, I’ve picked the skin off of the sides of my thumbs. It soothes me when I am anxious or sometimes when I’m just bored." —elainef48ecc5349

14. "I have missing lashes. Top, bottom, and brows with heavy scarring."

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"I took a pic and then decided I wasn't up for it to be shown as it's just out of the shower with no makeup. But if you guys can be brave then I need to be." —cr1stalfairie

15. "I have acne on my face, chest and arms, but my scarring wouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as it is it I didn’t default to spot-squeezing when I’m anxious/upset."

"I use a combination of these products every day depending on how bad my skin is. Some days it’s almost clear. I can’t remember ever having completely clear skin, and it’s severely damaged my self-confidence." —gillz88uk
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"I use a combination of these products every day depending on how bad my skin is. Some days it’s almost clear. I can’t remember ever having completely clear skin, and it’s severely damaged my self-confidence." —gillz88uk

16. "Microblading (basically eyebrow tattoos) changed my life! My friends even surprised me by getting the money together to pay for it."

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"About four years ago, my anxiety progressed from nail-biting to pulling out my eyebrows. Three years into it, they stopped coming back and I’d have to draw them in EVERY MORNING. Needless to say it sucked and caused a lot of self-consciousness." —jessr4867c30a1

17. "My lips were chapped and in my mind, instead of asking my parents for vaseline or chapstick, I thought, Oh, if I just pull off the dry bits, my lip will be smooth and all will be well. And so it began."

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"Of course I've tried to quit over the years and but of course I can't. As you can see, my upper lip is two tone from the scarring. I constantly go through medicated lip balms and vaseline. It's frustrating. Sometimes, getting my nails done in acrylic actually helps. It makes it harder to pick and I end up picking a lot less." —vivianb4dd919a3c

18. "This is the best my arms have been in awhile in terms of not having many open wounds from picking at them."

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"I hate how I've made my upper arms look by doing this, but I've been doing it for years." —rachaelo4530b59b1

19. "Both of my middle finger nails are trying to recover from permanent nail bed damage."

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"I have been obsessively biting my fingernails for as long as I can remember. They often bleed and I often continue until they are just skin. People often say, 'Why don’t you just stop?' But so far none of the tricks I have tried have kept me from biting for longer than a few weeks. It’s embarrassing." —maryellenw4d00ad730

20. "I'm too embarrassed to even go get a haircut because I don’t want the stylist noticing and asking about my bald spots and broken hairs."

"I suffer from intense trich. It takes me more time in the morning to get ready as I need to ensure I hide my bald spots to the best of my ability. Whenever I wear my hair up in a ponytail, I need to wear a headband, or else all the short hairs along my hairline caused from continual pulling would flyaway and look a mess." —leahl4207a701f
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"I suffer from intense trich. It takes me more time in the morning to get ready as I need to ensure I hide my bald spots to the best of my ability. Whenever I wear my hair up in a ponytail, I need to wear a headband, or else all the short hairs along my hairline caused from continual pulling would flyaway and look a mess." —leahl4207a701f

21. "I will find anything sharp I can and just rip the nails off of my toes when I am feeling anxious."

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"It's an anxious thing that started when I was a kid in the hospital that has gotten worse with my depression. I have done this for so long that they don't even hurt anymore." —mandab3

22. "Over the years I have to just remind myself that I will be mad at myself later on and will hate the scars it leaves behind."

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"I’ve had dermatillomania long before I even knew it was a thing. I would (and still do) often pick my lips until they bled and pick at my acne until they left scars. In this particular picture I got a sunburn on my nose and couldn’t stop picking at the dry skin. It’s a disorder I feel like isn’t talked about enough." —malloryc40fe9f2b5

23. "One day, I hope I’ll be able to live a life without pulling, but for now I’m going to keep on living my life and I'm NOT going to let this stop me from being happy or confident!"

Submitted by user

—Maya, via email

Seeing other people dealing with the same thing you are is a great way to feel less alone, but if you found a lot of things in this post a little too relatable, you might want to look into ways to take care of yourself. So, here are some quick resources, just in case:

You might want to read more about BFRBs and check out resources and information on how to get treatment.

You can read about anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, since BFRBs can be a symptom or coping mechanism of both.

You might also want to check out tips from our readers who know the struggle:

28 People Share How They Keep From Picking Their Skin

24 Ways To Keep Trichotillomania From Ruining Your Life

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