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**This is not a read for those of you who are easily upset.

As many members of this site are aware, I've been struggling with issues of self esteem and self value after being raised by a narcissistic mother. I've been evaluating myself constantly (as I normally do anyway), trying to understand every part of my life that has been effected by my childhood and regain my psychological health. I briefly worried that I might have developed some self-destructive habits (mostly negative self talk) but am wondering if it could actually be the opposite problem.

I do not consider myself a judgmental type of person. I have always been a very open minded person, considering all options and leaving people to their own accord. And yet I am extremely strict with myself in a way that nobody else has ever been. My mother let me run completely wild when I was younger, never gave me many rules or restrictions, and actually encouraged me to experiment with certain drugs as a teen. And yet since about middle school I have been an obsessively "good" child. I always came home before it got late on my own accord, always stayed out of trouble, drive slowly, waited to have sex until I was in a committed relationship, and have never in my life done recreational drugs. Why? It definitely wasn't something my mother cared about one way or the other, and it wasn't a rebellion either. I think it was actually a response to something much deeper.

Since I can remember, my mother has planted little seeds in my head that there is something inherently wrong with me. I was the scapegoat child, and in the narcissistic mother's delusion the scapegoat is her enemy, usually by nature. She would often give me very appalled looks at any little thing I did that she disagreed with, and say things like, "You always were a mean person." She would compare to me to her mother, whom she called evil and a bad person. Up until now I only knew that these words had hurt a lot, but I missed the underlying issues they caused.

Now I am constantly trying to better myself, inside and out. This might be good and helpful in some instances, but I worry that it's becoming a danger to my health. I'm completely obsessed with psychoanalyzing myself and everything I do, and I feel like ultimately I'm always trying to attain a state of internal perfection. I feel wrong, and I'm always looking for new ways to explain how wrong I am and attempt to then correct this. I believe this even shows in some physical outlets; I absolutely cannot stand the dirt under my fingernails, pimples, bug bites or even moles. I'm constantly cleaning under my nails and scratching the hell out of any little blemishes until I'm covered in open sores. This seemed like it was destructive at first, but it's not the pain or the destruction that I really think about; it's what's inside. I can't handle knowing that there are little infections on my face that dig into my skin, and I want to rip them out. I don't even care that the end result is having my face covered in scabs because I want to feel like I got it "out" of me. I tore the crap out of a little mole I found one time because it was sticking out slightly, and I'm frequently picking off dead skin cells. For a while I obsessively scraped at the little white skin cells on my scalp and probably would have caused some scarring, except that it ended up under my finger nails so I had to stop.

Is there anything I can do about this? I don't think I can really live like this, constantly tearing myself apart both mentally and physically. I really don't want to end up like one of those religious extremists. I'm so tired of hating myself when I know I shouldn't, but I have no idea what I can do. Please don't just say therapy; I've tried that already and they were all clueless. I'd like to know more about this if possible, and if anyone else has experienced something similar or has any advice.
 

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Hmm. I went through a phase like this, though it wasn't quite as intense. I got into personal growth stuff, and slapped a few labels on myself along the way. I was basically confirming a bias of being broken somehow. I pulled out of it eventually, by realizing it wasn't really helping me to focus in that way. I realized all the analysis made me neurotic so I stopped, but only after I accomplished some major goals related to making peace with myself and my history.

In your case, I would bring up the possibility of medication. Not to avoid doing anymore work but so you could feel like you had more freedom in your process of work. I've heard that SSRIs can be helpful for compulsive behavior and your description sounds like it might involve compulsion. Compulsion, but you also know the underlying story or motivation. You could test out whether it is compulsion by noticing whether you continue to pick at things on your skin even if you don't really want to. If it feels a bit like you can't help yourself then it's probably a compulsion. As I said, medication can help in some cases. It would give you more internal freedom to choose your actions. Something to look into, maybe.

As for the rest, I get the impression you're trying to prove she was wrong with all those little digs that brainwashed you growing up. That's understandable. I'm concerned for you because it also sounds like you don't feel fully in control over this stuff. That can be really uncomfortable. I bring up the meds because it can often be a huge relief to simply feel like we're in greater control over our actions.

And since I've talked with you on here a few times, I feel bonded with you, and don't like that you seem to be suffering so much :(

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioners can help in situations like this. Usually it's like you work with that practitioner in one lengthy, intensive session, instead of seeing them several times. It's important to choose a practitioner that seems good for you, personally. Most of what they do can be accomplished by phone or Skype video, so you'd not need to find someone local to you unless you simply prefer that. Many offer free consultations so you'd get a glimpse of their personality and focus for training, to evaluate whether they are a good fit for your preferences. Take care, there's plenty of hacks in the NLP world, along with plenty of practitioners who know their stuff and have your best interests in mind. If you look into this, just pay attention to how you feel about each of the possible people to work with. You'll probably feel it when you stumble on someone who'd be a good fit for you and would be motivated to help in a win/win way.

The great thing about NLP is yes, you need a certain level of trust, just like in therapy and it's not always easy to feel that. But you don't have to work with that person as much, don't have to form a very solid relationship, and you're still in control of your results the entire time. I know for me, if I know I don't have to continue relating with a person, it is sometimes easier to trust them in a psychological-helping sense than it would be if I had to maintain the relationship. I'm not sure why, something about it having an expiration date makes it easier to be more open.

The bit about you being in control is also helpful. Even if the practitioner works with you using hypnotherapy, your mind will simply not allow you to accept anything that goes against your values. You're still the ultimate authority over your experience with NLP, and you are the one who decides how much you go along with what that person is offering for your goals.

I'd say, in the personal-growth world, you might be operating from a "limiting belief" and NLP can help a person let go of that or stop letting it run so much of their choices. NLP is quite different from therapy. It's a bit "woowoo" at times, but even as a skeptic of stuff like that I've seen it work very well for several people I know.

For example, I have a friend with some serious past crap. She used to not be able to go out without having panic attacks. She used to take any perceived social slight really, really hard, would cry for hours and sometimes take it out on herself through sadomasochism. She worked with an NLP Practitioner, and within weeks she was acting like the old her never existed. She goes out regularly and enjoys it, and no longer takes social slights so personally that it causes her pain.

(I don't promise it works as well for everyone. I worked with the same person, but I wouldn't say my results were as impressive. But then my reasons for working with her were also less intense. At the time, one of my goals was wanting more social stamina, and I would also say I definitely have that now. I view my session with her as a helpful step on the process of owning my preferred personality, even if my results at the time weren't earth-shattering. She worked with me so I could socialize for 2-3 hours without getting tired and cranky, and I can definitely do that now.)

Oh yeah and there's also a free video process you could try here: ReCreate Your Life You sign up for his email marketing in exchange for access to the free video process, but the marketing isn't very intrusive as far as that goes, and you could simply unsubscribe later. The Leftkoe Method is good for a more analytical mind, I'd say. I used it for the belief "I'm not good enough" and surprisingly, the method worked quite well for that. I say surprisingly because I'm always quite wary of quick fix stuff.

I'd suggest looking into one of the above, and maybe consider meds even if you try out the other options. The meds would not be a sign of weakness on your part at all, if you chose to take them. They would rather help you work on this stuff more easily, free up some inner breathing room. You could start on meds, use that "inner breathing room" to work past most of this stuff, and then once you felt you had you could taper back off the meds. They could support you in your goals of moving past your past. I'm not suggesting them as a band-aid to avoid inner work. I'm rather suggesting them as something of an ally to support your inner work. I think in your case it might be something to consider.

(disclaimer: I'm drawing on professional knowledge of mental health but I'm not writing here as a professional. :wink:)
 

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Thank you very much for your response! I am starting to think I do have a compulsive disorder, since I've actually been trying for years to stop this habit with no success. I looked it up last night and it could be Dermatillomania, as it's not exclusively limited to the acne.

As far as medication, I have actually tried these before; SSRIs are a huge no-no for me. I tried two of them, each on the smallest dose, and they gave me extreme mood swings, anxiety and vivid hallucinations. Since I also have Fibromyalgia, medication is a very touchy subject and something that I only use as a last resort. However, I do still have some anti-anxiety medication left over that made me very sleepy and groggy but calmed me down effectively. If I really need to I could probably use those again. The therapy I would have to do in trial sessions only because money is a bit of an issue right now. I will definitely check out the video you sent me and look around some of the mental health forums for suggestions in that area.

I think part of the mental self healing I need to do is a practice in humility; I've never once been able to accept a weakness in myself, and I think now it's something I need to do. I've projected, I've come up with some elaborate excuses, but mostly I spend far too much of my time and energy trying to fix what isn't really broken. Eventually I'll have to admit that I am only human, or else I could develop something much more serious in the future.
 

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I'm sorry you are going through this. I had an abusive childhood that led to PTSD and I have a lot of the same issues you do, including obsessing about my skin and refusing other people to see me because of it (though everyone thought my skin was clear). I've always been really strict with myself and feel like an awful person when I don't live up to my expectations. Anti-anxiety medications help me, as do antipsychotics (but I also am bipolar). I also have been through therapy often. I find myself growing more accepting of myself over time.
 

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I think information about enneagram 1 types (maybe in particular either 9w1 or 1w9) may deal with some of that. Wanting to be good and perfect, those with that type can sometimes go too far in one direction since they don't realise they are already perfect as they are.
 

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I think information about enneagram 1 types (maybe in particular either 9w1 or 1w9) may deal with some of that. Wanting to be good and perfect, those with that type can sometimes go too far in one direction since they don't realise they are already perfect as they are.
I do have a 1w2 in my tritype, whatever that means. But I think this is more something I was raised with.
 

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This thread has been immensely useful to me. It helped me connect something important I needed to see. Thanks for making it.
 

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Thank you very much for your response! I am starting to think I do have a compulsive disorder, since I've actually been trying for years to stop this habit with no success. I looked it up last night and it could be Dermatillomania, as it's not exclusively limited to the acne.

As far as medication, I have actually tried these before; SSRIs are a huge no-no for me. I tried two of them, each on the smallest dose, and they gave me extreme mood swings, anxiety and vivid hallucinations. Since I also have Fibromyalgia, medication is a very touchy subject and something that I only use as a last resort. However, I do still have some anti-anxiety medication left over that made me very sleepy and groggy but calmed me down effectively. If I really need to I could probably use those again. The therapy I would have to do in trial sessions only because money is a bit of an issue right now. I will definitely check out the video you sent me and look around some of the mental health forums for suggestions in that area.

I think part of the mental self healing I need to do is a practice in humility; I've never once been able to accept a weakness in myself, and I think now it's something I need to do. I've projected, I've come up with some elaborate excuses, but mostly I spend far too much of my time and energy trying to fix what isn't really broken. Eventually I'll have to admit that I am only human, or else I could develop something much more serious in the future.
Hmm. At one time in the past, I took psych meds, and had a bad reaction to them so I can understand where you're coming from on that. If you consider it as an option at all, even a stop-gap or last resort, you might just go in there requesting they also give you a mood stabilizer. Sometimes a specific brain will respond better to the SSRIs and the person will experience more manageable side effects when the mood stabilizer is added. In my case, the meds triggered mania that I ONLY HAD because of effects of the meds on my brain. When I weaned off the meds all those psych symptoms stopped also. (I will clarify to say it wasn't as simple as taking away meds = perfect mental health. A lot of the gains I've made have come through some effort to stretch myself also, inner exploration, shadow work, research, trial and error, etc. But for pure intense mood swings or delusions or recklessness to unhealthy levels, that was pretty much all due to being medicated unnecessarily and without initially adding the mood stabilizer.)

My point with that, is that SSRIs might not be off the table completely, because the experience is often very different (less aversive) if you add a mood stabilizer. I speak from personal and professional experience on that. I also understand if you have no desire to consider them in any way, just wanted to bring up that a mood stabilizer added to it will often help with that sort of reaction.

Accepting a weakness in yourself, I don't consider that humility. I consider it something more like self-acceptance. I went through a phase of focusing on that as well, I used to really appreciate it when anyone I came across admitted to being human and fallible because that built up my inner ability to do the same for myself. At that time it was really hard to be around a specific person, whose preference was to just withdraw completely if she were showing signs of her humanity. So what I saw was this seemingly perfect person, and it pissed me off, because I was like... nobody is that perfect. We all have flaws. Seeing you only when you seem perfect is messing with my goal of coming to terms with my fallibility.

Anyway, toward the end of that phase I found out I wasn't going to get an A in one of my courses and I did a little dance over how much I didn't care about that. Academic perfectionist me, couldn't give a rat's patootie about a B. It was cause for celebration :)

What would it mean if you were imperfect? (Don't have to answer here in the thread, but the question might be a helpful focus if you feel you could consider it without undue anxiety.)
 
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