A woman suffering from dermatillomania tattoos over her numerous self-inflicted scars on the road to regain herself and find confidence.
A 28-year-old woman from Selkirk, Scotland is coming out from the shadows of the rare psychological disorder she’s been suffering from since she was a teenager. Nicole Dobbie may look like a piece of art now but she once was plagued with crippling insecurity from the marks on her body brought by dermatillomania, a skin-picking disorder which causes the sufferer to repetitively pick at her own skin to the extent of causing damage.
“There was no awareness of dermatillomania back then and they classed it as self-harm,” said Nicole. “I’m so glad that my parents took a stand against this and found other ways to help me, including taking me off the medications.”
“It's a sort of OCD. I would not choose to do this to myself, I can't control it unlike self-harm,” she explains. Dermatillomania affects women more than men, often in their teenage years to their twenties.
The full-time mother of two recalls the first time she experienced having urges linked to dermatillomania when she was 12, about the same time she remembers struggling with anxiety. She was then put on medications when the condition became more severe. She was also put into homeschool not long after to avoid cruel schoolyard taunts.
“Not only do I have to live with the shame of it, hiding my body away even when it's scorching outside, but I also have to deal with those who judge me and just don't understand,” said Nicole.
Nicole finally decided that she will no longer hide in the shadows of dermatillomania when she started getting tattoos in August last year. The 28-year-old now has a total of 27 tattoos, including a few cherry blossoms, her children's names in their handwriting, and a Scottish heart as a tribute to her grandfather before he passed away.
“I've got loads more tattoos in the pipeline and I am super excited about my chest piece - I'll finally be able to wear less frumpy clothes and put on my dresses which are currently hanging up unwearable because they show my scars,” shared Nicole. “I think I'm going to end up covered in tattoos and not a lot of people agree with it but I'm embellishing my body with things I love and claiming my skin back inch by inch.”
Her two female tattoo artists are also very supportive and understanding of both Nicole's anxiety and condition. The mother of two reveals that with them, she feels at ease showing her scars to discuss new plans for her future tattoos.
Nicole is still in the process of completely kicking out dermatillomania once and for all but having her tattoo artists, friends, and family with her in every step of the way, things are easier to bear. It's still a long road ahead of Nicole, but she's on the right track!