Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette Pasternak

5/5 stars.
ebook, 148 pages.
Read from January 17 to March 07, 2014.

This book is by far the most comprehensive, supportive and positive guide out there right now for Dermatillomania. I can’t say enough good things about this book!

For those that don’t know, Dermatillomania, or Excoriation disorder, can be defined as:

…an impulse control disorder characterized by the repeated urge to pick at one’s own skin, often to the extent that damage is caused. Research has suggested that the urge to pick is similar to an obsessive compulsive disorder but others have argued that for some the condition is more akin to substance abuse disorder. The two main strategies for treating this condition are pharmacological and behavioral intervention.” – Wikipedia

This is a condition that I have personally struggled with deeply. I can safely say that through my own methods I was able to battle this condition for the most part and I am now an advocate for awareness and support. I wish that this book existed during my most troublesome times as I definitely would have battled the worst of the condition a lot sooner with this kind of help. This book has truly provided me with the final resources that I needed in order to say goodbye to this habit forever.

***Just some quick shameless self-promotion here: I’ve actually recently published my story in a collaborative book called Project Dermatillomania that’s available for purchase now. ***

I took a long time reading this book in order to go through all of the motions, guides, suggestions and exercises so that I could give it a good comprehensive review. I can honestly say that if you follow Annette’s methods, you WILL get results!

So many people find themselves completely controlled and at a loss with this disorder. It’s a helpless feeling. This book shows you how to get back that power, and more importantly, that you cannot define yourself as this disorder and cannot submit to its definition. It shows positive strategies to curb your urges and shows you that in order to fully tackle the habit you must determine the emotional reasons and routines for carrying out the vicious cycle of picking.

It is imperative to go beyond these labels and reveal how chronic skin picking plays a part in each individual’s life” p. 18

You may be genetically predisposed to a condition but that does not mean you are powerless over it.” p. 27

People start picking for so many reasons but it’s always to find relief. Often times it’s a matter of dealing with stress because we haven’t found other methods of doing so. One thing that Annette stresses is the readiness for a person to stop picking. It’s hard thing to admit and even harder to give up something that feels good and that you’ve relied on for so long. Her book not only provide methods with how to start this process but how to keep a long standing positive replacement to the picking.

Stopping skin picking is hard. Is that any reason to feel badly about yourself? NO.” p. 16

In summary, her programs focuses and takes the reader through these steps:

  1. How to stop victimizing and beating yourself out. Forgiveness and acceptance is crucial.
  2. You are not powerless to this condition and you can stop. In order to stop you need to accept this.
  3. Track your picking in a habit log. This is the one part that she stress the most. If you aren’t able to recognize the feelings associated with picking as well as when and where they occur you’re not going to able to stop it before it begins.
  4. Recognizing your negative thoughts and behaviours.  Retraining how you think is necessary for overcoming this as most of the time urges come from an unnecessary uncertainty or beliefs.
  5. Actual techniques to block and prevent urges. Gloves, toys, exercise, meditation etc, and just why they work.
  6. Long standing methods to deal with your stress and emotions in a healthy positive way. Annette takes a very holistic approach.
  7. Other things that could contribute and make your urges worse (sugar and alcohol etc).

Compassion oozes from this book. Annette herself used to struggle and live with this disorder herself so she completely understands what every sufferer goes through. Her writing is so gentle and soothing. She knows that we’re all going to mess up but that there is still progress and success in each mess up and mistake.

Practice makes better… Practice makes permanent” p. 137

What I believe makes this book the best resource out there is that it’s the first to really go into the emotional sides as to why people pick and tackles those issues directly as a step for overcoming this disorder. In my own struggles, that was the only thing that worked for me after countless other resources. Overcoming this disorder is truly a process of steps and Annette can take you through them. She provides so many additional resources in terms of supplements and other reading material as well. What makes it even better is that Annette is a life coach and personally deals with helping her clients combat this particular disorder. You can find more information about her services on her website.

For those that are affected by this disorder, please, PLEASE, read this book!

Choice: Uncover and Claim Your Happiness by Melaine Steele

3/5 stars.
ebook, 56 pages.
Read on March 03, 2014.

I stumbled upon this book through Goodreads as I found the cover and the book summary appealing. From Goodreads:

Every day most of us choose to be unhappy. Unintentionally, of course. We make choices all the time that hold us back. Meanwhile, the happiness available to us literally passes us by…

It’s time to choose what’s important, what truly matters, what will fulfill you. It’s time to choose what opens you up to the life you were meant to live, the way you were meant to live it. It’s time to choose happiness.

This guidebook shows you how.

CHOICE is a straightforward, engaging handbook that will help guide you through the simple and essential art of choosing happiness.”

The concept that the author is trying to portray is one that I have been trying to use on myself on over the last two-years. The problem I have with the summary and the book itself is that I found it wasn’t really much of a guide-book. The author does a great job at detailing why happiness is choice and why you should embody this concept in your every day life but I found the brevity of the book didn’t provide much guidance from that. Positivity, gratitude and meditation were three items that the author suggested in assisting in choosing happiness but she provided very little information of how to do this. For example, negative and self-destructive thoughts are a massive habit for a lot of people and in order to choose to be happy this is a habit that has to be overcome. The author was just a bit too vague on the how-to details and support for my liking. I think if the author invested a few more hours of research and added another 50 or so pages this book would have been a more efficient and structured guide.

Kudos to author for writing this still as it is a hugely important concept that has tremendous power to changes people’s lives and outlooks. It’s also a brave concept to write about because it would have required a lot of vulnerability on her part. The more that this idea is spread the more people can benefit from it, even if it just seems in one bit at a time.

Switch Bitch by Roald Dahl

4/5 stars.
ebook, 100 pages.
Read from February 18 to 22, 2014.

If you’re like most people, you know Roald Dahl for his wonder contributions to children’s literature. What most people don’t know is that he published quite a bit adult content and there is nothing child-friendly about these pieces. The stories in Switch Bitch were actually written for Playboy and published separately in 1965. Also, on a complete side note, did you know that Roald Dahl wrote two scripts based off the works of Ian Flemming, the author of the notorious James Bond series. One was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the other was the Bond film, You Only Live Twice . With the Bond film, it was the one Bond movie that was the furthest away from the plot and story line of the actual book by Flemming. So there you have it, now you know that Dahl was a successful bad-ass adult writer as well. You were just likely too young to know that before. I know I was.

Knowing that these stories were written for Playboy really gives me a better understanding as to why these stories were so graphic. Yes all of the stories were about sex but that isn’t what made them graphic. It was that each one of the stories in this collaboration had a the undertones of a horror story. Like his other works of short stories, these continue to emphasize just how awful adults are and with this collaboration, specifically men.

In the story The Visitor, the main character of Oswald, whose womanizing adventures Dahl would eventually write a full length novel on called My Uncle Oswald, is one of the few stories in which by the time you finish the story you are satisfied and a bit less horrified with the outcome as Oswald is not a likeable character. Oswald is travelling in the middle east, where he has been bedding a lot of women and ditching them as soon as he can. In an effort to disappear from his last one night stand,  he finds himself stranded at a gas station in the middle of no where. The circumstances of the stranding are in themselves suspicious as the gas attendant appears to be physically suffering from a condition and is overly attentive to the weary Oswald who is terrified of catching whatever it is this man has. However, it appears to be Oswald’s lucky day as a rich man drives by shortly and offers for him to come and stay up in his mansion for the night while his car gets repaired. The man has a gorgeous wife and daughter. Outwardly, Oswald promises to be decent but inwardly he is already scheming to get one or both of the women into his bed. The events that follow are indeed maniacal and comical.

The Last Act, is by far the most cruel story in the book. I know that I felt particularly horrified and disgusted with the presumed ending of this story.  Anna Cooper finds herself widowed and it was like half of her soul was taken from her. She moves on but not willingly. After finding some moderate success in life after her husbands death she encounters the man who she was dating in high school before she met her late husband. What initially appears to be a promising romance turns into one of long held grudges and cruelty.

Honestly, there is something addicting about Dahl’s writing as I’ve devoured a few books of his short stories now. He is able to make his stories entertaining, funny and dark all at the same time. I believe he also has a great understanding of the human condition, both the good and the bad spectrum’s and he uses them to his advantage. If you are ready to shake up your childhood then I would highly recommend reading some of Dahl’s short stories and adult work. You can find one collection that compromises of the core of his short stories in, Twenty-Nine Kisses.