10/02/2017 14:34 GMT

Artist Creates Sketches On Old Newspapers To Deal With Compulsive Skin Picking Disorder

Liz Atkin gives the drawings to strangers to raise awareness.

An artist has found a unique way of dealing with her skin picking disorder by creating drawings on newspapers and then sharing them to raise awareness. 

Liz Atkin, from South London, suffers from dermatillomania, which causes her to compulsively pick her skin, sometimes until it bleeds and then scars.

The 40-year-old has learned to distract herself from picking while commuting by making quick charcoal sketches on old newspapers.

She gives these drawings away to her fellow commuters, along with a postcard explaining the condition, and encourages recipients to raise awareness by sharing a photo on social media with the hashtag #CompulsiveCharcoal.

A photo posted by Liz Atkin (@liz_atkin) on

According to the NHS, dermatillomania is a psychological condition and a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Sufferers tend to pick at the skin on their face and lips, but it can be any area of the body, such as the hands, scalp or arms.

“They may pick at normal skin features such as freckles or moles, or at imaginary skin defects that no-one else can see,” the site explains.

“They might pick with their fingernails, or use tools such as pins or tweezers. The result is often bleeding or bruising, which carries a risk of infection and scars.”

Although anyone can be affected by the condition, it is most common among teenagers and young adults in their 20s and tends to affect women more than men.

The NHS advises sufferers that finding something to occupy their hands, such as drawing, can help ease compulsions. 

A photo posted by Liz Atkin (@liz_atkin) on

On her website, Atkin says she began the #CompulsiveCharcoal movement in October 2015, when she ran out of blank pages in her sketchbook on a journey from South to North London.

“I now create and give away about 60 drawings on average each day. A year on, that’s close to 10,000 free drawings,” she says.

She describes drawing as one of her “greatest tools for recovery” and says it helps to distract herself from picking. 

“I carry a small piece of charcoal in my pocket wherever I am and draw to refocus my fingers and my mind to stop my compulsive skin picking disorder,” she says.

“Drawing channels the feeling of the disorder. The process is fast, each one takes about a minute.”

She adds that the disorder dominated her life “for more than two decades”, but now she’s committed to “raising the profile and de-stigmatising it”. 

Check out more of the #CompulsiveCharcoal images below or visit Liz Atkin’s website to see more of her work. 

A photo posted by Liz Atkin (@liz_atkin) on

A photo posted by Liz Atkin (@liz_atkin) on

A photo posted by Liz Atkin (@liz_atkin) on

A photo posted by Liz Atkin (@liz_atkin) on

[H/T: Metro]

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