Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Ewww, gross, right? I know! I have always been a nail biter, but when I get stressed I go a little overboard and start chewing on the skin around my nails. It started with cuticle picking and kind of progressed from there. I have to admit that is has gotten a bit out of control. As evidenced in the picture above, one patch on my thumb that I am currently "working on" is nearly a full inch from the nail bed. So I cant really call it nail biting anymore. Is it "picking"? Self-cannibalism?
These pictures don't really show how bad it is. The tips of my fingers are usually red and sore and scabby or swollen. It makes nearly everything I try to do hurt! It hurts to buckle my seatbelt, or open containers, zip and button my jeans, put sheets on a bed, ect. Pretty much anything that you use your fingers for is painful for me.

Also, alot of times they will start bleeding without me realising it. I have bled on alot of my clothes, and there are blood spots on our off-white duvet cover on out bed. It is seriously gross. And it embarasses me, especially in public. Cuz you know, everyone likes to be around a stranger who is leaking bodily fluids. Sometimes I will be signing a credit card reciept and realize that I have bled on it. Yummy.

I have tried so many times to stop chewing. But seriously, I like it. It is soothing in a weird way. I guess I can kind of sympathize with those people who pull out their hair. It seems weird to other people, but it's something I do that helps me relax.

You all know that I'm kind of a hypochondriac, though. I do worry about germs I may be picking up places and putting in my mouth. Like, when I sit in my doctor's office and chew. That is about the worst place to be putting your fingers in your mouth! And I am suprised I haven't caught a staph infection yet. It's probably only a matter of time.

Really, these pictures don't do it justice. It's out of control.

Sometimes when I am chewing around Chris he will tell me to stop and it really pisses me off. I know he is just trying to help me and he doesn't like to see me hurt myself (plus he is tired of me bleeding on our duvet) but some part of me feels like he is interfeering, or trying to control me. It makes me feel rebellious and I want to chew more.

Maybe I should be on that new show "My Strange Addiction".



Liz said...

Okay...I don't like to talk about it because it is so taboo...and embarassing...but I've been struggling with different types of self harm for years, particularly trich, or pulling. I've been pulling out my hair for ten years now, and it is entirely impulse-control now. I don't even realize that I'm doing it. I go through periods that are worse and better times too, but I just cannot find a way to stop.

I consider the pulling, self-harm and eating disorder in the same category. Skin picking too. YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS! It's nice to know that other people struggle too...I'm thinking of you. Good luck.

kristin said...

I struggle with this, too. It's so hard to stop!

Lisa said...

I struggle with self harm A LOT. The thing that really shocked me was how different people self harm. My therapist considers purging self harming which I had NEVER thought of.

In my opinion- self harm is one of the HARDEST HARDEST addictions to overcome...

stay with it babe

hang in there


Cammy said...

Sorry to hear you're struggling with this, sounds really uncomfortable. I have a hard time not picking at blemishes or things like that (although an infection scare kind of cured me of that, drove home the need to just leave stuff alone...). It is indeed oddly soothing and a hard habit to break. Have you tried wearing gloves whenever possible? Chewing gum to keep your mouth busy? finding something else to do with your hands when you need to release some pent up energy? Sounds like that last one would be hard right now when they're so painful, but something to think about maybe. Hang in there, it's good that you're acknowledging this is an issue, that's always the critical step.

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey said...

I used to really struggling with picking at any tiny spot on my face or neck, including the pores. I struggled with it since I was about 14 and then this year I just stopped. I got tired of trying to cover it up with make-up and started enjoying have a clear face free of scabs, etc. But the odd thing is I don't know how I stopped. I stopped last fall and things were pretty stressful with my eating disorder, etc. I just...stopped. And I haven't done it in months, except one time (and then I stopped myself immediately and no harm was done.)

I guess I just kept telling myself I didn't want to do it anymore and finally I was able to quit. David used to tell me to stop and I would get made too, so he stopped nagging me about it. Maybe that's why I was able to stop a 30-year...habit? addiction? nervous reaction? (I don't know what to call it.)

Keely said...

I am a nail bitter and so is Kirsi. (Kirsi's nails are worse than mine. She about ties with you.) I've had rough times where the nail starts to dip because of all the pressure of me constantly nibbling at it.

I stopped for about a YEAR...but then restarted when I moved in with Kirsi. But how I stopped was painting my nails everyday with clear nail polish and having a nail kit with me everywhere I go. That way I could pick the nail polish off everyday (kind of satisfy my need to pick at them) and if I had a little skin piece or a cuticle problem I could take care of it immediately and it would look nice (nothing to pick at because it was clean.)

I also struggle with picking at blemishes...Really trying to just leave them alone and let my skin heal 5 times faster than it will if I pick at it...

Emily Porter said...

I am so relieved to see someone else open up about this. I just realized I had a real problem within the last year, even though I'm 27 and have been doing this for at least 13 years. It's such a shameful disorder.

You are not alone. It is hard. My fiance is a picker too. Please know that I am rooting for you to overcome your shame and frustration, and that it doesn't make you a lesser person.

Thank you so much for sharing this. I was just googling photos of dermatillomania/skin picking and came across this randomly. There are forums online where people can share their struggle and encourage each other. I think I might join one. It helps to know that other people understand and that we're not alone. This blog post could have been written by me, it's so spot on.

Nobody Girl said...

I do this a lot too! And have for as lonnggg as I can remember. I guess when I was a child, before I became a teenager and began using more harmful things to self-harm, I only had the knowledge of my own body. Anyways, my boyfriend is also always telling me to stop too. He holds my hand when I'm with him to prevent it, and/or make me realize when I want to do it than just subconsciously picking all the time. (God, I just realized how infantile that sounds. Oh well.). Maybe that might help? Plus it's much sweeter than the nail polish trick, or band-aids too. :)

vbranca33 said...

i do this all the time it's insane how bad it gets some days and i have the same reaction when my bf tells me to stop...i get almost pissed at him...and it hurts to even type this right now bc i gnawed the hell out of m y fingers at work today...ive been doing this since i can remember..if you find anything that helps please please tell me

PastaHouse said...

I actually came across your post as I was researching why I do the exact same thing to my nails. I’ve been picking at and biting the skin around them (although I seem to do it to one finger far more than any of the others) for at least 10 years. With me, I find that it is mainly a response to stress and boredom. I’ve noticed that once I see a hangnail or a dry patch I just can’t resist messing with it (my intent is always to remove the piece of skin to try and make it look better or fix it in some way) and as you know we ultimately make it look and feel much worse. I've also grown fond of using tweezers or pins to help me dig at my nails and it just is crazy and I know it is. But it is like I get in a zone and cannot stop.

The best thing I started doing for myself was to get bi-weekly manicures. I am always so embarrassed to go to the salon after a bad session (and most times I won’t go until I let my fingers heal so it doesn’t look so raw) but I leave feeling so much better and for the next 5-8 days I try so hard to keep my nails and hands looking great. It isn’t until I see the paint start to chip or stress overload that it is game over…and the whole process just repeats itself.