Before I decided to share, I thought I would look up some information. I wasn't sure I would find much at all, but I was wrong.
Google has changed my whole perspective on myself tonight.
Maybe I'm not crazy.
Maybe I'm not alone.
Maybe I'm not choosing to do these things.
So. Here's my secret:
I am a compulsive nail biter.
via google images
Also known as, oncychophagia.
Before tonight, I didn't realize there was a name for what I do to myself.
First, let me explain - I don't just bite my nails. I bite my nails past the nail bed, sometimes until I cry, and usually until I bleed. I bite the skin around my nails. I bite off my cuticles. I have been to the ER twice. My fingers are always sore and often swollen. The skin around my fingers is always red and puffy.
I've tried chewing gum. I've tried wearing gloves. I've tried fake nails (I bit them off, and chipped my tooth). I've tried bad tasting stuff. I've tried counseling. Nothing works.
I can't stop. I can't stop when my child needs help with something. I have to finish biting first. I can't stop once I park at the store and need to go inside. I have to finish biting first. I can't stop when we are in church and I know I'm distracting the person beside me, as well as grossing them out. It's embarrassing. It's disgusting. When I see others doing it, it disgusts me. But I'm just like them.
Yes, everyone who knows me knows that I bite my nails. But, they don't know that it's more than simple nail biting. My secret is the impact that it has on my life. People don't see how I mutilate myself and curl my hands up when anyone looks at them. People don't realize that I couldn't hold out my hand for pictures when I got engaged. People don't realize that I stop everything I'm doing to bite my nails. People don't realize that I'm biting my skin off.
My fingers hurt as I'm typing this. I've been dealing with this for 21 years now. When will it stop?
I feel like if I could stop I would have, like when my baby girl looks up at me and says "Stop Mommy" and pulls my hand away from my mouth. You think I would be able to stop then. The fear of her following my behavior is overwhelming. The pain I cause my husband leaves me with guilt. He watches me hurt myself but doesn't understand why I CAN'T stop.
These are the reasons the "diagnosis" has changed my outlook on myself.
This isn't just a bad habit. This is an imbalance in my brain. I can finally tell my mom to stop blaming herself. She does. I can finally tell myself that there is hope. There are a few more things on the list that I haven't tried. I will try. Now I have to try. I will try anything to spare my daughter from this.
My secret isn't that I bite my nails. My secret is that I inflict pain on myself and those who love me.
Thank you Ashley, for sharing your secret. Through your courage to share, I found out I'm not just being selfish but I have an actual disorder that affects many others in this world. Thank you for giving me something to tell my husband when he asks why I can't just stop hurting myself.
Thank you for giving me the strength to share my secret.