Friday, August 17, 2012

Diary of a Recovering Nail Picker and Biter

These days I'm all about transparency. Maybe it's part of becoming an adult, but I've become a lot more open and honest about my serious struggle with skin picking and nail biting.

And lets be real, its kinda awkward to talk about it so let's just get it out in the open.

Who really knows when a habit truly begins? I've been biting and picking since I can remember, but it's been getting progressively worse the last couple years and it made me worry.  Made me worry about my health, the way I am perceived, my many things.

It's mostly caused by anxiety. My body fights back when I am stressed or anxious and my easiest way to mentally escape is picking.

I've blogged a couple times about my intentions to quit. Those intentions were good ones, but they didn't include any plan of action.  And truly, I'm not certain any plan of my own would have worked.

What I'm excited to tell you about isn't a cure, but progress. Progress that's super exciting.

Now obviously, Seth has always wanted me to quit and was supportive of anything I tried. So I thought that a good cut off day would be September 7, 2012. It has been my goal to stop by that date, no matter what it took, no matter what crazy measure I had to go to.

In the past few months I've visited forums, websites, tried no-bite nail solution, tried getting manicures, tried sitting on my hands, tried taking deep breaths.....I could go on. But one night, I was sitting watching TV and picking away at something and finally realized that this was beyond me and I needed real help.

So in the beginning of July I started seeing a CBT, or someone that specializes in these kinds of obsessive compulsive sensory disorders.  It sounds crazy right? A therapist for nail biting? When the problem starts affecting your daily life, then you get outside help -- it just makes sense.

So here is what has worked tremendously so far:
1. Bright, BRIGHT nail polish to trick my eyes into paying closer attention to what I'm doing. I pick SO often that I don't even know I'm doing it, and the bright nail polish actually does make me stop more often and see what I'm doing.  I first argued and said that I suck at doing nail polish, but I've gotten better at it and I am enjoying wearing nail polish again.

2. Wearing gloves while I drive, watch movies, sit alone in my room, sit alone practically anywhere -- those are my biggest struggle areas.  This one was the hardest for me to swallow, wearing freakin' winter gloves while I do everyday life. BUT, after the first three days I was totally convinced that it worked.

3. Having a bag of goodies to help me at all times: Neosporin, bandaids, medical tape, lipgloss, nail polish, top coat, and now my cool little stress balls. This bag is constantly in my purse so I have access to it all the time. I can now simultaneously drive and put on a bandaid, watch out.

4. Stress toys. My CBT referred me to this awesomely cheap website called where they have cheap nonsense toys to play with mindlessly! Most of the time I pick or bite I am alone, bored and these little toys are perfect for me! I am keeping one in my purse, one at my bedside, and two in my car....just in case.
my personal favorite egg ball

After a month, I am seeing a lot of progress.

Sometimes I get discouraged because I get overwhelmed with anxiety about something and I find myself mindlessly picking.  But progress cannot be overlooked and I am still encouraged.

Dearest friends and family,
Thanks for not being embarrassed when I drive you around or go the movies with you and I have gloves on.  
Thanks for supporting me in recovering from a sometimes life-controlling habit.
You guys rock.

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