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    • #1
    • Thread Starter

    I have had a problem with nail biting as long as I remember (I'm a 22yro girl) and I'm desperate to stop! I pick, bite and peel at my nails and cuticles, often to the point of causing bleeding.

    This is on a background of general nervous picking behaviours. I find it very difficult/impossible to leave a spot or scab alone since I was a child, I used to chew my hair for a time (at least this had to stop!), I went through a phase of quite ruthlessly plucking my eyebrows, and still get a little bit obsessive about that. Thank god I've never had trichotillomania (hair plucking). Thank god my acne was never too bad and I haven't managed to scar myself (except from possible stunting my fingers and damaging my nails). You get the picture.

    My problem isn't that bad compared to some I've seen, but generally the ends of my fingers look quite sore and red, they are often painful or bloody, I am very embarassed by them, they are totally unattractive and unfeminine. Not to mention unprofessional. I feel it is quite a disgusting and embarassing "habit". I am certain other people notice it (people have commented, with the best of intentions).

    Brief attempts to stop have sometimes persisted for weeks or months but I always fail.

    In fact, recent attempts to stop seem to have made problems even worse. My main thing was always nail biting and peeling the skin at the sides of my nails. I decided I might be able to replace this with nail "fussing", that is generally manicuring/false nailing/painting etc. However, I received a set with so called cuticle sticks, and a new obsession was born. Cuticles. I despise them. I want to peel them back, push them back, I don't want them to exist. There is no reason for this, I simply cannot resist attacking them.

    Nail biting has actually improved (although obviously I would want to stop forever). They are bitten short but only a little shorter than many people keep their nails. I have completely stopped biting at the sides. But the cuticles are a real problem. Peeling them back (whilst always with the intention of "cleanly" removing them, something which is tauntingly possible) leaves the area "behind" my nails red, raw, hurting, often bleeding, scabbed etc and it is just awful.

    I decided to try really hard to stop again. Frequently moisturising and washing my hands is my most recent effort to replace the bad habit with something less bad. But I cannot wash and moisturise my hands enough - it doesn't adequately replace what I want to do. I sit, for much of the time, thinking about my fingers/nails. They are a constant preoccupation. I'm not sure attempts to moisturise instead of pick aren't just serving as reminders/prompts to think of my nails tbh. Ultimately, I always seem to start examining them, and once I'm examining, the thought of getting rid of some annoying piece of cuticle is all I can think of. There are literally times when I cannot wait for privacy so that I can really let loose.

    I just don't know what else to do. I have mostly overcome some previous habits (they eyebrow plucking a particular example), so surely I can do this too?

    I dream of having nice or even normal nails. I think if I could only get there, then they would be okay enough for me not to want to pick them (as it's a bit of a vicious cycle). Sometimes I imagine getting into a coma for a few weeks and then when I woke up my hands would be nice! I think if I couldn't see or feel my nails/fingers at all that would stop it, but wearing gloves continuously is not feasible. I need to type, write, use and wash my hands.

    I'm an intelligent and otherwise pretty controlled, responsible person. I would be willing to go to the doctor for this, but it seems pretty ridiculous. What would I even say? Are there better ways for me to help myself? I am "ready" I have been ready for years I just want to stop.

    Thanks for any sympathy or advice.
    • #1
    • Thread Starter

    I think a good, long term realistic goal would help. Or steps? But what steps? It seems fairly all or nothing. I don't want to set a goal only to fail, so I'm quite reluctant. In around 2-3 years my boyfriend and I may get engaged, and then married. I don't want to have ugly, sore hands then! I can even tolerate nail-biting because at least it doesn't hurt and short nails can be covered with fake ones.
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Updated: April 6, 2013
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