Monday, March 27, 2017

MY OCD CONFESSION

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

As I tap away on my laptop, I hear Franklin dreaming. He's on the floor behind my chair. He breathes heavily, whimpers a bit, and kicks the chair. I hope his dream is a happy one. Last night I had a dream about The Waltons––yes, the TV family. Some of the younger cast members showed me all over the set for the show. They also told me some cool secrets about how the show was made. I don't remember any of the secrets. Sorry. I realize you're itching to know.


A few years ago I saw Michael Learned (Mama) in a play at a dinner theater. Lord, deliver me from dinner theater.

Anydisorder, I'm not here to write about The Waltons, though it was my favorite TV show for many years. I still watch the occasional re-run.

I'm really here to tell you about my obsessive compulsive disorder. Sometimes I joke that correcting grammar scratches my OCD itch. I also like to have a place for everything and everything in its place.

But I don't care if someone moves the lavender vase on the living-room shelves half an inch to the right.

I think my desire to be organized comes from worry about losing things. I doubt if it's a true obsessive compulsive disorder. I don't wash my hands until they bleed. I don't dust the envelopes that come in the mail. I don't even care that a dead leaf has fallen from Franklin's fur and is on the rug at this moment.

No, I have a different kind of OCD. It falls in the same category as the type that compels some people to pull out their hair (Trichotillomania). 

When I was about eight years old, I began to pull the skin off from around my nails. Any little dry bit of skin had to go. Anything that wasn't smooth and perfect? I picked until it was gone. I also bit my nails sometimes, but it was really the skin that bothered me.


not my fingers

Eventually my mother noticed and tried to make me feel ashamed for what I was doing. I was already ashamed. I didn't need her help. Sometimes other kids noticed. One even said to me, I do that, too.

The skin removal was an on-and-off thing for years. X also noticed and tried to embarrass me (I was already so embarrassed that he just made me more miserable). As I grew older and had more emotional strength, I countered his attacks by asking why he picked at his face and scalp all the time (so there, X).

Divorce didn't end my compulsion. I tried to stop myself by wearing cotton gloves around the house and wrapping my fingers in large bandages. Nothing helped.

Finally, I asked Google about my problem. Within a few minutes, I knew what was wrong. I also learned that it could have been much worse. Some people pull off so much of their skin that they have large sores.


Now that I could name the problem, I asked Google what I should do about it. Although some people need medication to help them stop excoriating, I decided to try a different solution: acrylic nails.

The nails worked like magic. I haven't pulled off my skin since I got them a few years ago.

About every six weeks, I have a "fill-in" done on my nails to keep the gel polish looking neat as the natural nails grow out. It costs about twenty dollars, and boy, is it worth it. 




Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

P.S. I write this post in case you have a similar problem and don't know what to do about it.

53 comments:

  1. I would like to leave a positive comment, but I don't know what to say!!

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  2. Oh My Goodness, This is so interesting. I am so happy you found a cure.
    I have witches fingers the arthritis is awful plus I am losing my nails. They are getting smaller and smaller.
    Maybe I need to ask google instead of my doctor. I do have a problem.

    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    1. I never asked a doctor about my problem. I was too embarrassed.

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  3. I do. I notice I leave them alone more if I paint them, so this makes sense, I guess. I'll keep that in mind. :)

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    1. Embroidering helped me, but it didn't stop me.

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  4. I have always been a finger picker, (not as bad as that photo above), but now since I work with gloves on all day, it has decreased a lot. My left thumb still gets picked though, usually while I'm driving. I'm glad you found a solution to your problem. I'm not allowed to wear fake nails, nail polish or have my nails long at all because I work with food. I'm not a nail polish girl anyway though, so it's okay.

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    1. When I worked in healthcare and wore gloves a lot, it helped.

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  5. I do it too occasionally! Never thought it was OCD connected. I just thought I'm not friends with stress...
    However, I do have some little things that probably point to OCD, for example, I always have to put on the right shoe first.

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    1. Those don't sound as if they're serious problems. I always put on my right shoe first. I bet a lot of people do.

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  6. You would of do well at our house. It's loose goose. Is there an opposite to OCD:)
    T

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  7. Ugh, that is a bummer. I feel like those compulsive "habits" are way more common than people realize (maybe I just watch too much TLC). Glad you have it under control though!!

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    1. I think they're more common that most people know, and I don't even watch TLC.

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  8. I remember being shamed at school by a teacher because I bit my nails. She made me wear mittens in class for an entire afternoon. Now I'm nearly 60 years old. I still bite my nails. Guess it didn't work.

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    1. Yeah, making someone even more ashamed of a problem is no help at all.

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  9. Interesting, Janie Junebug! I hadn't heard of anyone that dealt with this type of problem.

    I am a bit OC in terms of being organized.(I don't consider it a disorder though as much as a lifestyle choice) When the leaf would drop off an ear, I would HAVE to pick it up. I don't deal with disorder well at all. I don't wipe the ring left behind on an illicit glass until my guest leaves but I WANT TO. (Damn! Don't people understand coasters?)
    See what I mean?

    As for the nails. I have acrylic nails and have had since their beginning popularity. I would say for more than 30 years. I just like having pretty nails and my own are poor excuses of fingernails. I think having pretty hands generally are therapeutic.

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    1. When I give someone a drink, I also give that person a coaster. I even bought a set of coasters that are for Willy Dunne Wooters' exclusive use when he's in my house. He can have a coaster in every room, if he wants.

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  10. I sometimes get OCD thought patterns. I break them eventually, but they drive me (even farther) nuts. Looks like the acrylics are working well.

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    1. The acrylic nails are magic. I couldn't believe that I just stopped after all those years. Some OCD thought patterns include counting things and doing the same thing a certain number of times.

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  11. I hate to have rough skin around my fingernails. After realizing that picking at it just made it painfully worse, I started buffing it smooth instead of ripping it off. I don't think my picking had developed into a full-blown compulsion, but I can sure see how it could happen. So I buff about once a week; not as lovely as your acrylic nails, but way better than photo number one! Glad you found your solution. Cheers.

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    1. Buffing never occurred to me. I'm glad it worked for you.

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  12. Very interesting. I've been biting my nails since I've had teeth, I think. Wonder what I'll do if I lose my teeth if and when I get to be very old.

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  13. I think many disorders, including OCD, have a range of severity. I have always had a low scale problem with picking, definitely related to stress; our daughter's tendencies are much more pronounced. She took up knitting as one way of dealing with it. I'm glad you found a way to cope.

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    1. Yes, definitely a range of severity. I never knew what triggered my most extreme picking, but it came and went.

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  14. Funny, I have a bandaid on my thumb right now because I hate those hangnails. I have pulled of the skin so blood comes. I don't create the hangnail but when it comes, I have to get rid of them. I can't even wear nail polish because it bothers me when its on my finger nails

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    1. I haven't had a hangnail since I got the acrylic nails. That's another plus because I couldn't leave a hangnail alone. The gel polish doesn't bother me because it doesn't chip or peel.

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  15. I have the same issue, and also pick my nails. The fake/acrylics never helped. Every once in a while I manage to stop attacking my nails, but the skin picking around them is harder. On the plus side, I could probably never be convicted of a crime because my fingerprints are rarely the same from one week to the next...

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    1. At least you have a sense of humor about it. I didn't.

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  16. Those fingers made me think of my sister Sandra her hands often looked like that but hers was caused by using chemicals to clean stuff, however, my daughter Natasha has a problem with picking at her arms when she is feeling stressed

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    1. People with this problem sometimes pull the skin from a variety of areas on their bodies. Arms seem to be a "popular" spot because they're easy to reach.

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  17. Wow, that's so great you found a non-medicine solution. As a teacher, I had students at one time or another with all those types of OCD. It was so difficult for some of them, especially pulling out their hair. I guess as you pointed out, it's tough to deal with at any time.

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    1. When I was in junior high, a girl who was a year older than I was had very little hair. Various rumors went around about the reason for it, but I never heard anyone tease her. I think she was probably pulling it out. It would have been even more difficult to get help for that problem in the early 1970s.

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  18. I bit my nails for many years but one day I just stopped and haven't bitten them since.

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    1. I've met a couple of people who had similar experiences, including someone who stopped smoking one day and never smoked again.

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  19. You should have saved the skin and had it tanned and made into a billfold or change purse. Or a poncho, depending on how much you fulled off.

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    1. That never occurred to me. I can take off the acrylic nails and start again. I wonder how much I can charge for my skin. It's really quite nice; I use plenty of moisturizer.

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  20. OOOOH, Boy.
    Like Fishducky above^, I also don't know what to say but wish I had the magic word to abracadabra make your worries evaporate.

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    1. I wish I could make everyone's worries evaporate. My life has been pretty pleasant since I got divorced.

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  21. Thank you for sharing your story. This is something (like depression) that people don't like to talk openly about, out of fear of being judged. I'm glad you found a solution. And your nails look so pretty! :)

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    1. Thank you, Chrys. I love my pretty nails now.

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  22. I'm glad you found a way to get your finger-picking problem under control. The closest thing to this for me was something I did when I was quite young... maybe four years old. I always carried a pretty little handkerchief, which was a common thing back then. But for some months, I'd pull it out of my little purse, dampen it with my spit and then wipe at the area from my mouth to my nose until the whole area was raw and scabby. I'm sure it was more a manifestation of stress than anything, but after all these years, I can still remember how it felt to do it obsessively, but I don't remember how or why I stopped.

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    1. That's interesting. Maybe the skin was irritated or dry there and you were trying to moisten it but made it worse instead. It's kind of like licking your lips when they're dry--it makes them worse.

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  23. We all have our little quirks, don't we? I used to bit my nails but stopped doing that years ago. Picking at the skin around them took over, though. I'm 52 and still doing that. I think it's more of an anxiety thing for me. The more anxious I get, the more I pick. I have the most horrible nails in the history of horrible nails.

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    1. Have you tried the acrylic nails? Some people can also stop the picking by taking a medication for anxiety/depression.

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  24. About 20 years ago, when I was going to my 35th hs reunion, I was getting my perm and haircut at the exact time so that my hair looked good. I saw a woman working on nails and approached her. She would not give me tips because she did not glue tips onto bare skin where nails should be. I begged and she made me promise I would not rip off my nails in the meantime. I was faithful and did not rip off my nails. She put on tips that I wanted for "just three days."

    Three and a half years later, just before I had to take algebra, I had them removed on NYE. I had to keep an emery board in my hands or in pocket to get any little nick off the nail so I would not go crazy and peel off the nail.

    I, too, pick at skin that gets loose, so my other tool I must have at hand is cuticle nippers. Between the two, I can over come the very strong urge to rip parts of my body off. It definitely is a compulsion.

    My mother assured me boys would not like me if I did not quit peeling my nails off. My ex bullied me. When I grew my nails in and painted them one time, he called me a whore with red painted nails. The color was mahogany, so you can imagine the color was not really so red.

    Now, I have very nice nails and do not pull loose skin and keep my fingers bleeding and infected.

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    1. I'm glad you figured out a way to deal with the problem. Your mom and ex-husband must be related to my mom and ex-husband.

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  25. You are so brave for sharing this with us. Glad you could find a way to relieve the ocd problem. You are an amazing woman, Janie.

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    1. Aw, Murees, you are such a sweetheart. Thank you.

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  26. That is great that you found something that worked! My husband doesnt chew on his nails/fingers enough for it to be as obvious as that photo, but he has had them get infected on more than one occasion, though I shall not suggest acrylic nails for him.My daughter picks at her skin and I have tried to broach the subject of it possibly being something to look into. (perhaps I should just look into it and casually share what I find with her) Thank you for posting!
    Goodnight Maryellen!

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    1. You can share my post with your daughter. And goodnight, Andrea Girl.

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  27. In HS I was a cutter - sad story really. Thank God I got some help.

    I now, can't stand having a bump or scab anywhere on my body. I watch TV and I will find one - and I have to pop it or scrap it off. I don't care if it causes blood - it has to go. I'd say that is a form of OCD. Other than that, I am perfectly NORMAL :-)

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