I am not going to diagnose myself. I am just going to write about my struggles.
Nail biting is a very common habit and for a lot of people it is not a big deal. I have been a nail biter my whole life and it has never interfered with my quality of life.
..until I try to quit.
I haven’t bit my nails in maybe 2 weeks which is good. Instead though I am constantly staring at them, picking at them, picking at the cuticles, digging underneath of them, and one of the things I do now that kind of drives me crazy is I will poke my nails into the skin of my fingertips. I have never had even semi-long nails in my life. Just the feeling of the nail against my skin where it never existed before drives me crazy. I scratch at my fingertips with my nails. I pick at my toenails when I’m barefoot. Yes I have stopped biting my nails but now it has progressed into a picking habit. I am constantly thinking about my hand and my fingernails. I am good about having awareness of when I am biting but I cannot go 5 minutes without fidgeting, picking, or clawing at my own hands. It’s a compulsion. I go to pick without even thinking about it. I am obsessed with these new protrusions on my fingertips to the point where it’s almost not worth quitting.
I recently got engaged and now that I am wearing a pretty ring I want my hands to be just as pretty. I look at pictures of pretty nails on the internet and daydream about having some long enough to apply a nice coat of paint. I love the way long nails elongate the fingers and how feminine they look. It’s stupid I know. But you have to understand it’s nothing I have ever had, and having this massive hurdle of overcoming subliminal impulses make it seem that much more unattainable.
I would estimate that about 7-8 hours of the day are spent obsessing over my hands and nails since I’ve quit biting. I paint an re-paint my nails and then I pick off the polish. Even as I’m typing this every pause I take to think of the next sentence I stop and dig the nail of my index finger into the side of my thumb. I just press it into the skin. Not hard enough to bleed or anything but enough to feel it.
I’ve had fake nails before but I always chew them off. That makes me even more ashamed. Fake nails are disgusting.
It’s like fingernails are this foreign thing and when I have them I must destroy them, even though I don’t want to. I can’t help it. The tips of my fingers are tender and raw from picking and fidgeting with my hands. My nails don’t look to bad though.
I have other grooming compulsions/impulsions as well. I pick at my face, pull out my eyebrow hairs and sometimes I pull out the “baby hairs” right at my hairline. None of these are major issues though. I don’t have pits or scars on my face and I still have eyebrows and hair. I pick at scabs and scratch myself to the point where I leave red scratch marks on my skin. I do have scars from those. I think this all falls under the scope of normal fidgeting though?
But the nail thing suuuuuucks. I know I’m not the only person with this problem. I will update as things progress.