Hello, I have been biting my nails and biting/picking the skin around my nails since I can remember, probably 8-10 years old. I used to pick at my acne very badly, but I found the cause of my acne and my face has cleared so it’s not a problem anymore. I have tried to stop many times, thinking it was merely a bad habit, but it seems like no matter how hard I try, or how much progress I make, I can’t rid myself of the issue. It’s definitely much better then it was when I was doing it unhindered, but my husband has taken a great interest in helping me stop doing it and supporting me.
I just feel like its something I can never fully stop. I seem to do it consciously when I’m stressed, but it also seems to just happen unconsciously to keep my hands busy. I have a very hard time staying focused if I’m not doing something with my hands, like doodling/picking/knitting, etc.
I also consider myself a very anxious person. I don’t know if maybe this contributes to my bad habit. I think my level of anxiety is not proportionate to the problems I face, but I don’t know how to regulate it. The last time I had a job interview, I was shaking, sweating, and on the verge of tears. I KNEW it was crazy. I was prepared for the interview. I just can’t make myself calm down. If I have a long shift the next day, I will panic for hours the day before wondering how I will ever make it through the day. Social interactions that involve me being judged/rated/scrutinized (even in a positive way) make me especially nervous, and I especially fear confrontational situations.
Those are just a few examples, but occasionally I feel like the anxiety “builds up” .. every 1-1.5 months I kind of have a “breakdown”. I’m getting better at managing them, because I can feel it coming.. like I just have a generalized feeling (for days) of outright fear and panic, despite no apparent causes. During these phases I can get stuck in these cycles of horrible thoughts, things I shouldn’t need to worry about, like what will happen after I die, and if my husband will be there when I die, or my husband hating me, or other bad things which I know aren’t true but I can’t convince myself otherwise.
I also get in a state where I can’t, like, pick something to do. I’ll have several things, work on this craft project, watch a movie, surf the web, do laundry, but I can’t pick anything. I’ll waste hours fumbling around doing something I’m not interested in while I try to decide on something I am. By then I’ve wasted so much time I get frustrated. It’s like I spend so much time trying to decide what the best use of my time is that I end up throwing it all away.
I also have an insane fear/stress of being in darkness alone? Like I can’t walk through a darkened room, I have to go into the next room/hallway and turn on the next light before turning off the room I’m in so I’m not stuck in an unlighted area. I’m afraid of ghosts/aliens/supernatural beings.. I know they aren’t real but I can’t cope with not doing it. Before I started living with my husband, I’d do this, but now that he’s started working at night and I sleep by myself it’s happening again.. I can’t sleep unless I’m totally surrounded by items/pillows/etc.. it’s like they keep me safe somehow. I also need several layers of blankets. If I don’t I literally can not sleep, I know this sounds stupid/childish, I THINK it while I do these things but I can’t not do them. When my husband is there I don’t need the other things!
These are things I’ve been living with for a long time, so it’s not an emergency, but I’m looking for advice to help cope with my stress and self-inflicted wounds. I don’t have health insurance, while I’d love to see a therapist I don’t know how to find one that’s affordable. I do plan on seeking help when a health plan is available to me but until then any advice is appreciated. I also apologize, I know a lot of these things sound crazy and I feel a little silly typing them, but I just really want some help. I’ve been watching shows and reading about OCD (which some say skin picking is linked to) but I just don’t feel like my issues are that severe? I mean besides the skin picking, I don’t repeat any of these actions over and over again?