And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Multitude; for we are many."
«I often wonder how annoying it is for other people to be near me, always touching my fingers and eating the skin of it. It must be really annoying. Because it is to me.»
SPD. Skin picking
These are my fingers now – this has been a mild week.
It is one among many BFRB (Body-focused repetitive behaviors). I do this with my other fingers and/or mouth, bitting my skin. The usual ending is to eat the pieces of skin I pick.
Some days I have blood in all my fingers.
I lack sensitivity in the tip of my fingers because of this. Too many years doing it, the skin grows thicker and thicker and it hurts. Sometimes it hurts when I touch something, but sometimes it just hurts because very often I basically have little open wounds. Some days, most days, cooking is painful (can you imagine adding salt? Squeezing a lemon?), washing the dishes is painful (acid dish soaps), handling the mouse is painful, holding a pen, typing. In the worst days, just washing my hands with water is painful. I don´t know what it´s like not having sore and/or swollen fingertips.
Maybe you never noticed it. That is because I try to hide it. Like not showing my fingers, not calling attention to my hands. When my hands are placed somewhere visible, I tuck my fingers in. Sometimes when I´m at a table my hands are hidden under the table. When I have large pockets, my hands are probably too often inside them. Not (just) because I think my fingers are ugly, but because I´m doing it. I´m probably talking to you and doing it without you noticing.
Other times I just cannot control myself and eat it directly in front of you. Maybe you noticed. I´m sure you did and you found it really annoying and disgusting.
Sometimes I´m with you and I start doing it and force myself to stop because you are there. But other times, most of them, I just can´t stop or control it. I´m not sure how aware people around me are. Nevertheless, I know I do it and I am ashamed and I blame myself for it.
I like wearing gloves in the winter not only because it hides it but also because when I have gloves on I resist much better. This is, for as long as I´m outside. (Yes, otherwise I´m walking or riding my bicycle or taking the tram or driving and constantly doing it.)
It bothers me so much sometimes. Like yesterday, I was at work and all I could hear was me picking the skin of my fingers, and I was wondering how much I was bothering the other people in the room because it feels that when everyone is in silence, me doing it is really noisy. But maybe it’s just noisy in my head. Maybe no one hears a thing.
I often wonder how annoying it is for other people to be near me, when I´m always touching my fingers and eating the skin of it. It must be really annoying. Because it is to me. And sometimes it is so time consuming. I can spend hours doing it, usually at night. I often long to be alone so that I can do it. So that no one sees me doing it, so that no one is annoyed by it, so that I feel less guilty. (even if a couple of hours later the pain will make me feel even more guilty, and on the next day even more when I look at how ugly and disgusting my fingers are) When I´m alone, I often use nail clippers too. And sometimes I do it in my feet as well. When I have scabs, no matters where, I pick them as repetitively as I can – which means having to wait long enough for actually having another scab. Pimples too.
Yesterday I went to a concert. I was so proud because I didn’t do it during the whole performance! Three hours and I didn’t pick the skin once! Last week I went to another concert at the same venue, and I spent the whole concert picking skin. I was so guilty and ashamed of what people around me were thinking, and how annoying it must be, for those sitting right next to me. Because it´s impossible not to notice, right? I mean the lights are dimmed, but you can see what the person seating next to you is doing if she moves her hand/arm/head, right? It must be distracting. And annoying as hell.
There’s no simple/direct cause. It does get worse when I’m more stressed or sad or anxious or nervous for some reason. But I always do it. The only thing that varies is the frequency/degree/extent.
I am being open about it. I´m not interested in your perception, interpretation and even less your pathologization. You don´t have to handle this. This is not your problem. And I´m not even convinced of being that much of a problem at all. I try to think of it the least that I can. This has been part of my life for so long, that it is just here, like adjusting my boobs, pulling the pants up after sitting for a long time, having my period. Parts of my life and routines. I wouldn’t know what it´s like living without them.
However, I wouldn´t like you to suggest that I can control or stop this at any time, or if you blame me for doing it, or if you make fun of it, or if you cause me (more) pain on purpose – like grabbing my hands and pressing the fingers that look worse.
And don´t ask me if I´m better. First, it´s not something that I have to cure/solve – unless I really want to and tell you (or publicly) so. Otherwise, no, it doesn´t get better. One (or more) of my fingers might be healing today, but I will pick others, which will be in pain soon.
For more on SPD: http://www.trich.org/