I guess I’ve always had forms of OCD. Most of them I keep very private. I’m an introvert so the privacy makes sense, but I think I often end up hiding them from myself. If I can justify it as normal then I don’t have a problem. In reality these are coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety.
I’ve been cracking my knuckles as long as I can remember. Since I was a young child. Over the years it has grown of course, and I know I crack them most feverishly under stress. It’s not just a few knuckles. It’s all of them. From the last knuckle by your nail bed to the base knuckle, including all three on each thumb. Wrists; elbows; shoulders; neck; back; hips; knees; ankles; toes. Nearly every joint.
My fingernails have never been long. I used to bite them off during stress, but that often wouldn’t end well or I couldn’t get a good angle with my teeth. Instead I buy lots of fingernail clippers. I have them in both cars; all the bathrooms; at my desk at work; in my travel bag. I clip my nails nearly everyday. If there is so much as a sliver of white nail I clip it clean. I’ve been clipping my nails like this for years.
But my most recent issue is really bothering me. You see I started growing a short scruffy beard last January for fun. Meredith loved it! She already thinks of me as a bit of a rustic man. She fell in love with the scruff. The way it looked, and the way it felt. So I kept it. It’s sort of my way of saying fuck you to the place I work too. Sure I’ll wear a tie everyday, but now I’m coming in with scruff. Although I do look pretty sexy with the scruff and a tie. I keep my beard in good order.
Then last fall as it was getting colder I started slowly letting my beard grow out. It doesn’t grow out even. There are longer hairs periodically. I would start to pull them out rather than cut them. That’s how it started. With all the normal stress in my life plus dealing with the affair my OCD habits are under constant use. It became very normal to start pulling out a hair or two as I was stressed. Usually longer ones, but eventually just regular ones too. I don’t know why.
With my beard getting longer the hairs were easier to grab onto, and I started pulling out dozens each day. My thumb on my left hand formed thick callouses.
It wasn’t random either. A bald patch started to show on the left side of my face. Eventually a couple weeks ago I thought to trim it shorter. However you can still see the lighter side. I thought making it short again would keep me from pulling them out as it would be harder to get a grip. I was wrong. I’m still doing it. I can’t stop. It’s called trichotillomania.
I think the only solution is to shave my beard until I can lower my stress a little. This really sucks. So far it hasn’t reached beyond my beard and I hope it never does. I like my hair.