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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Western Australia
    Posts
    2,602

    In need of advice

    I posted a similar thread a few months ago but that was about an OAB this time it's about pica which I've suffered from for a long time. The main non-food item I eat are my fingernails and the skin around my nails. I hate it my nails have never been long enough to be seen over the ops of my fingers and the skin around is always covered in red marks or scabs and it really hurts to write sometimes due to the cuts and it looks really bad. As I'm getting older I feel almost embarrassed by my fingernails especially since I have my school ball tomorrow and most girls have beautiful manicured fingers while mine look awful. I've tried using badly flavoured nail polish but it didn't make a difference I still bit my nails with it on. It does get worse with stress but it's very much an everyday thing.

    Is there anyone who can help me out here?
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  2. #3
    I'm no professional, and I certainly don't know if this would help with pica, but the thing I've found that helps with breaking habits is to just find a new thing to do. I used to chew pencils and bite my nails when I was elementary school aged. As far as I remember, I broke the habit by painting my nails clear and then when I felt the compulsion to chew something, I'd just pick at the nail polish instead, which is not something I'd recommend doing. Try to think of something that won't be damaging or hurtful for you to try to do to break the habit. Maybe carry around mints and hold one right behind your front teeth while it melts so that you can't wedge your nails between your teeth during that time. Carrying an object that you can occupy your hands with can also help. I'm not quite sure how to explain this, but I have a blanket with a silk trim. I've found that I can get the trim in between the space where the nail just barely comes up off the tip of your finger, and that's a soothing feeling for me.

    I've heard other people say that sometimes getting acrylic nails helps, but most of the nail biters I knew that tried that method just popped the acrylics off and went right back to chewing their nails. Plus, if your nails and the surrounding area are raw, then it might not be a wise idea to get fake nails while the skin is still sensitive.

    That might not be much help, but hopefully it can offer at least a little reassurance. Nail biting is a very hard habit to break, but it is possible!

    Heather ● 20 Years Old ● Pre-Med/Biology Major

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  3. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Downton Abbey
    Posts
    6,731
    I do the same thing, and I'm quite a few years older than you are, haha. I don't know if mine counts as Pica though, because I always thought Pica involved consuming things like dirt, paint, sand, soap, etc., because you enjoyed it, and my nail-biting is definitely not because I enjoy it, haha. I bite my nails due to anxiety (and yes, I pick at the skin surrounding - the cuticles too), and I have since I was about five years old (so roughly 15-16 years).

    I have tried everything under the sun to stop, and nothing traditional has helped (my mum even bought me that vile "No-Bite" garbage when I was 14, it was horrid, and just made eating finger foods a nightmare), because the majority of the time that I'm biting my nails, I'm doing so without realising - I do it as a subconscious comforting thing (the way some children suck their thumbs, I suppose, I sucked my thumb until I was 7 too), and really, I've been told the only way I can stop it, is by lessening my stress levels.

    When I'm totally relaxed/calm, I rarely bite them - I've gone for 3 days before without doing it, but as soon as I start overthinking or worrying (which is a bad habit of mine, I'm definitely a worrier), I start again. My mum started with incentives to try and help me stop, which sort of worked (she bought me a few nail polishes and a nail kit when I first decided I wanted to stop last September), and I often wear fake/press on nails for fancy occasions, I just trim them before I glue them so I know they'll fit.

    As for alternatives I've tried, I chew gum if I catch myself wanting to bite my nails/biting my nails. I've started to learn that I have my own specific cues for when I'm going to really, so if I notice them (hair twirling, fidgeting, panicking of any kind), I chew a piece of gum, or colour in my adult colouring book, or I work on my name list, read a book, anything I can do to distract myself. It usually works.
    Last edited by lawsonhaley; February 5th, 2016 at 08:48 PM.
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  4. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Northern England
    Posts
    4,434
    Hey, I know almost nothing about pica but I think I can help by applying general eating disorder advice to it (as a disordered behaviour). This will be very vague and you've probably heard some of it before so I apologise! It's also a long term solution rather than a quick fix for your school dance sadly.

    Basically you need to pin point what you ''gain'' from the behaviour. Does it relieve anxiety? Maybe you don't even notice yourself doing it in which case it's morphed from a conscious coping mechanism, to an unconscious habit.

    If you don't realise you're doing it, spend time with somebody who has agreed to point out when you are. It's best if you can get somebody who will do this non-judgementally (''you're biting your fingers'' rather than ''WILL YOU STOP BITING!!"'). That way you can calmly recognise what types of situations will trigger you without feeling too frustrated.

    For me, I engage in my disordered behaviours so I don't have to process strong emotions - of any sort. Now that I know this I can see a compulsion coming and prepare for it.

    The next bit is dealing with the compulsion - the hardest bit. Just ''sitting out'' the compulsion is ideal for changing the neurology but this is almost impossible for me especially when it's an unconscious habit. Having to be aware of the compulsion and fighting it at the same time is absolutely exhausting. This is where habit replacement techniques are useful. Maybe one of these might be helpful depending on where you are;
    drawing, tapping, counting things/people/cars/whatever, taking earnings in and out, playing with your hair, wiggling your toes, talking to somebody, playing a word game aloud or in your head. By refusing to do the behaviour and deliberately replacing it, the neutrons in your brain that have formed the habit will get weaker and weaker until you no longer have the compulsion.

    Sorry if I've explained this really badly, or it doesn't apply to your situation. Like I said I don't really know anything about pica and this is mostly guess work as to how this could apply!

    As for your school ball, remember that your fingers are a teeny tiny part of yourself! You're going to be very conscious of them but nobody else is likely to notice. Be kind to yourself about it if you can. Paint them nicely and keep hand cream with you to make yourself feel a bit better. It helps me to tell somebody if I'm feeling bad about myself. Saying it aloud to somebody I trust helps take away the power of the negative thought - so you could say to your friends ''ugh I really don't like how my fingers look''. They might say something encouraging or they might not, but normalising it will make you feel better either way.

    I hope you found this even vaguely helpful haha, and I hope you can manage to have a lovely time!
    collecting for future darlings...

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    Emmett Virgil / Rosemary Oona
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    olivia, eighteen, england.

  5. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Northern England
    Posts
    4,434
    Oh and I just want to add a bit about challenging negative thoughts about yourself. If you catch yourself thinking ''wow my fingers look ugly in comparison to ...'' then you can immediately say to yourself ''but hey, my dress looks nice, I love the way my hair looks, I've put a lot of effort into my makeup, I love my shoes''.

    Remember not to trust the voice in your head all the time! This is important for everyone I think, especially if you're feeling self-conscious or generally negative about yourself. Once again, good luck! xx
    collecting for future darlings...

    Wilfred Alec ''Wilf'' ○ Baez Hugh ○ Rufus Eoghan ○ Edgar Nicholas ○ Cas William ○ Amias Leander ''Ami''
    Emmett Virgil / Rosemary Oona
    Sibyl Georgia ''Billie'' ○ Clemency Eilidh Briar ○ Maude Evangeline ○ Estella Margaret ''Esa'' ○ Ishbel Twila

    ...much love and i are waiting for you!
    olivia, eighteen, england.

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