Good to Know

According to an article on, the American Psychiatric Association has officially given me a diagnosis.

I bite my nails, therefore I have OCD.

If you read that article, it tells you that my triggers are driving, reading, and stress.

Instead of being triggered by, say, a hangnail, the pathological nail biter is triggered by driving, reading or feeling stressed out. “After a while, the behavior becomes untriggered,” says Mathews. “It becomes just an automatic behavior that has no relationship to external stimuli at all.”

Um, all of that.

It also says this is an unwanted behavior. That, too. [Unlike the second part of this quote, I actually don’t enjoy the process of biting my nails.]

“In OCD, the compulsion is really unwanted,” says Mathews. People with OCD don’t want to be washing their hands or checking the stove over and over again. There is no fun in it. There’s fear — fear that if they don’t do something, something else that’s very bad will happen to them.

But from her pathological grooming patients, Mathews hears a very different story: They enjoy it. “It’s rewarding. It feels good. When you get the right nail, it feels good. It’s kind of a funny sense of reward, but it’s a reward,” she says.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve made a huge effort to stop biting my nails. There are times I’ve done it. Then, for whatever reason, I start doing it again. There is some situation that stresses me out, or the book I’m reading gets really good, or I’m on a long driving trip. Or I just start doing it because I’ve done it for as long as I can remember.

Frankly, after the last year it’s a wonder I even have finger nails.

Who else is newly classified as OCD with me?

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