Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Personal Hygiene Report, Kinda

I'm having a harder time than I thought I was building myself back up from the numb mess of the antidepressant fog. Here's a small example of something that I feel shouldn't be a big deal, but totally is: my nails.

I have this weird anxiety about clipping my fingernails.

I'm not a hundred percent sure why it is, but I know there's a lot of weird things that go into it.

I think it probably has something to do with my Mom and the way she overreacted to things I find incredibly stupid and meaningless.

(Also, I'm at the point where my therapist says it's okay to start blaming things on ADHD, so here we go.)

Because it's hard for me to be motivated or stay on task, it's probably no surprise that I have a bad tendency to let things like grooming my fingernails go for too long. As a kid, I developed this habit of letting them grow too long rather than deal with them, and then finally clipping them down either when I couldn't stand their length any longer or when one of them broke somehow.

This has been a weird point of contention with my mother my entire life.

She just has this... revulsion of long fingernails on men. And when I was a kid, she would never, say, cap her emotions and talk rationally when she could just overreact and blow up instead. So I got a lot of overblown emotional outbursts revolving around my nails and how disgusting they were and how disgusting I was with my long nails and how I had no idea how to take care of myself, and then she'd demand I clip my nails right this second in front of her because I was so gross.

So, rather than have to listen to her outbursts, I developed another bizarre habit, which is that I would constantly cut my nails far too short. We're talking until I drew blood sometimes. I think I probably thought that if I did it that way it would be a longer time until I had to deal with it again.

So, for whatever reason, this is how anxiety and ADHD work with me: I develop these habits and then I can't break out of them without real effort, so I've just been clipping my nails very, very short since... well, I can't remember since when. And another way this whole rich mental illness operates on me is that I have an almost impossible time letting go of bad feelings. So if someone's made me feel bad about something, then those bad feelings become irrevocably associated with the thing itself.

Case in point: my Mom made me feel bad about my nails, so now I have a hard time thinking about nail maintenance without feeling bad about myself and feeling anxiety bordering on panic about how worthless I am because I have long nails, but also how worthless I am because I can't just clip my nails a sensible length like a "normal" person.

It's gotten to the point where I even have this weird fearful feeling when I actually use the clippers. I will sit with them for up to an hour before finally biting the bullet and just doing it, but something about feeling the pressure on the too-long nails really drives me nuts and sets my teeth on edge.

So, this week, I broke one of my nails during a panic attack (transitioning medications has been really doing a number on me) and was faced with another afternoon of bad feelings. Becca suggested I use cuticle scissors to cut the broken nail, because it had broken really close to the quick, so I did that and then filed it off and... I actually liked the way the nail felt after that. Rather than sitting and fretting and feeling awful, I used the scissors on all of nails and then filed them a bit. The scissors were just different enough from the clippers that I was physically unable to cut them too short, and they've been comfortable. They don't feel weird like my nails usually do after I cut them.


Yeah, 38 years old and I finally just figured out how to clip my fingernails.

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