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melissarc97 , 19 Mar 2014

Today I have decided to QUIT (thumb picking related)

Up until about 45 minutes ago, I had no idea this thing actually had a name.. For about three years now, I have considered googling about my problem, but always didn't after thinking 1) I probably won't find any results because I am the ONLY person who does it, and 2) I am afraid to find out the truth about this compulsion. But tonight, I was procrastinating homework and finally decided to give it a shot. I cannot believe there is a name for the disorder and that other people actually do it. I have felt so alone up until right now! I compulsively pick at the undersides (and sometimes down into the palms of my hands) of my thumbs. I remember doing this back in 4th grade, so it probably started somewhere around that time. I never felt like I could talk about it with anyone. My mom noticed my red thumbs and asked me about it, but I lied and told her I didn't know why they were red. So she took me to a dermatologist when I was roughly in 7th grade. Right then should have been the time when I admitted to her and the doctor what was wrong, but I was too ashamed. At this time, I played the clarinet and also played tennis, so the doctor came to the conclusion that it was related to that, and I went along with it because I was afraid to tell the truth. I also think, at this point, that I didn't fully understand that it was a compulsive disorder, so I didn't want to stop. The doctor prescribed me some cream, and I was instructed to put the cream on my thumbs and put gloves on my hands when I slept. I didn't listen. I can name almost every time that I have been caught by someone from when I was 10 years old all the way up to the present time. I am currently 21, almost 22 years old and I want to stop doing this so desperately. I cannot swallow pills and I hate taking medicine and would prefer not to go to a doctor for this, so does anyone know of any thing that helps this disorder naturally, without medication? I know the underlying issue is stress related, but I really do not like taking medicine. For a few years now I have really wanted to quit. Today I am going to actually try. I think I've never tried quitting before because I have always been afraid that I would fail and that would make me really sad. I rummaged through my first aid bag which resides in my tennis bag, and managed to find some wart/callous healer. I also found some gauze. I applied the wart/callous healer to my right thumb, and then I put Aveeno lotion on my left and covered it with the gauze and then covered the gauze with tape. Tomorrow, I am going to go to CVS and buy more supplies. I am interested to see which thumb looks better in the morning. My biggest fear in doing this is knowing that I can't protect my thumbs with bandages and gauze when I go outside, so I am afraid I will just start picking all over again tomorrow during class and throughout my day. Hopefully that doesn't happen though. I so desperately want this to stop. This has been happening for more than half of my life time and it must come to an end! A lot of times, I catch myself admiring strangers' thumbs, praying that mine can look like that one day. I'm always afraid when I'm with a guy I'm dating that he will try and hold my hand and he will be able to feel it and be grossed out and/or question it. The most recent guy I dated would call them "crocodile skin or snake skin", or something like that. We just recently broke up (not because of the thumbs, don't worry!). I want the next guy I am with to be able to grab my hand without making me extremely nervous that he will feel my thumbs. I also can't get a manicure without being very nervous that they will be grossed out or say something to me, OR WORSE: tell me I have to leave because there is something wrong with me/my thumbs. I am going to need support through this journey of a healing process, so I will be posting on here a lot, because this is the only place I feel safe to talk about it. If anyone has any words or wisdom, success stories, or simply works of encouragement, feel free to comment on this post! And if anyone out there is also trying to quit right now, I think it would be great to have someone on this journey with me! Thank you if you read this all. I am still in shock at the fact that this is a real thing and am in even more shock that I have just spilled my deepest secret for the first time in about 12 years. -MC
2 Answers
March 19, 2014
I have decided to keep a journal of this difficult healing process. It has been roughly 13 hours since I decided enough is enough. Today I had two classes. Every time I though about picking my thumbs or rubbed the skin of my thumbs to look for unevenness to pick at, I managed to stop myself. It wasn't easy, but not a single piece of skin was involuntarily removed from my thumbs today. I had two classes and it felt so good to be able to stand up after both those classes were let out and look down at the floor under the desk I was sitting at and see no pieces of skin on the floor. But since being home alone now, I was afraid I would relapse, so I put on a different type of "oil-free hydrating gel" that I found in my room and covered the thumbs with cotton and taped it down. It has been a tough day, and it will be a long journey, but I think the documentation will help me. -MC
March 23, 2014
I have had the same thumb picking problem as you for nearly four years now! I am so proud of you for having the willpower to stop yourself even in your least conscious moments. I have tried numerous times to stop with no success, but your story is an inspiration to stick to my word about leaving my already torn skin alone. Something I feel that helps me at least temporarily is polishing up my nails by painting them, buffing them, etc. Although it doesn't relieve the urge to pick, it makes me feel more conscious about ruining the skin surrounding the nail I have worked so hard on or dirtying my other nails in the process. Good luck on your journey!

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