nervous habit i can’t stop.

I have one nervous habit that I can’t stop and that is BITING MY GOD DAMN CUTICLES.

That’s in caps because IT MAKES ME SO ANGRY. It’s gross, and ridiculous, and often quite painful. BUT IT’S A FORCE THAT CANNOT BE DEFEATED.

Ouch. 😔

It’s something that seems to happen automatically, without me knowing and often against my will. At many times during a regular day I find myself lost in thought, and when I awake from the majority of these daydreams a finger will be between my teeth and it’s usually bleeding. It’s a physical manifestation of the constant level of anxiety and unnecessary alert I deal with on a daily basis. So maybe if you ever wonder “how bad can it actually BE to have ‘anxiety’?” you can take a look at my poor bleeding fingers and get a bit of a better idea. A “BITE” of a better idea? Rude.

This nervous habit I can’t stop has been happening daily since the beginning of recorded time.

At my desk at school, I would bite my cuticles. In the outfield at softball practice, I would bite my cuticles. Waiting for the results of a cheerleading competition, I would bite my cuticles. Sitting at home watching SNL on a Saturday night because there was nothing else to do living in the middle of nowhere, I would bite my cuticles.

We even have a few home videos of cheerleading competitions, and I guess Lexx felt it was necessary to get some GOD DAMN B-ROLL because there is footage of me sitting on bleachers BITING MY CUTICLES. AND IT IS ZOOMED IN. I HATE MYSELF.

As a kid I was like, “Oh yeah, when I’m a grown-up I won’t do this anymore. I’ll grow out of it. It will go away.”


Now the nervous habit I can’t stop haunts me while I’m at work. Like at work in an actual office with other people. Remember that? I would be stressed and just kind of zone out and bite bite bite for a little bit. Then I would wake up from my trance and be like omg I’m being so disgusting and like a NERVOUS CHILD right now. I have to STOP. So I would. Being in an office feeling shamed by the stares of others actually helped me.

Now that I’m at home and no one is watching me, it’s a free for all. And because I feel super sad and anxious and mentally hanging on by a thread, the cuticle biting is getting fully out of control. Add on that I haven’t been able to get a manicure in weeks and I refuse to do my own nails, and my fingers are all raw and bleeding. Every single one. THERE ARE OPEN WOUNDS ON MY HANDS. When I step outside, it’s that much easier to get infected by COVID-19.

But, while outside, the mask on my face does help. Also, needing to be hyper alert and aware and vigilant at all times helps a lot. For the couple of weeks before we were quarantined, as we slowly began to live in fear, I actually got much better about biting my cuticles. Because I was afraid to touch my face or put anything near my mouth.

The general anxiety I feel every day on a normal day is enough to set me spiraling into a chew hole, but now that the world is dark and full of terrors AND I am forced to stay at my GOD DAMN HOUSE all day I am biting my cuticles like crazy. I can’t stop.

My boyfriend yells at me, ineffective. My pal with a similar issue told me to wear gloves, I ripped them off after like an hour. I’ve been putting coconut oil and olive oil and other mystery oils all over my cuticles and hands in an attempt to make them fully moisturized and it HAS NOT STOPPED THE BITING. It goes without saying that I use regular hand moisturizer CONSTANTLY because it is still pretty much WINTER, but that doesn’t help either. I’m stuck in a dark hole, covered by bloody fingers.

The only thing that works, KIND OF, is getting a manicure weekly. When I was going and getting a manicure at Chillhouse every week, my cuticle injuries were at an all time low. Some days I didn’t even have ANY! IT WAS GREAT.


Do you have a nervous habit you can’t stop? What is it? Did you once have a nervous habit and now it’s gone? If so, HOW DID YOU GET IT TO GO AWAY?


5 thoughts on “nervous habit i can’t stop.

  1. Listen darling, this too shall pass. Believe it or not, I am nearly 70 and my entire adolescence was tormented by the very thing you describe, so graphically. I conquered it in my 30s and now that I am nearly 70, it has re-emerged almost overnight. I’m sure this is a reaction and a signal that I am so insecure because of what’s going on in the world. Let me just try to reassure you: this, too, shall pass. You have every reason to believe this can and will improve once the internal stress is calmed. Thank you for sharing. I recognize those bloody nails. They are mine. I have often felt alone with this affliction and am disappointed to see it return. But I am confident it will heal itself in time. Just NO self-blame, please.

  2. I too am a cuticle biter. It makes me feel better to know i am in good company. When i was younger and my mother convinced me that i would be undeserving of love if i continued to bite my nails. to break the habit, i was told to wear a bright noticeable bracelet. Then, when i would subconsciously start biting, i would see the bright bracelet in my periphery and voilà, stop biting… has it worked? not really. instead, i found keeping tools around did help a little. rather than biting if i grabbed a cuticle scissor it would make a cleaner “cut” and then i wouldn’t feel the need to continue to pick the pieces. Or, it would just hurt faster… ok, this is gross. nevermind.

  3. We are the same person! I too zone out and before i know it I’m bleeding. I find I do it most when I’m driving or after the kids go to bed and I am finally alone and relaxing on the couch. It’s embarrassing and disgusting. I loathe myself for it.

    1. Same! I get SO MAD when I see myself doing it but I still don’t stop :(. You’re right about driving too, I forgot about that since I don’t have a car these days. Driving was like a PRIME TIME for biting.

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