I cannot conjure any memory of having long fingernails because I never have. Since birth my fingers have always been in my mouth and my teeth have always been fixated on removing the nails from their rightful place. I never quite understood the motivation behind such an act, but I now have clarity; I live with anxiety.
Firstly, a distinction must be made between worry and anxiety. Worry is when you are unsure and nervous of something, whether that be starting a new school or speaking in public. Anxiety on the other hand, is a sense of doom. You believe that your existence is in jeopardy and that you cannot be saved. In addition to this feeling of hopelessness, you can’t help but ask the question,”What if”?
What if they don’t like me?
What if I mess it up?
What if they don’t invite me over again?
What if I get hurt?
What if I offend them?
What if they think I’m stupid?
What if this, what if that, what if everything?
These questions rummage through your being and consume all strength. You are sent into a state of ‘fight or flight’ but because your life isn’t actually in any danger, you always land somewhere in the middle. You know you aren’t going to die, but it feels like you are and there is seemingly nothing you can do about it.
That is the reality of anxiety and that is a reality of me. The process I just described is a process that I experience daily. There are many strategies to cope with anxiety, some more successful than others, but it seems that I have taken a shine to the most useless. As you now know, I bite my fingernails. I don’t just mean nibbling on them either. I mean taking each nail in between my teeth and ripping them from side to side until they bleed.
I take part in this habit because I cannot cope. I cannot cope with the feelings that infest my consciousness and I therefore retreat into an unconscious behaviour. I want to stop though. I really do. I hope to one day have fingernails that amount to more than one centimetre of deformity. How will I accomplish that?
I don’t really know. If I did, then I would have stopped by now. However, I do know that for a problem to be solved, the cause of that problem must be understood. I need to confront my anxiety and explore its existence within me. Why do I feel the way I feel and how can I control it? Once these questions are asked, I can then work towards answering them. I am unsure of how this is all going to happen but trust me when I say that it will.
If you are walking on the same path as me, I applaud your courage and offer you my hand in support. Anxiety is a shitty state of affairs but it is unbearable when dealt with alone. There are people out there that want to help us. There are people out there that understand humanity. We all live in relation to one another and happiness is therefore discovered together.