If you know me, then you know I gnaw on my finger. It’s been the ongoing joke of my life. In the 5th grade, I used to wrap that pointer finger with Fruitrollups and nibble on it through that. When teachers would inevitably get annoyed listening to me suck on it, I’d switch over to my school girl ties on my uniform and chew on those till they looked away before darting back over to my finger.
Over the years, I’ve been forced to wear gloves, held down, observed, smeared with smelly essence, my bosses glare at me in meetings till I put my hand down- yet forever this behavior has been a symbol of me.
This morning on the subway, a woman looked down at my hand as I chewed (I.e. slobbered), and leaned over. “Girl, what you got to be so nervous about? It’s Friday.”
I grinned and put it down. “Oh I always eat myself,” I said.
Her brow raised- and I showed her my calloused finger.
“You did that to yourself?”
“Eh- over 15 years yeah,” I laughed, used to the question.
“Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes. It bleeds in the winter.”
“Why you do it then?”
I shrugged. “Impulse control; OCD. Anxiety- who really knows?” I stood up to get off at the next stop. “But it’s better now- I pop a Prozac and it helps.”
As I exited the train, I thought about an email someone sent me recently about how they relate to my eating disorder posts through their anxiety disorder and how difficult it is to talk about mental health.
Often, I too find that I don’t directly address mental health disorders in my blog because I find it easier to cater to a culture that is often callous to the intangible. Because I have manifested so much of my anxiety and OCD into eating, it has made it easier to write only about eating disorders because they are solid, tangible proof of anxiety. It’s a direct consequence when so often anxiety is inward. Quite frankly, most people don’t want to read about mental health because it can’t be observed and can be seen as pontificating about “weak” shiz that you should either fix quietly or hide.
Truthfully, today, 2 years into recovery I “take” Prozac for Bulimia, but I take Prozac because it helps manage impulse OCD behaviors and it keeps the fog of anxiety at bay. I take a low dose, I function well, I’m happy.
I chew on my finger on the stressful days; forget about it on the good. It’s healing; much as my eating disorder is healing- and all are interconnected in my own recovery journey.