How Cancer Helped Me Stop Picking

My name is Melissa and I am 25 years old. I started peeling the skin off of the surfaces of both my hands when I was 5. When I was younger I used my teeth as well as my fingernails but as I got older I began to stick to just fingernails, occasionally tweezers or needles. I can't really recall what it was like when I first started. As far back as I can remember the palms of my hands/fingers looked and felt like one big callous and they rarely bled. I usually never picked anywhere else.

At age 13 I discovered that what I did actually had a name and that it was a disorder. I talked to my mother about getting treatment for it (my parents and grandparents were thrilled about the idea, they constantly told me to stop, it looks bad, no boy is ever going to want to hold your hand, etc..... thanks guys). From 13-17 I saw a few different therapists/psychologists, tried more medications than I can remember, and went through behavioral modification therapy. Nothing ever even put a dent in it. Finally I became fed up with everything and decided that this is just something I will do for the rest of my life and I need to let it go. And that is what I did. I tried to change my attitude about it as best I could, convinced myself that it's not something I should be embarrassed about and I had gotten really good at either hiding my hands or deflecting when anyone asked about them.

When I was 21 I was diagnosed with cancer. I started a 10 month chemotherapy regimen as well as radiation therapy. The chemotherapy drugs that I was on caused a condition called neuropathy in my hands and feet. This basically means that they become numb, tingly and difficult to use. A few months into chemo the neuropathy in my hands became bad enough that I could not use my fingers to pick (or hold any picking instrument). At first this was very stressful, but after a while it's like I forgot about it. My hands healed. I did not start picking again when I regained the use of my hands (or I should say, I haven't yet). I have no idea why. I wish I did. I wish I had an explanation for this that would help other people. Until I figure it out I hope my story at least gives you hope that you can stop too. Hopefully not in the way that I did though, haha!

I have been in remission from rhabdomyosarcoma for 4 years as of this exact day.

starvedpersephone starvedpersephone
22-25, F
Jan 20, 2013