A conversation between Brian and me earlier this morning . . .
Me: Hey, I read an article in my magazine that says picking at slash biting your lips is an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Me: I do that.
Brian: And . . .
Me: And apparently I’m OCD!
Brian: Are you surprised?
So it turns out that I am a compulsive lip biter – and not in the sexy kind of way. It’s one of those gross habits that every January I resolve to quit, but I don’t really want to quit because in my own sick way I really enjoy it. And even when I manage not to bite them, I pick at them with my fingers – like that’s somehow better. “Is this a problem?” you ask. You could say that. My lips regularly crack and then scab; I pull off dry skin even when I know it’s going to bleed and hurt like hell; and I chipped my bottom front tooth doing it. Twice.
I should have realized that this is actually OCD, but I didn’t because people with OCD don’t think it’s OCD, right? Yes, I was totally surprised to learn that there is a term for this and that behavioral therapy and drugs are the recommended treatments. Who has the time to send their lips to therapy? Not this girl. Even as I’m writing this I’m all like, “Oh, I’m not really OCD. I can stop anytime I want. I just don’t want to stop.” Right. I’m biting them right now.
I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. I had a boyfriend from way back in the day write me a poem about my bloody, chapped lips. (Don’t judge. I loved that poem.) Brian’s been begging me to stop since we met, but I just can’t. Even when I leave behind bloody kiss marks on my kids’ cheeks – like my Aunt Mary’s signature red lipstick but sicker – I just make a mental note to check for bleeding next time before kissing them.
And it’s not like I try to hide this. Most of the time, I’m only vaguely aware that I’m even doing it. Plus, it’s my face – I mean, it’s right there for everyone to see. It never occurred to me that this was potentially embarrassing in any way, but now I know that it’s pathological. So . . . great. I guess it’s time to start building up my therapy fund.