Terry Lynne Hale

Practicing the Art of Perseverance

TLH - Florida April 2023
April 2023

So, after closing the greeting card business 12/31/2022, I spent the next couple of months deciding on what I wanted to do in 2023.  Any time we try a new venture there is the possibility of failure. When a business is unsuccessful and while one is cleaning up the remnants, there is a feeling of sadness, a grief if you will, that the venture was not successful. We can wallow in those unproductive feelings or (as if we have fallen) stand up, brush yourself off, and find a new or different direction.  I knew that I had a life-long, destructive, and debilitating bad habit.  Maybe this was the year I could conquer it..

Mine is not a new direction, it is a return to what I’ve done off and on for many years. Write about what matters to me and help educate others based on my firsthand experiences and opinions about medical conditions, detrimental habits, pharmaceutical drugs, technology, environment, animal welfare, supplements, and nutrition. Check out my LEGAL page to reiterate what my qualifications are and are not.

I did feel that a 4-year-old picture wasn’t a true representation of me today, so I changed the main pic on the ABOUT page (and above) to a current one from a phenomenal trip to Florida a couple of weeks ago. (I left the 12/2019 image of me standing on the About page because the colors work great with the page.) These are the kinds of executive decisions you can make when you have your own website!  🙂

I have had considerable success in “quitting” habits that are destructive. For example, in 2001, I became a Wellness Consultant for Nikken – a MLM business where I learned a lot about pure water, the health benefits of magnets, nutritional supplements, and Far Infrared items.  At the time, I was still smoking cigarettes and one day – I think I was looking at my new business card reading “Wellness Consultant”, it occurred to me that I was a hypocrite.  How could I expect others to listen or take seriously my suggestions about health benefits, or superior products when I was still doing something that by then, the universe knew was bad for our health and for those around us?!

I read about Zyban – the smoking cessation product that was new at the time. It operated on the same principles as that of a 12-step program with the addition of a drug, bupropion to help with cravings. In 2001, Zyban would have cost me $97/month. One of my doctors suggested that if I were truly determined to quit smoking, and because I was already familiar with a 12-step program, he would prescribe another form of bupropion, Wellbutrin, to help me achieve my goal. For $15/month and the willpower I applied in my quest for authenticity and integrity, I celebrated 22 years as a non-smoker last month.

Which brings me to today. I have had a horrendous habit for as long as I have had fingernails and teeth. It is an OCD thing – embarrassing. Through the years I tried all the nasty tasting stuff on the market, but my unconscious habit didn’t register the terrible taste. I enjoy reading and watching mysteries, and I am fascinated and intrigued with forensics – i.e., stress-oriented subject matter that would send my poor fingers to my mouth without me even being aware of it.  Periodically, I asked my husband to bring these actions to my attention.

Then came what seemed (in my twisted, hopeful perspective) to be a solution. For about three- and one-half decades, I spent a lot of money and time getting my fingernails sculptured. They were beautiful. I could not bite them so, that objective was realized. However, when sculptured nails would get knocked around or broken, they took my entire nail with them. OMG- talk about pain! Then, Gel nails came on the scene, and I tried wearing those for quite a while. However, the occasional broken nail would result in the very same destruction I experienced with sculptured nails. Finally, I began buying short artificial nails and gluing them on myself. Yes, I saved money and got surprisingly good at shaping them. Through the years I got compliments on my pretty nails and accepted them graciously but internally, I felt like a fraud. 

The amount of time devoted to the process, and the time required to repair broken nails (which thankfully did not take my own nail with it now that I was using artificial nails) was immense. I cannot count the number of times we would be heading out the door and I would tell my husband, wait- I must fix a nail. Worry about losing a fake nail in public, OR in the soup I was preparing (YIKES!) or being “found out” were all-consuming. Band-Aids are a staple item for me. Carried in my pocket, if I lost a fake nail while I was out and about, I’d put a Band-Aid on that finger and go on my merry way.

Last fall, I decided to seek the services of a psychologist to help me get to the root cause of this disgusting habit. My therapist is amazing and helpful in so many ways. She applauded my decision to tackle this bad habit in the public way that I’ve chosen.  I have been walking to the beat of a different drummer all my life.  I have a great deal of confidence so, coupled with being a natural rebel, I decided to go for it!

I know several adults who bite their nails. A few of them are professionals: a retired lawyer, a nurse, a successful business owner, now retired. Most of those I’ve seen seem to be able to bite their nails as if they are giving themselves a manicure. Nice, tidy little strips of fingernail removed by mouth. I cannot comprehend. Nope. Gnawing, gnashing is how I relate.

According to Psychology Today, while nail biting can be a relatively non-destructive habit “it can also develop into a severe, long-term problem. Onychophagia, or onychophagy, is considered a pathological oral habit and grooming disorder characterized by chronic, seemingly uncontrollable nail-biting that is destructive to fingernails and the surrounding tissue.”

The link above provides more detailed info, but the bottom line is, for me, it is a mental health disorder. Here is a bit more from the link provided: When is nail-biting considered a mental health disorder? Nail-biting itself is relatively common, but the line between “normal” and pathological nail-biting is not always clear. According to the DSM-5, diagnosable “body-focused repetitive behavior disorder” (a category that includes onychophagia) triggers clinically significant distress, interferes with functioning in at least one important life domain, and is characterized by repeated, failed attempts to stop the behaviors. Thus, those who feel intense shame, guilt, or anxiety about their nail-biting, feel unable to stop, and find that it interferes with one or more areas of their life may benefit from seeking treatment.”

I am a fan of Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability, among others. She found her voice and in so doing, gave voice to many of us.  Thank you, B.B. – I wish I knew how to type your first name correctly..

Although I am tired of covering up, hiding, and feeling duplicitous, I am not all “brass balls” about this experience.  I purchased thin, opaque gloves to wear while this process of letting the natural nails grow out occurs.

My Nail Technician has cautioned that this will be a LENGTHY process. I already knew this. I am getting manicures bi-weekly and will continue for an exceptionally long time. The gloves are intended to give me a little security at an insecure time.  However, I am determined to beat this habit so, along those lines I am posting BEFORE pics and eventually, I will post AFTER pics. My nails have been so battered by years of (first, biting) and then the destruction caused by broken sculptured, gel and artificial nails. My nails are growing very thin, and just yesterday, while dressing, one pinky fingernail just tore. As I was told, this will be a lengthy process. Whatever it takes will be better than putting nail glue (formaldehyde and/or ethyl cyanoacrylate) on my fingers. Advocating for optimal health and wellness is what I do, and I feel much better about doing it now that I am being true to myself.

IF you or someone you know is struggling with nail-biting or a similar bad habit, you are not alone. Find weird comfort in the fact that each of us has a bad habit or two or more.  People who suffer from obesity, are there for all the world to see while an eating disorder may not be as transparent. By the way, after I experienced a severe and indeterminable rash in the fall of 2007 I was prescribed the dangerous and miraculous drug, Prednisone.  It is a drug that provides immense relief for itching, inflammation, and other conditions.  It IS very hard on the body and usage must be monitored to make sure it is not given too often or too close to previous doses.  ANYWAY, those who have used it know it can increase one’s appetite.  Though I knew better, while taking Prednisone, I had a voracious appetite for food and sweets.  This petite woman ballooned to 152 pounds.  Try as I did, I could not shake the weight gain.  Finally, I came to understand the challenges facing overweight people who are struggling to control their diet.  My father, whom I loved dearly, passed away after a brief illness late January 2008. 

Turns out – that for me – grief is a terrific weight loss program.  A friend recently told me grief can also have the opposite effect so, I guess I was lucky in that respect. 

I will be posting progress reports amid other blog topics so please check back now & then.

The image above is one I referred to often over the years, kind of like an affirmation. Of course, this model is younger than me and her beautiful hands reflect that. She has strong, gorgeous, healthy nails that I admire. 

Below is the BEFORE photo- uggh.

Abused Fingernails

Going to OVERCOME this bad habit!

Right Hand Image taken 3/31/23
RH Image 3/31/23

Left Hand photo 3/31/23

3/31/23 LH image of nails