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My Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior Feels Like a 'Dog's Tic'


Editor’s note: If you struggle with a body-focused repetitive behavior, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can find resources at The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.

Every night I lie awake in bed scratching my ears. The inside of my ears, the ear canal. Sometimes I reach for a bobby pin and scratch the hell out of my ear until it almost bleeds. Then I stop, afraid I’m going to hurt my ear drum. I’m afraid I’m going to lose my hearing. But the itch is so strong. I need some relief. I resist it and it perpetuates the sensation I can no longer wait and scratch. I feel like a dog with a tic.

The momentary relief is enough for me to continue scratching. My right ear now has an infection. I am using antifungal ear drops my doctor has given me. I am slowly healing. The degree of irritation has reduced but the sensation enters back every night. I sometimes feel I need to wear a restraint to stop myself. I developed low trust in myself because every night I make a promise I break the next day.

I tell myself let me just scratch my ears this one night until it almost bleeds, but this will be the last night. That “last night” has never come. But rest assured the ear drops have helped reduce the irritation.

I sometimes feel like Van Gogh. What if one ear was lost to my self-inflicted pain? The guilt of me scratching my ears is real. But the relief of scratching is also real. The vicious cycle continues and I’m waiting for this irritation to be gone with.

I’m 28-years-old, young and beautiful but I’m lost in my own tic and can’t wait to start fully living life.

If you or a loved one is affected by body-focused repetitive behaviors, you can find resources at The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.

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Thinkstock photo via Keith Spaulding.