Keeping a tight grip

I’ve written before about sometimes using home manicures as a small gesture of self-care—both during COVID and in the before-times.

Though let’s be really real: my skill level, as far as the application of nail polish is concerned, is low enough that calling my efforts a “manicure” is giving myself WAY too much credit.

Nonetheless, I have, in other times, enjoyed painting my nails. It helps me feel pretty and expressive. And it helps me keep from biting my nails—a lifelong habit.

Key modifier here: in other times. Nowadays, I have begrudgingly made peace with the idea that I am not likely to paint my nails until after we have election results.

So: December some time.

Continue reading “Keeping a tight grip”

In Need of Eyebrow Pencil

You ever heard of trichotillomania? It’s a disorder where someone pulls out their own hair — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, sometimes just eyebrows & eyelashes, sometimes from the scalp or other areas of the body.

The Trichotillomania Learning Center defines the disorder thusly:

Trichotillomania (trick-o-til-o-MAY-nee-ah) is a disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, pubic area, underarms, beard, chest, legs or other parts of the body, resulting in noticeable bald patches. Hair pulling varies greatly in its severity, location on the body, and response to treatment. For some people, at some times, trichotillomania is mild and can be quelled with a bit of extra awareness and concentration. For others, at times the urge may be so strong that it makes thinking of anything else nearly impossible.

Trichotillomania (also referred to as TTM or “trich”) is currently defined as an impulse control disorder but there are still questions about how it should be classified. It may seem to resemble a habit, an addiction, a tic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Most recently, it is being conceptualized as part of a family of “body-focused repetitive behaviors” (BFRBs) along with skin picking and nail biting.

I’m bringing this up on account of the fact that my eyebrows are currently half-gone. Seriously. At this point, I’m trying to figure out whether it’s better to just pluck the rest of things out and draw my “eyebrows” on with a makeup pencil until they have a chance to grow back, or continue muddling forward with my patchy half-torn-out eyebrows as-is. (At least the frames of my glasses and the cut of my bangs provide some level of camouflage, whichever approach I choose.)

FrankenfurterEyebrowNow, I’ve never been sure as to whether the term “trichotillomania” officially applies to me — I don’t have any sort of formal diagnosis, nor have I bothered to have a doctor’s consultation about the topic. And I feel some level of concern around the possibility of taking a condition that is a very real source of struggle for folks (see: ABC News, Psych Central, Psychology Today and U.S. News & World Report) and co-opting it as a description for my own unconscious stress-behaviors.

And yet, half of my eyebrows are gone, and I don’t see any of the rest of my co-workers with strangely patchy brows. I was also particularly fascinated to see the connection drawn by the TLC between hair-pulling and other repetitive behaviors like nail-biting. Because after sternly self-discplining myself to cease that habit for a month so I could be well-manicured for The Cruise, I am fully off-the-wagon on that score, and my nails have all been bit to shreds.

So I guess it’s safe to say I’m not handling my stress as well as one might hope.

Oh well. At some level, it’s hard to get myself worked up over this particular limitation in my ability to handle the stresses of life. Maybe the the term trichotillomania would fit, if I ever chose to talk to a diagnostician about it. Even if that’s true, I’m fortunate enough to have a very mild expression of this behavior: now-and-again patchy eyebrows and occasionally a pulled-outeyelash or two. I’ve had this habit for decades, and it’s never escalated beyond that.

So all things considered and as odd as this may sound: I remain profoundly grateful for the plain dumb luck that has allowed me to have such (relatively) good fortune in my life. Even if I will be combing my bangs a little bit low for a few weeks….


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I know there’s a certain irony to titling a post “breadcrumbs” when I’m in the midst of this no-carbs diet. But nevertheless, it seemed like the most fitting title for a collection of small observations: none of them significant enough to warrant a full post, but still pieces of the HCG experience I want to document.


lane bryant starry nightI’m wondering if the hormone is making me a little bit more susceptible to the cold than I used to be. All this winter, I’ve been sleeping in my pajama pants and a tank top, because it gets too hot under the covers in my long-sleeved pajama top.

Unexpectedly, since I returned from the detox center, I’ve needed to keep the long-sleeved pajama top on if I didn’t want to be too cold to sleep. Go figure.


This protocol does require a certain comfort level with medical-type tasks & procedures. Or at least, if you don’t have that comfort level going into things, the experience might just lead you to be more blasé about such things than you were before.

In addition to the almost-daily hormone shots, there’s a weekly B-12 shot. (I say “almost” daily because you do take one day off a week from the HCG. Of course, for me, my “day off” coincides with B-12 day, so my life is in an easy one-shot-a-day pattern.) Now, the needle size of the syringe is very small, so there’s little in the way of discomfort. Nonetheless, doing the injections has certainly been an acquired skill for me.

I’ve never been needle-phobic: I had so many inoculations as a kid when we moved to S. America that there was no choice but to get used to them. But all those inoculations left me in a place where I was used to needles but I didn’t much like them. So it’s been an interesting progression, having my mild dislike of injections segue into a real matter-of-fact attitude around them.

And then there’s the morning “pee-stick” to track whether your body is still in ketosis or not.


Even with everything I’ve been looking at around my food cravings and my emotional hunger, I wonder if the thing that is most strongly going to tempt me to stray from the program is my desire for lip balm. I haven’t found a single one that doesn’t contain some sort of oil, and going through this last phase of winter without being able to tend to my poor dry lips ain’t no picnic.

Come on, spring!


Between sautéing everything in lemon juice and eating lots of fresh citrus for my after-dinner treats, I have become aware of exactly how excruciatingly painful fresh lemon or grapefruit juice can be on the nail-bed and cuticle wounds of a chronic, hard-core nail-biter. (Raising hand.)

This has not yet inspired me to stop said habit, but I remain eternally hopeful.


(If there’s any topic here that warrants further exploration in its own post, on another day, this would be it.)

I’ve been really noticing some of my limitations around self-care.

In addition to the more “hard-core” detox movements I have going on with the HCG and the Blessed Herbs packet I’m taking every morning, my coaches at the center encouraged me to layer in some other varieties of detoxing that would be gentler, and would help care for my system while these two more demanding processes were underway.

Foot baths, Epsom baths, castor packs, kinesi — all kinds of options, and I haven’t done any of them. Even today, with a whole day off from work, I was so busy with house-cleaning and grocery shopping and the dump run that I didn’t do any of these things to care for myself. Too many other “more important” things that I “ought” to prioritize higher than soaking in the bathtub “like a lazy person.”

At least I’ve managed to keep the sleep levels decent.


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