Tense situation

I am not relaxed person.

The thought of having a facial or meditating fills me with horror because it wastes so much time.

I’m far too busy for such idle indulgences  – it feels vaguely sinful to just sit around. Even watching tellie is a struggle for me these days.

The only places I ever relax are in the sea or DD’s arms.

The rest of the time I hold my breath, pick at the skin around my fingernails and clench my teeth.

The skin around my fingernails is raw at the moment because it’s prime picking time. I am anxious and emotional about unbloggable things.

It drives the youngest mad. She’ll hold my hand in hers to try and stop me skinning myself alive.

I’ve recently discovered there’s a name for my addiction: it’s called excoriation disorder or dermatillomania.

It starts during a time of stress when you absently pick the skin around your nails and find the repetitive action soothing. It then becomes a habit.

I read a confessional story where a woman discussed the pleasure she feels when she picks at those rough little bits of skin – “there’s something grounding to it, visceral, gratifying”.


I’d doing it now as I type this blog post. I stop every few seconds to run my finger along a pointy bit of skin on the side of my thumb.


I also do it to my lips sometimes. I went to the dentist yesterday and she was horrified by the state of them. She slathered Vaseline everywhere so they wouldn’t split while she was poking around in my mouth.

As for the clenching, the dentist reckons it’s probably cracked a tooth.

She asked if I clench my teeth at night. I replied: “I clench them all the time.”

I had Botox in my jaw once to stop the clenching. You need someone with a deft hand to do that, otherwise it’ll be a loooooong time before you eat steak again.

The Botox freezes your muscles just enough that you can still chew, but can’t clamp your teeth so tight that your jaw aches.

It wore off ages ago and my poor, single mum budget doesn’t stretch to fancy cosmetic procedures these days.

The dentist says if I keep clenching I’ll start killing tooth nerves and need root canal work done.

I hate to think how much that will hurt both my mouth and my wallet.

My cracked tooth will probably require a crown. But the dentist isn’t entirely sure which tooth is damaged and doesn’t want to crown the wrong one. I’ve narrowed it down to two. I’ll need to pay closer attention next time I encounter a seed in my wholegrain wrap and almost hit the roof from the sudden, sharp pain.

The dentist took x-rays, poked around a lot and put frozen metal prongs on the teeth, but couldn’t conclusively prove anything other than that I’m a wuss with a strong gag reflex and the beginnings of gum disease.

Gum disease … that’s about as sexy as ear dermatitis.

Oh, the dentist also glued my brace back on. She was very impressed that it’s been there for 35 years.

I was the first kid in Newcastle to get a permanent brace … which is a much better “first” than the one that befell my great-grandmother’s brother, who was the first person killed by a car in Cessnock … but I digress …

Actually, I’m going to digress again … my orthodontist tore his hair out over me – every time he took the braces off my front teeth they Chad Morgan-ed again.

He went to a conference where they discussed a newfangled process of glueing the teeth in place with a piece of wire and he decided to use me as his guinea pig.

I spent so much time in his dentist’s chair that we got to know each other pretty well. He’d tell me about his three daughters – Portia, Mercedes and Zephyr. As a naive teenager I thought he’d named them after cars … that’s how old I am … my grandparents used to drive me around in a Zephyr.

Much later I realised he’d named them after Shakespearean characters. Der!

(NB I’ve since been informed I’m a nong and there’s no Shakespearean character called Mercedes or Zephyr … maybe he named them after fictional characters or something … surely not cars!)

After 35 years of good service, the wire has come unstuck twice in the past year. The first time I couldn’t stand how prominent the new glue was and made them sand it back so far that it was destined not to hold. This time I’m putting up with the glue blob, even though it feels like my front teeth aren’t quite aligning.

The dentist reckons I might have to get the brace removed and wear a mouthguard at night instead, which would also solve the problem of the clenching.

I’m not soooooo keen on a mouthguard. Add that to ear dermatitis and reflux and I’d be feeling very unsexy at night.

I might as well buy myself a flannelette nightie and consign myself to old age … and not the Jane Fonda kind!

Song of the day: Fergie “Tension”

6 thoughts on “Tense situation

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  1. Who was your orthodontist? I have the wires behind my teeth and they’re the BEST! (Got mine in Newcastle too)
    I also wear a splint for grinding my teeth and it’s awesome, highly recommend it (longer lasting than the Botox (I haven’t needed to try Botox)

      1. No, but it was at the same place with Dr Chapman – they both worked together 😊 (I think it used to be called C and C Orthodontics when I first went and it was on Darby Street, with Cherny and Chapman, but then they moved and the name also changed)

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