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Compulsions...how to stop?
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Compulsions...how to stop?

I don't perform rituals or have any common thoughts/anxieties associated with OCD. However, I regularly engage in picking and compulsive behaviors - seemingly always when I'm bored/unoccupied. There are two behaviors that I switch off between: Picking at my scalp and trying to bite the papillae off of my tongue. I know it's weird... I've looked around online, but I can't seem to find hardly anyone who shares this second behavior! I'm very confused as to why I do these things and can't remember when or why I started.
The second behavior is painful - and I recognize that it's painful - but it feels satisfying somehow. I usually engage in these behaviors when I'm not fully occupied (not quite "bored", but not quite fully engaged). For example, when I'm watching a movie/TV show, reading a book, doing homework, surfing the internet, etc. It gives me the feeling of having "something to do". I just can't sit still and concentrate on a single activity, so I unconsciously start doing these things. I'm even biting my tongue as I type this, for god's sake! Then...if a swollen taste bud/papillae forms from the initial biting (which it usually does), it irritates me so much that I have to remove it with further biting/picking/whatever it takes!
I've been doing these things for years...maybe over a decade (and I'm only 20). I can continue to do them, because they're not easily noticeable by others and have little consequence. But I really just want to stop. I can't say how many times I've tried - so many. But I just can't seem to. I might go for a week without doing anything, and then, when I'm spacing out, I'll pick up the behaviors unconsciously. It's so frustrating... =(
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585414_tn?1288944902
That could be ocd and it is worth speaking to a psychiatrist about. Besides medication and talk therapy cognitive behavioral therapy works in addition.
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Hi, Emily. The 'biting off papillae' thing does appear to be uncommon or under-reported as far as 'nervous habits' go... which is why I'm glad to see your post. I've struggled with OCD for 19 years, and the tongue-biting thing is one of the manifestations of my condition, in addition to trichotillomania (hair-plucking).  Like yourself, I lack the other  thought/behaviour patterns that typify OCD. In my experience, neither psychotherapy nor medicine ever helped. Maybe they will work for you. Try to be vigilant against these self-destructive behaviours and you may find you have more control over them. I know it's frustrating.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey. I'm biting my tongue, too. It started over ten years ago (I'm 29 now) when I was in pain after having a root canal treatment. Since then I've been biting off my papillae, on and off. Sometimes I even clip them off between one of my fingernails and a tooth until I have bloody patches all over my tongue. I have a long history of self-destructive behaviours and always when I had managed to abandon one it didn't take long for something else to come up. The only thing that works for me is my own will. Even though it's really, really hard to kick a bad habit, sooner or later you'll need to take control of yourself. I've succeeded in getting rid of several compulsions so far, but not of all. I just wanted to add myself to the list of tongue-biting people out there.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am constantly biting the skin in my lower lip, upper lip and cheeks.  Its almost subconscious at this point.  I have had OC's in the past that were extremely annoying because they never ended.  Light switch on and off 50 times, etc.  

After a few years of this I finally got pissed because deep down I knew this meant nothing.  In fact, I got so mad I said to myself I was stopping and I did.  

I do catch myself every once in a while doing something odd like that, but for the most part I am done.  Mind over matter is the bottom line.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Emily, I've had the same problem biting (and also picking) my tongue since I was a child, I'm 19 now, and I have done it since I was around 8. It's like I don't realise when I start, but once I have I find myself concentrating on picking or biting at particular spots on my tongue, usually at the front/centre. I have found that literally sucking on my tongue sometimes helps, but the problem with this is that it only seems to feel satisfying after I have been biting at it "/
Good luck trying to find a way to stop it, please write back if you do as I'd like to stop too!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Emily, I've had the same problem biting (and also picking) my tongue since I was a child, I'm 19 now, and I have done it since I was around 8. It's like I don't realise when I start, but once I have I find myself concentrating on picking or biting at particular spots on my tongue, usually at the front/centre. I have found that literally sucking on my tongue sometimes helps, but the problem with this is that it only seems to feel satisfying after I have been biting at it "/
Good luck trying to find a way to stop it, please write back if you do as I'd like to stop too!
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm a 60 year old care giver-10 years and counting. When my father died in 2006 I thought it would be easier to take care of only one person, my mother, who imo is a malignant narcissist, but I was wrong. I developed severe folliculitis on both legs which was helped a great deal by laser hair removal, unfortunately I still have stripes of sores on both legs which nothing helps.I admit to being a picker. In addition my hair thinned out significantly as well. I'm under significant stress and this skin affliction is making my woes worse.

When I was in my 20's I saw a Boston physician named Dr. Winikoff, who successfully treated my compulsive face picking with hypnotherapy. Another doctor treated a stubborn plantar wart with hypnosis, which cleared up within a week of session one. I would like to find someone in the Boston area who does dermatological hypnotherapy. Any responses would be greatly appreciated.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi I am 24 and have been biting the insides of my lips,cheeks and tongue for atleast 10 years now. Once I start and it hurts I just cannot stop to the point where the front of my tongue is completely bloody and red. After a biting session I pour salt on the end of my tongue and see how long i can keep it there through the pain and then after that I am able to stop myself for a while. I am not into self harm or anything I just cant control it. I also used to have to smell my hands after everything i touched no matter what I just had to smell the difference on my hands after touching everything. Just thought I would share..
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Avatar_f_tn
I thought I was the only one, I bite my cheeks and the bottom lip area and I pop the bumps on my face when irretated.. But I bite my tounge too, I just found out its called the (papillae).. Im a normal person, i dont take any medication or go to any doctors i just do it and i dont know why. I've done this for at least 15years and I'm 25 now... It was really bad during my teenage years I felt like I was biting my tounge off, it hurt but I could never stop doing it. I told myself I wanted to stop, and I just tried really hard not to do it and I stopped for awhile and it just came back today. And Im thinking maybe something is wrong with me, I'm trying to do some research to see why I do these things. I'm happy to see I'm not the only one, but I still haven't found any explanation as to why it happens. I don't think I have OCD, I don't plan on taking any medication... But like the comment from Dury, Bob234, and LearnFromMistakes I truely think thats the cure, it's hard but it's definitely a mind over matter thing and being vigilant to just stop. I gonna try harder.
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Avatar_m_tn
Emily I can relate to what you are experiencing...I catch myself biting my tongue entirely too often, I'd do it while performing certain tasks.  Sometimes while playing music instruments, using a power drill, or simply doing various types of studying/homework throughout the years.  Fortunately I haven't done it to the extent where it physically hurt me, but is still of concern.  A professional suggested to chew gum instead.  I find myself rather unimpressed with that suggestion.

I must agree with learnfrommistakes, mind over matter!

Remember to grow and improve yourself each day.  Invest in you!
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Avatar_f_tn
I also bite the papillae off of my tongue. I am 25 and I have been doing it since I was about 8-10 years old. It's like a texture thing for me. I only bite the side of my tongue papillae off and I try to stop, but then it feels uneven and they turn white because they're trying to heal, but I immediately bite the white stuff off. It's irritating. I brush my tongue so hard, just so that it looks normal in case anyone sees it. I wish I knew what caused it. I think it's just a nervous habit, no different than biting nails. I bit my nails so bad in the past that they would bleed. I got a pedicure once and they told me how bad my nails looked and I never bit them again. Now I have beautiful fingernails, but its like double time on my tongue now! I bit my nails if I was bored, nervous, i thought one was uneven...etc. I bite the papillae for the same reasons. Its just a nervous habit. We need to kick it on our own--it's just proving more challenging than it seems. Good luck to you! I feel what you're going through
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Emily. I also bite my tongue. I am 38 and don't even know when it started because it was so long ago. I notice that in addition to being "bored" I do it WAY more a few days before my period. I think it is a form of OCD and that hormone fluctuations can exacerbate these tendencies. They say that progesterone levels drop drastically right before and right after your period causing all kinds of symptoms including OCD. I don't know if you have these issues or not. But keeping a diary of when this happens and the severity may help.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi I to  am one who bites my tounge... I have done for years as long as I can remember and now am 30.  It frustrates the hell out of me. I too if it's not tongue biting I pull strands of hair out one by one. It comes and goes and I am finding that when it's happening I find i have a anxiety about something but can't pin point what it's about. I find myself asking myself 1000 questions until i find that answer then I am calm and the urge to bite or pull my hair out goes away.
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3248289_tn?1346983765
I'm seventeen and have been biting my tongue for sometime, i also bite the skin of my lips i have also had problems with other form of self harm in the past. I have been reading through all the comments and noticing it happening to people for years. i really am worried it might be damaging my tongue maybe i'm being naive but id like to know if anyone has any reasons? thank you
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1699033_tn?1405352675
Have you ever went to talk to someone about this habit?  Also, you mentioned other forms of self harm....cutting?  hair pulling?  what exactly are you talking about?  
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Avatar_m_tn
I started at 1st yr high school. At first, i bit the bud-like thingy in my tongue because the tingling pain felt good. Then the blood taste good? Then when white scabs are starting to form, it feels satisfying to remove them all. But you start to bite around it because you feel the surface is not of the same level (this is the OCD part i think), when you couldn't help it, or control anymore. The only time i stop is when it hurts too much, or the bite is already deep enough. If so, I tend to bite the other areas that are still bearable. This will finally leave me a whole sore tongue. I feel like someday, i would have tongue cancer or have an infection in my tongue and will have to remove it.  I did stopped when it started to cause blood-like smell in my mouth, i was conscious about it, so i did stopped for awhile. Now, after 4 yrs, it's starting to happen again. :(
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1699033_tn?1405352675
Did you ever consult a psychologist about this habit?  
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Avatar_m_tn
I actually burst into tears of relief reading this. I can't believe there are other people who are experiencing the same thing. I'll give it the old college try as far as mind over matter goes, but I find my tongue bloody sometimes before my brain even checks in to what I'm doing. No idea what the cause is. I'll keep following here. Thanks to everyone for sharing.
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Avatar_m_tn
I bite my tounge/ inside of cheeks unknowingly even as i am typing this. The part I hate most is the need to literaly put my fingers in my mouth and pick off my tounge. I absolutely have no idea I am doing it. My parents try to point it out while I am in the act so I stop, but when i am alone I zone out and pick like crazy. It all started when I was about 13 when I purposefully bit off a "taste bud" and liked it.. I like the blood in my mouth and I liked the feeling of something getting picked off. I have even taken little nail scissors to my tounge to cut off the top layer. Its like I get put into a trance and I lose control. I also pick at my face constantly, I also pick at my scalp without realizing it. I pick until it bleeds and forms a scab, then i just pick the scab off! (which is the part I like i guess)..I have to resort to getting fake nails put on because I cant pick with them on..I had acrylic nails constantly for over a year and on my way home driving from getting them taken off I immediately stuck my fingers in my mouth and started picking away! Is this just a habit? Its disgusting That I even want to put my fingers in my mouth I know, but I truely cannot help it.
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Avatar_m_tn
I also have to add that I also do this weird thing with the loose areas of skin on my hands, fingers and wrists where I fold over and rub my skin. I do think unknowingly as well. Does anyone elso do this? Is this OCD?
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Avatar_f_tn
Wow I have the EXACT same thing as you do! The biting the taste bud off, the scissors, the enjoyment I got from it.. The picking of the scalp. The picking at my face. I can't believe someone has done that as well... I have never told anyone because well, it's not something you wanna go around telling people, am I right? I always thought that I was the only person that would bite my tongue and cut it and the hair thing? I DIDN'T THINK ANYONE ELSE DID THAT... I'm just so shocked. I was looking up stuff about my tongue biting habit and it turns out that I have alot of other habits tied with it. I'm considering telling my mother, but well.. Not sure if I should. But it's crazy how there are people like me in the world. I also have a weird fascination with my own blood.. For some odd reason I enjoy the taste. That might help, I hope it does.
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Avatar_f_tn
I do exactly this, even when I become aware that I am doing it I can't stop because it feels good, I hate it sometimes!
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Avatar_f_tn
gaaah I have this same problem with my tongue . If I'm at home doing nothing really ill pick off the skin on my tongue with my nails then in public I just use my teeth and rip off the skin . Idk why it feels good to me ... That pain just feels good till the next day. Then I regret it because I can't even eat! Like right now I'm in a hardcore mode of biting my tongue! :(
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Avatar_f_tn
so here I am, 29 now and after suffering ALL my life with these terrible disorders I am finally researching into it. I have been biting my tounge since birth. I remember doing it in Kindergarten. I also pick at blackheads,bumps, pull hairs out ( I have two bald spots in my eyebrows and EYELASHES) eyelashes being the newest picking addition... for the love can anything stop it!! I just can't take it anymore. I have put myself through years and years of torment. I wasn't able to get through highschool becasue it was so bad...had to drop out. Spent hours in the morning obsessing over makeup or a misplaced hair.. one day I was so distraught i shaved the whole damn eyebrow off!

As i read through these confessions, it's like I am laughing my *** off at ths crazyness but then tearing up at the same time because i do it too! And it feels like a ton of weight taken off my back to knw I am ot alone. My tounge has sores on it again... can never seem to get pass the healing phase. Especially when the tounge scabs come in- that extra layer over the sore...it is the first thing to come off, till its all irritated again, and then more biting because i irritated it causing a bump. I just cant handle any Bumps..anywhere. And typicaly this is when i am stressing and having anxiety. TRIED to tell the Doctors since i was a kid i had OCD. They never listened and look at me like im crazy! So resultantly, i never tell anyone now. Damn doctors put me thorugh every known antidepressant. Nothing works.

I just want to be able to focus. I am finishing a college degree and i am goig to fail if I cant focus!! This is my last shot...single mom here and nothing else to save us. How can i turn these issues"off"? Even if I am numb on some meds, i would take them- i dont care, just want the crazy to end. SOmetimes aderral (adderall) works...but not always..

I pray there is hope for us all
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Avatar_f_tn
It seems like the OCD with thoughts is so different than the picking issues... I mean...it has taken all my life but at least I have finally mastered my panic disorder. Learning to be the boss of your thoughts works for that! But the urges for me to pick...nothing stops them... In fact, during times I am stressed, even my boyfriends have adapted to it and they let me pick at them! Like pulling out their ingrown hairs and popping blackheads and zits. I feel like such a freak!!!!
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Avatar_m_tn
I have the same issue. I bite my tongue, not just the sides but the sides and the tip. Once one papillae becomes inflammed, its all downhill from there. I will continue to bite off papillae in that whole area until there are none sticking up higher than the rest. By that point, my tongue is bleeding and sore.
I never stick out my tongue for pictures or to make a funny face because usually my tongue has white patches all over it from trying to heal. But once the patches form, I pick at those as well. Its a never ending cycle.

I agree that I do it more when I am bored and doing something rather mindless.. Reading all these posts I was doing it..

My dentist has asked me several times if I bite my own tongue, I have always responded "yea I think I do it in my sleep" because I have been too embarrassed to say "uh yea I like to eat my own papillae".  

I havent been able to do the whole mind over matter thing as of yet.. maybe one day :-/
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Avatar_m_tn
I bite my toungue as well! (Well, duh, not sure who would google this post if they didn't.) Anyways, I find mine is related to stress and/or dehydration. Also, when I am about to get sick (though, maybe the stress is actually the root cause of the sickness as well). I also notice I'm doing this when I'm only slightly preoccupied with a task, like watching t.v, but knowing that I should be working on something else, or thinking about all the things I need complete during the next day. Anyways, hopefully reducing stress and uping the water intake will help!
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Avatar_f_tn
I have the same problem I'm biting my toungue right now and I can't stop until I feel like I can't go anymore.i honesty dont know why but i haven't done it for a while and then it started up again.do u think it could be related to stress?
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm 31 and have done this to my tongue and inside of my mouth for about 20 years. I too thought I was the only person that did this. What a relief! I go a few months of not doing at all and then a good few weeks of none stop biting. I too do this when watching tv or at work on the computer. It's quite bad at the moment but I know I only have a few more weeks until I have a dentist appt so will ensure I leave it to heal in time. Nobody knows I do this as I'm so embarrassed but I just cannot stop until I know I must e.g dentist etc. It's such an odd thing!! Even though it gets quite sore it's still quite soothing. Weird huh?! I am a normal person too besides this. Happily married mother of two with a good job. It's funny too to read the comments about picking at your scalp as this is a new thing for me, started doing it a couple of months back. Never thought it might be connected to the tongue picking.
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Avatar_f_tn
Omg I have the same problem I bite my tongue a lot and as soon as it starts healing, I bite that part off again.. if I can't it with my teeth I will use my ginger nails or I have gone as far as using my tweezers! I'm 21 and I've been doing this since I was 10. I also don't know what it is & today I decided to look into it because I want to stop!!
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Avatar_f_tn
I too used to bite the tastebuds off.  I started as a small child up until I was around 35.  I realized I started this behavior as a means to sooth/distract from my emotional distress as a child.  As an adult, I would find myself doing it unconsciously and once started I couldn't stop.  I would finally get salt and put it on the raw area and it would burn to almost a climax (not sexually) and then I would come down exhausted from the pain but relieved.  So weird but it was pleasure with the pain.  I noticed I did this most when I was anxious. I no longer bite, mainly I believe because I'm at peace spiritually.  I think for those that still bite, try keeping a journal and record what happened before the biting began, your emotions how you felt before, during, and after.  Maybe this will help shed light on why you do it and knowing why is half the battle.
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Avatar_f_tn
Omigod I pick/bite/tear of my taste buds to!!! I thought i was the only one out there! I've been doing it since I was 12 at the beginning of 7th grade (2011). It started when I had a swollen, white tastebud that had some how gotten there. I had decided to get rid of it by biting it from there. Then some how, it escalated from there. At first when I had gotten into the habit, it was painfull, but I did it anyway. Now it's so bad that I do it so much I jerk my head because I tear so many off. I've gotten so used to swallowing the blood that it doesn't bother me anymore! I wish all day that I could stop but I can't. It's like what everyone else said. It stings and burns but somehow, it satisfies me when I keep ripping those spots off. It's like an addiction to a drug in a weird way. Sometimes tears pour down my face, and my face turns red, and there's so much blood I can't swallow it all and I spit it all out in the sink, but I just can't stop!!! Chewing on gum really helps me because I try to pop really big bubbles, but I chew on it so much, I easily run out( of gum)  then I go back to biting. It seems like it's endless, and as the months go by, it only seems worse. Sometimes I go a whole week without doing it, but then I go back. So many times I've woke up with a swollen white tongue with missing patches of taste buds. After reading everyone's comments, I realized I did NOT want this nasty habit for eternity.

             -Anonymous, Desperate, Freshman Chick
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm saddened but relieved that I'm not the only one who picks and bites her tongue. As I write this, I just ended a three hour session of picking the white scar tissue from healing sores then searching for the perfect spot on my tongue to nip off with the clippers. I must have spit and rinsed 30 times. Right now, the need to pick and bite has abated. In the morning, I'll regret this when I try to eat. I know it will heal in a few days....only for the cycle to start again. Why do I do this? I want to stop. It's been a good 40 years I've been doing this. I'll turn 50 in July.
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1699033_tn?1405352675
You cut your tongue with clippers?  Okay, don't you think it is high time you saw a psychologist for this problem?  What have you been thinking all these years?  You obviously knew it wasn't normal.  Mental health issues are all over the map and you have one so get some help for it please.  It has become a nasty habit after 40 years but the good news for you is that habits can be broken with the right help.  Take care.  
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi there. Hope you found the answers you were looking for. This has been a mindless habit for me too for years, and it drove me crazy once or twice. I believe it is a nervous thing, and a way to hydrate your mouth. We can be dehydrated long before we are thirsty.
Biting the tongue can also be an easy way to squirt some endorphins and trigger pain receptors.
A sad habit of denial is to try harder. Some emotion unfulfillment may make use chase this "false dragon" so to speak, and being aware of it is not enough. We have to let go of something that may be toxic, may not be for us. That may mean forgetting, forgiving, letting go, something.
Our brains will always like a cheap thrill, and quick fix. We just need better habits, and rewire our brains to get its rocks off in non-self destructive ways.
there is a good article in scientific american about habits. Check it out.
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