Paint Your Nails the Bipolar Way: Obsessively

I did my nails three times yesterday. And I still don't really like what I wound up with

Jun 25, 2012 at 6:00pm | Leave a comment

I don't generally dread doing my nails. The process of basecoat, color, topcoat is soothing and regular, a sort of mindless repetitive task in some ways. I have to pay attention to it but I don't have to think about it.

But, lately, I've found myself grouchy every time I have to pull out the nail polish remover and haul out of my bucket of nail polish. Not because the nail polishing itself is any less soothing. In fact, it's easier than ever to lose myself in the process.

I just can't find a manicure that satisfies me.

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China Glaze glitter crackle, which is not blowing my mind

This is, truly, a ridiculous problem to have. And yet it is still a problem. I did my nails three times yesterday. And I still don't really like what I wound up with. Glitter crackle is an interesting idea in theory, but in practice it just doesn't crack enough.

Sometimes I'm a little obsessive. It's a characteristic of bipolar disorder. The same thing that makes detaching via polishing my nails so very relaxing is part and parcel of why not having a manicure I like drives me up a damn wall.

And while it's very easy to tell myself to just slap something on, some color that I like and would be happy to wear to death, it's harder to actually do that in practice. I look at my hands a lot more than I realized; a manicure that I don't love is always in front of me on the keyboard.

If I were a proper touch typist, I'd never actually look at the keyboard and then maybe I'd never see my hands. But I guess that 6th grade typing class couldn't break some old habits after all. I look at the screen when I type, but I look at the keyboard when I think. And thinking is where the real writing happens.

There's also the concept of escalation. It's keeping up with the Joneses -- but the Joneses are your own nails. You do a cool manicure and, if you're me, you want the next one to be cooler.

Having a mental illness (which is a term I pretty much loathe anyway) is one of those things that surprises me even though I have always been this way. My identity is influenced by it, certainly, because it's shaped who I am as a person. But it's also not really something I think about every day. I don't generally go around considering whether or not I do x because I have y. It's all me, whatever the causes.

Every now and then, though, I get caught in these spirals. Make-up and personal grooming aren't destructive spirals, so, I mean, it could be a lot worse. Collecting all the MAC eyeshadow is not a meaningful goal, sure, but it's not going to hurt me. (I'm fiscally responsible about it but I am a collector at heart). Getting out of a spiral can be difficult even when I recognize one is going on. Sometimes externalizing it is enough, especially if it's a thought pattern. But sometimes I just have to ride it out, which I what I think I have to do with this nail polish thing right now.

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It just doesn't...crack enough. Or something.

That means acknowledging that, yeah, I'm being unreasonable when a perfectly adequate manicure makes me reach for the nail polish remover because I hate it so much. And it means cutting myself some slack when I'm on my third mani of the day and I still hate everything about it. It also means cutting myself off -- I might have some chemicals off balance in the old lizard brain, but I can still put the nail polish down. (Mostly. For a day, at least.)

So, during obsessive nail polishing benders, I do not recommend glitter polish. The stuff is hard enough to remove on a normal day, after a week's worth of enjoyment. Soaking it off repeatedly in one sitting will not do kind things to your cuticles.

I'm not really a big one for moisturizer, because I don't like feeling greasy, but during these dark times, I swear by Aquaphor, a water-based lotion by Eucerin. I use it on my tattoos. And I rub it into my cuticles until my cuticles just can't take anymore. Dry, cracked cuticles are painful -- and irresistible to fingers and teeth if you're the kind of person who just has to pick at something.

Eveen the things we love can eat our brains, even if we're careful.

Tonight, I'm going to do my nails again unless there is literally no time. It could happen, though my usual response to that is to just stay up later and do it anyway. I allow for that possibility. But there is definitely part of my brain already trying to figure out what is going to make me happy when I sit down with all the bottles of color that I've collected. At some point, maybe when I'm less stressed and comfortable once more in my daily routine, I'll find something that satisfies me.

Fingers crossed.

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Topcoat does, at least, make the texture liveable.

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