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Nervous Habit Might Be Mental Health Condition

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I am an elderly widow who has become friends with another elderly widow who lives in the same apartment complex that I do. She is very smart and well-read, and I can talk about things with her that other friends have no interest in. She is partly disabled and seldom leaves her apartment except to go to doctors. Like me, her children live in other states. We have been getting together for a few hours once a week for some time.

My problem is that she is constantly picking at her skin. She will pick at it until it bleeds and keep wiping the blood away with a tissue. Her skin looks terrible. I asked her if she has a skin condition and told her that maybe a dermatologist could help, but she said that it is just a nervous habit. Frankly, it turns my stomach. I am starting to dread the visits.

I am afraid that if I told her this, it will be the end of our friendship. -- Troubled Senior

Dear Troubled: Your friend's skin-picking is called dermatillomania, and it is a mental health condition. It is also known as excoriation disorder or skin-picking disorder, and it falls under the category of obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Your friend needs help. It is so understanding that you would not want to sit and watch her pick her face. It is also not very hygienic. But if you are a real friend, then you need to explain that there are treatments for skin-picking involving medications and therapy. A good dermatologist will be able to steer her in the right direction.

Sometimes being a real friend is being able to have difficult conversations because you love and care about the person.

Dear Annie: I've been happily married for 40 years. I love my husband dearly.

 

I also continue to dearly love my first love. We were each other's first loves at the very young ages of 15 and 17. The breakup was one-sided, as my mother threatened to have the sheriff pick him up. Both of us were devastated.

We both went on to marry others and have families, but our love for each other never waned. We knew our chance of a life together had passed. We lived close and would see each other socially often through the years. I am crushed today because his wife called to tell me that he had died. To say I am heartsick is an understatement. I just needed to put this into words and hope it helps.

Should I feel sorry for my husband? -- Brokenhearted

Dear Brokenhearted: I am very sorry for your loss. I also feel sorry for your husband. Sometimes we romanticize a past love to have been "the love of your life" because it was a moment in time when you were young and probably didn't have a ton of responsibilities. Those were such carefree days! You mentioned that you have been happily married for 40 years. Treat your husband with lots of love, and know that love is infinite. You can feel love and brokenhearted for your first love but still be very much in love with your husband. The beauty of love is that it is endless.

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"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

 

 

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