There is a force that stops us hurting ourselves, but some forces are stronger. I call this one ‘the liminal itch’ and it refers to the feeling you get when you believe there is something inside you that shouldn’t be there. Examples of this feeling are:

  • Whiteheads
  • Splinters
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Fleas and ticks
  • Dental abscesses (sometimes)
  • Blisters
  • Skin tags
  • The bony deposits that form above the canines
  • Scabies

These things horrify me and trigger a strong urge to remove them, even if I know I should leave them alone, even if it hurts. They threaten the integrity of my body and I will go to great lengths to destroy them. For some of them I am reasonably sure I would go to any lengths.

At the moment I have a pimple on the side of my cheek and it feels unusual in shape. I am becoming convinced, for no reason at all, that there might be an ingrown hair in there and I am dreaming about cutting open my face and getting it out.

I have heard stories about people piercing their own gums with needles to relieve dental abscesses.

Last week my doctor asked me how much money I’d spent on permanent facial hair removal. Adding it up in my head, I realised I’d spent over a thousand pounds.

Before my first treatment, I wrote this:

i feel like i’m betraying my body. i feel that very strongly. a guilt and a sort of sorrow. i want to tell my body that i’m sorry, but that i don’t think i will stop. on saturday debbie is going to do the same thing to my whole face, and even though it will hurt quite a lot i am going to breathe through it and let her do it.
after that it won’t be noticeable in the same way, because all the hair will be affected equally.

i have this sudden feeling that my body has always been so good to me, or… done its best, and now i am doing it this horrible unwarranted betrayal.
even though my body has just done what all bodies have done, for thousands of years. maybe.

At the gym I try to cycle fast enough that my heart goes to 180bpm while I watch people dance on the TV. I once went jogging and got so exhausted I threw up my breakfast.

I have heard of foxes gnawing their own legs off to escape traps. Could you do that, if required?

I hope so.