Is It a Hobby or an Obsession?

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by Carlos Briceño |

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I am standing at the end of the beauty aisle at our local grocery store. I’m watching my wife, Jill, look at boxes of press-on nails — again. I think back to when she was my girlfriend, back to when she was someone who said she didn’t have any hobbies, only obsessions.

At the time, I really had no idea what she meant by that.

To explain why she said it, I have to explain a little bit about us. I have shared with you in a previous column that I am a dreamer. Jill says that I am an active dreamer – someone who dreams big and likes to make those dreams come to fruition.

So, I often pick up a new hobby when an interest strikes. A hobby is defined as “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” I am passionate about my hobbies, but I do them very much for fun.

That seems impossible for my wife to accomplish. She admits that she understands the concept of a hobby, but she just hasn’t experienced one. That is what it’s like for her regarding nails. For most women, putting on nail polish or press-on nails is a hobby. Ask anyone who has seen Jill’s hands on a week-to-week basis, however, and they will tell you that her nails have an amazing array of different looks. These looks can change frequently over the course of a month.

Now, I know you’re thinking that lots of people love their hobbies so much that they do them as often as they can. Jill loves having really pretty nails and she spends a lot of time on them, but what she experiences can best be described as a borderline obsession.

When she’s in that mode, it doesn’t interfere with work and family — only “little” things, such as sleep. She might spend hours late into the night meticulously organizing supplies by style or color, while also filing, painting, clipping, adjusting, and redoing her nails. And when I say she does all this over the course of hours, I mean hours.

Now, flash forward to a conversation we had two days after we received the news that she has Huntington’s. Jill looked at me and told me that, at some point, her passionate obsessions might become pathological. She knows her mind may one day change and that she may become compelled to do things with an intensity that is above and beyond what is normal for her. In other words, doing her nails may turn into a Super Obsession, fully fueled by her disease.

As a caregiver, I know that when that happens it will be my responsibility to know whether she loves the end result of working on her nails or is being driven to do it by Huntington’s.

In our family, we are big believers in being happy with the little things in life, so for now I will continue to stand at the end of the nail aisle while she selects a new batch of nail polish or checks out various boxes of press-on nails. I hope that never changes, but if it does I will be here to help in any way I can.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


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