When things are good.

Sometimes it’s hard to write when you’re feeling good. Sometimes it’ scary.

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I’ve been struggling to write lately.

Struggling to find a topic, struggling to sit still and write, struggling to find the motivation. Partly I think it’s because I’m not struggling right now, things are good.

When I started blogging there was no goal. There was just a need to talk, to write and to reach-out. When I started blogging pulling was fine. It was there, but it was alright.

As the blogging progressed passed the first #7DayTrichster series it was alright, but things were also not fantastic. Stress, an odd time emotionally and other life events got in the way. Pulling was bad.

Listening to the stories of others is hard emotionally, rewarding yes, but hard on the brain. I found myself frustrated by the lack of awareness, of endlessly hearing of the lack of support. Of hearing others struggle I became exhausted.

Writing more meant dealing with more.

Every blog, every share made me want to pull more. Made me more frustrated, more sad.

Things have turned around now, things are looking up. Things are good. 

So now I sit here re-evaluating. Not only for myself but for all those with Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours. Do I keep writing, despite not feeling it? Or do I focus on something else? Do I continue to share via this blog when the feeling strikes?

I don’t know.

I’m in a good place, but an odd one. Bare with me folks. I’ll be back.

In the meantime I’d love some inspiration- send me some ideas? 

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Let’s Connect! Want to collaborate? Suggest a post? Ask a question? Meet to chat? I’m all ears! Send me an email or connect via @AnaSmallwood on twitter or  @timetotalktrich instagram. 

 

 

The Cycle.

Those who don’t have Trichotillomania must wonder what it’s like. Do I constantly pull? Is there always an urge? What starts it? There must be a lot of questions.

Maybe here’s some answers.

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It generally starts with some boredom. A day in the car, a long movie, an evening by myself. Activities I generally enjoy, cherish even- but ultimately my Trich loves to take advantage of. It begins with a tickle, a slight urge, one pull. 

Other times it’s an effect of another symptom. A dry scalp begins a path of destruction. Picking a scab, starting another, one where once there was none before- skin picking. Repeatedly picking, healing, picking, healing- rarely healthy. 

On the daily I pull a few hairs here or there. Odd lengths, weird textures, nothing substantial. Sometimes however it gets a lot worse. Days when the world just doesn’t seem right, when I’m “not okay” for an undefined reason-lost in thought. Then is when I pull until it hurts my head, and my fingers ache. When I shake in realization of what I’ve done. When I feel so much hate towards myself, my own actions.

Most days things are good, I rarely pull, and picking isn’t a thing. 

Other times I stare in amazement at the bald spots I’ve been able to create. Baffled at how I’m going to hide another patch of short hair. Wondering if anyone will see the blood from the scab I just picked through my blonde hair. Vowing for the millionth time I will stop this time. 

Feeling once again- unattractive, unworthy, annoyed at myself.

There’s days I wish I could  just get rid of the itch, the urge, to pull. To take it from my brain and throw it to the floor instead of the hair that currently lives there.

Other days I welcome it as a distraction. For it provides control, it’s part of who I am.

I haven’t been in a welcoming mood as of late, and I’m okay with that.

I wonder what’d it’d be like to be pull free. To really feel like me, and not me + this friend I call a BFRB.

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Let’s Connect! My goal in this blog is to create a community, help others and in turn grow myself. This is not just about sharing my story, but those of others- Want to collaborate? Suggest a post? Ask a question? Meet to chat? I’m all ears! Send me an email or connect via @AnaSmallwood on twitter or instagram. 

Things are a changing!

Change is good, and this blog is certainly been on it’s own journey since it began but two months ago. What began as a seven-day series has morphed into a connection with a community I feel is still very unrepresented in the mental health community. I’ve heard far more “I thought I was the only one” stories than I’d care to admit.

Individuals who feel ashamed, feel unrepresented by many, feel scared, feel alone.

It’s frustrating- I’ve been there. 

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This blog is just starting, but as it stands it’s but one voice in a cloud of many.

Trichsters, those with BFRBs are living and sharing our stories individually, reaching to few, desiring for more. It’s time we connect, grow a force, grow a LOUD voice.

Over the next little while there’ll be some changes. Good ones I hope.

I’ll be looking to do collaborations. Welcoming emails, guest-posts and will be sharing the content of others. I’ll also be reaching out to the general mental health movement to help boost awareness- join me. 

NEW ways to connect:

Instagram: @TimeToTalkTrich

Email: timetotalktrich@gmail.com

Twitter (As Always): @AnaSmallwood

Let’s make some noise! 

-A

 

Shhhh…NOT.

We can’t be quiet. 

We’ve been quiet for far too long.

Changes can’t be made if the issue is not known.

Businesses scan their environments for concerns, for threats and recognize strengths- and so to must we.

To improve we must talk, and talking is scary,

but not talking breeds stigma, and stigma breeds silence. 

Talking can cause concerns, talking can seem negative.

Voicing opinions can be seen as threatening.

That’s not the goal. 

Talking is the goal, and that’s all I aim to do.

For I want change, as do many others.

I don’t feel shame anymore, and that’s to be celebrated.

I feel anger in hearing others do, I’ve been there, hid there, it’s not fair.

My approach is to question, my approach is to share, all sides of stories I can find.

I’ll continue to do that, rallying those who want to join with me.

Talking until there’s no need to, because the issue, and those who feel silenced,

don’t feel silent anymore.

 

 

Don’t Silence Us.

Dear MSVU,

I’ve been a university student for almost six years. Starting at the University of Prince Edward Island in 2010. In January of last year I started at Mount Saint Vincent University, in a second undergrad. University is tough- it’s expensive, and there’s pressure to do far more than study and learn.

I’ve seen students struggle, I’ve struggled.

Yet in my experiences universities are trying to adapt, trying to support their students. UPEI’s Mental Health Week has created conversations among students, staff, faculty, alumni and the community. Campaigns at MSVU such as “I’m Feeling… ” and “#MentalHealthMatters” give me optimism.

There’s talk, there’s a movement towards change, and stopping the silence surrounding mental health on campuses…and then stories like this appear. 

MSVU Student Not Allowed To Tell Others He’s Suicidal Per School’s Wellness Agreement  via Global News Halifax

Mount Saint Vincent University’s wellness agreement forbid him to tell other students in residence that he was suicidal.

I’m a Mount Saint Vincent University student, in the Bachelor of Public Relations Program, I am in the same year as this student. This student is someone I call a friend, a classmate, and one day will call a colleague. This makes me sick. 

MSVU has been nothing but supportive in recent months of my ventures in the Mental Health community, they’ve shared my posts, attended events, hosted summits and held campaigns. From the outside, and until yesterday, from the inside, it seemed like MSVU was on track. We’ve got supports, hey we even have a therapy dog!
Yet this comes into light and I question what is going on in the minds of MSVU Administrators, people I look up to. There is no one better to understand someones struggles than those who are also in the same situation, peers. Then tell me where the logic is in secluding a student from talking to their peers…other students?

Someone, please explain, because I’m confused. 

I was proud of the school I attend, I was amazed at the support you’ve shown me. Then this? Now I’m not so sure.

You say you support us… Why then are my classmates frustrated? Why then am I concerned about hearing other MSVU students have been silenced? Why then do I feel fear in writing this? WHY.

I don’t have the solutions, but I do have a voice, as do all of you. Share this story, let Mount Saint Vincent University, and others with similar policies that this is NOT OKAY. We’d never silence a diabetic from sharing their struggles with insulin pumps, why then silence a student who is struggling with a mental illness?

Signed,

A Frustrated MSVU Student.

 

 

Dear Me.

Dear Little Me,

You with the long flowing golden locks. Without a care in the world but only to get to the beach as quickly as possible, and what the next book you read will be.

Now, but days later you’re afraid, you sit with a pile of hair in your hands. You’re questioning “What kind of monster rips out their own hair?” scared at first, then filled with hate.

Thoughts that fill your every fibrous being. Thoughts of hatred, thoughts of dismay, confidence basically none existence, thoughts of guilt, of shame.

Everyday you’ll wake and automatically reach for the tiny tuffs of hair a-top your head, instantly saddened, angered at what YOU, you’re own being has done. Feeling spikey short hair, feeling baldness, feeling everything but relief, until “pluck”.

With that rush of emotions, an ease, a release- the minute a hair, or several leave your scalp.

A release from the turmoil inside.

Turmoil that you’ve created.

Hating yourself, ashamed to even share with your  family what you can do, what you must do.

Little me, it does get better. There will be days when you’re mind races so fast, when your life seems so out of control that you simply can’t leave your room. There will be those days when pulling is all you can do to help. Yet there will also be days, weeks even when you don’t pull at all.

You’ll learn to craft eye-brows, apply fake eyelashes and you’ll rock awesome braids in your hair- gaining compliments along the way. Life will be different little me, but it is your life.

Draw strength from your perseverance, from your ability to cope and to continue despite what you hide. Focus on the good, not on the bad- you are not a monster.

One day you’ll reach out and share your story, people who thank you will make it all worth while. The relationships formed, and the stories shared will keep you going, even on the toughest of days.

Hang in there little me,

-Me.

Trichster-Shame. Hope. Awareness.

I’ve known about the documentary “Trichster” for years, a follower of YouTube blogger and Trichotillomania sufferer, Beckie Brown,  I’ve known it has been in the works. I’ve seen the trailers, I’ve followed online the crowd-funding and finally I watched it.

Yet Trichster was no different for me than the documentary “First Position“. A film highlighting the life and trials of young ballerinas competing in the Youth Grand Prix, the world’s most prestigious ballet competition.

“First Position” and “Trichster” were similar in that they were elements I understood- the ballet, and trichotillomania. The difference I’ve discovered watching Trichster, cup of tea in hand, was how much I could relate emotionally. Sure I was a ballerina for years, and understood some of the elements of struggle, but not the elite level, that element I could not comprehend. I did not live it. However, I am a Trichster through and through there’s no levels to that- you are or you aren’t. 

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Shame-a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.

 

 

I focused on shame when I first shared my story in Time To Talk. Immediately friends and family members responded saying “don’t feel ashamed, there’s no shame in being who you are“. Although that may be true, and the encouragement was appreciated I’ve wrestled with accepting it.

What does one do when they’re ashamed of themselves?  Feeling shame in your own inability to stop what is hurting you, causing you regret, and damaging.

Watching Trichster I found solace in the theme of shame. Feeling for once that my thoughts of shame were not lonely. I’ve discovered over the past weeks I’m not alone in my journey with Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours; and so to am not alone in my feelings of shame. The young trichsters in the film struggle with self-acceptance, feel uneasy with lack of confidence and feel shame. They feel shame in what they do, feel shame in how they do it, and feel shame in how it affects those around them.

There may be no cure, and there is very few resources, but as Trichster has taught me- it all starts with accepting yourself.

Please go to iTunes and consider watching Trichster! An eye-opening looking into the lives of those who live with Trichotillomania and the amazing accomplishments they’ve made in life. Join the discussion at Trich.org or visit Trichster.com