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.

 

 

Advertisements

#FridayFriendDay

Fridays are for reaching out to others in the BFRB community and sharing their stories.

The first person I, and many others, encounter with regards to Trichotillomania is Beckie Brown. Take a look at her video above. She’s been featured in the film Trichster and blogs about her life with Trichotillomania quite often.

Youtube: Beckie J Brown Trich Journal

Twitter: @BeckieJBrown

Happy Friday friends!

-A

 

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.

Mental Health Week #GETLOUD

It’s Mental Health Week in Canada, and I’m pretty proud! Proud to live in a country that wants to loudly share it’s support for those with mental illness, proud to help share what mental health is. Presented by the Canadian Mental Health Association the week has been in 1951 and is celebrating it’s 65th year.

This week I’ve celebrated in a few ways. Mostly by learning an important lesson in self care, a diagnosis of a brachial and chest infection Monday, after being sick for two weeks hit-home the importance of taking care of myself, and forced me to rest. Something I’m not so good at. Thankfully I’m on the mend!

Let’s Keep Talking w Mental Heath Foundation of Nova Scotia

For many Canadians “Bell Let’s Talk Day” is one we are familiar with, but what about the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia’s “Let’s Keep Talking”? This year I had the honour of attending the third annual event held at the Spatz Theatre in Halifax. I’ve been a Board of Trustees member with The Foundation for almost a year, and of all the events the organization presents this certainly not one to miss!

Awards honouring caregivers, clinicians and those who live with mental illness were given. It was an honour to hear the stories of these individuals and see them recognized.  Also we were treated to performances by a live art painter, musicians, actors and dancers.

All of these individuals living with or tackling the conversation of mental illness. The finale, and most anticipated was keynote speaker Margaret Trudeau! Mother to the Prime Minister of Canada and living with bi-polar, and having suffered from depression. Still processing the evening, I’m in awe of the resiliency, and the humility with which Margaret spoke. Sharing wisdom, sharing struggle and weaving hope throughout it all. In a week that’s been difficult in many ways the evening was a fresh breath of air. See the social media synopsis and images shared by The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia here.

ChknmAWUYAAlKx6.jpg-large

Girls Guides #GETLOUD

On Wednesday night the Halifax South District 3rd Wednesday Brownies #GOTLOUD! I’m a unit guider for a beautiful group of twenty-three Brownies. We have tons of fun, and although our unit is nearly complete for the year this week we decided to tackle The Girl Guides of Canada Mental Health Challenge. Talking about mental health is something new for me, and talking to my peers and people I look up to about it is difficult. The prospect of discussing it with seven year olds was twice as daunting. For what shouldn’t be a difficult subject is one, it’s uncomfortable sometimes, and we still tread carefully as we talk.
We discussed the difference between anxiety and stress, which the girls grasped quite easily. They shared moments of stress such as family members illness’, not doing well at sports or failing tests. We also focused on ways to relax such as yoga tag and mediation. Completing the evening we built origami bricks and discussed our worries, contrasting the discussion with ways and things that make us happy. For an evening I was apprehensive about it was a fantastic evening and one I walked away from proud to have witnessed.

IMG_0424

To highlight the difference between mental health and physical health the girls drew on a tracing ways they’d fix a hurt arm, leg, eyes, and to treat cuts, bruises and headaches. We then had a discussion on how to help our mental health, the girls created the list below on their own. Reflecting now it gives me hope for future generations and that the stigma we now feel about mental health will be but a distant memory.

Ways to Help Your Mental Health by 3rd Halifax Brownies:

  • Take a nap
  • Play video games
  • Go for a walk
  • Talk to friends and family
  • Read a book
  • Play sports
  • Eat cookies
  • Colour

Although it’s not just about one day, one week or even a month, but 365 days of committing to talk about mental health, mental illness and taking care of one another. I’m glad as Canadian’s we can say we’re partaking in Mental Health Week and that much needed conversations are starting to happen. As Winston Churchill said, “To Improve Is To Change”, we’re improving Canada and here’s to much more!

 

 

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. 

Fotolia_57156905_Woman-Shame-Covered-Face.jpg

 

 

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

So it’s like self-harm right? Wrong- Day 5 of 7 Day Trichster

No it’s not self-harm. It’s harmful to self, but harm is not the goal.

A question I’ve often had to answer in the past is “How BFRBs and Trichotillomania are different, or if they are, from self-harm”. Self-harm as described by The Canadian Mental Health Association  “refers to deliberate acts that cause harm to one’s body, mind and spirit.” I too used to ask myself if what I do is self-harm. Yet over the past few weeks I’ve learned this is far from the case. The Canadian Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour Support Network (CBSN) confirms that BFRBs are a not self-harm defining the key difference being those who live with BFRBs don’t aim to harm, but rather to fix, correct or improve some aspect of self. Pulling, picking, biting are not seen as harmful, but relieving, helpful, and aiming towards a goal. The resulting harm is not desired.

When I pull hairs, I pull “weird ones” the thick, the curly, the darker, and the oddly textured. When I pick I pick at uneven skin, and imperfections be they hang-nails, dry spots or pimple scabs. Trichsters often look for hairs of specific quality, or in a specific location. There is no release by pulling, no sense of gratification. If anything the act of pulling creates more pain afterwards than during. Those who self-harm find release in their actions, Trichsters find release in giving into the urge, the harm to self is a by-product.

all-emotions-are-beautiful-facebook-cover-timeline-banner-for-fb

This week hasn’t been easy- there’s been highs, and there’s been extreme lows. The stories I’ve been told, the thanks I’ve received, and the awareness of self I’ve gained has been overwhelming to say the least. Hard, BUT it’s far from over. Three more days and a lot more to talk about.

Stay tuned and THANK YOU everyone of you who has supported, shared, liked, retweeted, followed, commented and been here ❤

-A

Sometimes It’s Not Just Trich- Day 4 of 7 Day Trichster

I wouldn’t be sharing the full story if I didn’t focus at least one day with my own struggle with other Body-Focused Repetitive-Behaviours (BFRBs). As some Trichsters do, I’ve developed other types of BFRBs over the years. I believe my journey with BFRBs began as a young child as a very bad nail bitter, or in BFRB terms Onychophagia.

Since I began pulling my biggest focus has been hiding it. Thats not easy to do. I rarely pull in the presence of others, if I do I aim to be discrete. So as a coping mechanism, and because BFRBs of all kinds can go in hand-in-hand, I also live with dermatillomania, and cheek keratosis. Big words for other parts of my daily reality. 

It’s not uncommon to see me picking a scab on my head, I put it there. Sure it may have started as a dry spot , but it certainly won’t stay that way. Picking a scab until it bleeds, starting a wound where the wasn’t previously one, the annoyance with any imperfection. The repetition of these types of behaviours are common place in my life. Gross perhaps, but thats not the way I and millions of other Canadians see it, we can’t help it. It hurts sometimes, unlike my hair pulling. Some BFRB sufferers pick their legs and arms, the skin from around their fingers or their faces. I also pick the skin around my cuticles or my face- That is dermatillomania.

I started biting my cheeks (cheek keratosis) as a way to fight the urge to pull, on live television broadcast throughout Prince Edward Island. Sitting on stage at the UPEI Convocation Ceremony, having just botched a speech in front of thousands, I was stressed, but watched. Texts from those watching started to explode my phone:

“Why are you making that funny face?”

“Stop being odd.”

“You look funny.”

“You look weird stop making faces.”

Welcome the funny face into my world. I’m often seen with a funny face, lop-sided smile; I’m chewing the inside of my cheek. Of all the BFRBs I live with cheek keratosis is one that is most prominent as of late. I chew the inside of my cheeks, creating wounds, and sometimes it hurts , but mostly my jaw just reaches fatigue due to the weird movement.  Although I still dislike cheek biting, I feel it’s more socially acceptable, and so its become my go-to. Still painful, still frustrating, but still part of me. 

This is not a complete list of BFRBs, or the fullest of their reality. Visit The TLC Foundation for BFRBs to learn more, or check back later today for my compiled synopsis.

As always feel free to join the conversation, ask questions, like & share.