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. 

 

 

That Conference Life.

 

I love conferences.

I hate conferences.

…We have a complicated relationship. 

I’m all about opportunity. Not one to turn down a chance to meet someone new, to broaden my horizons or to learn.

I am, however, an introvert. I do have Trichotillomania. 

I love the travelling, the flying, the exploring of new places. It energizes me, makes me feel worthwhile and gives me a fresh focus. What I do however struggle with is the constant need to be “on”. Ready to chat, ready to focus on the task at hand- collaboration, teamwork, networking, talking. Whatever you want to call it.

It’s exhausting. 

Adding in the need to share a room with someone new, and to spend social hours, not by yourself, but with others I find myself only relaxing when I sleep. Trichotillomania is hard to hide, but even more so when you are surrounded by people 24/7. Bathrooms, gym sessions and early morning hot tubs become your refuge.

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend the Girl Guides of Canada National Link Conference. The first of it’s kind. Bridging the opportunities, programming and smarts of young women guiders into one, ensuring we are supported and welcoming into the guiding world. Yet seeing as it was my first conference since I started blogging I felt it was an excellent opportunity to reflect.

Here’s a few tips for surviving your next conference:

  1. Find “you” time. Go for a walk, wake-up early and go to the gym. Actively leave a session a bit early. Take your lunch to go. Take time for yourself, not only will it help you, but you will be more effective at the conference if you do.
  2. Strategic Hair Styles will be your friend. Braids, hats, buns, whatever you need to do.
  3. Fiddle things. Eat candy, play with pens, hold cups of coffee, play with elastics. Do what you have to do to keep yourself occupied during those long conversations and presentations.
  4. Offer to be the group writer. It’s hard to pull when writing, or leading a group discussion. Offer to take notes to keep your hands busy. Or to ensure you have a role.
  5. Nom nom nom. I’m that person at conferences who is ALWAYS snacking. Sure I’m a university student and access to copious amounts of fruit and veggies is awesome, but also eating all the time is helpful for my urge to pull. Hard to pull when you’re chewing on an apple and wondering if it’s stuck in your teeth.
  6. Embrace who you are. You have a BFRB. It’s a mental illness. Just because you are with a group of individuals who may not know what that is, it’s okay. Share if you feel like it, don’t if you can’t. It’s okay. Be who you are.

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. 

 

 

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

 

Planes, Trains, and … Hair- Travelling w Trich

It’s been a busy couple of weeks! The past two weeks it seems I’ve spent equal amounts of time away, that actually at home. For the homebody in me, it’s exhausting,  but traveller me absolutely LOVES it! As I amp up for another adventure next weekend I’ve been thinking of ways I tackle Trichotillomania when travelling. Looking at the pulling I’ve been doing the past few weeks, some of caused by travelling, some by other instances in my life, I can honestly say travelling takes its toll.

As I’ve mentioned before in Day 2 of #7DayTrichster I pull mostly when bored, and the fact is travelling might as well be a prescription for boredom. Long flights, endless car rides, and bus trips equal an urge to pull, but also a tight enclosed space in which giving into said urge is sometimes impossible.

And so with the goal of helping others, and myself for the next bout of journeys, I’ve made a list of helpful tricks for your next road trip, plane ride or cross-country adventure!

  1. Prepare- When I’m stressed, and when I’m unsure or feel “out of control” I pull. Feeling like I’ve forgotten something or being worried about missing a flight makes this feeling much worse. To avoid such a feeling I tend to make lists well in advance, pack strategically and always, always plan to be early. Sure this doesn’t always work- but hey that’s life!
  2. Gum & Candy– This one is my favourite for plane rides. The whole “Chewing gum stops your ears from popping!” concept is a great excuse to chew far more gum and eat more candy than is probably healthy. Keeping my jaw busy for whatever reason helps me avoid pulling and candy seems to provide the same reward.
  3. Find a Friend– The introvert in me is not going to just talk to a stranger on a plane, of that I’m not suggesting. But a friend to text on a long car ride, or a bored friend to type a message to via Facebook in the airport has been helpful in the past.
  4. Fiddle Toys- When it comes to plane rides I’ve yet to find a fiddle toy, aside from the odd hair elastic on my arm that I feel comfortable travelling with. My favourite as of late Bucky Balls is essentially tiny magnetic balls which stick together and can be shaped into many things. Yet I worry travelling with it on a plane, and would rather not have it confiscated so it stays home.
  5. Hats & Headbands– As mentioned in Day 3 of #7DayTrichster I have a whole bunch of ways I style or hide my hair to avoid pulling- when I travel those coping mechanisms certainly come with.
  6. Naps on Naps- Sometimes trips are just best spent napping. I’ve been known to just fall asleep and wakeup when we get there. Makes the trip far much faster too!
  7. Give Into The Urge- Sometimes travelling is stressful, and honestly when the urge gets to me- I give in. Discretely I’ve pulled and felt better-off for it, and then able to get on with the trip.

This is by far a comprehensive list, I’d love your suggestions, fiddle-toy ideas or experiences!

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