#FridayFriendDay-CanadianBSN

Fridays are for friends! This week we focus on The Canadian BFRB Support Network

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

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Google BFRB in Canada and one organization will pop-up. The only support network I’ve found in Canada, and one that has provided the stats for many a blog on my page. They’re supporting those with BFRBs and they are building awareness <3.

They too post blogs, they too use tags, they too need to be recognized- take a look at this leader of BFRB Awareness in Canada.

Blog: canadianbfrb.org/bfrb-blog 

Twitter: @CanadianBFRB

Website: canadianbfrb.org

Happy Friday friends!

-A

The Dreaded Hair Dresser

I have never been one to find relaxation or joy in going to the hair dresser.

For me, and others with Trichotillomania, going to the hair dresser is not as simple as just well, going.

It makes me nervous, it makes me feel guilty, it stresses me out.

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I’ve often blamed my extracurriculars on my bald spots and short hair.  Some hair dressers have accepted my “oh up-do accident!” or “I accidentally burnt it on a hair straightener” excuse. Others have looked at me, laughed, and said, “sure hun”.

Regardless of their reaction I always feel vulnerable, I always feel guilty, and I always feel self-conscious. For when going to the hair dresser inevitably I’m forced to stare at my worst enemy, my hair, for hours on end. Watching a hair dresser dye my short hair pieces, struggle to hide them after blow drying my hair and worse talking about it.

It creates urges to pull, and ultimately guilt. 

Explaining to a hair dresser you have Trichotillomania is hard.

Someone who makes their living cutting and styling hair, understandably, finds the topic difficult to comprehend. Their reactions over the years have been mixed…

I’ve had hair dressers scold me for doing what I do,

I’ve had hair dressers ask so many questions to a point where I felt like hiding,

I’ve had hair dressers relate to other clients with the same illness,

I’ve had hair dressers acknowledge it, both the good and bad, and move on with conversation.

There’s been positive and there’s been negative, but above all conversation has been key. I used to just hope hair dressers wouldn’t comment. Spending the majority of the time anxiously waiting, waiting for my secret to be discovered. As of late I’ve been honest, and it seems to help.

Tips for the Appointment:

  1. Be Honest– Share what you live with, it’s scary yes, but will make the experience better when it’s out in the open.
  2. Hold Your Ground– Sometimes one side of my hair is shorter than another. This is because I tend to pull exclusively from one spot. Ive stopped hair dressers from cutting my hair really short to even it up. It’s your hair, you need to live with the cut.
  3. Do your research– Look for hair dressers with certifications, experience, and recent graduates from accredited schools, they are more likely to have taken classes talking about trichology.
  4. See the positives– Yes it’s stressful, and yes it’s not easy, but at the end it will make you feel better, even if momentarily. View it as pampering yourself, regardless of how your pulling is at the given time.
  5. Distractions-One of my coping mechanisms is holding a hot beverage, and that definitely applies at the hair dresser. I find relaxation in keeping my hands busy at the hair dresser, especially with hair in my eyes and free time to spare. I always bring a coffee or ask for one, and when I can’t drink it I play with my rings on my hand.

*These are just my experiences, not necessarily a comprehensive list or one that will work for everyone. 

Check-out this list from the Canadian BFRB Support Network of suggested BFRB Friendly Hairdressers

#FridayFriendDay- TLC BFRB

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

Today’s share is an organization based out of Santa Cruz, CA. The TLC Foundation for BFRB they run conferences, feature a lot of resources and are overall aiming to boost awareness of BFRBs. They just turned twenty-five years old as an organization too! Take a look at the ad they recently hosted in Times Square, NYC!


Website: bfrb.org

Twitter: @TLC-BFRB

Youtube: youtube.com/channel/TLCBFRB

Give them a follow, they do fantastic work. Happy Friday friends!

-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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

Self Care- Not just for Sundays.

Life has a way of getting away from me. Like a train at full-steam ahead my life moves fast, and the ride is always ongoing. I volunteer with many organizations, manage a few committees, I work two jobs, I’m a student, and I try to maintain some semblance of a social life. I’m busy. 

Add all of this, a little bit of stress, caffeine, and an unhealthy attachment to my agenda and iCalendar and you’ve got all the ingredients to life lived by Anastasia Smallwood.

Being busy, never being idle, is a coping mechanism, but it also makes me happy. Idleness has never been something I enjoy. Sure a day or two is fine, but more than that and you’ll find me re-organizing my room, finding tasks where there weren’t any before, and finally, if idle long enough I lose ambition to do anything (a scary place).

Sometimes, perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of forgetfulness, I forget to put me on the top of my daily task list. Forgetting to eat properly, to exercise, to sleep. Giving much, taking little. Months of avoiding this can mean I run my weekly marathon on steam, and then on fumes, and then again on nothing at all.

Often times avoiding taking care of myself results in a need for a weekend of solitude, a few days to re-coup with some classical music, tea, wine and my thoughts. Other times, thankfully less frequent I end up sick, and I mean real sick-ick. Being sick is never fun, but with being stuck in bed comes a list of uncompleted tasks and that STRESSES me out. Nerves that make my stomach turn, sleep seem unnecessary and my hair pulling and skin-picking frequency jump at alarming rates.

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As I pick-up the pieces of my life post bronchial and chest infection, post-exhaustion, and after learning my lesson (this time anyways) remember to take care of yourself this weekend. For the biggest priority in your life should be you, regardless the day of the week ❤ 

 

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