Defining Me. Defining Curly.

Hello if you’re new here, I’m Anastasia and I have body-focused repetitive behaviours as well as generalized anxiety.

Need a refresher? Take a look at my 7 Day Trichster Series.

Some quick FYIs:

Trichotillomania– the unwanted urge and unprovoked “habit” of pulling your hair out from eyebrows, head, anywhere really.

Dermatillomania– the urge to pick at your skin.

Cheek Biting– the biting of lips and cheeks.

That’s not why we’re here today however, I’m here to get back into blogging. It’s been over two years and so there’s no time like the present- right?


Since I can remember I’ve hated my hair’s texture. In my view it is not wavy, not curly, just frizzy. As someone who cannot stand varying textures in my hair it drove my trichotillomania up and down the wall. Despite comments and praise when wearing my hair natural I have always HATED it.

Sure, there has been days it has “behaved” and I’ve accepted it’s wild vibes. However, these days of acceptance and self-love have been few and far between. Generally I can handle a few hours with my natural hair flowing before resorting to a pony-tail.

This month I have been changing that view, and letting my hair be itself, or least I’m attempting to.

With some research and an ultimate goal of self acceptance I’ve put down the straightener and picked up new products and Youtube videos. I’ve learned a lot and am happy to report with every passing day my hair is getting healthier and the curls are showing their true gorgeous selves. My acceptance of this new journey is still in the works, some days a bun still is my favourite relief, but everything is a work in progress.

Not sure what else to say today, but I’ll be back sooner than later (I hope). Enjoy the trip down memory lane in the The Cycle.

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

 

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What a week!

It’s been a week, one whirlwind, awesome, challenging- week. 

Amid all the crazy I don’t think of my mental health, which is a nice break. I get into a “get shit done” mode and generally just try and survive until sleep arrives.

Friday for example I worked from 4am until 9:30pm straight through and then went out with friends, cause St.Paddy’s Day arrives but once a year! Next day I committed to volunteering at 8am then worked until 10pm.

The hours are hard, the lack of breathing time exhilarating, the copious amounts of coffee-clearly not healthy.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. 

I love the challenge of testing my limits. It’s rewarding to be able to look back and say, “that was entirely too much” but also, “I did that! I survived that!”

It’s not all fun however, despite the outcomes.

My social media makes each 18 hour day seem relatively glamorous. Instagram shows a smiling face; coffee (who can complain about that?!); Twitter is engaging; and Facebook shows happy memories. Snapchat makes light of the hours, and is the only true perspective to the reality, one that only close friends get to see.

I volunteer, work two jobs, manage many volunteer positions in my spare moments, have pets to take care of, and try to gain some semblance of normalcy throughout it all. In all this other elements of my life suffer. 

The pets are cared for less, sleep doesn’t happen, relationships take a hit- far too much goes to the wayside.

So today, as I take the time to focus on #selfcare, finally call my parents back, and “reset my life” I remind you that what you see online isn’t always the reality.

Look beyond what you see on a screen to the reality of a human being.

A smile is easy in front of a flash. 

Take care of yourselves friends ❤


Join the conversation! Give this post a share, a like or a comment! Spread the word about mental health, and body-focused repetitive behaviours.<3 -A

Oh right, #SelfCare

I forget to take care of myself quite often. I like to help others, I like to keep busy, I fall victim to “hustle culture” all the time. I discuss this in my last blog Selfcare vs. Me, and although I’m bad at taking care of myself I do see the need. The past few weeks I’ve been trying to find ways to make both worlds co-exist and so far it’s been a beautiful journey.

My ambitious self, and my human self living happily together, through selfcare.

Below are a few of my current favourite ways to practice self-care.

  1. Baths- I’ve always been a fan of bubble baths, dim the lights, watch a movie and just relax- A glass of wine does’t hurt either.
  2. Time in Nature- This is new for me. I recently got a car, which makes escaping to where there’s no sidewalks much easier. I’ve loved spending more time observing the world, listening to the rustle of a tree, the tweet of a bird. I took a walk in Point Pleasant Park with the dog the other day, and left my phone at home- it was pure magic.
  3. Good Book- I’m not a reader, I used to be, but unfortunately university has made enjoying reading hard for me. Slowly I’m craving the need to read, in particular in the mornings while I enjoy my cup of coffee. Currently I’m reading Mona Awad’s “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl” which focuses on the realities and struggles of body-image.
  4. Unplug- I’m bad at this, so very very bad, however when I do succeed at turning off my technologies I do love the sensation. It’s freeing and enthralling all at once.
  5. Fancy Coffee- I’m a big coffee fan-we get along like peanut butter and jelly, but sometimes my regular cup of joe is more fuel than it is sustenance. I love a good afternoon or evening spent in a coffee shop with a fancy latte. A treat in itself, but the people watching and environment also help to heal my mind and it’s very relaxing.
  6. Healthy Food- As of late I’m trying to eat more nutrious foods. Less carbs, more veg and certainly cutting out the dairy products, due to an allergy. I found dairy-free Mac n’ cheese the other day and it made me so happy!
  7. Sleep- Oh boy sleep, I love it, I hate it- we fight. Sometimes I want to sleep all day, other times I force myself to wakeup at 6am to be productive. I’m trying to get a minimum of 7hrs of sleep lately, and it’s been helping. My fitbit has been a huge part of tracking, and reminding me of this very important part of life.
  8. Working Out- I’m so bad at this. I see the need. I recognize the importance. I see the benefits. I just can’t seem to get my butt to the gym, or dance class, or for a walk. It’s a time thing, but also a lack of making time. Working on this but slowly it’s becoming a part of my habitual health.
  9. Time with Friends- Hold your friends close ❤
  10. Cooking-I made miso soup the other day, next up sushi! I’ve enjoyed putting on a random independent movie, drinking a good glass of wine and cooking as of late. It’s a necessity of life and honestly the distraction is nice.
  11. Going to the doctor- I suffered a back injury last summer, and finally I got it looked at- six months later. Turns out it was a sprain in one of my vertebrae, and now I’m besties with my physiotherapist. If something hurts- take care of it, don’t push through the pain.
  12. Critter Snuggles-When I get busy I don’t appreciate my pets as I should. We’re cuddling more and taking more walks right now. They are always there for a snuggle, listen to every rant and concerned by every tear. In return I’m working on being  thankful for every tail wag and nuzzle.

A reminder never hurts-take care of yourself friends. 


Join the conversation! Give this post a share, a like or a comment! Spread the word about mental health, and body-focused repetitive behaviours.<3 -A

A Shiny New Year

It’s supposed to be sparkly, it’s supposed to be exciting, it’s supposed to be filled with newness and shine. Ahh a New Year. A day when, for whatever reason on January 1st we convince ourselves things will be different- but will they?


I love lists. We’ve talked about this before. So the concept of making a year-long list of “to-dos” is extremely exciting to me. If I were ambitious I could look back in old journals and see resolutions back to when I was young, when “spend more time with the neighbours dog” was a logical resolution. 

My ambitions have changed slightly since then. I’ve resolved to spend more time with friends, to eat healthier, to exercise, to actually do my laundry more than once every three weeks- you know, adult things. Every year I’ve enjoyed creating those resolutions. I’ve managed to keep them up, for about a month. Finding myself annoyed, disappointed and unimpressed come February, chanting in my head “next year we’ll do better!”

It never bothered me, until this year. 

I’m struggling with the whole “resolutions” concept this year. My mind unsure which way to turn, annoyed for the first time at this “new year, new you” mantra folks seem to have adopted.

“What should they be?”

“Why do they matter?” …”Do they matter?”

“Who said January 1st had to be the day, and whoever it was, how dare they tell me what to do!”

“What is a GOOD resolution?”

“Are my resolutions bad?”

It’s taken me half of January, a lot of brain power and even more time spent journaling to figure it out. 

So far I’ve come up with this…

Just because it’s January doesn’t mean a new goal has to be achieved.

Just because the gyms are packed doesn’t mean you need to be there.

Just because everyone is losing the “holiday weight” doesn’t mean you need to rush into it.

Just because it’s January 15th doesn’t mean you can’t make a goal now, you can make a goal on August 10th for all anyone cares.

Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean you need to make goals, or be accountable to a list at all- give yourself a break.

What a new year does mean is a chance to refocus, to reinvest in YOU.

So this year that’s what I’m doing. Not making resolutions that I’ll do because I “should” or everyone else is. Rather doing what’s right for me. Taking the pressure off, focusing instead on what I need. 

Right now that means actually drinking water, eating no dairy products, reading more and detoxing from my phone.

Will these goals change next week? Maybe, but I’m alright with that.


If resolutions are your thing this year, and you want to take it “Up a Notch” take a look at Talking to the Void, my friend Nicole has something pretty fantastic planned!

The Lie…

I’ve always been an optimist.

I blame my Dad for this-he is the most “sunny ways” person I know. He instilled in me that every situation, regardless of it’s level of awful, can have a silver outline. He takes the darkest of times and sees the positive light of day.

It’s good, but bad.

It’s made me an optimistic liar. 

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For you see, thanks to my optimistic view of life I lie to myself all the time.

I wakeup and say “today I’ll drink less coffee, eat healthy and really walk the dog!”

I make promises I know I’ll never keep. For example last week, when I vowed not to eat dairy, but then happily consumed a slice of pizza when it stared me in the face.

I like to think I can achieve anything. A positive trait one would think. I also try and see the good in every situation. Achievement, and optimism…both good qualities? Ones you’d put in an interview list for sure!

However, sometimes these views make me believe things that are untrue. Only to face disappointment.

I tell myself optimistic lies all the time.

Bad grade? I’ll do better next assignment! I’ll makeup those attendance marks by talking a-ton in the last few weeks.

A relationship on the tumble? Optimist me sees possibility, focuses on good times, dreams of hope in the end.

…My hair pulling is never exempt from my optimism in particular.

I lie about my Trichotillomania the most.

Wearing a hat? Today I won’t pull my hair!

New haircut? There. I won’t ruin this one. This haircut will make things better…there’s one hair out of place, need to fix that.

New apartment? I won’t pull my hair here. This is a pull-free zone…sits on couch, pulls hair.

New relationship? I won’t pull my hair around this person…pulls hair the minute the person leaves the room.

I don’t need to get help for this, I’m in control…sits on couch and pulls hair out by clumps.

Lies to ourselves are just things of desire. Although no matter how optimistic or well aimed they may be, they’re detrimental to success and to ourselves.

I’m know I won’t magically become truthful to myself overnight. Nor do I want to. I also know I’m not going to become a pessimist. Bright side views and sunny ways is who I am. Who I was raised to be, and love that about myself.

Instead I’m going to aim to be critical. Critical of thoughts, critical of lies, critical of views. Aiming instead for goals with tangible targets, and points of success. I’ll be different this time around…

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

 

 

When things are good.

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

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.