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
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10 #SelfCare Tips for Trichotillomania

Anyone with a Trichotillomania knows certain things that make our pulling better, others make them much worse.

Not often discussed however, is how to take care of ourselves in between. Below are my current ways to to take care of my trichotillomania. More tips to follow on cheek-biting and others. These tips are only my current ones, and constantly adapting. My experiences but I hope they may helps some! Feel free to add your own in the comments.

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1. Rosemary Oil– This has been a favourite of mine for a long time. I read somewhere once that rosemary oil, being an oil that carries heat is good for bruises. One year after an event that involved far too many barricades to move-I needed to get rid of some bruises. It works great for bruises but is also known to increase hair growth. I haven’t delved into the specifics of this, but it feels good, smells amazing and that’s enough for me! I put it on bald spots mostly or add into my hot oil hair treatments.

2. Coconut Oil- Hopping on the coconut oil train like everyone else. It’s awesome and is great for making hair feel soft but also nurturing.

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3. Hair Brushes- I admit sometimes I go full Rapunzel and brushing my hair repeatedly “…47, 48, 49, 50.” It makes my scalp feel good and is good for my hair too. Big fan of a bamboo comb like this one I bought at The Body Shop a few years ago.

4. Braids- More of a coping strategy, but they’re fun to do and great for when I need a brain break.

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5. Working Out- I’m not the greatest at this, but it does help clear my mind when I’m active. Arm days are great- hard too pull when your arms are sore.

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6. Outdoor Walks– Being in nature, experiencing nature and because I’m in Canada, and it’s cold half the year- hats and mits make pulling impossible.

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7. Hair Cuts- I’ve talked about the hair dresser before in The Dreaded Hair Dresser. Once I’m comfortable with a stylist however, getting my hair dyed and cute feels great and luxurious!

8. Fake Eye-Lashes- I’ve been pulling from my eyelashes almost exclusively as of late. This tip is also somewhat of a coping mechanism, but when I put on fake eyelashes I’m far less self conscious when in public which is definitely a self-care win!

9. Hot Oil Treatments- Caring for my hair and making it feels super soft making this one of my favourite tips. Coconut oil and a bit of tea tree oil or rosemary oil mixed into the mix makes my hair smell equally as lovely.

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10. Cooking-I find cooking really relaxing and as such it makes pulling less of a focus. Food as fuel is also key ❤  Continue reading “10 #SelfCare Tips for Trichotillomania”

BFRB Network Haul

Had the urge to buy something for myself, for selfcare a few weeks back, so I took to the TLC Foundation website to see what I could find. They’ve got quite a fantastic selection of fiddle toys, books, bracelets and more!

It was my first time ordering from the site, and I have to say it was fantastic. Every purchase funds outreach, education and research for people living with BFRBs which was an added perk. Quick delivery, easy to order things and the items arrived with information about the organization and BFRBs which I thought was awesome! To add to the fun, my receipt had a hand-written thank you note on it with a ❤ and it made me smile-it’s the little things. 

Below is what I ordered and thought of the items so far.

1. Handmade Anxiety Spinning Ring

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I was really excited about this- mostly as it was simple and inconspicuous but functional. Intrigued by the fashion + functionality aspect of this ring it’s exactly what I was looking for. A few weeks later I’m still a big fan of it. Although the pearling on the beds has worn off making it look worn and aged I still like this ring and would definitely recommend it for someone looking to have a fiddle toy without looking like you have a fiddle toy.

 

 

2. Edamame Soybean Fiddle Toy

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HOW CUTE IS THIS!? I bought this not because it seemed useful, but because it’s just adorable. It arrived in a pack of two, the second one isn’t shown in the picture. I love them. I’ve been keeping one on my keychain which has been really helpful driving to work each day. Used it throughout meetings a couple weeks ago- super helpful. I love how this fiddle toy doesn’t look like a fiddle toy but rather a trendy keychain

3. Life is Tricky by Lindsey M. Muller 

I have just started this so a review will have to wait. Stay-tuned.

 


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

#SelfCare vs. Me.

I struggle with the practice of self-care. I understand the need. I understand the concept. I love the glamorization of it- I’m just bad at practicing it.

I tend to live by the “hustle til’ you crash” model of life. I’ll volunteer, work, study, write, socialize, refuel on caffeine, eat too much dairy and eventually just CRASH. 

Sometimes that crash is manageable, a weekend of solitude or an evening with a book will do it. Other times my body downright fights back and I get so sick I am forced to to do nothing for weeks on end. It’s rather inconvenient. 

It happened this Fall following a busy summer, even crazier fall, a move, a trip and some other drama in my life. I fought through what I though was a cold for months, only to finally cave and go to the doctor discovering I had pneumonia. Three weeks on the couch, and now a few months later I can honestly say I am feeling healthy again.

Why does this happen though? Why can’t my body, my mind and my abilities keep up to the pace I want them too? Why can’t I just burn the midnight oil, wakeup at 6am, drink eight cups of coffee, run on take-out and thrive like I want to?

The answer is simple- I’m human. 

That’s the hardest pill to swallow. The fact that as much as I want to do all those things, and I want to be super-human- I’m not.

I’m trying to focus more on self-care this year, looking after me and my own personal health, both physical and mental. Stay-tuned for some of my favourite self-care tips relating to both general mental health and body-focused repetitive behaviours in the coming weeks.

Always remember-it’s not selfish to take care of yourself, it’s necessary.


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

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.