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

 

 

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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. 

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

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.