Please note: This is my journey, and what applies to me may not apply to you. Keep in mind that I am not a licensed medical professional, counselor, psychologist etc… This guide is not set in stone. Feel free to modify it accordingly to your needs. I fully encourage you to make your own journey to a Trich Free Life.
Coming to Terms with Your Past – How I CHOSE to be HAPPY…
What’s your trigger? Have you come to terms with it? Are you ready to stop using it as an excuse to continue your self loathing? Are your ready to forgive those that have hurt you? Are you ready to forgive yourself? Are you ready to put the past behind you?
My “trigger” or my “excuse” has been because I was physically & emotionally abused by my mother- for the 17 years I asked the question “Why Me??” – Why was it only me that got beaten for no reason and not my 2 other sisters? Why was it only me that got accused of stealing and doing drugs- when I never did any of those things? Why was it only me that has been cursed by this dreadful disease called Trichotillomania???
WHY ME!!!!! ???? And so I answered the question that has been plaguing me all my life…. It’s me because I am the strongest one out of all my sisters… It’s me because I have the most to offer this world… It’s me because I would not be the person I am now if not for what I have been through. It’s me because this is what makes me unique and special. It’s me because I must have a purpose in this world- why else would I still be alive even after my many attempts at suicide?
When I finally had that Eureka moment, I stopped choosing sadness & depression… I started choosing HAPPINESS… from now on I am going to do what makes ME happy- there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving yourself – loving yourself does not mean that you are a selfish person, it just means that you are putting your own self above all else… You can’t give love if you don’t have love…
All this happened at a turning point in my life 10 years ago- It is a very personal experience, so am keeping it to myself for now… but what’s your own personal turning point? As I said earlier, each person’s journey is different… but the main point here is that you have to be absolutely ready to CHOOSE HAPPY!
I was able to overcome my depression without any medication or counseling, from a priest or a psychologist… what I did do though was PRAY a lot- I had developed my own personal relationship with God and the Universe- I am in no way a religious person, nor am I an advocate for organized religion, my FAITH is my own personal one…. you are free to have your own methods and beliefs.
Know Your Disease – Research & Understand
Treating the Physical aspect of Trichotillomania
Based on my research 10 years ago, I discovered that Trich was not just a mental disease but there is a PHYSICAL aspect to it as well!!! Knowing this meant that I AM ABLE to control this disease, and not the other way around. That I AM NOT CRAZY after all. That there is in fact HOPE- I DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE WITH TTM- this is not who I am!
I scoured the internet to find answers about my disease, before that I have never really even taken any sort of action. I mean I did not even find out until after I moved to the USA that there was a name for my condition. And if you ask me, how come it took me so long to do this to research… well my honest answer now is that I WANTED TO SUFFER- I WANTED TO KEEP PUNISHING MYSELF… Trich was my crutch, Trich was my drug and like many addicts…. I WAS IN DENIAL… at that time (and sadly only a small improvement has been made to this day) there was not enough awareness, there was not enough resources… The internet said Trichotillomania -Wikipedia is an untreatable, hopeless disease- that the only other option is to deal with it- I refuse to accept this! I kept searching… luckily I stumbled upon a site where there was a glimmer of hope (for the life of me I can’t seem to remember what site this was, i mean this was 10 yrs ago, but as I recall it was content published by 2 male doctors of sort, one of them even had trich as well) I remember them saying the same thing about how there is no medication for this, how there is not enough research done on this, they don’t know the causes, no real proven treatment method etc etc blah blah blah… but what really jumped out at me was how he explained that when you pull your hair out, the skin gets inflamed and irritated, and there are some ways that CAN help with this – the GLIMMER of HOPE!
From that article I started to develop my own method. If I can calm down the itching, the inflammation, the burning that I felt on my scalp, the URGE to pull my hairs out would lessen. So this was my goal here, TREAT THE PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS – now this may not apply, or may be hard to apply to those who pull from other parts of the body like the eye area especially, for me I pulled from my head- other body parts like legs, arm pits, pubic area- I just highly recommend getting laser treatment for those or waxing, it’s perfectly ok not to have hair in those areas anyways.
TIP #1: GET RID of all your TTM tools – tweezers, nippers, whatever it is that aids you in your mania — THROW THEM OUT all the way out to the curb where the garbage man can pick it up and you can’t dig it out again. And DO NOT BUY them again… if you need to shape your eyebrows – get them waxed or whatever… the less temptations you have the better. Might i also recommend getting acrylic nails, it makes it harder to pull those tiny little new grown hairs out if you have these on your nails, (now i know for men this might not be feasible, but I hope you get my point) fingers are the best tools we have- and it’s also one you can’t get rid of.
TIP #2: SEA BREEZE SENSITIVE SKIN ASTRINGENT -According to the article, there were a few substances that helped calm down the inflammation and the irritation to the skin– camphor, witch hazel, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, mint, (there might be others, please feel free to do your own research as well) but this is what worked for me – Sea Breeze Sensitive Skin Astringent – this has camphor & eucalyptus, it cost about $7 for a 10 oz bottle, you can order this online, you can find this in any drug store near you- Walgreens, Walmart, Target, CVS etc..they typically keep this in the beauty section- Facial Care. I actually just stumbled upon this as I was searching for products that had these ingredients. There is a regular one for this brand- it’s like yellowish in color, but that did not work for me. I tried others too, like some astringents that had witch hazel, I believe there’s an oil that’s just pure eucalyptus, and a pure camphor, but those did not work for me. Sea Breeze Sensitive Skin Astringent was the one that really worked for me, it is my LIFE SAVER. This is what helped bring down the inflammation to my scalp, and it helped lessen the irritation. This also helped heal the wounds on my scalped -which happens when you scratch and tweeze that sensitive area so much- these sensitive areas I learned – are what they call “HOT SPOTS” – HOW TO USE IT: Apply to the affected area or skin- you may use a cotton ball or pad, then apply it, or you can also just pour it directly on the affected areas. (That’s why I mentioned the eye area earlier- you probably can’t do this on your eyes, but since it is an astringent for the face, you may be able to use the cotton pad and dab or wipe the eye area- making sure first of course that you don’t have a bad reaction to this product) I applied this as often as needed. I applied it right away when the Hot spots started to throb, or when I catch myself starting to reach out to my head and pull, I also applied it after I took my shower right before I went to bed. Remember these are just suggested uses, and you are free to develop your own strategy.***Please keep in mind to check and see if you have any allergic reactions to the products you try out, what may work for me may not necessarily work for you. You may try other products that help bring down the inflammation and irritation, please feel free to do your own research as well.
***To this day since 10 years ago, I still keep this product stocked at all times- just in case those pesky hot spots start to creep up again
A note about HOT SPOTS – these are what I call my danger spots- the bald spots on my head that my hands gravitate to…I seem to pull from almost the same spots all the time, even after hair has already grown on it. Somehow because these spots are so accustomed to be abused… they start throbbing and getting irritated on it’s own- sometimes for no apparent reason, and most of the time especially when you start getting stressed or anxious- when I became aware of this and when I understood this, I was able to control the urges better and nip the inflammation in the bud. Less inflammation, less irritation, less urge to pull. I actually would apply Sea Breeze on all my “known” hot spots just to be sure- sometimes when 1 hot spot acts up… the others follow suit..
TIP #3: AVOID USING CREAMY SHAMPOOS – use the clear shampoos instead- they don’t have to be colorless. From what I understood, creamy shampoos tend to make the scalp more oily and would increase the likelihood of the scalp getting irritated and inflamed- like when you have dandruff. At that time I had to stop using Pantene- which was only creamy at that time. I believe some anti fungal shampoos help as well, like i think there is Neutrogena T-Gel Shampoo, You can also try shampoos with tea tree oil and mint like Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle they help calm the skin irritation and inflammation. Or you can use just a simple clear shampoo like Clairol Herbal Essence . The point here is to be mindful of how products can affect your skin/ scalp and this applies to facial washes as well as eye lash glue and make up products. So please feel free to research more on this and to try any product that you feel would suit you.
TIP #4: AVOID EATING certain foods – peanuts, nuts, chocolate, peanut butter, sugar, caffeine – these are the only ones that I know about but I did recently find something on the internet about a UK study they are doing on how your diet affects your urges to pull- Possible link between BFRB & Diet and this one is a really good reference as well John Kender Diet. I encourage you to please research and explore this option more. I strongly believed that this had helped me to combat the urge as well.
Tip #5: APPLY ANTIBIOTIC with CAUTION! (Neosporin First Aid Antibiotic Ointment, 0.5-Ounce) This helps heal and prevent infection as well. One thing to keep in mind is to not pick at the scab that forms. Leave it alone. Allow your skin to heal. It will fall off on its own. I usually apply the antibiotic after the scab has fallen off and i find the area underneath to be still tender. I noticed also when I applied the antibiotic when there is still a scab, it increased the chance for me to pick at the scab and thus causing irritation again. Which then I would apply my sea breeze again. Tender newly healed skin is more prone to irritation. If at all possible, forget that it is even there.
Tip #6: Showers and therapeutic brushes. This is normally how my ritual went before. When the hot spots start acting up, I pour the sea breeze on my head. Then if at all possible, I take a shower and wash my hair, this helps to calm me, helps with anxiety and helps me resist the urge to pull, it helps alleviate the irritation as well. Then after the shower, I brush my hair, I like using the steel or Copper Hair Brushes, this relieves the itching without piercing or wounding the skin- scratching with your fingers is dangerous and this is what tears the skin. I then pour sea breeze on my head again.
The main point here is to get relief for the swelling and irritation, that makes the urge to pull unbearable. NO IRRITATION, NO SWELLING, NO PULL.
Please keep your mind & your hands busy, do things that make you happy, find joy in the small things like watching TV, sleeping, playing with your kids, scrap booking, blogging, chatting, writing. Whatever works for you, there is no wrong or right answer here.
Tip #7: LOVE YOURSELF like you have never loved before. (The Best and yes I admit the most overrated advice ever-but it’s true) -I have spent my whole life pleasing everybody but myself. This is my chance to find out what I love to do. What makes ME happy. This is all about me. I am entitled to care about ME for once. Loving yourself does not make you a selfish person, in fact, how can you truly love another person if you don’t have any love to give? The love that you receive from another person is not really your love to give. You need to create love within yourself in order for you to truly give it away!
My thoughts on support groups. At that time 10 years ago, there was no Facebook, no Iphones etc… the closest thing was Friendster and MySpace and yahoo chat. I was able to find some Trich support group on yahoo messenger, and I joined that for a while. To be honest, it only helped me to some degree. Although I was not really active on it, but it did show me that there are many people out there just like me. And most importantly it showed me that there are survivors out there that had overcome this disease. I guess what I am trying to say here is that different people deal with things differently. There are people that are comfortable sharing their troubles to others, and there are people that like to keep things to themselves. I for one, am the type of person that likes to keep my struggles to myself. I can be stubborn, and I like to do my own thing so to speak. So regardless, what type of person you are, in the end, we are all responsible for our own actions.
When you keep telling yourself, but, can’t, hard, difficult, impossible, hopeless, depressed, sad, …. then do not put the blame on anybody else but yourself… because the truth is that it’s not that you CAN NOT, but it’s because you WILL NOT. Huge difference. You have FREE WILL- the CHOICE is yours! Quit making excuses for your disease! I hate how society has conditioned us to not have any accountability. If it is better for you to be defined by this disease, to accept it as part of your life, then own up to it if that is what truly makes you happy. But if what you truly desire is to be rid of this disease, then take action, own it and see it through.
To be honest, I can’t even really clearly recall at what point in time I had considered myself to be totally cured. All I remember is that I dealt with the physical problem, and when it was not bothering me anymore… I would forget that I even had it. I focused my energy on other things. Having fun, discovering myself again, enjoying life… I really did forget I even had the disease… I was simply too busy enjoying my life as well as my sorrows as well. Next thing I know, my bald spots were gone, there were no tiny hairs sticking out, I could finally wear my hair down, I was not afraid to go to a hair dresser anymore. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world. The real secret here is that I gave my physical and my mental wounds a chance to heal… the more I did not focus on my wounds, the better their chance of healing. This is how I had lasted this long. I had rid myself of the self-loathing that was fueling the disease.
Side note: Again, these are just my opinions, and my view. In no way shape or form am I trying to insult anybody here.
Feel free to leave your comments, I would love to hear your insights on this.
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