Coconut Milk Shampoo

Scalp irritation and inflammation are a major triggers for trichsters. Many people find relief with the use of anti-dandruff  shampoos. Personally, I have alternated between Nizoral and Denorex shampoos for years. They both helped, but I’m not crazy about all the extra chemicals. Recently, I started making my own hair and body products. I found a great all natural anti-dandruff shampoo recipe on Dr. Axe’s website.

Homemade Anti-Dandruff Shampoo with Coconut Milk

 

Anti-dandruff shampoo - Dr. Axe

No one wants to be embarrassed by those white flakes of dandruff that land on their beautiful black jacket, but it happens because it almost seems like an unsolvable mystery about how to get rid of dandruff. In large part, it’s because most of the so-called dandruff shampoos, while also full of chemicals and unhealthy ingredients, simply do not work.

Fortunately, finding an anti-dandruff shampoo solution that works for you may not be as difficult as you think, if you’re willing to do it yourself! But first, let’s explore why shampoos may or may not work so that you can make smart choices.

Dandruff, medically known as pityriasis capitis or seborrheic dermatitis confined to the scalp, is a disease that has been around for centuries despite the numerous treatments available. New anti-dandruff products frequent the market, almost daily, perhaps due to the widespread increase in the incidence. In fact, Head & Shoulders is one of the top-selling shampoos in the world. However, dermatologists have given little attention to this problem. Why is it so difficult to fight off this humiliating dandruff? (1)

Unfortunately, this nagging scalp disorder is rather common. Several studies across the world have shown a prevalence of dandruff of up to 50 percent in the general population. You would think that with such a large number, solutions would be available. (2) However, due to these chemicals that are found in most commercially bought shampoos, their effectiveness may be temporary.

The word itself has negative meaning having a combination of ‘tan’ meaning ‘tetter’ and ‘drof’ meaning ‘dirty.’ So, it makes sense that having the right shampoo should help. And while the real cause of dandruff is yet to be understood, there are some things you can do to ease the cringe-making effects they offer. (3)

Getting the anti-dandruff shampoo right is key. We know that most body and hair products out there have tons of toxic chemicals, and these cancer-causing chemicals can be incredibly ineffective too. It is confusing as to why these toxic chemicals in shampoos are even allowed to hit the shelves, knowing that they can negatively affect our hormones and cause lot of sickness. It’s probably no surprise that cosmetics has grown into a $50 billion dollar industry. (4

To avoid this seemingly uncontrollable situation, you can simply make your very own anti-dandruff shampoo right at home with just a few ingredients. Keep in mind that the dandruff comes from the scalp, not your hair. That means it is important to gently massage this DIY dandruff remedy into the scalp as well as thoroughly washing your hair.

Fortunately, this recipe not only includes several dandruff-fighting ingredients, it’s also gentle enough to use several times a week. 

Let’s start with your mixing bowl and a whisk. Combine the coconut milk, coconut oil and castile soap to start. Nutrition-rich coconut milk and coconut oil will help provide much needed nutrition for your hair and scalp. This nutrition will help build up the immune defenses as well as moisturize the hair and scalp.

Castile soap is a gentle vegetable-based soap derived from olive oil, water and lye that is biodegradable and non-toxic. While castile soap is gentle, it can help cleanse the scalp of excess sebum and product build-up.

Once the coconut milk, coconut oil and castile soap is well blended, add the water, apple cider vinegar and baking soda. It is a good idea to use purified water, such as an authentic spring water, to help avoid chemicals. The apple cider vinegar is great for eliminating the fungus and bacteria because it contains powerful enzymes. The baking soda can help slough off the dead skin due to its abrasive texture by acting as a mild exfoliate and fungicide.

Now, add the rosemary and tea tree oil. The rosemary oil will provide a nice scent and much more. Because dandruff is caused by fungi, it’s important to choose ingredients that can inhibit this fungi. That is why I chose rosemary and tea tree oil. Rosemary and tea tree oil essential oils contain antifungal properties and you may get the added benefit of hair thickening that these oils can provide!

And now for my favorite ingredient, fenugreek! Fenugreek is a plant most commonly used as a spice in Indian cuisine; however, fenugreek can do wonders for your hair and scalp. Fenugreek seeds have a composition that is rich in protein and amino acids. These nutrient-dense characteristics encouraging healthy hair, hair growth and can help ward off those disgusting flakes of dandruff. In particular, fenugreek has a high concentration of lecithin, which is a natural emollient. This emollient can help make hair stronger overall and provides many users of fenugreek with silky and soft locks.

Make sure all ingredients are thoroughly blended. Pour the mixture into a BPA free shampoo-like container with a lid, or you may use a glass jar if you prefer.

To use, simply wet the hair as you normally would for shampooing. Place a small amount in the palm of your hand and begin to blend it into the hair. Shampoo well and rinse. You may leave the mixture on your hair a little longer to gain the benefits of this natural remedy.

Try using every other day for best results. Shake bottle before each use. If you experience any discomfort or allergic reaction, stop using immediately. Consider doing a test patch prior to a full wash.

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Promoting Hair Growth

Essential Oil Blend Promotes  Hair Health and Growth

& Reduces Scalp Irritation and Inflammation

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Specific essential oils can promote hair growth by increasing circulation and health of your hair follicles. In addition, essential oils can calm your irritated or inflamed scalp. Depending on your particular needs, you can choose an essential oil blend to combat dandruff, yeast overgrowth, and other types of  scalp irritation. I have found that foods and hair products leading to the growth of malassezia yeast increase my urge to pull by causing my hot spots to flare up. To learn more about malassezia yeast, click on the link below.

http://malasseziayeast-mypersonal-battle.blogspot.com/

I use the recipe below for my essential oil blend. I massage it into my hair several times  a week. I often leave it in all day or night as it deters my pulling. It calms my scalp irritation thus reducing my urge to pull. In addition, it is harder to pull slippery, oily hair. This makes me more aware of any unconscious pulling; allowing me to stop before getting ‘just one’, which is my greatest downfall. If I can avoid pulling just one, it is way easier to resist a  pulling frenzy.

Directions

Combine lavender, camomile, rosemary, cedarwood, ylang-ylang, tea tree, and peppermint essential oils and add to a base of the following carrier oils: jojoba, argan, almond, and grapeseed oil.  I use a clean hair dye dispenser bottle. Massage the blend into your scalp for about 2 minutes. Massage with your finger tips rather than your nails.   You can leave it in your hair for a few minutes, hours, or all day. When I am home and having a hard time resisting the urge, I massage this blend into my scalp and leave it in all day.

For the best outcome, wrap your head in a warm towel for 30-40 minutes. The grapeseed, almond, argan, and jojoba oils work as a carrier, penetrating and sending the essential oils into your hair follicles.

Essential Oils & Carrier Oils Commonly Used for Hair Growth and Scalp Health

1. Ylang-Ylang

Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata), the same as with lavender, is believed to reduce stress and has been used to increase the shaft of the hair to produce hair that is thicker and more luxurious. It is able to balance scalp oil production and this could help with split ends.

2. German Chamomile

German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an effective agent in aromatherapy’s bag of wonders for reducing inflammation. Sometimes hair loss is due to inflammation of the hair follicles in the scalp. This can lead to less cellular function. Some think that an overheated scalp can cause hair loss. This essential oil is cooling and has an anti-inflammatory effect. The fragrance is light and has a bottom note of pineapple.

3. Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is in many hair products and hair conditioners. As an essential oil, it is used for reducing inflammation and no steroids are involved. Its anti-bacterial properties are beneficial and it has regenerative properties. It is a favorite oil for reducing stress and encouraging hair growth. Maybe you are stressed enough that your hair is falling out—try lavender for healthful benefits.

4. Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a leading essential oil for boosting hair growth. It has seen much success in alopecia areata hair treatment. Use the Verbenone type if you seek the regenerative capabilities of the oil rosemary, found in many preparations for hair and scalp benefits. Thought to increase cellular metabolism, it thereby stimulates healthy hair growth. Used in fragrant perfumes, it is also used to emit its delightful aroma into your room environment. It is also burned as incense and used in shampoo.

5. Helichrysum

Helichrysum (Helichrysum orientale) is believed to be a regenerator for all soft tissues of the body. Helichrysum is the sunflower family and has an earthy fragrance found in blends for both the scalp and hair in commercial products. It is likely regenerative to scalp tissue as well. Some healthcare providers perceive the aging scalp to be similar to scar tissue. It increases circulation and is beneficial as an anti-inflammatory means.

6. Clary Sage

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil promotes hormone balance that is vital for men and women when considering the health of their hair. Clary Sage is thought to balance estrogen levels in the skin and scalp, and can be of help for women after menopause. The distilled essential oil is used in perfumes and it is used in aromatherapy for menstrual-related problems such as cramping and PMS. It helps with insomnia relieving anxiety and fear as well.

7. Jojoba**

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) is obtained in many natural hair care products. Jojoba is used for moisturizing and softening dry hair. It is thought to cleanse the follicles of sebum (natural oils), and promote shiny and vibrant hair.

8. Sesame**

Sesame (Sesamum indicum) is highly thought of in Ayurvedic medicine in traditional Hindu medicine to therapy for thousands of years using the oils for massage. Sesame has lignans, chemical compounds found in plants, and used in essential oils. Lignans increase the effectiveness of vitamin E, so it is thought to nurture shiny and thick hair growth. Use it as a 5-minute scalp massage each day without missing a day. Wash hands thoroughly after you are finished, since sesame will irritate mucous membranes such as the eyes and nose.

9. Tea Tree (my favorite for hair, scalp, and skin)

Antifungal – Malassezia furfur is the most common dermatophyte to cause dandruff. With only a 5% concentration, tea tree oil is a very effective treatment for Malassezia furfur.

Anti-inflammatory – Like many essential oils, tea tree oil acts to efficiently reduce inflammation due to infection or injury.These properties make tea tree oil a very useful tool in the fight against hair loss and promotion of hair growth. By disinfecting the scalp, tea tree oil reduces the build-up of residues around the hair follicles allowing for the free flow of sebum (our natural, self-produced moisturizer) into the hair shafts. In addition, by reducing the inflammation around the hair follicles, tea tree oil promotes regeneration of existing hair while promoting new growth.The nutrient dense nature of tea tree oil nourishes the hair leaving it soft, shiny and less subject to breakage which in turn gives the appearance of a fuller head of hair. It also maintains the moisture and overall health of the scalp to further encourage healthy hair growth.

**Carrier Oils 

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What are carrier oils?

The term “carrier oil” encompasses hundreds of different oils and butters. In the most basic sense, the word “carrier” serves to distinguish oils that are not “essential” oils. Common carrier oils include olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, grapeseed oil, canola oil, sweet almond oil, walnut oil, and more. The oils in this category vary wildly in terms of texture, colour, thickness, nutritional composition, and scent, but generally they are our base oils/butters.

A Guide to Carrier Oil Substitutions

How to Use Carrier Oils

 

Final Thoughts

Essential oils are not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Essential oils are the active ingredients–the essence of the flowers and plants. Essential oils can additionally be added to your shampoo and conditioner to benefit your hair. You can try various combinations of essential oil blends and carrier oils. The recipe above is what has worked best for me. I learned through trial and error. I find the essential oil be lends most helpful for deterring pulling, calming my scalp, and improving my hair health. I am uncertain wether it actually promote growth in my case. I use Pinterest to find explanations of blends and recipes that have helped other people.

Before learning about the benefits of essential oil, I used a mix of castor oil and coconut oil to promote growth. Although these softened and moisturizer my hair, I did not love the outcome. You can read my blog about coconut oil and castor oil.

 

On pinterest I have a board with the hair and skin care recipes I use. It also contains information on carrrier oils.

http://pin.it/GTVG8dg

 

 

 

NAC for Trichotillomania

Research shows that nutritional supplements may help mental health including trichotillomania. Lately I have focused on inositol and NAC as I have heard about these supplements in many trichotillomania communities with varied success.

I started taking NAC (N-acetylcysteine) about two years ago and have noticed a decrease in my urge to pull when I take it 5-6 days per week. I take2-600mg capsules in the morning and 2-600mg capsules in the evening, giving me a total of 2400mg of NAC. Doses between 1200-3600mg may be helpful according to this article,  N-Acetylcysteine, a Glutamate Modulator, in the Treatment of Trichotillomania

I recently added inositol to increase the benefits of NAC.  It is generally agreed that a large dose is needed for inositol to be effective with trich. I worked my way up to 18g per day. I do this by mixing 3 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon of inositol in water 3 times a day. I have found the Jarrow brand powder dissolves best. It is available on amazon for a reasonable price. I mix it with warm water as it dissolves better that way. You can add it to fruit juice or other sweetened drinks.  I simply mix the powder with ~3 oz. of warm water and drink it plain as it has a mild sweet taste that I actually like.

 

NAC and Trichotillomania

By Fred Penzel, Ph.D.

**Please note the following: This advice is purely informational, and not in any way meant to be a substitute for treatment by a licensed physician. Do not try this, or anything else, without first consulting your physician. If your M.D. has not heard about it, refer them to the following article and let them decide:

Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH; Brian L. Odlaug, BA; Suck Won Kim, MD, N-Acetylcysteine, a Glutamate Modulator, in the Treatment of Trichotillomania: A Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Arch Gen Psychiatry/ VOL 66 (NO. 7), JULY 2009.

 

Over the years, it has become apparent that prescription medications, as remedies for trichotillomania (TTM), have proved to be somewhat of a disappointment. These meds have been employed since the early 1990’s, and although they may be seen to work occasionally for some individuals, research indicates that their overall effectiveness is not great for the majority of sufferers. When they do appear to work, it is most likely that they are actually helping with coexisting problems such as depression and anxiety that are impacting the pulling, but not directly causing it. The discovery of a new compound with a greater level of direct effectiveness would be considered a blessing to sufferers. If this compound were also an over-the-counter remedy, it would be even better.

This very thing was confirmed in 2009 with the publication of an article by Grant, Odlaug, and Kim in The Archives of General Psychiatry, titled “N-acetylcysteine, A Glutamate Modulator, In the Treatment of Trichotillomania.”This study, which lasted 12 weeks, investigated the use of the amino acid N-acetylcysteine (NAC) in 50 patients with TTM, and found that 56% of them were rated as improved or very much improved. A much smaller previous pilot study had also found positive results.

So what is this compound? NAC is a both a pharmaceutical drug and a nutritional supplement used primarily to treat Cystic Fibrosis, and also to treat individuals suffering from acetaminophen overdoses. In the former case, it thins mucus, making it easier for patients to cough it up, and in the latter case, has liver detoxifying effects. It has also been said to aid in the treatment of cocaine addiction. Some practitioners out there are also exploring the use of NAC in the treatment of OCD, although whether it is effective or not, is still unproven.

What exactly is NAC? NAC is a natural sulfur-containing amino acid that is a breakdown product of the amino acid L-cysteine, and is in turn broken down by the body and converted to a powerful antioxidant known as glutathione.Antioxidants can repair oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress occurs when cell metabolism produces an increased level of oxidants known as free radicals that tip the balance between themselves and antioxidants in the body.These free radicals can cause the breakdown of cells, damaging proteins, genes, and cell membranes. Substances known as antioxidants act by neutralizing free radicals, and some are produced naturally by the body. Some have theorized that hair-pulling may be the result of the effects of oxidative stress within the brain, and that NAC can help reverse this.

NAC is also what is known as a chelating agent. That is, it hastens the excretion of heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic from the body by binding to them. While this is of course, a positive benefit of taking it, it also causes the body to excrete copper, zinc and other essential minerals when used over time. Some research says this effect may be minimal, but others have suggested that it is necessary to take supplements containing copper, zinc, and other vital minerals when using NAC. Until this is settled, it is advisable to take a daily multivitamin plus minerals along with the NAC. It is often recommended to take extra vitamin C, itself an antioxidant, along with NAC, as it can also assist in raising glutathione levels. The amount of vitamin C one should take has been said to be in the range of 500 mg. per day.

As far as taking NAC itself for a BFRB, we have been using the following approach:

1. Start by taking one, 600 mg. capsule of NAC daily for the first two weeks along with a daily multivitamin plus minerals, in addition to 500 mg. of vitamin C. You will most likely not see any changes on this dosage.

2. If the NAC appears to be well tolerated, increase it to 1, 600 mg. capsule, 2x per day. Again, wait two to three weeks to see if there is any reduction in pulling activity.

3. If there are no changes, or only minimal changes in pulling, increase to 1 capsule, 3x per day, and again wait two to three weeks to see if there is any noticeable result.

4. If there is only little or no change, you can then increase to 4, 600 mg. capsules per day, and wait another two to three weeks. Take 2 capsules for one of the three daily doses, to make a daily total of four.

5. If there is still little or no change, you can increase up to what is the maximum of 5, 600 mg. capsules per day. A total of 3,000 mg. is the maximum you should take as a daily dose. Take 2 capsules for two of the three daily doses, to make a daily total of five.

6. If after 4 weeks at the maximum dosage there is still no result, then it is likely that it is not working, and can then be discontinued.

As with all medications and supplements, there are no sure things. It is ultimately all trial-and-error. We hope that NAC will help, but just keep in mind that it will not necessarily work for everyone. Remember that it was shown to be effective for about 56 percent of the subjects in the original research study.

NOTE: There are some very important precautions that should be observed when taking NAC.

1. It should be noted that there are some individuals who suffer from cystinuria, a genetic disorder that causes cysteine to build up in their urine. If levels of cysteine molecules become high enough, they clump together to form kidney stones. It is therefore recommended that those with this problem not take NAC.

 

2. In addition, NAC supplementation might increase the side effects associated with nitroglycerin and isosorbide, two medications commonly used to treat angina.

 

3. Using NAC at the same time as the hypertension drugs ACE-inhibitors might cause blood pressure to drop too low. It might also excessively strengthen the actions of immunosuppressant drugs.

 

How N-Acetylcysteine (N-A-C) Cured My Depression and Anxiety

The maternal side of my family contains a history of severe mental illness. My maternal grandmother suffered from schizophrenia and died in a mental ward. My mother has been institutionalized repeatedly, suffering from a decades long battle with bipolar disorder.

My younger brother is a legitimate sociopath. He is not merely “dark triad.” He has actual antisocial personality disorder. He has no feelings of empathy or kindness or decency. Lacking the vision to rob banks or become a drug kingpin, he is currently free after spending 10 years in prison for shooting his one-armed drug dealer.

In other words, there’s some funny business in my DNA.

I used to get depressed and feel anxious. I never had full-on panic attacks, but I would have severe anxiety that would leave my brain spinning. My skin would break out in rashes.

I conquered this anxiety through two means, as anxiety and other mental illnesses have two components – physical and psychological.

The psychological components of anxiety come from society and the brain washing. That is where state controlreframing techniques, and other Mindset Training comes into play.

The physical components of anxiety and depression come from a variety of sources – poor nutrition, lack of sunlight, excessive oxidative stress, high cortisol, and heavy metal poisoning.

glutathione

N-Acetylcysteine (N-A-C) has been clinically proven to help treat symptoms of anxiety and depression.

N-Acetylcysteine is a powerful nootropic with still many unstudied benefits. N-A-C has been used by visionary doctors to help treat intractable depression and anxiety.

Why haven’t you heard about the magical effects of N-A-C? Simple. Go on Amazon and see how much a bottle of N-A-C costs.

My mom was on a $1,500 a month cocktail of drugs. No one would listen when I suggested they buy a $15 bottle of N-A-C. But the science is there.

See, N-acetyl cysteine for depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder–a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial(“NAC appears a safe and effective augmentation strategy for depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder.”) (PubMed.)

See also, N-acetyl cysteine as a glutathione precursor for schizophrenia–a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. (“These data suggest that adjunctive NAC has potential as a safe and moderately effective augmentation strategy for chronic schizophrenia.”) (PubMed.)

N-A-C depression anxiety

Why does N-A-C help treat depression?

Acetylcysteine is a glutathione precursor. That is, acetylcysteine is converted into glutathione.

Glutathione is an antioxidant that used by your liver to detox your body. Emergency rooms give high doses of NAC to patients that have overdosed with Tylenol.

Resources:

  • The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine (Amazon).
  • Smash Chronic Fatigue: A Concise, Science-Based Guide to Help Your Body Heal, and Banish Fatigue Forever (Amazon).

Could mental illness be caused by toxins that your liver is unable to clear from your body, due to a glutathione deficiency?

That is not so far fetched, and in fact the cutting-edge of mental health research is on the role toxins and oxidative stress play in mental illness.

See, The efficacy of adjunctive N-acetylcysteine in major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (“These data implicate the pathways influenced by NAC in depression pathogenesis, principally oxidative and inflammatory stress and glutamate, although definitive confirmation remains necessary.”) (PubMed.)

See also, The Glutathione System: A New Drug Target in Neuroimmune Disorders (“Glutathione depletion and concomitant increase in oxidative and neurological stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions play a role in the pathophysiology of diverse neuroimmune disorders, including depression, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome and Parkinson’s disease, suggesting that depleted GSH is an integral part of these diseases.” (PudMed.)

Do you know what else boosts glutathione?

Carrot orange pomegranate juice

How much N-A-C should you take?

That would be medical advice, which I don’t give. However, participants in the studies usually used between 1 and 2 grams daily.

Why take N-A-C instead of glutathione?

If N-A-C is a precursor, wouldn’t it make more sense to take glutathione directly? That seems intuitively correct. There is some evidence to suggest that N-A-C is more bioavailable than glutathione.

I personally use N-A-C because that was the compound studied. How much glutathione would one need to take to get the same benefits that one can obtain from 1 to 2 grams of N-A-C? As I don’t know, I went with N-A-C.

You are of course free to try both for yourself to see what works best.

What brand of N-A-C is best?

As the supplement industry is unregulated, I generally prefer to use use two brands of supplements – Life Extension Foundation and Jarrow.

I personally use Jarrow’s form of N-A-C Sustain, which is time released. (Amazon).

For more information on oxidative stress, nutrition, and various maladies, watch this video.

Minding Your Mitochondria

Why Mommy Needs a Break

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As a stay-at-home mom of 4, when I say that I need a break, I’m not talking about wanting a vacation or a treat as a reward for doing my job. Needing a break doesn’t mean that I’m seeking a respite from my responsibilities or that I want to put my feet up. It means that I need a moment to feel like a human being in the midst of a relentless life where I don’t belong to myself anymore; where I give my love and energy away, every moment of my existence, and can’t figure out how to keep any for myself.

We’re all very aware of men who don’t understand the point of giving the mother of his children a break. They go to work all day and they don’t have fun at work, do they? When they come home and their wives say, “I need a break,” they think, When do I get a break? I just worked all day and now I have to come home and give my wife a break?

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The point of a break, when you’re a stay-at-home parent, isn’t fun, or excitement or relaxation, although breaks that contain those things are great, and we absolutely totally deserve them, because everybody does. When a stay-at-home parent says, “I need a break from being a mommy for an hour or two,” they aren’t trying to swindle you into doing the work of caring for the house and children so that they can get out for some fun and letting loose. Needing a break isn’t the same thing as wanting a vacation.

When you’re a father, caring for your kids doesn’t count as work. It counts as something you promised to do when you created a life. It isn’t the same thing as going to a job. Caring for your children means that you’re teaching them how to be people and giving them the chance to be happy. Taking time out of your life every single day to care for your children is absolutely vital to their growth as people. It’s not something you grace them — or your wife — with. It’s not a favor. It’s not extra work at the end of a long day. It’s part of who you are, because you’re daddy. You are absolutely required, by the fact that you made a baby, to spend all of your time and energy being a father to that baby, for the rest of your life, and that isn’t bad news. Fathering is about your kids deserving a parent who is engaged and who demonstrates that he loves them, because that is what will help them become happy, healthy, successful people.

SobbingChild

When I get a break at the end of my day, I don’t use it to have fun. I don’t need a break so that I can unwind and have a blast being me, all on my own, finally, without the kids. I might catch up on some chores without interruption, take a bath, exercise, write, or read for a while.

I do whatever I need to do, in that moment, to feel like I deserve to exist. I do what I need to do to feel sane and stable and capable of keeping up with the never-ending needs of my beautiful children. My breaks might allow me to think my own thoughts for a few moments. They might allow me to drive a car without being tense and distracted. I might need a break because I want to use the bathroom without someone watching me, or without worrying what might be happening downstairs and yelling, “Mommy is almost done! Are you guys OK?”

I want a break, not because I’m bored or restless or craving some fun, (although I am probably feeling those things a lot of the time.) I want a break because I put absolutely everything I have into staying at home with my kids. From the moment I open my eyes in the morning, there isn’t a single second of my day where I’m not engaged and on call. There isn’t a single moment where I am alone with my thoughts, where I’m not being touched and needed and where demands aren’t being made of me. Not a single moment. Not when I’m brushing my teeth or showering or trying to find something clean to wear. Not even in the bathroom.

9e0f956e7a17245433a00f0233474202As stay-at-home parents, we understand that going to work all day isn’t fun, and it isn’t easy. We get that we’re lucky to spend our days with our children. We’ve had responsibilities and stresses outside of motherhood, and we understand that life is challenging for you, and for everyone. We know that commuting to and from work and sitting in a cubical all day is not how you would choose to spend your time, if you had a choice. We know that going to work is not a personal break where you can unwind and put your feet up. We totally get that, and we love you and appreciate you for all you do to keep our families safe and cared for. We would be better at saying thank you if we had even a single ounce of energy or sanity left over at the end of the day. We love you. We do. And, thank you.

We still need a break, though.

Not because we work harder than you or deserve something you don’t. We just need a few minutes to not be on edge, working our nerves and spirits raw for the safety and happiness and health of our kids. We just need a moment to remember who we are, to not feel worried and harried and invisible. We need a second to catch our breath, to make our own choices, to try to love ourselves, for a moment. We need the opportunity to exist, as a human being with a name and thoughts and ideas; as a person who is allowed to complete a thought. We need to be allowed to drive a car and use the bathroom without being pulled away and pressured. We just need a moment, or we’re going to fall apart.

We love you, daddies. We aren’t trying to get anything over on you. We’re not trying to say that we don’t think you work hard. We aren’t trying to weasel some fun or excitement out of life, by denying you yours. We just need a second to try to remember who we are.

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Change Your Thinking to Change Your Behavior

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Change Your Thinking, Change Your Behavior

 By Claudia Miles

I have been sharing my view that hair pulling & skin picking are most like “addictions” for many years.  I was not taken seriously by other professionals at first, but in recent years I’ve seen the term used more and more when other professionals talk about Body-Focused Repetitive Disorder (BFRD).  In fact, TTM & Dermatillomaia fit the criteria of addiction quite well. Think about the way we respond to an addiction like substance abuse (food, drink, drugs). We develop a craving, we try to talk ourselves out of it by saying: You don’t really want to drink again, you’ll lose your job. Don’t eat that whole box of cookies, you’ll feel sick and diagusted. Don’t keep pulling your hair out, there won’t be any way to cover it up.

The addict in you rebels against this kind of feedback. You want to do it, and all the consequences you are thinking about happen in the long term. You feel bad NOW. Gaining weight or losing hair happens later. You just want to feel better. So finally you  say, “Screw it. I don’t care about the consequences,” and we block out the fact that we missed work last time we drank, lost custody of our kids, took any number of actions that cause us shame, pain, financial loss or worse. You say, “I don’t care, I had a bad day and I’m going to do it.” Or “It doesn’t matter, I already ruined my hair, I’m already almost bald, That is how we give yourselves permission to pick or pull.

1) (Screw it.) It’s hopeless.
2) I don’t care
3) It doesn’t matter anyway.

And by convincing ourselves for just a few minutes that those lies are true, we rebel against what we really want. We pretend that we “don’t care” about pulling, that we’ve done so much damage it doesn’t matter if we pull or not, and finally we feel so hopeless about the idea of stopping forever, we don’t see the point in stopping NOW. (It’s quite similar to the process of procrastination which is often connected to BFRD behaviors: Denial, Delay (now we’ve waited so long it will never get done), Hopelessness)

Rather than trying to “FORCE” yourself to stop, the key is to understand and change the pattern of addictive thoughts. It doesn’t matter whether you are a picker who is aware that you are about to pick or a puller who has already pulled for ten minutes before you become aware of what you are doing. There will be a moment when you ARE aware of what you are doing and think to yourself: “I don’t care!” This thought comes in response to earlier thoughts like, You “shouldn’t” be doing this OR I can’t believe I’m doing this again. We think “I don’t care!” as a way to tell our inner bully to shut up, leave us alone & let us pull. Because let’s face it, pulling & picking are made less pleasurable when we simultaneously are attempting to shame ourselves for engaging in the behaviors.  (And SHAME does not help one bit, of course.)  So we say to ourselves by way of making the shame stop: I DON’T CARE! (In other words, leave me alone, Bully, I want to pull!)

The problem is we have dis-identified with the real reason we want to stop these behaviors, which is not that they are morally wrong or that we “shouldn’t” do them. Rather, it upsets us *THAT* we do them. And it is crucial to acknowledge that, but at the same time, not shame ourselves.

Here’s what I mean. See if you can become aware when you start to think to yourself: I don’t care! Once you do, apply what Mindfulness practice teaches us is the “observer” within and “note” the thought.

You: I don’t care
The Observer (You): Ah, there’s that addictive thought. Telling me I don’t care. Giving me permission to pull.

The problem is, you DO care. You care very much. If you didn’t, you sure as heck wouldn’t be reading this blog. You just want to forget that fact for a moment, an hour, two hours, so you can go to that familiar (and comforting) sense of “Numbness.”.  So what I’m asking you to do here is this: DO NOT bully or shame yourself into stopping. (What are you DOING?! What’s wrong with you?! You’re “pathetic”!) But DO acknowledge that the behavior is causing you pain. The example I give to my clients is this: Imagine an alcoholic who is living in a one room apt. after having lost his (or her) share of custody with his kids. He has to get sober and stay sober for 6 mos to get the issue revisited. Six months seems like FOREVER. So every night, to numb the pain of not seeing his children, he pulls out a bottle of whisky. He may say, You moron, what are you doing? But he feels compelled to continue. So he takes the pictures of his kids and turns them around. Puts them away. It’s too painful to look at his kids. He’s already “blown it” he thinks.

Now I would tell that guy, Go ahead and drink. But do NOT put away the pics of your kids. At the same time, you don’t get to berate yourself for doing something you feel so compelled to do despite all it has cost you. What you do is this: You look at your kids and think to yourself, wow, this drinking has cost me a lot. And it’s not because I don’t care about my kids cause I do! How powerful this addiction must be if it makes me ignore what truly matters. Now this makes the drinking FAR less enjoyable & shifts this man’s thinking from “I’m shit. I’m a loser.” to “This is a serious problem & it’s costing a lot.” That latter voice we can call the “Supportive Friend.” The friend you can be to yourself. The friend who wants to HELP you, not SHAME you.  It’s a completely different way of relating to the self.

Here’s how it translates for sufferers of TTM or Dermatillomania:

Your Inner Bully (You): Stop pulling you pathetic loser!
BFRB* Addict (You): I had a lousy day. I just don’t CARE right now!
NEW-Observer (You): Ah, there’s the inner addict trying to convince me I don’t care.
NEW-Supportive Friend (You): You know what? That’s not true. I DO care. I care very much.  It causes me  emotional pain to do this. It makes me feel bad about myself. I just want to acknowledge that.

Now at this point, I am not saying that you can (or should) instantly stop. Not at all. I am suggesting that you go ahead and pull or pick, while simultaneously acknowledging that you DO care.   Not that you’re an idiot or weak or pathetic. Rather, that you are a human being who’s desire or urge to do this is so strong that it eclipses the fact that the behavior causes you so much pain. Now that’s a HARD spot to be in, and until you can empathize with yourself, you remain stuck in a cycle of Blame, Shame, Addictive Thought, Numbness, More Shame, Emptiness, Self-Hatred.

Please note that I am suggesting you tell yourself that you DO care, NOT because of hair loss or scarring but because you will feel bad about yourself. That’s very important. We all know how long it takes for hair to grow back or skin to heal. It takes so long it’s hard to feel motivated. That’s why it is crucial you motivate yourself based on how you feel about yourself. That can become your immediate payoff. And when you consider the crippling shame and self-hatred that appears sometime after a pulling or picking session, perhaps you can see that there is another kind of cost to this besides hair loss and skin scars.  And when that can be replaced by actively telling yourself that you made an effort (even if the effort at first is just changing your thoughts), you will become a real support to yourself, a cheerleader, a caring friend and more able to continue on the path of recovery. A bully, a critic, a shaming, finger-wagging inner “bad parent” WILL NOT HELP YOU. That kind of thinking will tear down any efforts you make toward your goal. That kind of thinking SUPPORTS the addiction. And you do not deserve it, as one day you will surely know.

As I said for the “I don’t care” thought, the same goes for “It doesn’t matter,” and “It’s hopeless.” The thought “It doesn’t matter” is generally linked with the fact that you’ve done so much “damage” that it doesn’t matter if you do a little more. It’s the same irrational thinking behind, “I went off my diet and ate some cake! I ‘ruined’ everything. Well, I may as well eat everything in the house.” Because that makes sense, right? You ate an extra 500 calories so you may as well eat 5,000.

First of all, even when you break it down literally, I can tell you that it DOES matter. In the practical physical world, even though you may not see the difference right away, any lessened amount of pulling, (55 minutes and not an hour, 3 hours and not 4) is PROGRESS. And progress is what will help you reach your goal. But going back to my earlier point, it’s about shifting the focus in this moment away from what your hair or skin looks like and acknowledging that the shame and anger toward the self you feel is hurtful. It not only doesn’t help you pull less, it absolutely causes you to pull more. Please hear this: All attempts to attack, shame or SCARE you into less pulling or picking, whether done by you or someone else, do the OPPOSITE. Every “I can’t believe you’re doing that!” “Stop it, you’re making a mess of your face!” “Why can’t you.. STOP doing that??!!” and “What’s WRONG with you!!” will push you FURTHER from your goal. Please stop and think about that. You don’t want to “let yourself off the hook.” You falsely believe that loving yourself or, yes, accepting yourself, even while you are still pulling means you are “giving up” and just accepting this is how it is. That’s just plain wrong! Just like you love your kids even if you don’t love the behavior, just like you accept them (vs. rejecting them) when they make mistakes, so too you must accept yourself. Accepting and loving yourself NO MATTER WHAT is the ONLY way you’ll recover.

So you see, it does matter. New dialogue:

Inner Bully (You): Stop pulling! Stop picking! You’re pathetic.
BFRB* Addict (You): I’ve already messed up my hair (skin) so much it doesn’t matter anyway.
NEW- Observer (You): Ah, there’s the addict trying to snow me into believing it doesn’t matter.
NEW-Supportive Friend (You): You know what, it DOES matter. It matters because how you feel about yourself matters. It matters because  it’s about small steps, and even if your skin or hair won’t shift right away, it will eventually if you take those small steps. And it MATTERS because this pulling or picking makes you feel like shit, and recovery only happens a moment at a time.

That same point must be made when recovery feels hopeless. One can imagine that that’s very much how someone who has 100 or more lbs to lose might feel. Because no matter what one does, change doesn’t come overnight. Also, you cannot stop pulling “FOREVER” all at once. You can only improve a little in each moment. Those moments will add up, and believe me, they can become a total cessation of pulling or picking, or a nearly total cessation of pulling or picking over time. But any efforts you do make must be made for TODAY only. Forever feels too big. Forever feels hopeless. Today (or even “right now”) need not feel hopeless. You will be able to DO today. And it’s ok if you can’t quite do that right now.

Changing the dialogue is the first step. Working on self-acceptance and self-love, letting go of negative reinforcement and focusing on positive reinforcement, that must be done before any other efforts are made.

And, NO, you won’t have to fight the urges forever. If you change your thinking and change your relationship with yourself so you can support yourself and love yourself through the process, the urges will start to subside. Just like with any addiction, the urges and the desire takes time to subside, and once in a while may show up out of the blue. That’s why you’ll need that “Supportive Friend” with you. The part of you that encourages you and believes in you, just as you do for your friends who aren’t you. Imagine if you could be as helpful to yourself as you are to others.

With practice, you will see that making just a little progress on this (which is all you CAN do) will eventually get you where you want to go. Just like a person who needs to lose 100 lbs. Yes, they won’t be where they want to be after a day or a week of progress toward healthy eating. But they will have taken a step. And it’s one step, then another, then another, and then maybe a step or two back. That’s how it goes. If you can find a way to accept that, if you can find a way to encourage yourself based on “progress not perfection” (AA), you CAN recover. If you continue to believe that it’s all at once or nothing, Your inner addict wants you to believe this so you will give in and pull or pick. Your inner bully wants to tell you it’s hopeless. But your inner Supportive Friend knows the truth. It’s one day at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time. It’s taking one small step and focusing only on what you can do, not what you cannot. THAT, I can tell you, is one of the most important things to know about the journey of recovery from BFRB*s. The second is, You CAN do it!

*BFRB = Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Mirror Mirror

One of my favorite bands is For King & Country. I love their new song Priceless.  It highlights the importance our society places on appearances. From a young age, girls are bombarded with messages that their worth is skin deep. If they can just look a certain way, then they will be loved.

Eager for approval, girls grasp at this skewed measure of worth. They look to the mirror and pick at each part of their body that is not ‘perfect’ or ‘beautiful’.  This plays into the devil’s scheme as he works to destroy self-esteem fueling a hunger for approval found in all the wrong places.

Trichotillomania adds to this self-loathing as hair is a classic symbol of femininity and beauty. Feeling ashamed or embarrassed by our atypical appearance; we often feel depressed, alienated, and even hopeless. This song speaks to ouer true worth, no matter what the mirror says. In God’s eyes we are all beautiful and priceless.   Listen to this and let the truth wash over you.

https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=wX9oWOdZccA

Priceless

Mirror mirror, mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear, but let me tell you dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

So when it’s late, you’re wide awake
Too much to take
Don’t you dare forget that in the pain
You can be brave, hear me say

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you (oh so priceless)
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you (oh so priceless)

No matter what you’ve heard, this is what your worth
More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh this is who you are
Yea this is who you are

So when it’s late, you’re wide awake
Too much to take
Don’t you dare forget that in the pain
You can be brave, hear me say

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you (oh so priceless)
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you (oh so priceless)

Sisters, we can start again
Give honor till the end
Love, we can start again
Brothers, we can start again
Give honor till the end
Yea, we can start again

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you (oh so priceless)
(You’re) irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you (oh so priceless)

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
Oh so priceless

You have to Decide…..

I love this post. It speaks to the theme of letting go of hurts and choosing to be resilient. You cannot always control your circumstances, but you certainly control how you react to them. I choose to let go, forgive, and be positive as I look forward.

Bipoblogger's Blog

Hello, I hope everyone enjoyed their day today.  I was actually home from work, again taking care of,  well nothing.  It was a mental health day. lol  It was a beautiful day.  The leaves on the trees were electrified by the sunlight, the air was warm and embracing but not suffocating, and I felt human, like I haven’t in a long time.  It felt good to be away from work.  I appreciate the time winding down and can’t wait  until I don’t have to go in. 

Anyways it’s after midnight again, and I just had to write about the human emotions and just how fragile we are from the very beginning. It’s been on my mind all day.  Now right before I go to bed it’s like an alarm so I am here, again.

I think about the horrible things that happened to me when I was a child.  Not…

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Prayer for Self-Control

Heavenly Father,

I pray that you will plant self-control in me so that I grow up like a tree rooted in your strength.  Lord, please help me reign in my passions, desires and emotions, and make them subject to your Spirit. Please focus my eyes on you that I may avoid falling into my freshly impulses.

Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Allow me to display self-control when temptations draw near. Make me pure, holy, and true to You when satan tries to intervene.

Give me peace of mind, body, and soul so that I remain focused on You and Your word daily. Let Your word be the bread I crave and need more than the air I breathe.

 

Amen