Category Archives: Reflections

Trials are Temporary

A well-cared-for earthly life will grow like a green, healthy field, full of beautiful flowers, ripe for harvest. Yet, this field will wither, storms will destroy crops, and flowers will fall as seasons change. But, God’s Word endures forever.

When we decided to follow Jesus, we made a place for His Word to grow in our hearts. Our flesh will fail, but now with this seed planted in us we will live forever. Trials are temporary, but God’s Word in us—His life in us—is permanent.

Thank you God!!

This is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. It was the message in my morning devotional. I love it when God uses a devotional, scripture, or song to speak to me. I am struggling this week and He has been faithful in reminding me of his promises. He is my rock, my shelter from the storm, my healer, and my redeemed. Because he lives, I also have life. He shows me how to live life to the fullest and have peace despite my circumstances.

The things of the this world will fade away, but my relationship with Him  is everlasting and beyond my full understanding. I am so glad God baffles me. If I had a God who I could understand, He would not be that great of a God. My God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and he loves me and you! He wants His children to call on His name and ask for forgiveness so he may dwell in our hearts. All we need to do is ask. It is by faith and not our actions that we are made to new. “He wants us as we are, not how we ought to be.” He will heal our brokenness if we let him and our sins will be washed away. ❤

Drops in the Ocean

By Hawk Nelson

I want you as you are not as you ought to be
Won’t you lay down your guard and come to me
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks my heart to see you suffering
‘Cause I am for you
I’m not against you

If you wanna know how far my love can go
Just how deep
Just how wide
If you wanna see how much you mean to me
Look at my hands
Look at my side
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean,

Don’t think you need to settle for a substitute
When I’m the only love that changes you
And I am for you
I’m not against you
I am for you
I’m not against you

If you wanna know how far my love can go
Just how deep
Just how wide
If you wanna see how much you mean to me
Look at my hands
Look at my side
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean

Open your heart it’s time that we start again, oh oh oh
Open your heart it’s time that we start again, oh oh oh

If you wanna know how far my love can go
Just how deep
Just how wide
If you wanna see how much you mean to me
Look at my hands
Look at my side
If you could count the times I’d say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean, ooh ooh
The drops in the ocean, woah
I am for you
I’m not against you
I am for you
I’m not against you

Read more: Hawk Nelson – Drops In The Ocean Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Suffering Produces Perseverance

I do not wish I never had trich or bipolar disorder. Although both come full of pain and suffering, there is another side. Working through my struggles has made me the person I am today. I don’t know if I would have have the same faith, spirit of perseverance, or compassion. I think my best traits have been developed through my pain. God did not cause my suffering, but He will use it for good.

I still hope to be pull free, but I am happy now as I am. My moods are relatively stable, and I have settled on a set of meds that works for me. I still pull, but it does not rule my life. Yes, I do spend a considerable amount of time practicing awareness and coping strategies. However, I do not feel like less of a person because I do this or because I am missing some hair. Everyone has some form of struggle in their life. Learning to use that suffering for good is the key to moving through it and finding a purpose for your pain. I read this devotional earlier today and thought that it lined up so well with the verse that has been on my heart, Romans 5:3-4.

Your Pain Often Reveals God’s Purpose for You

BY RICK WARREN — NOVEMBER 25, 2014

Your pain often reveals God’s purpose for you. God never wastes a hurt! If you’ve gone through a hurt, he wants you to help other people going through that same hurt. He wants you to share it. God can use the problems in your life to give you a ministry to others. In fact, the very thing you’re most ashamed of in your life and resent the most could become your greatest ministry in helping other people.
Who can better help somebody going through a bankruptcy than somebody who went through a bankruptcy? Who can better help somebody struggling with an addiction than somebody who’s struggled with an addiction? Who can better help parents of a special needs child than parents who raised a special needs child? Who can better help somebody who’s lost a child than somebody who lost a child?
The very thing you hate the most in your life is what God wants to use for good in your life.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1, verses 4 and 6, “God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things” (NLT).
This is called redemptive suffering. Redemptive suffering is when you go through a problem or a pain for the benefit of others.
This is what Jesus did. When Jesus died on the cross, he didn’t deserve to die. He went through that pain for your benefit so that you can be saved and go to Heaven.
There are many different causes for the problems, pains, and suffering in your life. Sometimes the stuff that happens you bring on yourself. When you make stupid decisions, then it causes pain in your life. If you go out and overspend and buy things you can’t afford and presume on the future, and then you go deeply in debt and lose your house, you can’t say, “God, why did you let me lose my house?” You can’t blame God for your bad choices.
But in some of your problems, you’re innocent. You’ve been hurt by the pain, stupidity, and sins of other people. And some of the pain in your life is for redemptive suffering. God often allows us to go through a problem so that we can then help others.

Conflict in Relationships

img_5156Any type of stress, anxiety, anger, or conflict makes my pulling worse. It is a self-soothing behavior that helps me calm down and often dissociate from my feelings. Over the past few years, I have been working to use helpful strategies that help me relax without pulling my hair (which only leaves me feeling worse in the end).
As a high stress person, I have suffered with anxiety for most of my life. It still plagues me at times, but I have learned strategies to calm my mind and body. Taking a quick break from the situation, praying, practicing deep breathing, and trying to find a more positive outlook are some simple tools that have helped me.

If I catch myself being negative or getting stressed out, I try to take a step back and look at the situation objectively. In the past, I would catastrophize my situation. Now, I can identify those feelings and look for the truth.

  • Are my concerns based on truth?
  • Can I do anything about this?
  • Is there a more positive outlook I can strive for?
  •  If the worst case senario does play out, is it really that bad?

Beyond my stress and anxiety is anger that can cause relationship problems. The following article presents 3 ways to create conflict (and therein, 3 ways to avoid it). I know I am guilty of these and am making it a priority to avoid them. Reducing conflicts in our relationships, greatly increases our overall well-being.

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Three Sure Ways to Create Conflict

By Rick Warren

“Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (Proverbs 20:3 TEV).

Wise people are peacemakers, not troublemakers. Wise people don’t carry a chip on their shoulder. They’re not always looking for a fight, and they don’t intentionally antagonize other people.

The fact is, if you’re around anybody for any length of time, you’ll figure out what that person does that irritates you, and you file that information in the back of your mind as a tool to use when you get in an argument. It becomes a personal “weapon of mass destruction”! When you get in an argument, and that person says something that hurts, offends, or slights you in any way, then you pull out the big gun. You push the hot button. And it works every time!

You know what the Bible calls that? Foolishness! You’re not getting any closer to the resolution. You’re not helping the relationship. In fact, you’re hurting it. It is not wise.

Proverbs 20:3 says, “Any fool can start arguments; the honorable thing is to stay out of them” (TEV).


We all use tools, tricks of the trade, and skills in relationships that are actually counter productive. They’re hurtful, they’re harmful, and they don’t get you what you want out of relationships. In fact, they get you the exact opposite behavior. But when we lack wisdom, we use them anyway.

There are many of these tools, but here are just a few:

1. Comparing. Never compare your wife, your husband, your kids, your boss, or anybody else, because everybody’s unique. Comparing antagonizes anger.

2. Condemning. When you start laying on the guilt in a relationship, all you’re going to do is get the exact opposite of what you expect. It doesn’t work. It’s foolish.

3. Contradicting. William James, the famous psychologist said, “Wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” There’s some stuff you just need to overlook.


The Bible says in Proverbs 14:29, “A wise man controls his temper. He knows that anger causes mistakes” (TLB). Have you ever said or done anything stupid out of anger? Yes? Because when you get angry, your intelligence goes out the window. When you get angry, you say and do foolish things that are actually self-defeating.

Did you ever think about the fact that there is only one letter difference between “anger” and “danger”? When you get angry, you are in dangerous territory. You are about to hurt others — and yourself — with your own anger.

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Habits

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__________________________

Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

~ Warren Buffett

__________________________

Habits

We all have habits. In fact, many habits, such as putting on your seatbelt or brushing your teeth, are beneficial. But those suffering with Skin Picking Disorder and Trichotillomania have habits that are anything but beneficial.

All habits – good or bad – include three components:

  • A cue, which triggers the habitual behavior to start.
  • The behavior itself, such as picking or pulling.
  • A reward, which “reinforces” the behavior, thus leading you to repeat it in the future.

This is called a “habit loop” and it is a crucial principle in understanding these conditions.

Habit Reversal Training (HRT) is one of the most important strategies used in changing your behavior and breaking habit loops. The first step in HRT, as discussed here in previous installments, is building awareness of your picking and pulling. Once a trigger is identified, it can act as a warning sign that you are about to engage in a destructive behavior.

Using HRT, you learn to instead use a competing response to the trigger, rather than picking or pulling. This competing response should ideally be something that actively engages your hands, and which can be done easily in most situations. The immediate goal is to make picking or pulling more difficult, or even burdensome. Some examples of competing responses include squeezing a stress ball, knitting, writing, or painting. Basically, anything that keeps your hands away from your skin and hair!

By introducing this alternative behavior as a replacement for your habitual behavior, you interrupt the reinforcement, start the process of breaking the habit loop, and begin developing a new, non-damaging habit in its place. Additionally, some people use habit blockers such as gloves, to act as a further impediment to their picking and pulling.

It may take some time to find what works for you, and some things might work better than others depending on the given situation. As a result, you may at first find it difficult to consistently implement HRT, and may grow frustrated with yourself. But with repeated practice, you can learn to replace a destructive habit with one that is neutral or even positive. While HRT is seldom a solution in itself, it is a critical component of a long-term process of challenging these destructive, habitual behaviors.

__________________________

1) Create a list of the situations that often trigger you to pick or pull.

2) Create a list of different competing responses you might use this week when you feel the urge to pick or pull. (Hint: The TLC Foundation for BFRBs website at www.bfrb.org sells many inexpensive “fidgets” that can keep your hands busy.)

3) Keep a log of which competing responses work and don’t work for you this week, and try to come up with alternatives for those times that the competing behavior you try is not helpful.

__________________________

Weekly Tip: Remember that when you first start using competing responses, you might feel frustrated because you are using it so often, or because HRT is simply not working in that moment. This is a normal reaction, and it is important to keep trying new ways to break the habit loop. You might find that you will have to try several replacement behaviors, or to repeat the replacement behaviors numerous times before you start to experience success in breaking your habit loop.

__________________________

OCD Center of Los Angeles
http://ocdla.com

(310) 824-5200

Written by
Kelley Franke, BA and Tom Corboy, MFT

© 2016 OCD Center of Los Angeles

Small Victories

I made it 10 days without pulling my hair!

image

We are often hardest on ourselves so after pulling a few hairs, I’m giving myself the same advice I would offer another trichsters who stopped pulling for any length of time and then pull again.

Don’t stop celebrating that victory just because you slipped up.

image

Although it seems like all that work was for nothing, it’s not in vain. Every time you resisted the urge to pull was a small victory, another step closer to recovery. You are building strength and training yourself not to pull.

It’s a long hard process, but you’ve already done a lot of the work. You are learning ways to be aware and self-sooth without pulling. It didn’t start overnight so it will also take time to fully stop. Next time it will be that much easier. 💜

 

Persistence not Perfection

Trichy Insights

Let’s strengthen those weak muscles!  

Just persist until you are successful!

My solace tonight as I persist in my journey to recovery from trich comes from comments of some of the people on the Fairlight Bulletin Board posted on Amanda’s Trichotillomania Guide.

Definition of Success

I just wanted to add another observation to all that has been said about making a commitment to not pulling. Think of it as exercise. When I started walking a couple of months ago, I thought a mile was forever. Now that I’ve been walking regularly, my stamina has increased, and a mile goes by quickly. I can’t run a marathon (yet!), but I am stronger. In the same way, as we practice not pulling, we’re building “muscles” that make it easier not to pull. The first couple of weeks are horrible, but then it gets easier–if you persist. I’ve slipped a couple of times…

View original post 924 more words

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Trichotillomania

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10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Trichotillomania

By
Sera Torregiano
Contributor
I write about Trichotillomania
06/01/16
Shares
Trichotillomania (TTM) is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) characterized by compulsive hair pulling, resulting in noticeable hair loss and distress. This disorder affects an estimated one in every 25 people yet struggles with gaining significant awareness. TTM causes a great deal of shame, which makes it difficult for people to come forward.

At 7 years old I was diagnosed with TTM. I have been in an ongoing battle with this disorder for nearly 14 years now. I have also been closely involved with the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors during these years. After becoming an advocate for TTM last October, I have been faced with many questions from friends, family and other sufferers. There are certain aspects of this disorder I believe are extremely important for the public to know.

1. We can’t “just stop.”

If we could, we would. I promise.

2. This is a real psychological disorder.

I often get asked if this is a habit or an addiction. It’s not. TTM is categorized in the DSM-5 as an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) related behavior. This does not, however, mean that TTM is OCD. This is a common misconception. TTM and other BFRBs are simply on the OCD spectrum, as this is currently the most appropriate place for them in terms of diagnosis.

3. We don’t want this.

People seem to forget this. We don’t want to engage in the behavior, nor do we want the hair loss or shame that results from it. The only thing we do want is the feeling of relief from tension and anxiety that causes us to pull in the first place. When a hair is pulled, endorphins are released in the brain. This creates an instant feeling of relief. You may have heard about endorphins before — they are released when you exercise as well!

4. We are extremely self-conscious about our appearance.

As you probably guessed, unwanted bald spots (or total baldness) creates a great deal of emotional anguish. We spend hours every single day doing our hair – it’s both frustrating and nerve-wracking. Even when we’re sure our spots are covered, we still constantly worry about them being discovered.

5. We don’t expect you to understand.

It is absolutely impossible for someone who does not have TTM to understand someone who does. No matter how frustrating it is, you will never be able to feel what we feel (unless by some chance you develop TTM, which I whole-heartedly hope you don’t). That being said, we don’t need you to understand. We just need you to support us during this battle. Unconditional love, encouragement and positivity can make a tremendous difference… and we appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

6. Sometimes, we just need space.

It gets tiring to live in a society where the importance of hair is so over exaggerated. Not only is the point of having hair put in our faces constantly, but specifically the idea of perfect hair: imagine all of the hair product commercials you see or the fuss over how celebrities do their hair. Seeing someone with silky, luscious locks can send us into a depressive frenzy. So yes, sometimes we get irritable and upset. We just need some time to breathe.

7. Many of us suffer from other mental health issues as well.

It is not uncommon for those with TTM to have co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Research has not yet identified whether other disorders trigger the onset of TTM or if TTM leads to the development of other disorders.

8. Recovery is possible.

Take it from me: I have recovered twice. Unfortunately though, TTM is much like a roller coaster. There will be times in life where your pulling is nonstop and times when it is stagnant. But it is in fact possible to stop. The most important thing is to never give up.

9. There is no known cure.

Until recently, doctors did not take the issue of TTM and other BFRBs seriously. It was assumed an insignificant amount of the population struggled with these disorders, when in reality, it simply took time to get people to realize they weren’t the only ones – which led to the creation of a community dedicated to raising awareness. Now, it is estimated that 4 percent of the population is affected by these behaviors. For the first time, large-scale research is in the works. However, for the time being, millions of others and myself are facing this issue every day without a cure.

10. You can help.

The largest barrier between us and a cure is funding. This research costs an astonishing amount of money. We need your help. To learn more about current research and making a donation, please visit here.

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Trichotillomania

By Sera Torregiano
06/01/16

Trichotillomania (TTM) is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) characterized by compulsive hair pulling, resulting in noticeable hair loss and distress. This disorder affects an estimated one in every 25 people yet struggles with gaining significant awareness. TTM causes a great deal of shame, which makes it difficult for people to come forward.

At 7 years old I was diagnosed with TTM. I have been in an ongoing battle with this disorder for nearly 14 years now. I have also been closely involved with the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors during these years. After becoming an advocate for TTM last October, I have been faced with many questions from friends, family and other sufferers. There are certain aspects of this disorder I believe are extremely important for the public to know.

1. We can’t “just stop.”

If we could, we would. I promise.

2. This is a real psychological disorder.

I often get asked if this is a habit or an addiction. It’s not. TTM is categorized in the DSM-5 as an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) related behavior. This does not, however, mean that TTM is OCD. This is a common misconception. TTM and other BFRBs are simply on the OCD spectrum, as this is currently the most appropriate place for them in terms of diagnosis.

3. We don’t want this.

People seem to forget this. We don’t want to engage in the behavior, nor do we want the hair loss or shame that results from it. The only thing we do want is the feeling of relief from tension and anxiety that causes us to pull in the first place. When a hair is pulled, endorphins are released in the brain. This creates an instant feeling of relief. You may have heard about endorphins before — they are released when you exercise as well!

4. We are extremely self-conscious about our appearance.

As you probably guessed, unwanted bald spots (or total baldness) creates a great deal of emotional anguish. We spend hours every single day doing our hair – it’s both frustrating and nerve-wracking. Even when we’re sure our spots are covered, we still constantly worry about them being discovered.

5. We don’t expect you to understand.

It is absolutely impossible for someone who does not have TTM to understand someone who does. No matter how frustrating it is, you will never be able to feel what we feel (unless by some chance you develop TTM, which I whole-heartedly hope you don’t). That being said, we don’t need you to understand. We just need you to support us during this battle. Unconditional love, encouragement and positivity can make a tremendous difference… and we appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

6. Sometimes, we just need space.

It gets tiring to live in a society where the importance of hair is so over exaggerated. Not only is the point of having hair put in our faces constantly, but specifically the idea of perfect hair: imagine all of the hair product commercials you see or the fuss over how celebrities do their hair. Seeing someone with silky, luscious locks can send us into a depressive frenzy. So yes, sometimes we get irritable and upset. We just need some time to breathe.

7. Many of us suffer from other mental health issues as well.

It is not uncommon for those with TTM to have co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Research has not yet identified whether other disorders trigger the onset of TTM or if TTM leads to the development of other disorders.

8. Recovery is possible.

Take it from me: I have recovered twice. Unfortunately though, TTM is much like a roller coaster. There will be times in life where your pulling is nonstop and times when it is stagnant. But it is in fact possible to stop. The most important thing is to never give up.

9. There is no known cure.

Until recently, doctors did not take the issue of TTM and other BFRBs seriously. It was assumed an insignificant amount of the population struggled with these disorders, when in reality, it simply took time to get people to realize they weren’t the only ones – which led to the creation of a community dedicated to raising awareness. Now, it is estimated that 4 percent of the population is affected by these behaviors. For the first time, large-scale research is in the works. However, for the time being, millions of others and myself are facing this issue every day without a cure.

10. You can help.

The largest barrier between us and a cure is funding. This research costs an astonishing amount of money. We need your help. To learn more about current research and making a donation, please visit here.

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