Friday, June 22, 2012

"HeartCore Inspirations"

What feelings are in your heart today? Since trichsters live much of their lives 'inside their own minds', there's a pretty strong probability that whatever thoughts you are entertaining in your mind are driving the feelings that are within your heart. 

Since one's internal feelings drive their external actions, it becomes vital to practice  'HeartCore Inspirational Thinking'.  Commonly known as cognitive restructuring in clinical circles, cognitive restructuring often works amazingly well, especially with consistent application of the process and, sometimes, in combination with a pharmacological regimen.*  Further, it is readily available with the simple flick of the mind's 'thought switch'.  For instance, if one's thinking is focused upon negative thoughts, it's simple to know that one's actions will, most probably, land on negative turf.  Flip that 'thought switch' from negative to positive and, nearly instantaneously, the world flickers a brighter, lighter flame.

Need more to prompt your mind to 'flick the switch'?  Try viewing photos~!  Most people are 'visual learners and responders'.  Therefore, pictures, photos, words of positivities are so powerful they can, potentially, engage one's mind immediately!  This is especially true if one has a COMMITTED investment in 'wanting to switch thinking'.  Stop the negative, engage the POSITIVE~!  Create, via your thinking, the chemical concoction you want your brain to produce.  For the brain, a miraculous gift we are given, will send these messages to your heart in the form of feelings.

We CHOOSE what we do or do not think.  The greater positive thinking we employ, the less anxiety and depression we hold within our beings.  We can train ourselves to actually 'control' the anxiety and depression.**  Thus, the less the obsessive thinking lent to 'pulling' BECOMES the less one 'pulls' compulsively.

Make that choice to think positively.  Realize that it takes practice.  LOTS of practice to create positive thinking and to sustain positive thinking ongoing. Step by step; babysteps.  And be plentiful in the rewards you give to yourself for each and every time you break the cycle of negative thinking, thus perhaps averting a 'session' of pulling~!  Know that BABYSTEPS are what produce desired results.  And to advance one step further what Ms. Ellen Degeneres says regularly, 'Be Kind to One Another.....And that Includes YOURSELF~!'

*  None of the materials suggested are intended to be of a clinical nature nor with medical advisement.

**  Please note that medications may be necessary to control anxiety and depression.  It is strongly suggested that one who experiences prolonged periods of these would be wise to seek counsel from a medical professional.  To not do so, may only set one's self up for failure, even to become medically compromised.  "Pull yourself up by the boot straps" does not work if one, in reality, is experiencing a medical condition, needing treatment via medical practitioner.  

"HeartCore Inspirations"; one more method to 'trick the trich'~!

J.T. Bean

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We are NOT alone

The message is getting out there, loud and clear, about many topics that 'we are not alone'.  That is one of the most critical revelations one may feel, especially when it comes to a disorder such as trichotillomania.  Being tied so closely to other disorders, especially depression and anxiety, this knowledge can create relief nearly beyond comprehension. 

Comordibity is the clinical term used when there is the presence of more than one mental health diagnosis from which one suffers.  The secrecy, the repressive quality of trichotillomania exists also with those experiencing depression and anxiety.  Verbalizing to others becomes nearly impossible, or perhaps even impossible.  The shame,  the feeling that one is 'less than' others, 'different' from others is a rolling snowball, frequently built into a mountain of snow.  Often, however, depression and anxiety may be held secretly as they frequently do not show outward physical symptoms.  Yes.  One may be underweight/overweight, fidgity, unable to be calm, but others may merely write those off as 'that's just the way they are'.  With trichotillomania, there are the outward signs that others may clearly observe.  Missing eyebrows and eyelashes, patches of hair missing on the head and pubic regions (what a horror to experience in gym class where public showers are required) do not go unnoticed by others.  And when the trich sufferer 'feels' others noting these symptoms of the disorder, it feels exponentially worse to the trichster.  It takes on a life of its own, driving the trichster deeper into the 'hall of shame within' their heart, soul and mind.

Thus, expression to another or others becomes perhaps the first step in recovery.  And just as the snowball of shame grows, so, too, may 'relief via expression' grow.  It, too, may grow exponentially; tell one, tell two, tell four, tell eight.......  The point is, "tell".  Find a venue be it a blog, a therapist, a friend, a social media venue, perhaps even a cloud in the sky or your pet!  Express it.  Embrace it.  Revel in it.  Recover in doing so.  Next time you want to pull or you do pull......just remember, you are NOT alone.  You are not alone in pulling.  You are not alone in recovery~!  Breathe that into your Being.....and join me in our recoveries.

'til our next time together,
J.T. Bean

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Trichotillomania: Intimacy: Home Alone?

Trichotillomania: Intimacy: Home Alone?: Well?  It's the week-end~!  Often times that means there may be a special activity planned such as going to the theatre, eating out for a me...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Sharing the Secret"

I'm interested in how, when, IF others have shared their 'secret' of trichotillomania.  Since it is a very shame-based disorder, many choose to keep it a secret, if possible.  Sometimes the pulling is so obvious, it is impossible to keep that secret.  But not all folks pull in obvious areas.  For instance, if one pulls in the pubic region, one's body hair or an animal's fur.

I realized something was 'wrong' when I was about 11 years of age.  I was into adolescence and was feeling strongly compelled to pull in the pubic region.  I also was strongly compelled to pulling my eyelashes and rubbing the hairs in my right eyebrow.  I recall going and getting my mother's tweezers, then reserving the bathroom (which I had to share with 3 other siblings) for total privacy.  Due to my adolescent age, much support was lent by my mother, especially, to ensure I had my privacy time.  Little did she know that I had just raided her bathroom medicine cabinet to attain her tweezers~!  Then?  I would strategically pull the lashes, one by one, with the tweezers.  First the right eye.  Then the left eye.  There was a 'snap' of my eyelid as the bulb of the hair was removed from it.  It hurt in a sense, but it also felt really good, too.  Relieved would be how I would explain the feeling.  I had removed the hairs that, somehow, 'felt' like they 'needed to be pulled'.  I don't know why some felt they needed pulled and others were purely benign and unnoticed, not giving me any sensation whatsoever that they needed removed.

I would take each hair as it was removed, tap it against my lower lip, then when it felt 'finished', simply flick it away.  By the time the pulling session was over, I would then review the line-up of all the pulled hairs surrounding the sink.  More importantly, I would review my eyelids and right eyebrow, checking for 'damage done'.  Often, it was shocking.  Worry would overtake me and I would wonder how would I ever hide this mess?  Surely someone would note it.

Then came the necessity of returning my mom's tweezers, ensuring they were back to their special spot on her medicine cabinet shelf.  This was sometimes pretty risky as, having 3 siblings and my parents' bedroom being their private space, I had to sneak around to accomplish the tweezer's return.  Once again came the onset of great stress which far outweighed the momentary satisfaction of the pulling session.  Yet?  I knew that, surely, I would pull again, repeating the very same process.

Over the years, the places I pulled would change as my living situations changed and I grew up, moving out on my own as a young adult.  But, the secret remained.  Until the age of 38 years old, the secret of pulling remained.  Finally, I told someone.  Someone with whom I shared a home.  The 'cat was out of the bag', finally~!  I recall that conversation lasting for hours.  My friend was so interested, hearing about this behavior I did regularly.  Interestingly, my friend was also a mental health therapist, yet had never heard of trichotillomania.  I was lucky.  I had a kind, sensitive, genuinely interested and supportive person as my audience.  For the first time since I was 11 years old, I felt relief that I had told this huge secret I had held for 27 years.  We even laughed.  Not at me, but just because it was so 'different'.

And from telling one person, then I began to slowly tell more people.  With each person I told, I felt more relief.  I didn't feel weird, creepy, odd.  I felt relief.  And with each revelation of speaking my truth, I continue to feel relief.  I don't blast it to the world.  But when it feels appropriate and important, I tell my truth.  So, I can attest that, for me, the truth has set me free.  And it will continue to set me free as now that I've gotten a piece of that 'freedom pie', I want more~!

Sending out my thoughts of freedom for any/all who are right now suffering from this disorder.  It's surely not fair.  But, I do believe and have experienced, there is Hope.  I hope relief for all.

J.T. Bean

Going to the HairStylist; What happens?

Curious.  If you happen to be a 'head hair puller or eyebrow/eyelash puller', what do you do when you go to the hairstylist?  If you go to the hairstylist?  Do you wear a wig? Where do you get your wig? How does the hairdesigner respond when you inform them that you have trichotillomania?  Do they have any idea of what you are talking?

Being a barber/stylist myself, I feel training should be mandatory for ALL students who become involved in the salon/spa industry.  What do you think?

Controlling Trich's Tricks

For 46 years, I've been affected by trichotillomania.  Started when I was 11 years old.  I surely didn't have a clue what was happening.  I just knew.....I had to pull~!  I was affected primarily with my eyebrows, eyelashes and pubic area.  Bedtime was when I found myself most able to pull.  But?  If given the opportunity, I spent as much time as possible rubbing at my eyebrow.  It never affected nor felt 'needed' on my left eyebrow.  Only the right eyebrow.  I rubbed and rubbed to the point of, to this very day, I have an actual scar where the hairs no longer grow due to the persistent irritation I forced upon them.  There are even more wrinkles (yes, I have a few of those now, too~~) on my left eyebrow forehead than on my right eyebrow forehead.

46 years later, I have learned that, for me, it appears I will have the disorder chronically.  The GREAT THING is that I've learned many coping skills, but 3 very important things: (1) how to control it so others don't even know I have trich and (2) I have participated in my own personal mental health counseling treatment with trained therapists; cognitive behavioral methodologies have served me well and (3) being active (kinesiology) is extremely helpful.

Point is?  Living with trichotillomania seems to be far more difficult when one is younger and in the throes of its onset.  Of course, when one is younger, there are fewer coping skills as yet learned.  Along the course of living, one acquires more 'tools for the toolbox'.  That's true about Life in general~!  Living with or without trich.  It's just part of developmental staging and maturation.

The flip side of the above statement many folks have aged and NOT developed effective coping mechanisms?  How many folks has it completely devastated their lives?  Who are, perhaps, not even alive any longer due to the depression, anxiety and distress it causes?

What works for YOU?  What do you do when you get depressed?  What do you do when you feel someone is staring at you?  Share. Share. Share.  The more we share, the more we know.  Grasp onto it, embrace the suggestions if it 'feels good'.  Toss it away if it doesn't seem to 'fit'.  That's OK, too.

I know that right now as I write this, there are many hurting.  I also know there are many who are out, feeling good about their lives as they have developed some very sustainable 'Life tools for the tool box'.  Let's band together.  Let's build our blog.  Let's GO~~~!

Post. Post. Post.  Please & Thanks~~~!

J.T. Bean

"Getting Optimized": Blog is on "GO" now~!"

Yay!  2 people posted to the blog~!  Thank you so much! 

Already, we're heading into the 'nit and grit' of the power of this blog, of expression of what trichotillomania feels like internally and its outward appearance to others.  Or, perhaps better stated, how one who has trichotillomania 'thinks' it appears to those without trich.

Trichotillomania is a very personal issue.  Mostly because it carries with it the notion of 'secrecy', hiding it from others, yet knowing full well, it's not hidden at all~!  Thus start the patterns of detachment from others, self-conscious behavior, negative body image issues. That is when the 'trich gets tricky'~!  We not only try to trick others by doing all sorts of things to try, earnestly, to not let others notice that we may be missing eyelashes, eyebrows, hair on our heads, pubic region hair, even just body hairs (lanuga).  Some folks pull their animals' hair.  That is not intended to be mean or abusive at all.  Once again, the animal's/animals' fur becomes a resource for a hair puller.  The hair is there and it may be pulled.  Urge present, action taken (pulling), ultimately urge satisfied.  Sounds so simple, yet it is laden with layers of emotional, mental, physical appearance ramifications. 

Because it is an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it carries with it (typically) a very routinized protocol, a chaining of behaviors, a very structured and ordered plan so that the desired outcome, pulling the hair(s) may be realized.  Most people tend to have preferred places to pull (perhaps your bed, your bathroom, a quiet zone) and know very well when and where to access these 'pulling places'.  If something interferes with being able to access one's pulling place, it can, literally, create great discomfort emotionally.  It may become an obsessive thought, literally all that one may be able to think about UNTIL 'the pulling' may be enacted satisfactorily.  The drive, the motivation to 'do the pull' will become stronger in its intensity the longer one must 'go without', be deprived.  Once being able to perform the compulsion, driven by the obsession, a true sense of calm and relief, even a state of euphoria will be felt.  However, the trick of the trich then rears its ugly head as then the assessment of 'damage done' will quickly need to be known. 

Again, it is of note how little time is actually spent in that zone of 'feeling euphoria' versus the very extended time spent in worry and shame of the outcome of the pulling session. 

Let's end with that thought and inquiry; What is your process, your protocol to be able to pull?  Identifying this is critical as then, once we know where we go and how we succeed in pulling, we can then make modifications.  Modifications with both our environments, but especially within our thoughts~!

I will state this repeatedly; 'step by step'.  One foot in front of the other.  Stay with the present by 'being present within your thoughts'; awareness.  And, most importantly, accepting one's self at whatever state of learning one is living.  Right now.  In the present.  Accept. Accept. Accept.  Know change is gonna come.  But only with acceptance of one's self.  As Ms. Ellen Degeneres frequently ends her shows, embrace her statement, "Be Kind to One Another".  Well?  One another includes YOU, first and foremost......

As ever and with my tank feeling optimized, "We got it going on NOW~!"
J.T. Bean