Posts Tagged ‘hair pulling’

Awhile back I wrote about a cool fidget cube thing I saw online. There are different things such as switches, buttons etc., on each side and it fits in your pocket so you can take it with you any where.

I really wanted to get one, but money has been pretty tight lately so I held off — until yesterday! The cute little gadget went on sale for about $4 and free shipping on Amazon. Add to cart, yes please!

I can’t wait to get it! I did not realize how much I fidgeted until I started researching Trichotillomania and started trying to track my triggers and patterns. I always have to have something in my hands, whether it be a pen, stress ball or anything else so that I continuously have something against the skin in my hand. When I don’t have that feeling my hands reach for the hair, I have definitely made that connection. It seems that the skin on my hand needs stimulation.

I have always been sensitive to textures, I guess maybe more so than most people. I did not realize it was more intense for me though. I remember wearing corduroy pants as a child and rubbing my hands across the ridges of the fabric over and over because I could not get enough of that sensation. On the opposite side of that spectrum I cannot handle the roughness of emery boards. You know, those nail file things? Even the thought of touching one of those makes my teeth hurt and gives me the chills. Keep those things away from me!

I hate dry skin with a passion that seriously cannot be put into words. I will literally pull over if I am driving and I have dead skin on my fingers just so that I can pick it off.

Anyway, I should have my fidget cube in a few days. I will let you know how it works!

 

I have taken some time off work, about two weeks to be exact. My daughter moved to Kansas City, Missouri in July and I had not seen her since, so I bought some plane tickets and flew out there to pick her up and bring her home for Christmas. I’d never been that far east before, and it was the longest I’d ever been on an airplane.

So since I’ve been off work I noticed that I have hardly pulled at all. And when I do I can catch myself and stop. I have noticed that before, that when I take some time off work my pulling greatly decreases. It’s not like I have an incredibly stressful job, I mean it has its moments but it’s a desk job and I sit in a corner in an office that is pretty much blocked from view. I am responsible for a lot. There have been a lot of lay-offs so I have taken on more and more responsibility. I have not had a raise in about 8 years, and money is tight so that really stresses me out.

But the urge to pull is so much less when I am just at home with no-where to go, when I can just sit and read or draw or something. I want to keep this streak going. I go back to work January 3. How can I keep this sense of calm after I go back to work?

 

 

 

One of the first steps in dealing with this disorder is identifying your triggers. I have discussed this in several other posts, but it is important. For example, caffeine and over-stimulation is a trigger for most people, myself included.

For me, however, I have been doing this for so long that it is harder to identify my triggers.  I think that after 20 years a lot of it has become muscle memory. I pull when I am tired, I pull when I am wide awake, when I am bored, when I am stressed. . . there seems to be, aside from a couple of obvious things, no rhyme or reason to it. Maybe I need to try harder to identify what sets it off.

This last weekend I found myself pulling more and more in front of people. Usually I can hold back when I know that I am in a room full of people, but this weekend not even that stopped me. I am hoping that was just a temporary thing. I realize that I am doing it and stop, but then start again moments later without even knowing it. I wonder how many people have seen me pull and wonder what the hell I am doing.

I found this article about two brothers who have developed a bracelet that vibrates when a person reaches to pull his or her hair. It was designed for people with Trichotilomania. I am wondering how well it works. I would like to know before I spend the $90 for it. I think it is pretty new so there are not a lot of reviews on it. If you hear anything please let me know.

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/technology/brothers-bracelet-lends-hand-with-hair-pulling-condition/

Two to three times a year I have an absolute breakdown. By that I mean a 24-hour or so period where I am a completely different person. Super depressed, way more than usual, not eating or sleeping, being super angry at the world in general and curling up in a ball and crying and screaming in a corner. After awhile I get exhausted and I fall asleep, then when I wake up I gradually come out of it. I don’t always remember much after one of my “episodes,” which is probably for the best.  I would never hurt anybody, except myself of course, but I’ve learned that when I get that way I just need to go into my bedroom until it passes. It’s like catching the flu or something. . . it grabs you and won’t let go and you just have to let it run its course. That was my Saturday-Sunday. Thank God it only happens a couple of times a year.

Following that I pulled more than ever last night. I went on a major binge. I honestly can’t believe I have any hair left today, I thought I just about got it all. This “manic” episode has continued today, it is like my fingers have a mind of their own. I can’t focus on work or anything else going on around me today, everything is jumbling together and not making sense.

I couldn’t sleep last night, which I am sure contributes to the way I feel today.

On a side note, not wanting to make this post entirely negative, I have found a correlation between caffeine intake and pulling. A couple of years ago I completely cut soda from my diet. I have it only every once in awhile when we go out to eat or something. I had heard that caffeine and other stimulants increased the urge to pull, so I decided to pay closer attention to how I reacted. Sure enough, when I drink soda I tend to pull more.

That’s just a little chip on the iceberg in my quest to get to the “root” of this. Ha ha, see what I did there? LOL. Only trichsters get that joke.

I see on various forums where people post their successes. . . “50 days pull-free!” and I can’t help but wonder where they started. I don’t think I have ever had one pull-free day. It’s not that I have not tried, believe me, I have, but I don’t know when I am doing it. I try to catch myself, and I do quite a bit, but there are many other times when I realize I have been pulling for the last five minutes and I didn’t even know it.

So how does one start when you don’t even know you’re doing it?

I have read that there are three different types of pullers — those who do it completely subliminally, like in a trance, those who do it cognitively, like pulling until they find that perfect hair, and then there are those who do both. I am pretty sure there are more people who fall into the “both” category, myself included.

I have been trying to pay attention more to not only my triggers, but times when I seem to pull for no reason at all. I notice that I pull when my hands have nothing else to do. When I am driving, when I am reading, etc. Any time my fingers are not twiddling something, fidgeting, touching something with texture.

There is something in the way my brain is wired — my fingers need constant stimulation. When I am not touching something with some sort of texture or fidgeting with a slinky or something I can feel my anxiety creep in. I am not going to pretend to understand why, but it is a definite fact.

I have always been a fidgeter, even before I developed Trichotillomania. I have always had to play with something in my hands, tap my foot, twirl a pen and that sort of thing. Somehow it developed into hair pulling when I was a teen. I never really thought about it until I started to realize that having something in my hand to play with took the edge off the urge to pull. So far it is the most satisfying thing to me besides the hair pulling.

I have always been kind of embarrassed by the fidgeting, I thought it was a bad habit or that it was annoying other people. I thought it was weird and I tried to stop doing it whenever I was in public as much as possible. Now I have learned that a lot of people do it. A lot. Most just don’t develop into hair pulling.

So now I am trying to make sure that I always have a fidget toy or something to hold, to play with. When I am typing I am good as long as my fingers stay on the keys. If I stop for a moment to gather my thoughts my hand goes straight for my hair. So I have a little rubber spiky ball and a little pink plastic slinky on either side of my keyboard that I hurry and grab before my hand goes to my head. I am trying to train my brain, alter that routine to reaching out for a fidget rather than going up. I have read about muscle memory, and I think a lot of my hand going straight up to my head all the time is because it has done it for so long. It’s like a reflex at this point. I am going to stay diligent and keep stuff to play with all the time.

I think that twirling a pen or something in my hand is a lot less noticeable than pulling my hair out, I just have to train my arm muscles and my brain to switch paths. Easier said than done.

Peaceful hands.

Wow, I am such a slacker. Well, as far as keeping up with my blog goes. The rest of my life is so organized it’s ridiculous. I guess that is a pro of having OCD-like tendencies, right?! The glass is half full!

So back in the beginning of April I went in to have my extensions moved up. Well, it had been so long since they were put in my natural hair that had grown out was all dreadlocked, so the stylist (who is wonderful, by the way) had to take them all out and put them back in again. It took more than seven hours. Ya, don’t do that.

It’s now mid June, and not wanting to make that mistake again, I have been trying to get a hold of my stylist. Mind you she is doing most of this for me for free, so I am not pushing for an appointment too hard. . .

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One of the biggest advancements I have personally made in my battle with trichotillomania is when I decided to treat it as a footnote rather than a main idea. Trich convinces you that it is in charge, that it controls you, that it IS who you are. It convinces you that you can’t be, you can’t exist without it, like some sort of parasite. Here’s the thing . . . none of that’s true.

Here’s a little exercise I want you to do if you are struggling with this: Make a list of all the things you love, all the things you are good at, all the things you want to do. Completely forget for a moment that you have trich. That’s hard, believe me, I know, it is hard to think of yourself as not having it. But it gets easier, I swear! Just practice! Meditate for a moment before you do this, read my previous entry on meditation for tips.

Think about who you are, who you truly are. Not who you are with trich, just who YOU are; the essential you. You are who you are without trich. It does not have you, you have it, keep that in mind. This thing that makes you pull your hair out does not define you. The way you live your life and treat other people are what define you. Your values, your helping others and attitude define you. In the big picture trich is very small, it just likes to make you think it is huge so it can keep it’s control.

If you grew up in the 1980s, like I did, you most likely saw the movie Labyrinth starring the late great David Bowie. The beginning of the movie shows Sarah, a spoiled teen obsessed with all things fantasy and mythical, in a park, reciting lines from her favorite story, the Labyrinth. She can never remember the very last line. It begins to rain and Sarah, realizing she’s late to babysit her baby brother, rushes home where she is confronted by her angry stepmother and father. She considers her baby brother Toby a nuisance and is not too happy about having to stay home to comfort him on a stormy night.

Sarah noticed that Toby has taken her favorite stuffed animal, a bear named Lancelot, and charges into the infant’s room to take it back. He won’t stop crying, and though she reluctantly tries to comfort him the baby won’t stop crying. Sarah remembers “the words” said in one of her favorite stories, “The Labyrinth,” that, when said, will conjure up the Goblins who will come and take the baby to the Goblin City forever. Though she initially forgets the words, she inadvertently mutters them as she shuts out the lights and leaves the room.

Toby instantly stops screaming and the lights won’t come back on. The Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie) appears to Sarah and tells her that he’s done as she wished and taken the baby to his castle. She instantly regrets what’s she’s done and begs for her brother to be returned. “What’s said is said,” says Jareth, and Sarah is given thirteen hours to solve the Labyrinth.

There are many tricks and turns throughout her journey, and through it all she learns that although life isn’t fair sometimes that’s just the way it is. At the end of The Labyrinth she confronts Jareth, and for the first time remembers the final line: “You have no power over me.”

She’s more tenacious than she knows, and you are too. We all are. Remember, trichotillomania does not define you. This is not who you are. As often as you can push it aside and focus who you are.

Peaceful hands.