Dear Trich – Part Three, A year on.

It’s been a year, one whole year since I wrote my first dear trich blogpost. It was one of the most liberating feeling talking directly to trich through the means of the internet, for some weird unknown reason. I then wrote a part two shortly after and both posts got a very good reaction. A year on I’ve decided to write to the beast that will always live with me.

Here we are again, Trich. Hi. A year ago I was angry, so angry with you. You were controlling my life. You were making me stay up hours and hours at night, making me not forget you were there and forced me to keep pulling my hair. I will never forget these times, never.ย 

No matter HOW hard I tried to stop, you would not let me.ย 

Fast forward a year and you are still here. To be honest, you’ll always be here. You still creep up on me day to day. I have now began to accept you will always be a part of me.ย 

A year ago, you were still my little secret, that only very few people knew about and now every one knows about you. Even to the point that I have now got myself a digital marketing and social media intern to help other people with hair loss, due to talking about you at the interview. I am not ashamed now, when I’m sat on the train, sat in the living room watching TV or even laying in bed to say, don’t mind me… it’s just trich reminding me, it’s still here.ย 

I have learnt that there are ways to help control it, although not all the time these work. I have learnt that now, if I put coconut oil on the ends of my hair, not only will it give my hair a conditioning treatment, it will help my fingers to slide down. ย I also have to thank you actually, trich, for allowing me to have acrylics every month. My nails look sassy because of you.ย 

I recently went to my hair dressers to get it cut. Both you and I know that hairdressers are not the place to be. Especially when you are trying to explain those bald patches throughout your hair when they lift your hair up or that there are shorter parts at the side where I’ve snapped it off. I was so so nervous before. To the point I made myself late because I just couldn’t face going in. But… I went in. I gave myself right at that last moment after friends had insisted it would be OK before, that it will be OK. This was the time I decided not to hide you behind the excessive bleach use (that I don’t do no more, but only said it because it was easier) and instead spoke about what trichotillomania was. How it effects me and what triggers you and I came out feeling so much better and proud of myself for going in – something I would not of done a year ago.ย 

This past year you have made me a stronger person. It takes a lot of strength to deal with you everyday. Not only does it drain the life and soul out of you pulling your hair out every single day, but it does get you incredibly down. I feel so alone when I’m pulling my hair as it does make you zone out. But when I get the chance to talk about you, i.e. my interview before, it makes me feel less alone. Even though ย my arm to have unbelievable aches every single day, to the point sometimes it feels like I have a dead arm.ย 

A year ago, I thought I’d never of got this far, a year later I have. You won’t beat me completely. I will keep fighting you day in day out. Maybe if one day you’re kind on me, I’ll be kind on you?ย 

Maybe see you in a year? Who knows.ย 

Charlotte.

 

Illustration by me:
ILLO

 

 

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Final Major Project VS Mental Health #MHAW17

It’s been a while, a really long while. In fact, five months since I last wrote a blog post on here and it was the beginning of my last ever university project. It was all about confidence VS creativity and how I have a lack of confidence with creative work. If you want to read it, you can click here.ย 

We’re half way through #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2017 #MHAW17 and I have finally completed my degree.

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As it is #MHAW17 I thought I would share you my struggles with my FMP, incase someone else is going through the same thing and to let them know, they’re not alone.

All three years are over and done with and I’m confused to how I’m feeling. I’m glad the pressure of third year has been lifted. However, there is still pressure of what grades I get at graduation, or even if I do graduate. As well as whether I get a job in graphic design and where it’ll be, or even if I’m good enough to go into industry. To be honest, I don’t think I am ready to leave education. But when will I ever be ready if I’m not now? I just kind of wish we had just one more project to do.

My final major project at university was a ride and a half. To start, I did a FMP (final major project) proposal in first semester of third year and it was for a sub brand for Lamoda of creating stationery for them. I had it all planned out, researched and was more than ready to go. When I got my grade back for the proposal I got my highest I ever got whilst at uni and this made me so excited. It wasn’t until after Christmas and we got going with the actual final major project I found, it really wasn’t for me. Nothing inside me wanted to open my computer and design for stationery. In fact, I couldn’t of thought of anything worse.

If you’ve read my blog before, you will know I suffer with a mental health condition called Trichotillomania. If you are new here, I’ll explain briefly. It is an impulse control disorder that makes you pull your hair out. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot stop. It is incurable and you just need to focus on ways to get through each and every day. ย It is, however, personally for me triggered by stress, anxiety and depression.

With my ideas changing and people in my class getting things done, I felt behind. I felt like the more I saw them, the more shit I felt about my own work. This was down to their work being incredible and mine wasn’t even started yet. The question of was I good enough to even complete my third year, was all that was going through my mind. Every night I would wake up and brainstorm what I would do instead of a stationery brand.

It was around seven weeks into my thirteen week term, that I finally started to get ideas come together. The final idea was to create a zine which focussed on beauty standards of society focusing on women. I had recently done my dissertation in the first semester on this and researched a lot, so I knew about the topic. I went to class for lots of weeks running up to this idea and I kind of just got through each meeting – how? I don’t know.

It wasn’t until when I was sat with my friends and they started getting really into their projects and I hadn’t even started mine yet I panicked. I didn’t want to start because, I genuinely didn’t think my work was good enough. I was seeing my class produce work week by week and I adored all of their work, but there was something in me telling me – nope! You’ll never reach that standard of work. That’s when I called a meeting and I was given three solutions.

  1. I could terminate the term. I could do it at a later date, but it would mean I wouldn’t graduate with my course friends.
  2. I could get extenuating circumstances. My mind just wasn’t with the course due to one thing or another.
  3. Or, I could just get my head down, ignore what other people were doing and just focus on my own project.

I don’t know if any of you have anxiety or suffer from any MH issues, but the thought of going home and telling my family that I wouldn’t graduate until November or even later scared me. Genuinely, all I’ve ever wanted to do is graduate with the people I spent my last three years with. I wouldn’t want anything more than that. Anxiety did not let me forget those options throughout the whole course.

I can safely say, that chat really kicked me up the arse. I had 8 weeks to do enough photoshoots to cover a zine and a website with different content for each, illustrations to draw, editing of skills to show, film to be written, filmed and edited as well as create a website solely from scratch.

I had panic attacks after panic attacks, but they wouldn’t effect me in the day they effected me at night. Night time was when it really got serious. Nine nights in a row I had a panic attacks. To accompany them I had the most terrifying nightmares. They were SO bad. Not only was the panic attacks and nightmares the worst of it all, but when it did come to morning I was so exhausted from having to deal with that half way through a sleep, that I had no energy in the morning. I didn’t have time to go for a doctors appointment so looked in the local Boots and picked up the tablets ‘Kalms’ especially for night time. I was a bit sceptical at first using them, because I didn’t want to rely on them, but they literally saved my last few weeks at uni. They didn’t help me get to sleep, they help me not wake up in the night having panic attacks and helped me sleep through. If I could I would make a special acknowledgement to them in FMP.

Towards the end, people were producing more work than they needed to and to be up to that level I felt I had to do the same. At one point I had four days to complete a website, edit my video and do other extra work on top to build my CAT credits up.

In the end, my FMP consisted of:

  • A 32 page zine, all creatively directed photo shooted/edited by me. Illustrations drawn by me and the writing, written by me.
  • Five interview conducted for both the zine and the website.
  • A 20 something page website, with every single page developed and designed by me using Adobe Muse.
  • GIF’s made by me.
  • A video filmed, edited and styled by me.
  • Flyers/posters for campaign reasons created by me
  • A second 12 page preview zine for the next issue designed by me
  • A 64 page development book, completed.

Zine pages:

Website examples:

Sketchbook examples.

I’m not going to lie, I feel so proud that I created all of that in practically 8 weeks. Even though, my mental health really challenged me, as well as life, I did it. I completed the whole three years, with the people I had studied throughout the whole course with and handed together as a tag team.

If you are going through a similar circumstance and you need someone to talk to, to help get you going and a kick up the ass without being TOO harsh, message me. I will always be here to help you through.

YOU CAN DO IT. If I could do it, so can you. Believe in yourself and get your head down.

Remember, diamonds are made under pressure.

A special thank you to my friends, tutor and family for being a massive support throughout the completion of this whirl wind adventure.

Trich and 2017 plans

I haven’t blogged in a long, long time. This is because I thought, I was maybe taking it a little too seriously. I only started to write a blog to help people I know as well as people I didn’t know, understand what it is to live with such a debilitating illness that takes over your every little piece of being. I began to write to help people who are in the same shoes, know they are not alone. I started this blog to get people to understand, whether they have trich or not that it is an impulsive control disorder and even if you try and stop, it’s like an itch and you can’t… until that feeling has ‘passed’. Yet most times, the feeling never passes. I had a saying that if oneย person was to read this blog I would be happy. Suddenly, I was looking at numbers daily and seeing the drop in how many people was reading it, sadly got me down. I realised then, I needed a break. I was also wondering if what I was writing, pouring my heart and soul into and writing very very personally was a little… too much? I’m still not sure if I write too much into the personal side and if I’m comfortable sharing this with the whole world.

Since my last post, Trich has not been kind to me. Due to other things happening in my life and trying to deal with them day by day, trich has decided now is the time to show its presence. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling pretty weak mentally as well as getting every other cold under the sun at this time and it likes to take advantage. I have had numerous nights and days recently where I’ve just sat there and been SO angry that I could come right back to what feels like the beginning, again. This isn’t just something that I’ve just started dealing with either, 2017 marks around the 15 year mark of dealing with this. FIFTEEN YEARS out of twenty three I’ve lived.

It’s so sad to say, but it all feels way too familiar. The round and round in a circle feeling of the highs and most definite lows. The days and nights I sit there and think, can I even do this again? Can I even look in the mirror and think… my oh my why and how have you done this to yourself, which then changes my thoughts to I can’t go out to enjoy myself because of the way my hair looks. Can I even deal with the thought of people thinking (even though I’m sure they don’t, this is trich being irrational) that they can see a decline in the length of my hair and maybe even notice the very obvious to me, bald patches. Can I really and truly do this again?

That’s when I need to stop them thoughts, as hard as it is. In 2017 I’m going to try, again my hardest not to let the negative dwell on me and turn them into positives. Of course there will be times where I sit there and I will be in that zone of pulling and nothing or no one can get me out of it. Then five minutes later, I’ve managed to snap off yet another big chunk of hair. These times I won’t be able to turn them into positives. There are no positives. It’s just shame. The feeling of being ashamed and letting those people down who have been cheerleading me on. With these thoughts I need to let them be, then move on.

This then requires me to look back to the most positive time in 2016. In June/July 2016 my hair was ALMOST the same length and every time I looked in the mirror I felt HAPPY. I felt pretty and I felt like I could rock trich and show it where to stick it. I felt like I had so very closely BEAT it. Even if my hair stayed like that for a couple of months, I cherished itย and still do. I still think back to them moments and cannot wait to get to that stage of looking in the mirror and feeling the best feeling there is.

I am, however, very very nervous for 2017 and I’m nervous for how my hair looks like this time next year BUT even on my bad days, I’m still as determined as that little girl who was dreaming for that all one length hair, to get there.ย Just now, I have a little help from my friends and family which I didn’t have this time last year, as it was still my own little secret.

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We can do this together, right? I promise I’ll make you (who cares) proud… even if it is a journey getting there.

A year on…

Today to the day something big happened. It may not seem as something big for many people but if you’re in the same boat as myself you may be able to relate. No family knows about this, apart from my dad. I didn’t tell him whilst it was happening either, I told him when it was over. A few months after. I was struggling a lot whilst down in Southampton. Being away from family gets worse when you are alone and feel so, so shit.

I spoke to a few friends and they all suggested to use the universities services they provide. After all I do pay ยฃ9000 a year to study there, so why not? It wasn’t the issue as such of not using their services, in fact I was all for that. It was more the feelings behind it. They suggested I went to speak to a councillor. A councillor at the end of the day is someone you can go to, to talk about anything and everything. They are there not to judge. They are there to help you get through whatever struggles you are facing.

However, at the time when I thought of councillors I thought of scary times. I’m not sure if that’s because I have been so naive to mental health in the past. I’ve only really seen counselling that happens in movies and on TV shows and lets be honest, it isn’t always positive, or maybe I was watching the wrong things. I had been brainwashed by these types of media that I was frightened to go. I had all these scenarios of what could/would happen. I genuinely had thoughts of; Is what I need help for even valid? Will they think I’m crazy? Will they think that I’m only there to ‘attention seek’? Just as a side track, claiming someone is attention seeking in my book is the worst thing someone can say to you, especially when they don’t know you or even worse if they do. If you suffer from mental health 9/10 you feel alone, even maybe 10/10. You are NOT attention seeking talking out about your problems. No way are you. In fact, you are brave. You are not only helping yourself, but you could be helping other people not feel alone. You are incredible talking out. The stigmas around mental health are SO frustrating when it comes to this.

Anyhow, I went along to my counselling meetings in the hope that the lady can help me. Help me try and get life on track. I’m not sure if it 100% worked out because I didn’t know her and I find it SO hard to open up and that’s the person I am. I even find it hard now to open up to people, to tell them what I feel, what’s going on. I know I was proud of myself for going to try it out, what harm could it of done? I did think it was the best idea for myself to stop them completely after a while.

It wasn’t until I had a moment when I thought I need to stop this. There are people I know who can help. There are. I’m being silly keeping all this inside which is slowly, but surely destroying me. It got out of control that there were nights I woke in the middle of the night with panic attacks and if you know me, even though I don’t sleep a lot whenever I do I treasure it and don’t want to be awoken by this.

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In May this year I really began to use my blog to get all this out. I had my nails done for my birthday in April and it helped me so much with Trich and I finally thought, it’s now my time to help others. I began to write about mental health. Specifically a condition which has taken up 14 years of my life and has little to no awareness about it. A condition which, whenever I write about and click the publish button on my blog, I feel good about writing – even though deep down it makes me feel ashamed. I think it’s more the awareness that I’m raising about it makes me proud. This year alone my little blog has reached 56 countries. That’s countries where people that suffer from the same thing that I have been able to help feel less alone, and there is NO greater feeling than that.

Speaking out about things is SO important and if you can, please find someone whether that be a family member you can trust, a professional like a uni tutor,a manager at work or a medical professional PLEASE talk out. I promise you, you will feel so much better.You will also be helping others, even if you don’t feel like you are. Such a great feeling.

Today I will be celebrating all that I’ve accomplished in a year of going from saying nothing to working on that everyday and getting better. You can do it too, I believe in you.

Busting Anxiety ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป

Ever had an awful feeling something so simple as a conversation you haven’t had yet, take over your every thought and action? Last week was a big week for me reguarding beating one part of mental health I battle against every day – anxiety. I haven’t discussed anxiety in itself on my blog before but it’s time I did. I’m so proud of myself. So so SO proud of myself.


Here’s some feelings I have put into questions that I experienced:

How many times and how many conversations can you really make up that could potentially happen but then to just think constantly about the answers and how you could perhaps change the way you respond to them can one person make?

How many nights will I lack sleep or have disturbed sleep?

How many of them nights will I wake up in a sweat/panic?

How much hair will I have pulled out due to Trich thinking it is a great time to play up? (Oh Trich just never lets me live, it has me under its thumb… grrrrr)

To finish, how many times will my dreams incorporate this meeting and make me think of every single thing that could go wrong and resulting in waking up with my heart going so fast it makes me shake? All over one meeting, that my mind over thought and over thought and would not let me rest.

It was like this whilst outside the room where I had this meeting, let alone the lead up to it. My anxiety was literally shouting at me whilst on my way and outside, telling me to go back home and I wasn’t worthy of talking to someone. That the person I was about to talk to didn’t care and that no one cares. That what I was feeling, I deserved. Anxiety is a nasty, nasty thing to live with. It makes it so hard to get on with your daily life without having these potential set-backs. The reality of anxiety is, it is not cute. Anxiety isn’t trendy. It is awful to feel this way over things that would be so normal to do for every other person. It frustrates me no end the stigma surrounding anxiety.

The day before I had one of the most incredible books delivered* to me. The book is called “We’re All Mad Around Here” and is a guide on how to cope and survive social anxiety. It’s written by a fab lady called Claire Eastham and I have a lot to thank this woman. When she asked me if I’d like a proof copy of this book I couldn’t turn it down. I read the entire book in one night and she made me feel less alone. The way the book is written is like she is talking to you. There is the perfect mix between the science of why these feelings happen and her own experiences. The addition of Claire’s own experiences makes you feel like you’re not alone, especially when you can relate. I learnt an awful, awful lot about social anxiety from this book. I learnt ways that I can help myself and I learnt ways I can help others.

I was able to take what I learnt from this book to before my meeting to make me feel less anxious and nervous. I will be reading this book again, especially if I’m ever in that situation.


I’m proud of myself, that although all the signals in my mind told me to turn around and go home, I was able to overcome them and go into the meeting. Even if the lady told me to put my laptop down because I was shaking too much and was making her feel giddy. I did it. I didn’t let anxiety and it’s overpowering thoughts take over. I’m so glad I did too, it helped me a lot.

If you have something important coming up and you’re in the same situation I believe you can do it. If I was in the state I was and did it, you can as well. You’ve got totally got this. Bust anxiety in the floor and show it, you’re the boss… not anxiety.
** I was sent this as a little gift not as a sponser! Thank you so much to the lovely Claire ๐Ÿ˜˜