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. 

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

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. 

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. 

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.  I also have to thank you actually, trich, for allowing me to have acrylics every month. My nails look sassy because of you. 

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. 

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  my arm to have unbelievable aches every single day, to the point sometimes it feels like I have a dead arm. 

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? 

Maybe see you in a year? Who knows. 

Charlotte.

 

Illustration by me:
ILLO

 

 

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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 £9000 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.

Update on Trich

It’s not a good one guys. I think it’s always good to keep a balance of how much a rollercoaster mental health truly is whilst writing about it, especially on my own blog. I feel so sad writing this. I had come so far with my hair. I had got to a point where I felt so much more confident, a point where I thought YES. Oh hell YES I feel fabulous. I had got to a point where I had been taking selfies and comparing them to my hair from a few years ago and noticing change then thinking, oh girl – I’m so proud of you.

It wasn’t until recently, I have been noticing I am pulling a lot more than in the last seven months. I know that trich thinks it is OK for me to pull as it thinks it helps me deal with anxiety and to a certain extent it does that. It takes my mind off the matter but it is also SO self destructive and definitely not something I see as coping, except my brain seems to think it is. Whilst I may not be panicking on the outside because of anxiety and it’s crippling effects I am panicking on the inside. Saying to myself over and over and over again that I cannot allow my hair to get in the state it was a few years ago. I have this self conscious feeling that not only will I let myself down BIG time but I will let everyone else down who has given me the confidence and help that I needed. That I let the people down who have been proud of the way my hair has grown and not been broken off for a long time and I can’t let that happen.

I’m not 100% certain that my hair has declined completely down to trich. If you have seen my hair recently you would know that back in August I had dyed my hair blonde. I’ve dyed my hair blonde before and I had always had to go back to brown, not because of the growth and having to keep up but because my hair is so brittle from how much I pull it that there was no other way which I could have healthy hair. Whereas now I have decided that my hair was at the most amount of strength it had ever been and I would be able to keep blonde. After all, blonde makes me feel SO sassy. I’m very very pale and I feel like although dark brown is my natural colour is washes me out. Blonde just makes me feel SO good about myself. At least I think it does, despite the shear amount of hair that comes out with a hairbrush and on the floor when it breaks off. But then I do think that has GOT to be the mix of Trich and my hair colour. Usually people I know get frustrated their roots are growing through, especially when it is so dark whereas I am so glad they’re there. It means that my hair has actually began to grow back despite the torture I put it through. Trich will not stop me from being blonde and feeling sassy. I have to try and keep it’s thoughts about going brown away. Trich, you do enough damage as it is to my confidence.

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(My thoughts to Trich – damn you)

I’m working so hard not to punish myself for it happening. I’ve been through this whole journey, round and round in circles for years and years. I know there are highs and there are the most awful lows that comes with having this mental health illness but somehow that high I did have recently with my hair is making me want to get back to that stage, at least I’m trying to.

If you are going through a similar thing and can feel yourself slipping back to the way you were before, please just remember the highs you have experienced. Remember those little or big things you may have done, towards your recovery which made you so proud. Remember that feeling as much as you can and YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN. I will be doing the same journey around in the circle I have done all too many times and so familiar of, but I’m going to try my absolute hardest to keep them moments clear in my mind, you’ve got to.

I hope I can make those people that were proud of me and maybe have let down by going back to this way for the however many time, I will make proud again. I will also make myself proud, most importantly. I may not be ready for this journey again, but I feel like I’m way more equipped. Trich, you tried to defeat my self confidence SO many times, I’m ready to defeat you again.

Bring it on.

#WorldMentalHealthDay 10th October

I’ve said in a post previously that I’m going to take time away from my blog to focus on my studies, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write a post about World Mental Health Day which takes place on October 10th. I’m quite the advocate of Mental Health especially now I have found a place where I can share my story to the world.

Although I feel that sharing my story with the world means I am putting myself in the firing line. I always worry that people will think I write on my blog about my experiences to gain attention. I’ve been suffering with Trichotillomania for over fourteen years now, which is a massive, massive part of my life I wouldn’t be writing my posts for attention. I post them for awareness. I worry that people will think that I ‘know it all’ which I really 100% don’t. I don’t even understand the depths of my own mental health illness. Let alone any of the others.

What I’m trying to say is, I write these posts to help at least one person. That is my aim, every time I pour my emotions into a post and quite frankly let the world into sometimes my deep and dark feelings. I write my blogposts to help raise awareness.

I think it’s so important that you shouldn’t be silenced because you suffer from a mental health illness. Suffering with a mental health illness is just as valid as suffering from a physical illness. Not everyone will understand what you’re feeling or going through, hell you might not understand what is happening with your feelings yourself, I myself feel this all the time. I never know how I’m going to feel when I wake up these days. I never know if I’m going to get a huge awful mood that covers my whole day like a massive storm cloud. I never know if Trich is going to worm its way into my day and make me pull half my hair out and make me feel worse than I already do. This is why it is SO important to speak out. To someone you know, to someone professional or in a journal/your own blog. Whichever makes you feel most comfortable.

It takes me a lot of energy and power to post the posts I do, but the support you receive from it helps you. It helps you know that you aren’t alone and you aren’t being silly or however you may feel. It helps not only you by getting these thoughts and feelings out but it helps other people understand too. I am so grateful that I started writing about my mental health journey and although there are times where I know it may not be everyone’s cup of tea or everyone would want to read it, it makes me happy when people do.

Please, if you ever get comments from people online, or from people you know try your best to ignore them. It makes them shallow and they’re clearly uneducated/misunderstanding. I just hope with everything I have they never feel the way we do most days. Just think of your blog/speaking out about how you feel as educating someone about how another human is feeling.

Do not ever feel silenced.

You’ve got this, 100%. 

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I hate you Trich.

Today marks the beginning of BFRB awareness week and I feel like I can really share some of my stories, tips and how I’m feeling throughout this week. I didn’t want my second post for this week to be negative but, I had a really bad Trich night last night which I think sharing the reasons why I HATE Trich will help people who have Trich relate and realise their thoughts aren’t bad or wrong and in fact they aren’t alone.

Recently, I’m going to be honest, Trich hasn’t been fulfront of my mind. This week I just went back to university and a whole lot of work thrown in front of my face and third year is becoming more and more real by the second. As well as other things that are happening I haven’t felt like Trich has really been there. It probably was but I didn’t know about it, that happens a lot too. In the past two days I have had my hair down the WHOLE day. Major major deal guys. I went to an event with my blog which was so lovely to see other bloggers at and I also went to London. The journey to London is twice as long from Southampton as it is from home and Trich does not like long long journeys. When I went to London on the way there I had the horrible horrible constant thoughts of ‘you should pull’ ‘why aren’t you pulling’ ‘you’re doing nothing with your time right now – bingo easy time to pull’ ‘you have neglected me for so long why haven’t you pulled’ and I managed to push past them, try and quiet that voice and managed to beat it. That was until I was ONE… Just one stop away from home and I began pulling. It must of been around 9PM I started and was still pulling and snapping at midnight. It sounds so silly but I had straightened my hair yesterday because I wanted it to look nice, and pretty for once. Straighteners make my hair coarse and it is such a huge huge trigger for me. It was like my mind thought, hellllllll no we are not letting her forget she straightened her hair, she will get them urges to pull and she will pull. I tell you, Trich tries its absolute hardest to ruin any positive thoughts I have with my hair and 90% of the time I let it win… I’m so silly, I know.

Whilst I was lying awake pulling and pulling all these thoughts came to me as to why I HATE Trich. Hate is a really really strong word but I would not wish Trich on my worst enemy. Here are the thoughts that came to me last night:

  • TIME CONSUMING. Holy hell. It wouldn’t even matter if I was at work, if I had to be somewhere Trich will ALWAYS stop me from doing that AND make me spend hours on pulling. When I sit down to do uni work, get ready or something as simple and brushing my hair 50% of the time I’m sat there waiting for it to pass so I can actually do what I was meant to do.
  • Embarrassing. I felt this more on the train yesterday. You know that feeling where it’s busy and you sit there pulling and pulling and pulling and can SEE PEOPLE STARING. I don’t think people realise how sad, upset and little it makes you feel. I wish people minded their own business more.
  • People thinking its ‘weird’. ‘Why do you pull you’re hair out?’ ‘Doesn’t it hurt?’ ‘It’s so weird you do that’ I’ll tell you now, if I could miraculously stop pulling I would. I would stop as soon as. I’ve been suffering from this for years and years. In fact I worked out it was around when I was 8 it began which means I’ve been suffering with this for a good fourteen years. If I could stop wouldn’t you think I had done by now?
  • If I don’t want to get in a photo, or I’m fussing over my hair that’s because I feel so insecure. If my hair is broken at the sides I’m going to make it look less like that. I’m going to want to spend time sorting my hair out, maybe more than other people. I’m not doing it because I’m vain, it’s because I feel so rubbish if I don’t.
  • Self confidence is down the pan. From last night I feel this more. I feel like I’ve taken 100 steps back after my 200 forward. I’m not going to lie I’m frightened my hair will look like it did at the beginning of the year. I’m frightened if one step back will make it go further and further back and I will be back at step one. It’s happened so many times it is possible. I’m frightened.

 

There are many other reasons I hate it, most because I try so hard to get people to understand and it’s hard. I don’t understand it myself and trying to get other people to understand is so much harder than I thought. This week I will be sharing some experiences I’ve had whilst having Trich, some reasons to what I think has caused it and some tips.

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(Photo credit – Instagram)

I’m sorry again this is quite a negative post, but it isn’t always sunshine living with this and where it is sunshine I like to celebrate it, hard.

Drawing for BFRB awareness week

This week beginning Saturday 1st October to Friday 7th signifies BFRB awareness week. BFRB stands for Body Focused Repetitive Behavour and Trichotillmania is segmented under that. If you don’t know what Trichotillomania is then a quick overall from what I’ve dealt with is that it’s a compulsive urge to pull out your hair. For me it’s my hair on my head but can be hair from anywhere on the body. It makes you feel so small and weak. It ruins your self confidence. It ruins relationships. You can read more of my story on my blog and I’m hoping to share some stories off the side for this week. 

For me one of the ways, when things are getting pretty bad is I like to distract myself through art. I study a degree in graphic design, fashion graphics and it involves a lot of creativity. I like to draw illustrations then ‘destroy’ them with colours that represent how I’m feeling. This week I’ve found things pretty hard and have been so upset, so one evening I made use of drawing. 

I thought I’d let you in on the thought process for this drawing. The girl I drew is just a random person that developed as I drew. I added splashes of red over her eyes to signify how the bad times take over whilst I’m experiencing it. I used blue as a calm colour to say that although it’s there now it won’t be forever. There’s only a little blue as at the moment I don’t 100% believe that, it will change though. I put rainbow sploges in the background as a reminder that things will be OK. We go through the rainbow of emotions when we’re feeling like this and even though it hurts now we will move onto the next colour. I put the black over the mouth to signify that although the majority of the time I want to speak out, most times I don’t because of fear. I’m sure some of you will relate. The eyes and mouth had a drop shadow behind them to show they are the parts that show the pain more. 


What kind of things do you guys do I would love to hear. Keep a look out for my post throughout the week on BFRB awareness week!