Thursday, May 9, 2013
If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen lots of photos of mine lately all about my Pull-Free Bracelet for my trichotillomania. I thought I'd give some background as to how I came up with it, what it is, and how it works!
In December of 2011, I was having a particularly rough time with my pulling. I couldn't stop, and it was really making me depressed. If you haven't read my past archives, I pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows (though it's not quite so bad anymore). I realized that I desperately wanted to stop pulling, and I came up with a reward system that would help me keep myself accountable. It ended up being the Pull-Free Bracelet. You can read the post that inspired the bracelet here, and read how to make the bracelet here. It's simple, and just requires some pony bead lacing, connectors, and craft beads.
Basically, for every day that I go without pulling, I add a bead to my bracelet. I did really well with it for a while, and eventually, I took it off. A few weeks ago, I got a couple emails from blog friends (Laura, Anna, and Ginnetta) with trich, telling me they were going to start the bracelet on May 1st and wanted to know if I'd like to join them. Not only is it helping keep me accountable again, but I'm helping provide a little bit of motivation to these ladies! Now, we've even got a couple more people joining us in the bracelet making! It's so exciting to see an idea take flight... and actually be helpful.
I like the idea of reward systems like this because they can work for anything and any goals you may want to achieve... whether it's adding beads for pounds lost in a journey to a healthier lifestyle, days without biting your nails, or anything that would make you want to look down and say, "Wow, look how many days I've gone," this is just a neat way to see it in action. Here's to being pull-free and having a bracelet full of beads!
PS / / The watch is made by Rumba, in case you're curious!
Friday, May 3, 2013
It's funny how you can meet someone for the first time and begin talking about one thing, and 20-minutes later you find yourselves almost in tears and hugging like forever-friends.
This happened to me recently when I was helping Apricot Lane celebrate their one-year anniversary. I ended up chatting with a customer's mother, and when I mentioned that I was there because I was the special guest and a blogger, her first question was, "How do you even make money from that?" That question always makes me laugh a little because people always assume that if you're a "blogger," then you don't do anything else. I was quick to tell her that blogging is my hobby, but I work full time for a hospital. We hit it off well and began talking all about medical-talk (she has a Master's in Pharmacy), diabetes education (I used to work for a diabetes center), and eventually wrapped back around to blogging. She asked me why I started blogging.
This is always the question that makes me cringe a little because it's the point where I say, "I love to write!" or when I tell them the real answer, which is:
I began blogging to have a place to write about my trichotillomania (which I still suffer from). In 2010 I didn't have any eyelashes or eyebrows and I needed help. I couldn't find any other blogs or information online about people's first-person stories of trich. I started my blog LastLash to keep myself accountable with progress photos, to write down my struggles, and to have a place to go when I needed to vent (you can read my very first post here).This is usually the point where people get really nervous because they don't know how to deal with the fact that I just told them I have a disorder, or they become intrigued and want to know more about trich. This kind woman was the latter. We started talking all about my trich and what a struggle it's been. She, the pharmacy expert, asked me if I was on medication for it. I told her no, and she was rather surprised, because most disorders like this require medication to get through the day-to-day. I then told her (again, another topic that sometimes turns people away) about how I pray to help me reduce my pulling. I told her that while I'm not cured, praying has seriously been a blessing to me and has truly answered so many of my cries for help when I'm having a hard time and wanting to pull. Even for people who aren't spiritual, if you can take that "need to pull" and replace it with a focus on something else, you can resist pulling.
While she was at the checkout counter, we started speaking about other people who have trich. She mentioned that she'd seen it on TV shows, but had never met anyone who had it. I told her that I meet new people through email daily who have it. I get emails so often, from 9-year-olds to 60-year-olds, from North America to Australia to Africa to Asia, from men to women, from people who just started pulling and people who have been pulling for almost all of their lives.
I don't know what breaks my heart more, reading an email from someone who has been a puller for 27-years and hasn't told anyone ever about their disorder, or reading an email from a 12-year-old who is embarrassed and afraid to go to school because the kids make fun of her. None of it is right. I have such a burden to help these people who struggle day in and day out like I do with something that is so small, yet affects us all so much. The one thing that I want every person with trich to know is, you are beautiful. You are wonderful. And you can do it.
After I told this woman a few of the stories of the emails, I found her in tears. I was almost in tears. She looked at me, gave me a huge hug and as she left the store she said, "You're going to save someone's life. You know that, right? You're going to save someone's life."
Up until that moment, I had never thought about it like that. Me? Save someone's life? But what if it's true? What if putting this disorder out to the world could really help someone that much? But I know it can. When I started LastLash, I was depressed, I was insecure, I was on a downward, scary spiral. To be honest, LastLash (and the journey it's taken me on) has saved my life. If I can help, inspire, or even be the shoulder to one person who has this disorder—I couldn't ask for anything more. I know that trichotillomania can be embarrassing, frustrating, and scary. And no one should have to do it alone. So that... THAT is why I started blogging. That's why I'll continue blogging. And that is a burden that will never be heavy on my back. It's a burden of love and support for others—and the fuel behind all this blogging fire.
Thank you so much to the wonderful lady who talked and cried with me this past weekend. You have told me something that I will never, ever forget, and continued to inspire me—along with the emails I get from the people around the world with trich—to never, ever give up. Thank you.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Scarf: c/o Kintage
You guys know why I started blogging in the first place, right? It was to have an open and public place to talk about the disorder—trichotillomania—that has affected me for the past several years. I began LastLash in 2010 so I could tell the world my story, and document it for all to see.
Since then, I've received countless emails from people across the world who also deal with this life-changing disorder. Through every email, it never ceases to amaze me how open people are—how people pour their hearts into their words and tell their story to a complete stranger. I am so thankful for it...
I think it's time for an update. I got an email last week from a woman who's been struggling with trich for 26 years. Twenty-six years. She had finally reached a point of desperation and emailed me—the first person she's ever contacted about her struggles—to see if I could help her or point her in the right direction. It is times like those when I wish I was a professional... but I'm not, I'm just me—a fellow stranger across the internet who also happens to struggle with trich. What a beautiful email I got to share with a woman who I will never probably meet, but feel like I already know because of our disorder we share.
With my trichotillomania, I don't think there was ever a point where I enjoyed destroying my eyelashes and eyebrows. Oh, and talk about a self-esteem killer—I became very depressed at my worst stages of pulling, and I knew I needed to make a change. It was only when I decided to—and made a conscious effort to—that I began to actually see improvement in my pulling. Having trichotillomania is like an addiction and in fact, has been compared with having an addiction to heroin. Heroin. In other words, this isn't something you can just stop. But if you try and pray and seek treatment, it IS something you can gain better control over.
When I talk about my pulling on this blog, I know you can get an idea of what it looks like to have absolutely none or sparse eyelashes and eyebrows. But today, I want to show you. I want to give you a real look at the trichotillomania I've struggled with for over 10 years, and I also want to show you how far I've come. I've said it before—I AM NOT CURED, I STILL HAVE AND STRUGGLE WITH TRICHOTILLOMANIA—but it's not anything like what it used to be.
What a blessing life is. I'm so thankful for how far I've come, and I have so much hope in my heart that I will be able to stop pulling completely someday. If you have trich or something you struggle with and you're ready to make a change—do it. Call your mom, your best friend, a doctor, a counselor—anyone who can help—and take your life back. Now is the time.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
The last time I posted about my trichotillomania, I mentioned that it had gotten a lot better.
I wasn't pulling as often, and my urges weren't as crazy.
I got a lot of comments and emails congratulating me on being cured, on making it through, on beating it.
But here's the thing... I didn't do any of that.
My trich isn't gone. I'm not convinced it will ever be 100% gone.
Even at the time I wrote that post, I mentioned that it was something I still struggled with.
It's just not as bad as it used to be.
My pulling is heightened and seems to be triggered around times of high-stress and change.
Lately, as you can imagine, there's been lots of stress (good and bad), and a lot of change.
To tell you I made it through the wedding without pulling a single eyebrow would be a lie.
But I was able to control the pulling, and didn't do anything that created any noticeable changes.
Until this last weekend.
Without getting into everything (or anything, for that matter), that's stressing me out...
it can just be said that I was having a hard day and that evening I found myself in front of the television.
That's always when I pull the most.
I ended up pulling out a good chunk of eyebrow hairs, creating a big, ugly gap in my left eyebrow.
It's not anything that you'd walk right up to me and scoff at—I've had years of practice of covering these things up—but it's something that I notice.
I went to the bathroom to see the damage I had done, and immediately began crying. Sobbing.
I was really upset.
I had just gotten an email the day before from a mother who said I was someone her 9-year-old daughter looked up to.
They were encouraged by the progress I had made.
And then the very next day, I did that.
I was incredibly frustrated, embarrassed, and discouraged.
How am I supposed to be a "role model" when I mess up so badly?
After a couple of moments of desperation on the floor of the bathroom, I went and found Daniel.
He knew I was upset.
He cuddled and rocked me in bed until I fell asleep.
Daniel helps to cease my pulling more than he could ever know.
By holding my hands, keeping me distracted, and tapping my hands away when I reach for my eyebrows, he is preventing these pulling meltdowns.
I'm so thankful for him and his support.
I wouldn't be able to do it without him.
Or the prayer that I mentioned before.
Prayer has truly made a huge difference. It helps the healing.
Since that last pulling episode this past weekend,
I've realized how conscious I need to be about my pulling.
While I don't struggle with it like I used to, I'm still vulnerable.
I'm still fragile.
But I won't let trich break me.
I am bigger than it.
I am better than it.
I am stronger than it.
And I'm telling you all this not to look for a shower of sympathy.
I'm telling you because some of you have asked for an update.
And I wanted to be as honest as possible: trichotillomania is still something that I deal with.
I'm also telling you because I know that some of you also have trich, or something that you struggle with day after day.
And even though it may get you down once in a while, you are strong, beautiful, and you are a fighter.
If—for even one moment—you feel yourself falter, let it remind you that you are human—you make mistakes—but you won't be defined by those mistakes.
If you're struggling with something—anything—reach out for help.
A hand to hold, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a friend—because it can make all the difference.
--Thank you, Daniel. YOU are my best friend, my shoulder, and the one I couldn't do any of this without. I love you.
Monday, October 22, 2012
I haven't posted about my trichotillomania in quite some time. In fact, the last time was in May when I mentioned I had just gone through a bad episode of pulling. I was struggling with the pulling of my eyelashes and eyebrows.
I was embarrassed, and I was determined to make a change.
If you've ever seen my old pictures, you've seen... I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. There have been times when I have had absolutely none at all. For a person who used to get most compliments about my eyes, hurting myself by ruining my best feature really tore me apart. I didn't know what to do, I didn't know how to stop, and I lost touch with myself. This is something I've been dealing with since I was 16, and this last May—something broke free within me.
Since that last post in May, not only have things changed, but life is different. In every way. I wouldn't say I'm completely "cured" from my trich. Not my any means. But it doesn't haunt me the way it used to.
I get emails on a daily basis that ask, "What is your treatment? How do you do it?" My answer has one response. Prayer.
See, I've tried every remedy in the book. Counseling. Anti-depressants (several kinds). Psychiatry. Hypnosis. Acupuncture. Exercise. Wearing gloves at night so I don't pull. Nothing seemed to do it. So I turned to the one place where I wasn't in charge. I began to pray.
In September, though I still dealt minimally with the pulling, I had a life-changing experience at our church's Encounter. There was a period of anointing, and a healing tunnel. I went through that tunnel of outstretched hands. I sobbed. I lifted my own hands and cried out, asking for forgiveness, healing, and peace. I let everything out that was bottled up inside of me, and gave myself over to Him.
It's amazing what can happen when you let go.
I still have the occasional urge to pull, but it's not anything like it used to be. I don't sit in front of the mirror for hours every night, analyzing each remaining hair. I don't watch TV with my hands glued to my face, tugging and ripping apart my eyebrows. To be honest, I don't even really think about it anymore.
And this isn't something that I did. I could not have done this alone.
I've been putting off writing this post, in fear that some of you would turn your backs on me. In fact, almost every time I write a faith-based post, followers scatter. Criticism rises. I become a target. But then I realized, why am I scared to tell you the truth? I am not embarrassed. I am free. And for those of you who are my brothers and sisters in Him, you will always stand beside me, and I thank you so much for that.
No matter what your disorder, insecurity or faults may be, know this—you are always loved. And you know what else? You can make a change. Life is too short to suffer. Embrace your mess. Say a prayer. Set yourself free... make that change.
Mark 5:34 "He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"
Thursday, October 11, 2012
- alanis morissette
Just a little quote for you today.
You may not have trichotillomania like I do,
but I'm sure you can equate this to your life in one way or another.
Whether it's fancy cars, big muscles, shiny pairs of shoes, or big sparkly rings—
none of it is important.
YOU are important.
Monday, February 20, 2012
I apologize I haven't been around much...
well, actually I have...
but not on this blog.
I have another blog where you can find me
5 days per week
where I talk about style, beauty, life,
and even trichotillomania.
Come catch up with me at Aunie Sauce...
I'll be seeing you there!