Acceptance vs Pull-Free

I am linking to a blog post written at the Canadian BFRB page about the topic of Trich acceptance vs the recovery (pull-free) model.  This topic has really been bugging me lately but I couldn’t figure out where to start.  This post gives it some words:  http://www.canadianbfrb.org/2014/01/10/pull-free-vs-pick-free/

I’m not involved in the dermotillomania community because my skin picking has never been significant enough to be more than an occasional bother.  I don’t understand it the way I do hair pulling and don’t feel like I can support them in the same way.  However, I have lately found myself stepping back from Trich support as well.  Nearly everyone seems big into resisting and becoming pull-free, and that just isn’t my philosophy anymore.  Sure, if there was a magic, side-effect free, pill that could make me stop, I’d try it.  I would love to be pull free just because it is time consuming and creates a lot of wear & tear on my body.  But I have come to a place in my life where it doesn’t matter to me if I pull or not, because it doesn’t define me anymore.  Yes, it is uncomfortable to try & explain to new people why I wear a bandana all the time and what Trich is.  But more uncomfortable to me was buying into the fact that giving into pulling urges made me less of a person.  I just won’t do it anymore.  WE ARE FINE.  WE ARE GOOD PEOPLE.  WE DESERVE TO LIVE A FULL LIFE (One not dictated by counting pulls and scolding ourselves for being weak.).  We just don’t have all of our hair.  IT IS OKAY. 

Every day, more kids & teens are discovering that Trich is a part of their life journey.  Do you remember how SCARY that was?  I feel like we’re doing them a disservice by promoting that pull-free is the only way to go.  If their first experience with the disorder is even us “lifers” saying it is horrible, miserable, and must be beat or else you’re a failure, then we set them up for constant self doubt, self criticism, and hopelessness.  Depression and anxiety take hold and steal our joy.  I lived there a lot of years.

But: Life can be good.  It can be fulfilling.  You will find friends who will accept you. They’re the good ones anyway.  You’ll figure out how to navigate the world.  Can we please share that!?

I like this quote from the blog post:

“One comment I received and that I really think addresses this accurately is, “I have come to look at it as I do my blue eyes—it’s just how my DNA came together; it’s simply a part of who I am.” There is evidence and speculation that we are born with these disorders—we don’t have to like them, but if we’re born with the possibility of them developing, then it’s just a part of our makeup.”


As a side note, for those friends and family who read this far down 😉 and accept me as I accept myself, thanks.  You make my world a better place.


I haven’t posted in ages.  Life took a very unexpected detour about a month after my last post and my focus has been elsewhere.  But, I am still here and still read your comments.  This morning, I had a very distinct experience that created a tumble of words in my head that I felt needed to get out & be shared.  Maybe this means I will even return to the blog-o-sphere.  I hope all is well with everyone.  -D
On the way to work today a bird swooped in front of my car and met its demise. My heart sank. The other day I found a dead bird in my flower bed. There’s a third that may still be trapped in my shed, because I never was able to find it once it hid from me last night. This morning, feeling like the grim reaper of birds, I thought “I hope this isn’t the way my whole day is going to go.” I found myself immediately heading down the path of negative thoughts. It slid over my arms & shoulders with a physical sensation of a cozy blanket. The soothing sensation of familiarity slipped into place. The air felt heavier and a gray tint began to seep into the sky. This darker, cloudier, world is the place I lived for so many years, that it felt like a lock clicking back into place.

I have worked hard to get out of this distorted world, one that can still suck me back in seconds. When I was deep in the dark, the suggestions to “think positively” or “if you smile more, it will change your mood”, “fake it ‘til you make it” only served to make me feel worse. I wasn’t receptive enough to even hear the words much less try to take action. Some would say I wasn’t strong enough yet, but I don’t like that terminology. Mental health goes beyond whether or not you are strong, especially when genetics, neurotransmitters, and behavior patterns are at play. I knew cognitively what I needed to do to create change (at least according to the professionals), but couldn’t find the bridge to make it practice. I was so used to misery that I couldn’t contemplate that the “real world” was actually, or could actually, be that much different.

I found a jar from my grandparents' house and fabric that had family meaning, to make my gratitude jar. These extra touches help keep me buoyed.

I found a jar from my grandparents’ house and fabric that had family meaning to make my gratitude jar. These extra touches helped keep me buoyed.

Oddly, during one of the most trying periods of my life, when I actively refused to let someone’s hurt define and ruin me, was when I found my way out. I’d been fairing better for the few years until this point. Good things happened and I was content. That generally was the better baseline that I functioned at. But when my world crashed, I felt the deep darkness was there ready to grab me. I decided I was NOT going to let that happen. I would survive and I would thrive, if I had anything to say about it. I was taking control. I gathered every resource I had and made plans to keep myself busy and accountable. I began to look for the smallest of good things to grab onto. I had gratitude lists and started a gratitude jar to use as reflection. I forced myself to revisit concepts from therapy and re-frame negative thoughts into positive ones (or more often, just less bad).

In the midst of great pain, I also felt my first bits of joy in decades. I didn’t remember what it felt like to be giddy or excited. It was amazing and intoxicating. I backslid and I rallied. I faced another big challenge and somehow trudged through that as well. I reconnected with friends and allowed myself to ask for help when I knew I needed connection and accountability. Even though I’d had a relatively smooth life, depression and anxiety had stolen much of my memory from me. I felt good for the first time in as long as I could remember. I felt like actively pursuing my life instead of just letting it happen around me.

Having the fog roll into my thoughts so quickly this morning, though, reminded me how quickly I can get swept into the under tow of grief, anxiety, fear, & depression. It reminds me how many of my friends and family are still stuck in this cycle, without being able to find their way out. It reminds me that no encouragement I can offer can really make the difference. They have to find it inside themselves, and things have to align in order for it to happen. It isn’t just a matter of will, but it sure helps. I can be hopeful that they will find their own foothold and glimpse of light to climb toward. I can be there to support them when they need that hand up and cheer when I see them smile.

I still have ups & downs but they are less drastic. I can pull myself back up again, which still takes me a bit by surprise. In the moments when the sky grays and I feel a mood closing in, I can focus on all that blue instead, and the birds still left flitting in the trees, and know in the end things will be okay.

Hi all

Apparently there are still people reading this blog.  Readership seemed to fall off for quite a while, so I stopped writing very much.  It is hard for me to come up with post ideas unless something really inspires me.  I’ve been busy enough lately, and working on other things, that I haven’t had a lot of trich related inspiration.  I’m still pulling quite a lot.  I started working with a new homeopath and was hoping the new remedy might give me some hope as far as pulling.  However, after starting the new remedy, I actually had stronger and more obvious urges than I really ever remember having before.  They were just really at the forefront of my thinking and extra hard to resist.  It was not cool.  Unfortunately, as it works with homeopathy, sometimes things get worse so they make you better (ie Nux Vomica taken for an upset stomach can actually make you throw up, but that is what gets the offending item out of your system faster.  Often, once you go through that bad moment, you feel tons better.). 

I haven’t had that experience with the pulling, but I’ve been doing it so long, that it could take years for the remedy to touch the urges & behavior.  Not to mention I haven’t really been using any other tools to help it along.  I’m really just living my life as it goes & if pulling gets in the way okay, but I really try not to focus on it much.  Too much stress and wasted energy comes from thinking about it all the time.  If I find something that works to reduce or eliminate my trich, I will be totally over joyed.  In the meantime, I am just trying to live the best I can in spite of it.


I posted about this book as a resource, but hadn’t yet received the copy I ordered to actually read.  I’ve now had a chance to look through it and form some opinions.

On first flip through, I was sort of surprised how wordy it was.  Once I read it, it wasn’t too overwhelming, but it definitely is more of an elementary level book than something you’d read with young kids.  I’d been hoping to read it with my nephew at some point, but he’s too young right now to even sit through it.

The pictures are bright & colorful, although I sometimes had a hard time distinguishing the dragon that pulled because there wasn’t a lot of differentiation in texture or coloring in the illustrations.  It’s a piddly thing, but we all seem to feel like we stick out so much, that I almost think it would work better as an education tool & something to empathize with, if the pictures were more obvious. (I’m thinking educational as in trying to share this book with a classroom of kids, one of whom has Trich and wants to tell peers what she’s going through.)

I was also disappointed that the story didn’t focus more on the inner feelings of the puller.  It definitely was a story for the sake of being a story, and the heroine was able to save everyone because she was a puller.  It is great & uplifting, but wasn’t what I thought I’d be getting in this book.  I guess I wanted more emotional meat that kids could learn to relate to and empathize with.  It sort of glossed over just how painful this disorder can be (emotionally) sometimes.

It probably sounds like I’m bashing this book, and that isn’t my intention.  I’m glad there’s a book like this out there.  It just wasn’t what I expected when I ordered it (especially for what I paid–double to get it through my local independent bookseller rather than Amazon).  If you have a pulling child who needs a boost in self-esteem, this is a good fit.  If you’re trying to educate other kids about this disorder, ones who don’t have Trich, then it could open a discussion, but may not answer many questions up front.

Please email or comment if you have any further questions!

I just posted the following in a thread on Facebook’s group Trichsters. (If you’re a puller and haven’t joined, do a search & ask to join the group. It is closed & totally private.) It is sort of like an online support group, but with a diverse group of pullers. It’d be a great group for research studies if there was a good way to work online. Anyway… This is what I posted & I think it is my overall philosophy of things right now. I’m pulling a lot. It stinks, but it’s okay.

I think what is truly important for anyone with trich is to seek out answers, over the years, whenever you find new resources and you feel like you want to make some forward motion. However, if you’re in a place emotionally or financially, that you just aren’t ready/able to “tackle” the trich, giving yourself the grace & freedom to just live with trich rather than letting the trich live your life for you.

We don’t understand this disorder yet, and may never. It seems to be very different for every puller (sort of like the autism spectrum…no two people with autism are the same, because we’re people first). So, you have to use the resources you have at hand, which include the ones inside of you, and just do the best you can to live a pleasant life.

A lot of these I don’t relate to because my family & friends have always been very accepting of my pulling. Maybe it is because I’m open about it that they don’t bug me about it. Maybe it is because, after 22 years, they’ve realized it isn’t likely to change. Still, if you need examples to show people of what NOT to say…here you go.

I haven’t had a chance to read or view this book yet, but I wanted to put it out there as a resource.  I think it could be especially helpful for parents & children.  Also, if you’re in a situation where you’re trying to explain pulling to a classroom, or something like this, a story might lend to better discussion & questions.

As I said, I haven’t read this, but I know it is trying to put a fun & fictional spin on a difficult topic, so check it out for yourself.  From the summaries I’ve seen, it seems like it would be applicable for skin pickers as well.