Welcome to HabitAware's Love Strength and Awareness podcast. We want to provide this podcast to raise awareness and share hope through people's stories. While all of this information is provided elsewhere, this podcast allows you to gain insight when you may not want to or be able to read.
In this episode of HabitAware's Love, Strength and Awareness podcast, our founder, Aneela Idnani shares her story and how HabitAware came to be. Aneela, who once struggled with Trichotillomania, took action and is now in control of her body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB).
Immense gratitude to Jackie Biederman, co-founder of StoryPop, who brought our podcast to life! Learn more about how she can help YOU start your own podcast at storypopmedia.com or find her on LinkedIn!
Episode 1: Trichotillomania Recovery with HabitAware CoFounder, Aneela
“Where are your eyebrows?”
My husband Sameer asked me this one morning, just as I was heading into the bathroom to grab my black eye pencil.
I'm Aneela Idnani, co-founder of HabitAware and your host for the love, strength, and awareness podcast.
From even before meeting Sameer fourteen years ago, I was hiding a secret. With that one question of curiosity and love I shared it. A deer in headlights, I look similar in the eye and whispered.
“I pulled them out.”
Then I went on to explain that I had a mental health condition called Trichotillomania. And because of this condition I compulsively pulled out my hair as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety and boredom. As a kid I soothed myself with thumb sucking and hair twirling. As I got older, hair pulling became a natural progression of using my body to calm my restless mind. It started in my early teens around the time I moved to a new town where I didn't quite fit in and the kids made sure I knew it. It got worse in high school and my father fell sick with cancer. I myself didn't really understand what was happening. I was scared, so I hid behind eye makeup to make sure no one ever found out. I was a good student with a small but a group of friends and a loving family and I was just afraid that if people found out I did this weird thing, I would lose their love and friendship.
The pulling held such a power over me, causing me to think that I was ugly and I was not good enough. To protect myself from the sense of impending failure, I gave up on things I loved, like playing saxophone in high school basketball. A fear of being caught in the cycle of pulling worse. But I pressed on like this for many years, mastering the strategy of pulling, a little from the side rail a little from that eyelash, so no one would quite catch on. Until about six years ago. I had just given birth to my first sweet kiddo. With hormones swirling and the boredom and solitude of maternity leave I found myself pulling uncontrollably. Strategy was out the door. I could not stop, and Sameer could finally see it.
As he took time to research the condition he came understand why I never shared with him. He came to realize the shame I was carrying. And then, one day as we sat on the couch watching TV and I was pulling mindlessly, he gently grabbed my hand.
That was our aha moment. A light bulb went off. Excitedly I said, “If only I knew when I was pulling!” Sure, there were times I could hear the voice in my head saying, “Get that one, no, that one. Okay, let's just go get the tweezers now.”
But was I really in control of those thoughts in those moments?
No. It was still the automatic brain of mine making decisions against my will and want.
So, we again researched finding that there was nothing out there and decided why not us?
With our day jobs and a new baby, why not still try to make this idea happen? It took years of effort and finding the right co-founding team to bring our ideas to life: a smart bracelet we call Keen, because it helps you build keen awareness. What I realized is that you can't change what you can't see.
With Keen you can see where your restless hands are. It works by training the bracelet for your specific scanning motion. That thing you do before you pull your hair, pick your skin or bite your nails. Hair pulling, skin picking, nail biting; they are all your restless mind converting that restless energy to restless hands. And they are considered part of a group of mental health conditions called body focused repetitive behaviors.
Most like all just use cognitive behavioral therapy to treat body focused repetitive behaviors. And you know what the first step is? Awareness. When Keen senses a match it vibrates, shifting the behavior from the subconscious to the conscious mind so that you can take a moment of pause to adjust the nervous energy in your body.
Keen is your hug on the wrist. That gentle reminder making you aware. It's kind of like a self-care alarm your body telling you your mind just needs a moment.
The power of awareness is helped me take control and learn to manage my Trichotillomania, to the point where it no longer has a hold on my life. I'm feeling more confident in myself and my once self-loathing is now full of self-love.
We are helping thousands of others in more than fifty countries.
Achieve the same positive life change to.
The HabitAware team that makes Keen is committed to serving all those in the body focused repetitive behaviors community. We are so proud of our Keen family who have found their way back to self-love and are strengthening their awareness muscles.
We know it takes time to be ready to do the work to make change. And we know that Keen awareness gets you one step closer. Whatever mindset you have, we're here for you because we've been there.
And if you're not Keen family yet, we’re waiting with open arms for when you are ready.
We hope you all will follow along with the rest of HabitAware’s, “Love, Strength and Awareness” podcast to hear more amazing stories of inspiration and recovery.
It WILL be you one day. We wish you so much love, strength, and awareness on your journey.