I’m Madeline, I’m 20 years old, I live in Maryland, and I’m a junior at the University of Maryland. I have Trichotillomania, pick my nails and the surrounding skin, plus I bite my lips and inside of my cheeks. I guess you could say I have several BFRBs, but the one that bothers me the most is hair pulling.
I started pulling my hair during my junior year of high school, around age 16 . It started with my eyebrows, but now I exclusively pull from my scalp. Originally I was in denial about how bad my pulling was and I lived with constant shame and I was terrified to tell people. What would they think? Would they judge me? Would they still like me?
Two years ago my mom’s best friend was at a party. The host was sharing a story about how his wife had Trichotillomania, found recovery, and that she turned her condition into a career helping others with BFRBs. Within seconds my mom’s phone rang.
The next day I met Ellen and discovered HabitAware. I didn’t think Keen2 would help me because my BFRB is focused, not automatic but I was wrong. The Keen2 bracelet has made me aware of where I place my hands before I even start pulling, and that I rest my hand on my face a lot more than I thought! This newfound awareness allows me to make the conscious decision to readjust my hands.
HabitAware is so much more than a bracelet. HabitAware created a sense of community and support for me that I didn’t think I would find - it’s called The BFRB Change Collective. It has been so helpful hearing everyone’s stories and getting advice, plus now I have the courage to speak up! I have found that talking about my experience with Trichotillomania with people in the community has made me a lot more confident and now I am not ashamed. I still wear headbands every day because it makes me more comfortable and I also have a topper for special occasions.
HabitAware has also helped me shift my mindset from a “pull free fixed mindset” to a “pull less growth mindset”. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to stop pulling. And by STOP I mean REDUCE. But now I don’t feel as guilty when I slip up and I am now able to bounce back faster.
I’d be happy to talk with anyone who wants advice, a buddy, or just to say hi! You can find me in The BFRB Collective!
Thank you, Madeline, for sharing your story with us. We so value your insights and presence! We're so happy to be a part of your journey!
Wishing you ❤️ love, 💪 strength, and 👀 awareness,
Aneela & the HabitAware team