My Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB) is Trichotillomania. I have been dealing with Trich for a little over 3 years now and it has affected my day to day life as well as life in general in various ways. Physically, my Trich has caused me to pull out my hair, leaving bald spots on my head that vary in shapes and sizes. One of my most recent bald spots ended up slightly larger than the size of a ping pong ball. Over the past few years, my eyebrows and eyelashes have been pulled out many times to the point where I would cry over wanting to find a Trichotillomania solution.
I felt as if I was some sort of outsider
Emotionally my Trich made me feel pretty helpless and lost at times. I felt as if I was some sort of outsider because no one else I knew pulled their hair like me. At times I felt like it would never get better and that people would begin to judge me or leave me because of what I was going through.
I started to look for a hair pulling solution because my therapist and I were noticing that my Trich was getting out of hand. I was spending money on long acrylic nails and fake eyelashes so that I would not be able to grasp and pull my actual eyelashes or eyebrows. I would go through eyebrow makeup faster than you would believe, and no amount of mascara could cover the damage I had done.
I saw a YouTube video about Keen, the awareness bracelet by HabitAware, and decided to look into it. Once I received my Keen, I trained it immediately. I followed the instructions in the app and fine tuned the settings to the best of my ability. I had to pay special attention to ensure that my Keen was sensitive enough to pick up on my pulling but not too sensitive so that it would vibrate when I was not pulling. I use it mainly when I am sitting down and reading a book or working on my laptop because I tend to pull when I am doing mindless things like that and my hands get bored. When I feel Keen’s vibration I track my behavior using Keen’s button and then move my hand to a location away from where I pull.
I'm so happy to be able to wear my braids again!
I have definitely seen a lot of growth physically. The gaps in my eyelashes and eyebrows are growing back in and the bald spot in the middle of my head is growing in as well. I have just recently been able to start wearing braids again because of the new growth. Braiding my hair in two pigtail braids was a big goal of mine. I couldn’t do it when I had my bald spot because there was no way to part my hair to hide it. I still have to bobby pin some of the baby hairs down flat, but it is better than having a large bald spot when I part my hair down the middle. And I’m so happy to be able to wear my braids again!
After using Keen and regrowing a lot of my eyebrows and much of my bald spot, I have gotten a lot more confident and have not been going through makeup as quickly. I have seen a lot of progress in the way that I am dealing with my Trich tendencies. Although I still consciously pull my hair sometimes, I find that I am not pulling nearly as much and that is very inspirational to me. I am hopeful that I continue to grow in terms of pulling less and less.
Keen (does) its job by bringing your habit to your attention and allowing you the chance to stop
I would definitely recommend Keen. I think that it is a wonderful idea and worth a try for anyone with a BFRB such as hair pulling, skin picking (Dermatillomania), or nail biting (Onychophagia). I would say that it does take some getting used to because I was not used to stopping my pulling in the middle of it. At first I would not want to stop pulling but then Keen’s vibrations would snap me out of it and I would stop pulling.
I would tell other users to make sure that they train it very carefully and spend a lot of time figuring out how to train it best for their own bodies because Keen works differently for everyone. I think that it is important to be patient and to know that Keen is just doing its job by bringing your habit to your attention and allowing you the chance to stop. I gave Keen a chance and it returned the favor by giving me the chance to stop my hair pulling. I did stop and I’m very thankful!
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Together with Abbe Greenberg and Maggie Sarachek, of the Anxiety Sisters, and Lauren McKeaney of PickingME Foundation we recorded a podcast to share treatments for body focused repetitive behaviors like trichotillomania and dermatillomania, along with our mental health stories.
It's important that Keen fits snugly. Here's a quick guide to help you decide which bracelet size to order: