As one of more than 10,000 members of an online Trichotillomania support group, there isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t vow to go pull free, or share how many days, weeks, months or years they are celebrating being pull free.
“Pull free,” according to Urban Dictionary is “a term to describe when someone suffering from trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) stops pulling out their hair for a certain amount of time.” It may even involve physically restraining oneself from pulling, with the goal of permanently stopping. The same mentality applies for skin picking (dermatillomania) and the act of being “Pick Free.”
I always feel conflicted when I see someone post about their pull free goals. Part of me feels really happy that my fellow trichster has had enough and wants to make a positive change, and then part of me feels sad and worried, because pull free seems like a hamster wheel – no matter how much energy is put into it, you more than likely wind up in the same spot.
Even on a personal level, I used to wish folks in the groups “PFV,” or “Pull Free Vibes.” I really wanted to be pull free for myself too. There are some people for which pull free, or going cold turkey, is the only option. Some people’s personalities just NEED that sort of goal in order to succeed. But it isn’t for everyone. And in trying pull free, I realized it wasn’t for me.
So, in honor of July 4th / American Independence Day, here’s my top 5 reasons why I freed myself from the pull free mindset:
Because of my experience with trying to be pull free, and in seeing how devastating it is for others in the support groups, I no longer believe in the pull free mentality. I’m more of a “pull less” or “pull very little” kind of gal now.
Body focused repetitive behaviors like hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (dermatillomania) and nail biting (onchyophagia), are disorders that we will carry for the rest of our lives – they are genetic after all. And I’ve come to terms with that. I’ve come to accept my trich for what it is: this thing I’ll always carry with me, but something I have learned to manage with awareness using my HabitAware Keen smart bracelet.
So, I still pull once in a while, but it no longer consumes or devastates me the way it used to. I’ve built my awareness muscles. I’m able to catch myself and replace the behavior using Keen’s guided breathing light, one of my go-to replacement strategies. With focus, awareness and leaving myself wiggle room for mistakes, I have learned to manage my trich & take control, rather than being controlled by it.
Ultimately though, bfrbs manifest differently in everyone. Which means what works for one person may not work for another, and is also why a single cure has been difficult to nail down. We are all unique, so ultimately, you need to do what works for you to free yourself of your bfrb burden.
Wishing you love, awareness & a time that comes when you are bfrb-LESS!,
HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet that helps manage nail biting, hair pulling, thumb sucking, and other subconscious behaviors. Customized gesture detection brings you into awareness and helps you develop healthier habits.
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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: