This is the first time I’m really thinking about this question. For so long I’ve focused on the opposite: the loss & the deterioration that comes with compulsive hair pulling, skin picking or nail biting.
I know it sounds silly, but to answer this question, I first started by googling “definition of recovery.” The result that stuck out the most was the Anglo-Norman-French origin, meaning “get back.” It resonated because we often say, “Keen is a tool that provides awareness & with that awareness – and hard work – you can get your life back.”
When my hair pulling started, I was in my early teens. My trichotillomania made a lot of decisions for me. I can’t ever “get back” not joining the middle school basketball team, but I can understand that the underlying choice was fueled by the fear of being found out in the locker room. I can now use that understanding to define what I want to “get back” now that I’m 20+ years older (& hopefully wiser).
I was also inspired by writer Malcolm Gladwell to think about my trichotillomania recovery in another way. In an online writing course, he asks, “How do you want your story to end?” Knowing the ending should make it easier to write because as Gladwell says, it’s then “totally clear what I have to do and what I shouldn’t do.”
For me, I want my BFRB story to end not with me being pull free, but with me being in control – and I’m pretty much there! I’ve come to accept that hair pulling is in me (it’s genetic, after all) but it doesn’t have to usurp my time and energy the way it did in the past.
For me to recover is to “get back” my time and energy AND to put it forth to bigger and better things. My hope is the same for you: I want my BFRB story to end with me helping others get to their own BFRB story “ending.”
with love & awareness,
Cofounder & Chief Trichster
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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.
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