Sharing Your BFRB Story: Peer Coach Barbara's Experience

Sharing Your BFRB Story: Peer Coach Barbara's Experience

When you think about sharing your BFRB story what comes to mind? Is it excitement? Is it trepidation? Is the thought of sharing your BFRB story with others causing your body to have a physical reaction i.e. sweating? What if I told you that sharing your BFRB story will change your life for the better? Would you believe me?

I lived with trichotillomania for 17 years before I even thought about sharing my story. My trichotillomania was my dirty little secret and I would have willingly stepped on broken glass with bare feet rather than tell anyone about it. I was that serious about keeping it a secret. What was I scared of? Being ridiculed by those around me and being ostracized because I was different. I couldn’t imagine a world where I could say, “Hi everyone! I pull my own hair out!” without people looking at me with disgust. So I kept my mouth shut.

The HabitAware team often says, “Secrets make us sick” and that is exactly what happened to me. Because I was hiding my trichotillomania and solely focusing on stopping instead of managing, my pulling continued to worsen. I found myself unable to break the cycle of negative self-talk → self-soothing by pulling more hair out → negative self-talk because I pulled more hair out → self-soothing by pulling more hair out → negative-self talk because I can’t stop. It went on and on.

You can imagine my surprise when one random night in December of 2018 I woke up and started writing down chapter titles of a book I later named The Trichster Diaries. At that point, I had shared with my close friends but it was something I talked about for a brief moment. I didn’t share all of the details and memories that I’d accumulated since developing the disorder at 10 years old but now, out of the blue, I wanted to. Not only did I want to share everything with my close friends, I wanted to share it with everyone.

A woman holding up a book in front of bookshelves.

As I mentioned above, I would have willingly stepped on broken glass with bare feet rather than share about my trichotillomania so I started sharing in a way that made me feel comfortable while also pushing myself out of my comfort zone: sharing anonymously on Instagram as @thetrichsterdiaries. Slowly but surely I was able to share more memories of my experience as well as meet others in the same community. I was learning that I wasn’t the only one after all. There were hundreds of people in the world that were just like me who were also sharing their experience. One in particular who created a device that I’m wearing on my wrist right now! (wink, wink!)

The more I shared, the lighter I felt. Not only was I now connecting with others, I was spending hours a day working on The Trichster Diaries, reliving moments I thought I had banished from my mind. I’d have butterflies in my stomach while typing on my phone and then cry hysterically while typing on my computer. As odd as this may sound, that combination was incredibly healing. I was letting go of the shame that suffocated me. I didn’t have to keep my trichotillomania a secret anymore and I never would again.

It took 585 days for my life to completely flip upside down. That is how long it took from the moment I started writing The Trichster Diaries and posting anonymously on Instagram to when it was published. I was going into my 7th year of teaching and I had a feeling it would be my last. Not because I didn’t love it, but because I loved the BFRB community more. There was something magical happening, and I was going to follow that magic wherever it took me. And wow, did it take me.

I was able to find a community I was so desperately looking for my whole life, all because I shared my BFRB story. I was able to find my true purpose. What was I scared of? I live in a world where I can say, “Hi everyone! I pull my own hair out!” and people will look at me with understanding in their eyes as they respond, “Hey! Me too!”

Looking to share your BFRB story? Here are my tips:

💕 Start small. You don’t have to share publicly right away. Share with loved ones or trusted friends. Practice in the mirror beforehand if that’ll help.

💕 Share in a way that makes you comfortable. It can be done anonymously>

💕 Share in whatever medium you like. There are so many options! Photography, Painting, Poetry, etc.

💕 Just do it!!!!!!!!!!

This blog post was written by HabitAware Peer Coach Barbara. Inspired by her story? Follow her on social media, or take the extra step and sign up for Peer Coaching and get three 1:1 conversations with her, or another experienced BFRB Peer Coach!


Inspired to share your own story? We'd love to get to know you! Reach out to us via email with the subject line "I want to share my story!" And we'd be happy to feature your writings on our blog! Prefer to keep it anonymous? That's okay too!

Blog header by Patrick Tomasso

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