There's a bug in my coffee is a blog by a Marie Larson, 47 year-old, working wife and mom to two girls living in Chicago. Marie blogs about all kinds of interesting topics, and on a few occasions this included the topic of trichotillomania. Marie's oldest daugher, who is 13-years old has trichotillomania. It is very stressful for a parent then their child is not feeling well, be it a common cold or serious illness. Our instinct is to protect our children, to comfort them in times of need, and to save them when things go wrong. So when we are not able to 'fix' the problem for our child, we feel helpless and powerless and we are left with nothing but stress and fear.
Although cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for the sustainable management of compulsive hair pulling, other mechanisms such as change in diet or medication have also been found to be effective when used in conjunction with CBT. CBT is not a quick fix and when you are dealing with a tormenting condition, be it physical or psychological, it is natural to desire immediate results. Research in the pharmaceutical industry has made huge progress in many different fields, providing immediate from a variety of conditions that people struggled with for years. However in the field of body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) there has not been any dramatic advances in terms of the treatment of conditions such as trichotillomania. Possibly part of the reason is that BFRBs in themselves are still poorly understood.
Everybody’s triggers for hair pulling are different. Some people pull their hair habitually without realising it when they are engaged in passive activity, others consciously pull their hair to relieve a sense of tension. Whatever your reasons for pulling, it is important to develop an awareness of these triggers as it enables you to act proactively to prevent or minimise the urges to pull rather than be reactive trying to resist the urge to pull.
In a previous post we noted that repetitive behaviors such as hair pulling and other stereotypic movements are commonly seen in individuals on the Autistic Spectrum, went on to discuss the relationship between trichotillomania and the Autsim Spectrum. In social media recently this relationship has once again come up when Dan, an adult with Aspergers Syndrome speaks about having trichotillomania on his Youtube channel Aspie World. As someone with Aspergers, known informerly as an Aspie, Dan vlogs about his daily life and shares information he thinks will be helpful to other aspies.
The Trichotillomania Learning Centre recently hosted a webinar titled “Getting well is only half the job: Relapse prevention Strategies” with Dr. Fred Penzel. The reason this webinar is important is because body-focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania are chronic conditions. This means that, while it is possible to live a pick free life, this does not mean you have been cured. There is no cure for trichotillomania, instead it is a condition that must be actively managed. Just like someone who has diabetes has to manage their condition for their whole lives, so too do people with trichotillomania need to manage their BFRB. In this webinar Dr. Penzel talks about the concept of relapse, challenging the semantics we use to refer to a setback in managing the disorder and that we should not be viewing relapse as a single event, but rather as a process.
Trichotillomania is a diagnosis based on a set of clearly defined characteristics as set out by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM5). It describes individuals with trichotillomania as engaging in recurrent hair pulling following the experience of an increasing sense of tension prior to or when trying to resist pulling. However some experts in the field have questioned this description as a diagnostic characteristic as it could discount the type of pulling known as "automatic pulling".
Here is the final part of the three part webinar series by TLC (trich.org) on how to start a peer support group. In this webinar the discussion centres around the maintenance of the group once it has been established. Group processes generally go through different phases. As a group facilitator there are many issues you may have to deal with such as some members dominating discussion, or having the discussion steer off into other mental health issues. It is important that the group establishes some boundaries around the type of advice that can be given in the space. As the group leader it is imperative that you take control of the group for the benefit of the group as a whole. You will hear some great tips that you can use to help you with these aspects of running a peer support group:
The Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC) will once again be hosting a workshop, this time in San diego, CA. TLC are pioneers in the advancement of awareness and research into body focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as trichotillomania. They have played a pivotal in our understanding of trichotillomania and other BFRBs and continue to make strides in identifying effective treatment for these conditions. The workshop will take place on Saturday, February 20, 2016 from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM (PST). This workshop is a fundraiser - any proceeds made after event costs are covered, fund TLC programs and outreach services! But it will also be an invaluable experience for all those attending.
We have been sharing the stories and experiences of many bloggers and Youtubers on our blog since the launch of this website, and BeckieO from Trichjournal has been a regular feature. But his latest video by of BeckieO shaving her head was one of the most heart wrenching videos to watch. For those who do not have a body-focussed repetitive behavior, one can never truly understand what it feels like to be compelled to engage in such destructive behaviors as pulling one's own hair out. But watching this video, one cannot help but feel the pain and anguish that BeckieO feels when she shaves her head.
Shaving to beat trich
We have raised the issue about shaving a couple of times on this blog, highlighting that shaving may be a saving solution for many trich sufferers but not for others. But this experience that BeckieO so courageously shared with us also shows that at different times on your journey of recovery, different strategies may be necessary.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test