It’s never just “one more” is it? Stop it or your efforts will seriously be for nothing.
George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings
We are more than the worst thing that’s ever
happened to us. All of us need to stop apologizing
for having been to hell and come back breathing....
Since Habit Reversal Theory has led to my most long-lived successes in battling my own Trich (up to several years at times), I’ve begun revisiting some of the old techniques I used to use and some new ones in a new round of attempts.
In my research, one piece of advice struck me as highly significant: the easiest place to change a bad habit is on vacation.
The reasoning behind the advice stems from the fact that environmental cues play a huge role in the habitual neural loop and simply removing yourself from your normal environment can provide a useful kick-start to a habit-reversal session. I am about to move in 2 weeks, and I’m hopeful that this change of scenery can be a useful tool in my own renewed attempts at habit reversal. For me, a particular spot on the couch we currently own (but aren’t bringing with us) seems to be a particularly bad trigger zone.
In the meantime, rather than wholly try to replace the pulling behavior with another habitual act, I’m going to try and do so specifically when I’m sitting in my particular trigger spot and see if that helps bleed over into other parts of my day. In this particular bout of Habit Reversal training, my ultimate goal is to incorporate meditation and breathing techniques into my daily routine along with my current exercise regiment to try and combat the underlying stress. With that in place, I’m hoping that if I can rid myself of the habitual aspect, while simultaneously treating my own personal methods of dealing with anxiety, a relapse will be less likely that with the removal of the habitual behavior alone.
Does anyone else have any significant environmental cues that seem to influence their own pulling? Or, has anyone had any success with something as simple as re-arranging a room to provide a jolt to the norm?
Last week, as part of my yearly physical, my blood test revealed that I had a substantial vitamin D deficiency (one of the lowest my doctor had seen in a while). Vitamin D is typically acquired through exposure to sunlight, and though I typically get a fair amount of sunlight (I walk my two dogs every day and run outside in the summer months), it can apparently also be caused by an irregularity in the way your body synthesizes the sunlight as well.
Apparently this type of deficiency is very common in New England, where I now live, during the winter months and isn’t frequently tested for in other parts of the country. Having recently moved here from the South, I can’t say I’ve ever been tested for this type of deficiency before, so this is potentially something I’ve had since childhood (i.e., since my Trich behaviors started), but never known about. My doctor prescribed me a weekly high-dose supplement for two months and then recommended I start taking a lower daily supplement after that.
In doing some research about Vitamin D deficiencies before starting this regimen, I stumbled across several websites discussing the effects that Vitamin D has on the body’s production of the neurotransmitter dopamine and it’s relevance to Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and depression. In fact, I found several testimonies from Trich patients specifically with VERY similar stories to my own (never been tested for Vitamin D deficiency before, prescribed a high dose supplement) in which they found their urges to pull drastically reduced after starting the supplement.
So, I started my supplement dose today, and I’ll be curious to see if it has any effect on my Trich urges. I’ll be sure to report my personal experiences with this here on the site so others might be able to benefit. I certainly make no claims to being able to provide medical advice, but wanted to bring this up since it might be worth asking your doctor about if you have Trich and have never been tested for this type of deficiency before.
Has anyone else had a similar experience with vitamin deficiencies/supplements and compulsive behaviors? If so, I’d love to hear about it as I go through my own trials!
Trich Sufferer Testimonial:
Another Trich Sufferer Testimonial:
Vitamins Linked to Trichotillomania:
Neurochemical Study on Vitamin D & Dopamine:
U.S. National Institute of Health Vitamin D Dietary Fact Sheet:
So far, I am nearly two weeks pull free (on my eyelashes at least) and they’re looking great! I really haven’t even found it too difficult this time, crazy how it really all depends on the mindset because two months ago I couldn’t even make it a few hours. One of the other things I’ve been doing more of is going to the gym and trying to get a lot of cardio in. I used to be a swimmer in High School, and that was the time when I went about three years without pulling at all or even remembering that I had had trich, so I definitely think there’s something to be said for exercise helping to relieve stress and just generally make you feel better about yourself and your potential. It’s also a great way to tire yourself out before bed, since I know that for me bedtime was always the worst as I tend to be a bit of an insomniac, so I’d just lay there, bored, pulling until I fell asleep. When I go to the gym (especially if I swim) I’m usually so tired that night that I fall asleep much quicker and thus have a much easier time controlling my pulling. Also, it’s (relatively) free depending on what you do and whether you have access to a University rec center or have equipment at home. A good alternative to trying out medicine for stress relief.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I’d also like to get into something like Yoga to supplement my work out and add a bit of meditation and further stress relief to my routine to see if it will help keep my trich from a relapse. For me, high amounts of cardio seem to be the best thing for tiring me out and keeping me from pulling.
Does anyone else have any good work out routines or tips that have helped with stress relief or pulling in general?
Here’s a few links if you’re interested in some of the effects of exercise on stress:
Happy to report I could wear mascara today for the first time in close to a year now. They’re not super long yet, but I haven’t touched my eyelashes in about a week and a half, which is a huge victory on this relapse. It has come at the expense of giving up being completely cold turkey and allowing myself to mess with my eyebrows a little but not too much. Sometimes, just like with diets, having a cheat day can help rather than hurt. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a tiny setback. In the past I’ve often thought, well there goes one so I guess that’s it for this attempt. But why?
Compromise has been a huge help for me this time. It also allows me to focus my energy on one thing at a time. When my eyelashes are fully in I’ll focus on scaling back the eyebrow plucking and hopefully be totally pull free again. It has worked in the past, and I’d definitely recommend cutting yourself some slack. Hope everyone is having a fantastic Holiday!
So, I’ve actually been doing pretty well for the last few days, both eyelashes and eyebrow ends starting to grow back. Accountability has really been the best thing for me this time around, so I’ve been leaving notes to myself all around the house. I also taped my tweezers to the bathroom mirror with a huge DON’T note. Whether you need inspirational or tough-love style notes, sometimes just having that reminder to jolt you out of the pulling daze can be enough to get you to put your hand down and walk away.
There’s even an organization called Operation Beautiful (see below example) that encourages and documents women posting self-inspirational post-it notes around the world. Check it out for some ideas. Hope it helps! Any photos of other helpful notes or post-its totally welcome and appreciated!
Wow, it has almost been a year since I’ve updated this site or it’s sister blogger location.
A comment on the blogger site made me realize that maybe accountability is the way to go, and since I’ve been in the middle of another relapse lately (top eyelashes gone on both eyes and I’ve been a bit overzealous in my eyebrow plucking of late) I decided restarting this blog is just the ticket. Obviously, many of my old tricks haven’t been helping this time (especially because I’ve grown accustomed to them), so in an attempt to work on another remission cycle I am going to be evaluating some new techniques. Keep an eye out and please leave me comments or posts if you have your own tips and tricks or have any suggestions or experience with the ones I’m posting.
Good luck all!