Thursday 28 June 2012

Self-Help for Trichotillomania Update #1

My blog is three months old today! Thanks for reading!

So, for anyone who knows me, or who's been reading for a while, you might know that I have trichotillomania. It's part of a bigger, mental un-health picture, but I'm working on one thing at a time, trying to relax, take it slow. Help myself heal from whatever the hell caused me to get so messed up in the first place.

I shaved my head in Summer, a few times, to break the cycle of pulling my hair out when I'm bored/nervous/busy and just not paying enough attention/sleeping. I even kept my eyebrows plucked to perfection (with tweezers), shaved off my pubic hair, kept my legs and underarms shaved regularly - just so there was nothing for me to fiddle with. Nothing out of place. I think that my flawed perfectionism has a lot to do with my problem, so it was time to reassure myself that I had achieved perfection (of a hairless, stubbly sort. The sort that doesn't fiddle).


I have hair now. It's about 2cm long, max. But it's there.

No bald spots. No hair pulling (well, three hairs. Total. Before I couldn't even count how many I pulled out in an hour, let alone 4-5 months).

I have developed the habit of running my hands through my hair fast, repeatedly, when under stress. This seems less debilitating than hair-pulling, so I'm running with it. It felt nice on my stubbly bald head, and it feels nice now I've got a full head of hair too. I'm just trying my hardest to keep it. I don't want to be bald again. I didn't realise how desperate I was to fix this problem, because now I don't think I'd be brave enough to want to shave my head again. 

Another side-effect of not-pulling is that I've started attacking my fingernails. I've always bitten my nails, but now it's getting chronic. I basically don't have nails. So, I've started the same process with my nails as I did with my hair - make them un-biteable. I paint my nails, and cover them in glitter, so even if I was to bite them with polish on, it'd be like chewing sand. 


Ok, I back-slid because I am a mum, and finding the time to paint my nails, let alone this laborious process involving glitter, takes a lot of time. And because I'm looking for a job, and tiny, glittery finger-stubs are a bit offputting in a job interview (even if they look much prettier to me, because I am used to my deformed fingers). At least I can keep my hands from drawing too much attention if I leave them bare, but it makes it EXTREMELY hard not to bite them.

I'm just hoping I find a job where they don't mind me painting my nails, even if my hands are mangled, or that I get a job that involves me using my hands all the time, so I don't have the opportunity to bite my nails.

Stay tuned for future updates. I'm really trying to make this method work, because I'd love to help people with trich (and other people who, like me, deal with their anxiety by mangling themselves in other ways) in a real and tangible way - not just awareness raising and being open and honest with people about my own troubles with trich.

Friday 22 June 2012

Ten Things To Do During "Me Time"

At the moment, the phrase "me time" just feels like someone's idea of a joke. Indigo is teething, super clingy, whingy, and has oodles of energy. I'm doing my best to keep her happy, and a lot of the time it works.

The nights however, are punctuated by frequent wakings, lots of crying, screaming, and climbing on top of Dave and I. We really need to get her a bed when we've got some money to spare, because I'm hoping that now she's a bit bigger, she'll appreciate not being interrupted in her sleep so much. I don't want to cry anything out or abruptly wean, but breastfeeding is getting to be something I resent instead of something I enjoy, and that's not cool. Maybe a big-girl bed will make it easier to resist waking at night and being soothed by the comfort of boobies instantaneously - if it takes a minute for me to get to her and I'm not just lying next to her, maybe I will get a break!

SO. This post is supposed to be about the mythical Me Time that I've heard so much about. I know Indy will be happy if I leave her with her Daddy, but she won't be happy if I'm cleaning, reading, or generally mooching about the house (which is what I really want right now!). So I'll make a list, so when I've got some Me Time, I have ideas about what to do. These are often hard to come by when you're completely frazzled from looking after a clingy little one!

Ten Things To Do During Me Time

1. Go to the movies. I bet you never even get to watch your favourite television show without constant, loud interruptions. Go sit in the dark, with a heap of popcorn that you don't have to share, and watch something YOU like. Not Giggle and Hoot.

Via Where the Fish Live
2. Go to a nice cafe and read a good book. I recommend The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, one of my all-time favourites. I never get to fully immerse myself in a book at home, but in comfy clothes with a warm coffee in a nice atmosphere? Can't beat it.

3. Knit something. I love knitting, and this is a great activity to indulge in when Me Time occurs in the middle of the night, or during naptime. Knitting and watching dvds in our warm lounge room in winter is about as cosy as it gets!

4. Visit a friend. To just catch up, or to do something you both really want to do - just seeing the people we love has the power to make us feel great! Have a Girls' Night In - watch girly movies, paint your toenails and just generally be frivolous; or perhaps you'd rather go rock climbing together?

5. Go for a walk/run. It's times like this that I wish I had an mp3 player - I used to do a lot of walking and listening to podcasts of Sunday Night Safran. I'd like to do that again.

6. Bake delicious things. I know I always feel like Yummy Mummy Extraordinaire when I bake something that tastes great. (I've got Banana and Pecan Bread planned for this afternoon!)

From Fresh...and a Little Funky!
7. Have a bubble bath. I'm such a bookworm - most of these Me Time activities revolve around me getting some peace and quiet to read, and having a warm, scented, bubbly bath is no exception. Add a face mask, read for a while, et voila! Great skin, relaxed body and mind...what could be better?

8. Write something! This one is mainly aimed at me, but applies to pretty much everyone. I don't blog enough, and I've been working on fleshing out the stories for a couple of kids books - I just need to get down to it! Any of you other writers out there, same goes for you. Stop thinking so much and write more! Another middle-of-the-night Me Time staple.

9. Organise a future fun-thing. A party, perhaps? Or do you want to start saving for a holiday, but aren't sure where you want to go? Daydream, scrapbook, pin things on Pinterest (I'm Beatrix Quills over there, if you feel like following me!)

10. Give yourself a break. If you just don't feel awesome enough to do that much, just chill out. Relax. Just because you've got time to do something, doesn't mean you need to rush around filling the gaps with activity. Maybe you need to veg out in front of the tv, talk on the phone, sleep in? This is perfectly legitimate relaxation, even if it's not yoga or whatever.

What do you do during your "Me Time"?  I'd love some fresh ideas!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Strange Days

Recently, we've been trying to totally overhaul our lifestyle. 

It looks like if all goes well, I'll have a job soon, and I can think about the positive things about being a working mum, instead of stressing as a stay-at-home parent. 

Luckily for Indigo and I Dave LOVES being a stay-at-home parent, and Indigo LOVES her daddy, so she'll always have one of us around. I'm hoping that if we have to put her in daycare that we can find family daycare, or entrust her to one of our friends who would love to play with our little girl every now and then.

It's making me cherish every second we have together until I'm working just a little more. I'm paying more attention to the little details: her soft hair, nursing her to sleep and her soft baby sighs, walking around with her, watching how proud she is of her new-found skills.

I just hope all this stress is going into something positive, so that soon I can say "oh yes, they were tough times, weren't they? Thank goodness they're over!"

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Depression Sucks

A few precious moments aside, I have had an AWFUL couple of weeks. Depression is a bitch who doesn't know when to quit. Even when there is nothing outwardly different from any other time, something inside just flipped, and I've had an extremely hard time enjoying anything. 

Indigo had her first birthday, which was great. I'd love to write about it - in fact, I've sat down most days to write about her, but as much as I love her, the words just aren't coming. Rest assured it won't be forever, but it makes it very difficult to write when emotions basically just block off my brain from functioning. I just want to feel "normal", whatever that is, so I can get on with my life.

Also, SO sick of being given depression-related advice. I've had depression for as long as I can remember - I wasn't diagnosed or anything, but shrinks have told me that from my descriptions it's likely I've had depression since I was quite a young child. I don't even REMEMBER how to think happy thoughts half of the time, or remember what happiness feels like, and no matter how many people tell me to "snap out of it", or give me advice, all it does is grate against me and make me feel worse.

Want to help someone with depression? DON'T tell them you know exactly how to "fix" the problem that has been bothering them their entire life. Yoga? Cashews?  These are lovely things, but I for one have never found them much help dealing with my own problems, and I resent the idea that after being alive for 25 years, I wouldn't have thought of something as simple as "take some deep breaths". Fuck, really? You think I haven't tried that, fifty thousand times a day, for 25 years?! I'm not stupid, I just have had a bit of a messed up life, and I'm doing my absolute best to be the best person I can be...I just have depression too.

I understand people "just want to help", but I TELL them how they can help - just being there. Talking to me. Coming to visit to save me from my own brain. Unfortunately in this digital age, people would rather give unwanted advice or ignore the negatives until things turn positive again instead of putting in effort. Or tell me that professional help is what I need.  I KNOW that I need company and friends, not professionals who are paid to listen to me, real friends - I need to feel BETTER, not worse! I guess it grates against me. The way I live my life? EVERYTHING I do gets 100% of my energy and effort. It's just the way I am - I haven't always been this way, but it's the culmination of trying to be everything for everyone. It's fucking hard work, and I don't think people even realise I'm doing it. Maybe I'd have less of a problem if I wasn't trying so hard, but I don't know how to do 50%.

I hope I haven't offended the few people who HAVE been instrumental in helping me not go insane these past few weeks. You know who you are, I've probably thanked you profusely. I just don't want people to trivialise my problems because depression is so common, or because someone else managed to solve all their problems with magic beans or whatever.

Depression sucks. It sucks the life right out of you and leaves you feeling worthless and useless. Such a debilitating problem with almost no physical manifestation, except that I've been losing weight too fast. I guess most people would be happy about that, but I think I'd rather be fat and happy than thin and miserable - not that I seem to be given a choice (misery seems the side-order regardless of the main course). I wish medication was anything other than a short-term solution, because I'd LOVE it if I could just take a pill and BAM! Problem solved! Unfortunately, every time I've taken the medication route advised by medical/mental health professionals I've just needed to almost constantly up the dose, so I'd prefer to just be miserable and NOT on drugs. 

Now Indy is awake, so I'll end this miserable rant. Just letting you all know I'm not dead.