In honour of BFRB Awareness Week and Day 2’s Topic: Trichotillomania, Kay touches on the importance of support and its impact on healing.
The importance of support
I have spent many years struggling with my trich. I was 13 when I first started to pull and I was utterly and completely lost. I was alone, my parents were oblivious and even when they were faced with the idea I had this illness, they chose to turn a blind eye and pretend it would go away… I mean what’s the worst that could happen?
Maybe I’d struggle well into my adult life with self confidence and control…
Maybe I’d never know my self-value…
Maybe I would think I was alone, an outcast, broken, diseased and unlovable.
I know I felt all of those things.
I know I still feel those things on the bad days.
But on the good days, I remember I am not alone. I am loved. I am valuable and I am worth more than even I can imagine.
The first time I ever met another person who had trichotillomania, was just a few months ago back in April. I made the decision to come to this support group because I knew I was going down a road I didn’t think I could come back out of, alone. I was so scared. I was knee deep in a depressive state and I wasn’t thinking straight. I remember thinking I was a crazy person for driving to Toronto, to meet a bunch of people I’d never met before. I did it anyway, because I figured at that point in time I had nothing to lose. I was grasping at straws, but I did it anyway. Amidst the anxiety of the drive during rush hour in Toronto, going to a random persons house, alone. Meeting new people who would know I was at this meeting because I was sick, broken. I cried the majority of the 45 minute drive there. I don’t know what I was expecting… maybe I thought they might think I was way too messed up for even a support meeting to help.
Boy, was I wrong.
First off, I met Sarah, the founder and Executive Director at CBSN. I held it together, shook her hand and did the regular scan of her head and face for signs of trich. I didn’t see any. She has nice eye brows. Immediately I thought about whether or not she could see my telltale signs of trich. I wear a wig, so I assume everyone and their uncle can see my hairline and knows I wear a wig. She didn’t seem to be judging my hairline, so I moved on. I am perpetually early for all meetings and excursions, I have anxiety surrounding being late, so I am always early which gave me the opportunity to spend 20 minutes just talking with Sarah before the other ladies showed up. In hindsight I am glad I was early, I mean I was super nervous about the whole ordeal and it literally took me two minutes of talking with her to feel like this was the best decision I’d ever made in my life. I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to get a word out for fear of how I’d come across. By the time we had all introduced ourselves, I had decided I was going to enjoy these meetings.
I’ve been attending meetings for close to six months now. The first month of meetings was a special turning point for me. I decided I was done. Done with the way I was feeling, done with being alone and being scared. I was D-O-N-E. I am done.
I have been alone for so long. Someone once asked me how is it even possible to feel alone in a room full of people? Especially people who I call friends and family, the people I depend on. I’ve never been able to answer that, until now.
Prior to the moment I walked into Sarah’s living room on that Tuesday afternoon in April, I had been hiding. I spent so much energy just trying to put up the walls and the facade that I WAS OKAY. That I didn’t have this illness and that I was making it. The truth was I was barely treading water. That I had spent close to six weeks barely able to get out of bed. I had closed myself off from my family, from my husband, from life. I think I was ready to leave. It’s surprising to me, now that I think back to those days, but I really was making one last ditch effort to wake up.
This support group has given me that reason. I have a wonderful group of strong, valuable women, who understand and appreciate my struggles. They don’t ask “why don’t you just stop?”, they don’t tell me how pretty my long thick hair was when I was little. They have done nothing but validate my feelings, my struggle with this illness.
Kay is a long-time Peer Support Group member, an avid CBSN fan, and an advocate for trichotillomania.