We live in the age of the internet, where we can type literally anything into a Google search and find information and answers on anything we want to know. And yet, a lot of people still don’t seem to be using this tool, especially when it comes to mental health, more specifically, BFRBs. I read a post yesterday that made me really mad, and when I say really mad, I mean shaking mad. It was about a young girl who has been punished to standing in a corner for her skin picking by her parents. There are probably many more who have a similar story in their own personal narratives, but for those of us who have been around before the internet became a part of everyday life, it seems more excusable because we just didn’t have access to the resources.
But what about parents, spouses, friends, caregivers and support systems in today’s world, where the internet, full of information and advice, is readily available? If you ask me, there is no excuse anymore and I’m personally done excusing them.
It is not difficult anymore. The internet can be accessed anywhere, including public places like a library. And when typing skin picking or hair pulling into Google, all that comes up first are websites like the Trichotillomania Learning Center, medical websites, OCD websites and so on (we’re not on the first pages yet with CBSN, but hopefully soon!). Many of these even come up before Wikipedia. There is so much information to be had in the blink of an eye…and yet people don’t seem to be looking for it. Instead, they resort to punishments, shaming and overall remaining ignorant.
While I feel quick to say at this moment that we just can’t excuse these people anymore, it also goes to show that internet awareness alone just isn’t cutting it. It’s a great tool and resource, but if we, the sufferers, are the only ones using it, then what good is it in our effort to educate people? It’s just not. If we’re really going to help people, we need knowledge and information in doctor’s offices, we need BFRBs to be spoken about as much as depression, addiction and suicide, we need books and documentaries, we need to host events and spread tangible, “real world” awareness.
It all sounds terrifying to talk about something for which we have been shamed into silence for so long, but we need to change something. We need to make sure other skin pickers and hair pullers don’t share our history and legacy. We need to break the cycle of silence, shame and stigma, and the only way to do that is to start talking about it whenever we can. We need to do this for each other—every skin picker, hair puller, nail biter, nose picker and all other BFRB sufferers.
Let’s raise our voices together and show our strength. Let people know this is not who we are, or something that punishing and shaming us will fix, it’s something we do that we can’t just swtich off. Let them know that we would stop in a heartbeat if we could. Let them know that we’re doing everything in our power to try.
Let’s raise our voices together and break the silence. Break the shame. Break the stigma. Ultimately, shatter the ignorance and create awareness.
Are you ready?