Hopefully you haven’t heard anything too terrible while you were raising awareness for BFRB Awareness Week, but if you did, don’t let it discourage you. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will say negative, ignorant things, such as one person we at CBSN had contact with that claimed hair pulling was a “first world problem.” A couple years ago, before the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders came out, Time Magazine had one of their online author’s refer to dermatillomania as a “reality-show problem,” an article which, to this day, they have not apologized for, nor acknowledged the complaints of.
All issues face these kinds of comments from people who think something is more important in the world. And while there may be more large scale issues, what these people don’t realize is that “lesser” problems can have a profound effect on those who deal with them. People are quick to say that we shouldn’t complain because someone else has it worse, but that’s like saying that we shouldn’t be happy because someone else has it better. Ultimately, we each have our own situations to deal with and are impacted by them differently. Pain and struggle are not a competition, so invalidating one issue for the sake of another is pointless.
The reason that we need awareness and to raise our voices about certain issues, such as BFRBs, is because otherwise we struggle to find or have access too the help and resources we need. We have to ignore the ignorant people if we cannot educate them, because we cannot let these people slow us down or stop us. It can be difficult to deal with when we hear or read comments that clearly were made by someone who doesn’t understand, but there will probably always be at least one person that doesn’t get it and has something negative to say.
During these times, return to the community, where there is first hand evidence that we need to talk about these disorders. Think about how good it felt to finally know that you weren’t alone. Think about how awesome it would have been to have had someone know from the start what this hair pulling or skin picking thing was and could have treated it.
This is the reality we are working towards. It is just so difficult because we are at the forefront of it, the very beginning. So many issues, including other mental health issues, have been around for years and are still a fight. We are the first fighting for these disorders, their acknowledgement and their treatment.
It’s not easy, and in all likelihood won’t hit an easy point for a long while. But we shouldn’t give up, because we’re not only fighting for these disorders. We’re fighting for ourselves.