... a blog series about the people working behind the scenes here at CBSN.
Sarah Robertson, Founder & Chair of CBSN’s Board of Directors
- 25 years old, lives in Toronto
- Social Service Worker
- Mental Health Advocate
- Getting married to her high-school sweetheart, Chris, next September (2016)
- Obsessed with her rescue pup, Rory, CBSN’s unofficial mascot
- Enjoys desserts & sugar of all sorts, chomping on ice cubes (no she’s not anemic), coffee, makeup, and
likesloves a good nap
What BFRB do you have?
I have had hair-pulling disorder since I was 12, and I also tend to pick at my face. After a year of pulling I stopped for roughly 10 years, but it began again during university/ a difficult time in my life.
How is life with your disorder(s) right now?
Sadly & honestly, I have to say it is the worst it’s ever been. I have pulled more than I ever thought I could/would. I do have my hairpiece that covers the physical damage, but it’s more of a daily internal struggle.
As the Founder of CBSN, I try my best not to let it get me down, or have my family/friends outside of our community see how much my BFRB affects my daily life, but truthfully it DOES affect my life in a negative way. I can’t just wake up and go out my bedroom door. I have to worry if anyone is around to see my baldness – including family and my fiancée. I have to wear a hat when my hairpiece isn’t on which makes life very difficult in the summer.
It’s embarrassing. That’s the only way to describe it. It makes me feel ugly, self-conscious and ashamed. My BFRB also causes me some major anxiety when I have to get ready to go outside of my house.
Do you have a strong support network of friends and family to help you?
I sure do! I consider myself extremely lucky to be surrounded by amazing people. Since the beginning of CBSN, I have met hundreds if not thousands of people who have been affected by BFRBs – adults, parents, children, partners, professionals… the list can go on. Each person I’ve talked to or met within the community has left an incredible impression on me . I hope in even a small way, I have done the same to them.
I really owe a lot to my Toronto support group. We are constantly growing, changing, and evolving into one big BFRB family. They are my lifesavers, and I love them. I really do.
Do you have any advice for others struggling with BFRBs?
Advocate. Get Involved. Volunteer. Speak Up!
It empowers you to be the change you wish to see in the world. Rather than sitting back and letting your BFRB control things, get involved with the community and you will see how much your life will change. I wish it were easy for everyone, but the reality is, it takes time to come around.
Don’t let your BFRB define you as a person. You have a BFRB, but that’s not the only thing you have. Lean on others, ask for help when you need it, and don’t be so hard on yourself.
Why did you get involved with CBSN?
I was tired of having nowhere to turn, and not having anyone to talk to. I needed to be in a room with other people who knew exactly what I was going through.
We need to step up as a community to get the word about BFRBs out there. We can prevent future generations from feeling alone and misunderstood if we do something about it right now! The louder we are as a community, the more likely we are going to get results. Slowly, but surely.
What do you like most about being a part of the CBSN Team?
It empowers me. I am rewarded by seeing the positive effects CBSN has on individuals and families. I love the amazing people in our community. I have had amazing opportunities and experiences. Best of all, I’m not alone. If I have helped even one other person who is affected by a BFRB, that’s all that matters.
What has had the biggest impact on you since joining the CBSN team?
CBSN changed my life. It was like someone lit a match within me, and the fire just continued burning brighter and bigger. I went from feeling sorry and helpless, to totally inspired and motivated to make a difference for others affected by BFRBs. I feel like I belong to a secret club, and the members are pretty damn awesome if I do say so myself.
What changes have you seen in the community or even your own life since joining?
Holy smokes… I have seen leaps and bounds in people who I have met personally in my support group. From not wanting to even talk about their BFRB, to now coming out publicly and sharing their story on social media!!! I don’t even remember what it felt like to have nobody understand what it was I was doing to myself. That is the biggest change. I forget how incredible it felt the first time I met other people who had a BFRB.
We really have come a long way, but as you and I both know, there is still so much work to be done. I think the community is recognizing the chain reaction occurring within our community. Once someone speaks out, it encourages someone else to speak up and so on and so forth. Just take a look at all the recent media coverage on BFRBs! How amazing is that!
What do you hope to see happen with CBSN in the future?
I hope we can ignite more Canadians with BFRBs to get involved with our organization and mission. The more of us who get involved, the greater chance we have of getting more doctors and professionals who will be able to provide treatment options for BFRBs.
I also hope we can successfully operate more support groups across Canada. The benefit of attending meetings, and belonging to a group is something that has changed my life in so many ways.
My personal/professional goal is that we WILL have charitable status by the end of this year.
Sarah was also featured on Toronto’s “City News – The Inside Report”, watch her story here:
Want to ask Sarah a specific question? Leave a comment!
Did you know….
- CBSN used to be called TTSN –> Toronto Trichotillomania Support Network
- TTSN turned into –> Canadian Trichotillomania Support Network (CTSN)
- CTSN turned into –> CBSN with the help of the community – we wanted to include everyone
- Sarah held the very first peer support meeting at her house – 3 people showed up
- We are the ONLY Canadian organization/resource for BFRBs
- CBSN is only 2 years old!