All of us in the BFRB community seem to consider making that monumental Facebook post. It seems to feel like our tell-all novel of our BFRB(s) in post form, where we say I have trichotillomania, dermatillomania, onychophagia, dermatophagia, trichotemnomania or whatever BFRB or combination of BFRBs we have. We expect it will be freeing, a weight off our shoulders as we finally let our darkest secret go and free to be judged.
I was once there, too. I had this idea that once “everyone” knew it would be so much easier. A sigh of relief and dermatillomania off my chest (figuratively, in any case). For something that I mulled anxiously over and steeled myself for, for something that was supposed to be such a game changer, I don’t actually remember making that post or what it said. Not even how people reacted. Maybe that just means it’s not such a big deal after all.
I’m not here to discourage you from making that post or to say it doesn’t matter, because it does. It matters a whole hell of a lot because it raises awareness and more importantly because it is a piece of your story. Never forget or be dissuaded about how important that is.
I feel like I’ve gotten a bit off track, but the reason I wanted to write this post was to offer some tips to those thinking about making that post and maybe not knowing where to start.
- Start small. What I did to work myself up to making that big post was start by sharing posts about BFRBs, even without comment. It’s a good way to test the waters – see how people on your friend’s list will react – and a way to gage your own reactions, too. How you will handle their comments and your own emotions brought on by those comments. It can help build confidence in how you will handle reactions when your finally admit the posts haven’t been arbitrary, but personal.
- If you are going to share posts, share from reputable source that have lots of info. Websites like CBSN’s and our friends’ over at TLC have large quantities of information that people can explore and because we are organizations dedicated to BFRBs, it’s more likely to be accurate.
- Prepare yourself for negative reactions. Understand these reactions come from a place of ignorance and are in no way your fault. Sometimes people are quick to judge and slow to open their minds. Do what you can to help them understand, but if it gets to be too much, disengage and move on from them.
- Prepare yourself for positive reactions. I was personally shocked and amazed by the overwhelming amount of support I received the more I share about my story and BFRBs. We prepare ourselves for the worst, so it wasn’t something I expected for something I felt so ostracized for in the past.
- Remember that your experiences are valid and no one can take them away from you. In the chance you do get negative reactions, don’t let anyone invalidate your struggles by saying they’re not real, not actually that severe, or that they’re “first world problems.” Don’t let anyone convince you that if you were a better person or prayed more you wouldn’t be where you are because that’s a lie and ignorance at it’s finest. Don’t let anyone use the phrase “someone has it worse” because even if that’s true, it doesn’t change the fact you’ve struggled or have your own issues. We are allowed to not be okay and to be honest about it, which is something advocacy tries to get people to understand.
Even if you’re not looking to be an advocate and just want to share your story, that’s great, too. Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you and at a pace you’re comfortable with. There’s no pressure or obligation to bear your soul and your mental health to the world. But it you’d like to, I hope these tips have helped get you on your way.