In the body-focused repetitive behaviour community, many people who have a BFRB or multiple BFRBs are searching for a cure. And if not a cure specifically, all of us are looking for answers of some sort—causes, triggers, what helps, what doesn’t, and the list goes on.
There is plenty in way of tips and how to help each other with picking or pulling, and research is revealing more possibilities in terms of causes, but there is still a lot that isn’t known. The biggest unknown is whether or not these disorders are curable.
People ask about a cure every single day. The problem with repeatedly asking if there is a cure for BFRBs is that right now there isn’t one, but people don’t seem to want to accept that.
I get it, it’s hard to accept when you’re in the pits of suffering and wanting it to just stop. But since it’s not that way, just shutting down what information is available because you don’t like it or it doesn’t give you a magical way out isn’t helpful. Why?
Because even if the answers aren’t the ones you want to hear doesn’t mean they can’t help you.
The way I see it, a lot of people see trichotillomania, dermatillomania, onychophagia, and other BFRBs as all or nothing—either you have them or you’re cured of them.
But that’s not reality, and maybe it sucks to think about, but it’s true. What we at CBSN would love for people to recognize is that even if a cure never comes, your BFRB doesn’t have to define you, hold you back, or ruin your life. You can learn to work with it so that it doesn’t impede your life anymore and so you don’t feel misery every single time you look at your skin or hair, or every single time you have to deal with the behaviour.
If you close yourself off to information that you don’t like, you lose the chance to learn something that might be unexpectedly helpful and since there isn’t a cure at this time, it’s super important to learn what we can do to alleviate the negative impacts of BFRBs in our lives.
I’ll use my situation as an example.
When I started learning more about my BFRB through reading as much as I could about it, engaging with the community, paying attention to how BFRBs affect people, and learning about how my BFRB, dermatillomania, was affecting my life, I learned some very important things.
- This disorder is not my fault. It’s a disorder, and very likely one that comes as a predisposition (we’re born with it). It just happened to get triggered in me.
- It doesn’t have to control my life. Understanding it’s a disorder drove me to research what mechanics are known about it, such as it being an over-zealous grooming behaviour, which in turn allowed me to learn how to take control back.
- It doesn’t ruin me. It doesn’t detract from who I am, my skin is still just skin, and I am still alive.
- Even if it never goes away, I can live my life. BFRBs are a part of our lives, but they don’t have to be our entire lives.
- Hope doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Hope can be a very fragile thing, and I know for the longest time for my hope depended on whether or not my picking would ever go away. We get so used to associating BFRBs with negativity and being cured of them as bliss that we fail to see how we can change our situation to make things better now, not just whenever a cure maybe comes along.
If there’s one thing I would like everyone to take away from this blog, it’s this: absorb as much information about BFRBs as you can, even if what you’re learning makes you uncomfortable. It’s a process, and that’s okay. Mull on the information, digest it, and think about how you can take a positive away from it. If you’re having trouble with that, turn to someone who can help you see some good in it.
Reputable resources: medical journals are the best place to get information, but if you need some help digesting and filtering through the clinical and research-based language, CBSN and TLC Foundation for BFRBs are good places to go. We also mention and list other reputable resources on our websites since there is so much misinformation available.