National Mental Health Awareness Month: Trichitillomania

This month is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’ll most likely be posting quite a bit about mental health, as I typically do.

I entered the mental health world when I was 12 – I was being bullied at school and my parents didn’t believe me. Eventually I developed trichitillomania because I was being bullied for my hair, which I grew to hate.

Trichitillomania is compulsive hair pulling. My self-hatred and misery led to a golf ball sized bald spot on the back of my head that I covered by gathering what I had left into a ponytail.

I never particularly cared that I was depressed, angry at my parents, or that I had trichitillomania – I just wanted someone to do something about the bullying. My boomer parents expected me to punch somebody in the face and be done with it. If I had done that, I would have gotten into a melee with the entire school. Besides, it wasn’t in my nature to throw hands.

My mom noticed the pile of hair by my bed growing ever higher, and took me to the GP one afternoon. He promptly referred me to a childhood psychiatrist, who barred me from therapy until I was on stable medications.

I just wanted someone to talk to. I didn’t perceive any of my so-called friends at the time understood what I was going through, and if they did (they most likely could but were unable to articulate, this is middle school here) and would have happily opened up to a therapist. But Dr. Whatserface? No.

Over the course of two years I would come to take 13 different pills a day… all for my mental health. Within four years I would receive a bipolar diagnosis.

Ten years later I developed chronic pain, which has been linked to bipolar meds I can’t get off of for the sake of my functionality.

Eventually the docs would tell me that all the chemical grief I went through as a child and teenager was unnecessary, but hindsight is 20/20. You live with what you are and what you become. Own it.

I hope this article helps a teenager or parent before hauling off their moody but normal kid to the psychiatrist.

Why Body Positivity is So Hard For Chronically Ill Women

I had my first EMDR session yesterday, and it went… badly.

In EMDR one of the first things you do is create a safe space for yourself, and I could not visualize myself as I am in that space. I kept seeing the old me, the beautiful former model me, and I began to sob.

As someone who attempts to champion body positivity and beauty is every-ability, I was ashamed at my reaction. I knew that my issues ran deep, but I didn’t know they were this invasive. I saw the girl who I once was in my head and longed to be her. I felt that she as lightyears away, a completely different person from me, and this person existed only a year ago.

Grieved by the fact that I was two different people in such a short amount of time, the tears came. Pain shot up my esophagus, and my shoulders ached.

What’s important to remember is that I am a completely gorgeous, unknown sized, purple haired, green eyed vixen with glittery pink catseye glasses. My double chin? That is fucking gorgeous y’all. My acne? Sexy as hell. My swollen hands and legs? Hot, even if it is part of my disease.

My therapist taught me the Vegas Nerve Stimulator for times of distress, and I must say, it works. She instructed me to put my thumb on my clavicle and my other thumb below my rib cage, and silently repeat to myself “I am a beautiful human being.” I almost believed it, which was better than being in the negative hit points.

I am sexy as hell, and I believe it.

So, why did I have this problem? Why do so many women who go through life altering events, and body altering events, have this problem?

As women we are taught we are our bodies, and that our bodies do not belong to us. Someone else gets to decide if we are sexy as hell, not us. And if that is decided, they have the opportunity and the right to act upon their urges.

But at the same time, beauty is a sacred thing, like art. I believe all life is a form of art, which is a reason why I enjoy painting and drawing nature. There is inherent divinity, and therefore beauty and light, everywhere and in everyone.

When a woman becomes sick, it’s as if that divinity and light is becoming assaulted, because society says sick isn’t beautiful. But real beauty is still there. No other person can negate her divinity and inner light, even if she becomes bitter.

I’m here to tell you to all my ladies down with the sickness, you never lost your beauty.
Now I’m reminded of the Alanis Morissette song that goes, “I’m sick but I’m pretty, BABY, and what it all goes down to my friends, is that everyone’s gonna be QUITE ALL RIGHT!”

My fellow gals, you are sick and you’re pretty, you are beautiful and divine, own that acne, own that messy hair, YOU ARE SEXY AS HELL.