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Ontario’s New Calorie Count Law Is Dangerous

 

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“Nutritional information, including calories, is already available on the labels of many items we buy at the grocery store.” […] “As of January 1, 2017, all food-service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario must post the number of calories in the food and drink items they sell.”

Calories on Menus in regards to the Healthy Menu Choices Act

The government of Ontario has decided that their citizens need to be more mindful of the calories entering their bodies, and has chosen to have all foods and drinks in restaurant chains with over 20 restaurants listed with their respective calories. Their goal is to ensure everyone is getting the right amount of energy needed for their bodies, but this listed number is doing more than that, and sadly, it’s not all good.

On one hand, those who want to lose weight healthily and have the means to do so have an advantage when they’re eating out, but a group has been forgotten in this whole equation.

In the US, 30 million people of all ages and genders struggle with an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any one mental illness. From anorexia nervosa, to binge eating disorder, to OSFED (Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder), there seems to be no leg up through their struggles.

I, being a 19 year old woman in eating disorder recovery, diagnosed with OSFED (past atypical anorexia, and currently compensatory subtype) can no longer go out to eat without those numbers haunting me and triggering me. Those numbers call out to me and scream the horrors that I have worked so hard to hush. I am no longer safe when I am out of the house; my nightmares have followed me into my social life and make outdoor meals all that much harder. I could get by, reminding myself that not knowing the calories would be okay, but that safety blanket has been ripped away from me.

My mother offered me food from a Costco stand the other day, and there I was considering it, until that 3 to 4 digit number made my mind up for me.

I am now forced to not eat out, or keep my head down wile my partner/friend orders for me. I can no longer look up at the menu freely, deciding what I want to eat, without letting my disorder make my mind up for me.

This new law is not all good; and here’s why.


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Favours one agenda over another. I am constantly reminded when I go out that my recovery and the struggles I have with my eating disorder are not as important as someone who is struggling with weight loss. There is a divide where one groups’ health is put above mine, and I have no control over it. No where do I see on the Ontario governmental page a worry regarding eating disorders or the benefits it could have on those struggling or recovering.

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It isn’t only in fast food chains. I would be more understanding if these numbers affected the well-known unhealthy fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Wendy’s, because people go there and expect an unhealthy meal. They are aware that they’re not getting exactly what their bodies need. But this law seeps into Pita Pit, Burrito joints and so many other locations that are mainly vegetable dishes. These favoured places of mine have become less safe as the calories stare me in the face as I build a well balanced meal.

Being affected with an eating disorder, 600 calories can seem terrifying when at one time, I considered this more than my daily allowance of calories.

Vibrant Produce

Calories aren’t always the most influential part of a meal on ones body. This law puts emphasis on caloric contents instead of nutritional contents. They didn’t choose to label the vitamins and minerals, but chose calories. They also don’t state if these are healthy or unhealthy calories. Some people need to watch cholesterol whilst others need to watch sugars, but don’t worry, darling. In this diet culture, calories are all that matters. No need to care about your actual health. (Is you sarcasm meter on?)

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It encourages the notion that fewer calories defines a healthier meal. If I were to have a McDonald’s cheeseburger (290 calories) with a side of small fries (240 calories) and a Medium Strawberry Passion Awareness drink (240 calories), it would amount to 770 calories, which is rather low for a full McDonald’s meal. Compared to a large shrimp burrito from Burrito Boyz with all the toppings amounting to the same amount of calories, the McDonald’s meal will not have the same nutritional benefits or calories from vegetables that the burrito has, leaving this caloric number misleading in some respects to people whom don’t know better.

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The new law does encourage getting enough calories, but also achieves the opposite effect. Though this law states that they aim for people to eat enough calories, it does the opposite. We live in the age of diet culture, where magazines and ads constantly remind us we need to lose weight, no matter how much we weigh. Some diets encourage 1500 calories for adult women, which is less than needed, and encourages our bodies to enter starvation mode. The majority of people nowadays would prefer to consume less calories to lose a few pounds than to make sure they eat enough.

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Children are exposed to calorie counts at a young age. I distinctly recall being a child, sitting at my table eating cereal, and reading the numbers from the nutritional value over and over. I didn’t understand what those numbers meant, but I think I knew even then that it was encouraged to have less of that first number; calories.

This new law may encourage parents to make diet decisions for their children that aren’t totally beneficial as they may fall in line with diet culture, or they may begin to starve their child unintentionally to help them lose weight.

Being easily influenced, these children whom grow into young adults are constantly surrounded with pictures of fit or emaciated models on social media and television, that they don’t understand what is truly attainable and healthy. Ads for weight loss drugs and workout foods or items run in front of the eyes of these children, and they understand the language. They watch social media stars and their family members struggle with weight, and they may do it, too.

Canada also presents the Canada Food Guide to young children, teaching them about calories and exercise. There is no doubt that this encouragement could easily spark an eating disorder in our youth, and an obsession with that pesky little number known as calories.

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The obsession with numbers can perpetuate eating disorders. A common trait in restrictive eating disorders is an obsession with numbers; whether that be calories, weight or measurements. It becomes this internal dialogue where the counting begins. As this obsession increases, that caloric intake may decrease to a starvation diet; anything to be seen as skinny.

We are taught since we are young to obsess over these numbers, and having them in our face isn’t doing us favours.

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Those in ED recovery have a harder time staying on track. How the HELL do you expect me or my fellow recovering peers to stay on track in our recovery; to put our health and our needs first, when that (sorry for my language) FUCKING number is flashing in our faces? How do you expect us to get ahead and be healthy when our triggers follow us everywhere? It would be unreasonable to tell us to just not look, because some of us can’t. We can no longer ignore the calories; we must now try even harder to not let them affect us, and some of us can’t fight that.


Calories follow us everywhere, along with images of the frailest, most photoshopped images we have available. With access to the internet and even more ways to perpetuate eating disorders, nearly nobody is safe from the possibility of it taking over their lives. Male or female; nobody is safe. 

The overall relationship society has with food will not let us get ahead as a society; the statistics for eating disorders will continue to rise unless we take into the account everyone and teach the public about true nutrition and healthy eating.

These calorie listings could cost someone a meal, periods of pain and their life.

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How I Overcame a Binge

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Last night, with the combination of moving and Eating Disorder Outpatient Recovery stress, I found myself wanting to turn to something to feel better. All I’ve known in regards to coping for several years was food control and self-harm. It was a vigorous cycle that never ended with good results, and though I thought I was in control, I had never been more out of control in my life. I would either restrict enormous amounts of food, or turn to eating as a coping strategy.

I was sitting at my desk, talking to my boyfriend. I could feel myself being hungry, but I was crying hard. I was run-down from the go-go-go of my life, and how everything seems to crash down on me. On days like that, I would usually go buy an overpriced bag of chips, consume the whole bag and rid myself of it. But, I couldn’t let myself do that; not in recovery.

This recovery isn’t just about learning how to eat properly again, but to learn not to use food as a coping tool. Food is to nourish the body; not to punish.

For the first time in my life, I admitted to someone that I felt like binging. I used to be too humiliated to speak a word of it. I let my walls come down and confessed to the craving I was having. It was an important first step.

I was hungry, so I couldn’t just not eat, because that would be falling into my restrictive habits; I had to find what my balance was, and how I could avoid losing control.

How did I get through my urge to binge?


I told someone. I took the first step and admitted the urge I had to fall into that coping behaviour. I was up-front with my loved one and asked for their help.

I talked out my feelings and the cause. I told him why I was having those feelings; I felt my life was falling apart all around me. I’m in the process of moving, I have appointments nearly everyday next week, I’m in an outpatient eating disorder recovery program that’s opening up old wounds, etc. It’s important to assess the root cause of those emotions, and why they’re coming up. Write it down, talk it out; I did what I had to do to get through the rough patch.

Because I was hungry, I ate. During most of my urges to binge, I am not usually hungry, but this time I was. I was treading on thin ice; I didn’t want to slip up. I had to be fed, but couldn’t use it to control my emotions. I couldn’t retaliate a binge by starving myself; that wouldn’t be following my recovery plan.

I decided to eat, and assess during if I was still hungry, and I paced myself.

I was mindful when I ate. I kept checking in with myself to make sure I wasn’t doing it to cope. I checked if I was still hungry. And, in retaliation to wanting to starve myself, I finished the plate because I knew I needed it.

I didn’t punish myself. I usually use compensatory behaviour to punish myself for eating, and in recovery, that isn’t an option. I made sure to keep the food down and understand that I ate to nourish myself, not to punish myself.


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I am nowhere near perfect or fully recovered; but I wanted to share how I got through that specific urge to binge. I’m sure in 6 months, I’ll be much healthier and have a more skilled way of getting through it.

I do think it’s important we assess why we want to binge, and where the desire is coming from, and I want to continue assessing that, and becoming mindful of my urges.

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How John Denver Affected My Life

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I was probably about 6 years old when my mom bought me The Whisper Of The Heart; a movie by Studio Ghibli about a middle-school aged girl who writes a novel to prove herself, which brought the song Take Me Home, Country Roads into my life. I fell in love with the story, which inspired me to be a writer when I grew up with the willingness to take risks to attain happiness. I was completely immersed in everything that had to do with this movie.

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Shizuku, the main character, writes a version of Country Roads for a school event, and the song is shown in different stages of development throughout the movie. Take Me Home, Country Roads became my anthem, and has been that way since it first entered my life.

One summer, at about age 8, I sang Take Me Home, Country Roads at a karaoke open mic at a family friend’s cottage; I was so happy. That December, I unwrapped my very own karaoke machine, and several karaoke CDs; including a country CD with Take Me Home, Country Roads. I remember trying to follow along with it, but the harmonies convinced me this wasn’t the true version of the song.

My mom drove us to the store to pick out a CD with the song and found an actual John Denver CD. I grabbed it with glee, and began listening to him.

Song after song, they all held such passion and meaning, and I found myself completely in love with this disk. Whenever I sang, it was Take Me Home, Country Roadsbut I hid it as well as I could. I kicked my legs happily on the school bus with it on repeat, which my bus driver wasn’t too fond of. I did school projects on his life, sang his tunes, made dances, rehearsed the lyrics and joyfully shared his music with people who showed interest.

I had found something that was uniquely my own, and that I felt only I could relate to. I felt this longing for a simple life, out in the country side, away from the city lights, honks and yelling. This life where I could write away in a log cabin, resting to the soft taps of rain drops.


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John Denver reminds us that we need to preserve the simple beauties of our planet; the mountain tops, the waters, the trees and the people we love. We must cherish having these things because, once they’re gone, we will be robbed of silent sunny afternoons, and future generations.

He reminds us that aging is not a curse, but a gift to appreciate the land and watching everything and everyone grow around us. We must gaze at the beauty in nature that surrounds us, and make it our duty to protect every ounce of it that is left. Money, material and offices will never truly make us happy, especially when nature is crumbling around us at such a rapid pace; they will never save us from destruction.

John Denver taught me to be true to myself, fight for what I believe in and put happiness above all else. If I am not happy, I will never enjoy anything, and if that means I have to cut things out that bring mediocre contentment to be truly happy, I will take those steps. There are no sacrifices that are too big when happiness is the result. He also made me realize that I won’t be happy following the paths chosen by my peers; I will only be happy writing and sharing those creations with humanity to hopefully share something beautiful.

He has inspired me to create the pieces of art that I can to influence the people I can reach; and the people I cannot will be reached by someone else. I have hope for us as a species, if we can turn it around and focus on the simplest of things that surround us and appreciate what they have given us.


Look up to someone who inspires you to be the best you that you can be, and continue to try and be that person you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t sacrifice your happiness.

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Holiday Self-Care

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The holiday season is often a stressful time for a majority of people; there’s gifts to buy, plans to make, food to prepare, etc. Sometimes, people have to face the holidays with one less relative, which is never easy. For the mentally ill, this time of year is all the more stressful. 

For those struggling with anxiety, they have to try to communicate with a cluster of people whilst avoiding panic attacks. Eating disorders; they have to figure out routines and be faced with many challenge foods they may not be ready to take. Depression; they have to try to seem jolly for their relatives to avoid being a “bummer”. BFRBs; they have to try to conceal bald patches, scabs and behaviours they may not have control over yet. Self harm; they have to try to control the urges around the cluster of people. Borderline Personality Disorder; they have to try to remain in control when things are out of control and hectic.

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Self-care is the best way to keep things under control at such a stressful time. You can consider your relatives, family and friends, but you can’t be fully you when your mental illness is pushing down on you. It’s important to identify when you need time for yourself; to pamper yourself, so that you can return to the festivities happily.


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Baths. Bubble baths are always great to destress. They’re great for relaxing muscles, which can tense up when things are overwhelming, and they give you time to think by yourself. You could put on some soft tunes, lay in a bed of bubbles and let everything go. It’s time for you. Why not pamper yourself with a face mask, a scrubbing and possibly a manicure? Take this time to loosen up, be with yourself and be positive. The world can wait.

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Yes, this is vegan.

Hot Chocolate. The holidays just don’t seem like the holidays without its signature drink; hot chocolate. It’s warm, frothy, delicious, and easy to make homemade and vegan (skip on the cayenne). Why not throw in some candy canes, top with vegan whipped cream and marshmallows for that extra holiday kick? Spoil yourself.

This kind of treat will definitely bring joy and self-soothe some of those holiday anxieties. It gives you time to enjoy flavour, spend time with friends, read a book or work on your computer. We all deserve to treat ourselves during the holidays, and this might give you that extra kick when you’re feeling the winter blues.

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Buy Yourself Something Nice. If you’re alone this time of year, it can be overwhelming to watch everyone make plans with their families and have gifts to share. In a time where everyone is spoiling one another, you can’t forget yourself. You deserve holiday gifts and joy as well, whether someone has some lined up for you or not. Go to the store, buy something that you’ve been wanting for a long time and enjoy it!

Thinking about what YOU want rather than what others want could be just the thing to make you happy. With mental illness, we often think about everyone else, and how they feel about our conditions and the repercussions we cause them. So, drop everyone else for a minute, and put yourself first. Your health, feelings and happiness is important.

xmas-wreath

Decorate. Decorating and admiring the work you’ve done can feel rewarding and welcoming. It really brings the season to life and can lift your mood. Bright lights, glitter and old time classical songs are just the thing to calm you down and take away your blues.

People doing a puzzle

Puzzles and Colouring. Activities like these give you enough time to put your life on hold, evaluate your feelings and think about what to do next. For 10 minutes, you can focus, distract your mind and do something for yourself. Not to mention, seeing a completed piece you made can be fulfilling. This is a great coping mechanism to replace self-harm.

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Talk to a Friend. Our families don’t always understand us and can be insensitive; bringing in an outside party could benefit you and bring peace. Our friends are aware of our struggles and won’t judge; they can provide advice and company when we need it most. Good company can be the solution to many issues.


Here are some other ideas.

Stressed?

  • Read a book
  • Pet an animal
  • Go for a walk
  • Sing/Play and instrument
  • Write

Anxious?

  • Deep breathing
  • Touching different textures
  • Listen to soft music
  • Change rooms/environments
  • Put on comfy pyjamas

Angry?

  • Journal
  • Call a friend
  • Scribble harshly with pens
  • Yell into a pillow
  • Play a video game

Sad/Depressed?

  • Join people
  • Make yourself a hot drink
  • Read (forums, newspapers, books, etc)
  • Take a quick nap
  • Play with your hair

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Everyone should enjoy this holiday season, mentally ill or not. We have to focus on the signs of stressors or spirals and try to combat them with healthy coping mechanisms. It can be a fun time, if we allow it to and work on moving forward.

Take care of yourself.

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How I’m Defeating Borderline Personality Disorder

How I'm Defeating Borderline Personality Disorder, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com, sloth speed recovery

I’ve had a good run with Borderline Personality Disorder, ever since I was diagnosed at fourteen, after a serious suicide attempt. It’s been over four years, and my emotions have seen the full spectrum. I’ve fallen into some of the worst coping behaviours, almost lost my life over a dozen times, but I never fully gave up. I’ve been in and out of treatments; centers, hospitals, seeing psychiatrists, doctors, therapists, group therapy, etc. I’ve seen practically all treatment options, and nothing has worked as well as this…

My current recovery method does include therapy and sleeping medication, but it isn’t the reason I am doing so well.

No pill will cure Borderline (though they help regulate moods), and doctors have been clear with the majority of us that that is the case. We are responsible for our recovery; it’s about routine and combating our destructive behaviours.


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Admitting to a Problem and Deciding to Recover. You can’t recover without the initial decision to.

I made the decision in June 2016 that I wanted to recover. I was DONE with BPD. I was exhausted with self harm and trying to manipulate people to stay, even if they didn’t want to. I was tired of trying to control things I couldn’t control. I accepted my condition and wanted to change it. I didn’t want to suffer every single day anymore.

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Attending DBT. The main form of therapy provided in mental health institutions is usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which challenges negative thoughts to alter behaviour, treating mood disorders. It is helpful but won’t cure BPD.

Dialectic Behavioural Therapy (DBT) was designed for people with Borderline by Marsha M. Linehan in the late 80s. This form teaches individuals to cope with emotion regulation and trauma, rather than reducing crises. Someone with BPD could be in crises daily, and it’s more beneficial to teach them healthy coping mechanisms to use during these crises.

I attended the Out Of Control Group near my town, using the Out Of Control DBT-CBT Workbook, which works wonders. It won’t help if you don’t dedicate yourself to it. Some weeks will be very hard because the book takes a blunt approach, and touches on sensitive topics, but you can’t quit. Stay persistent.

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Stop Self-Harming. No cutting. No pill popping. No alcohol. No burning. No disordered eating. Etc. You can’t recover while hurting yourself, even if your mind is in the right place.

I’m still working on this. I’ve gone over four years addicted to cutting, and I’ve greatly reduced it with a few slip ups. My blades have been taken away from me and it has improved my mental health, though I still crave it. My disordered eating hops in every once in a while but, I can distract my mind if I remind myself that being skinny and starving myself is only going to get in the way of my goals, not help reach them. I’ve used drugs and alcohol, and other techniques, but they don’t help. And I can get through a craving with that reminder.

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Hobbies and Meet Ups. A good portion of our lack of confidence is our inability to see what we are capable of. By starting a hobby, we use our natural talent and grow it into something more profound. If you incorporate local meet ups, other people can encourage you.

(Find out why it’s good to be involved in local groups/clubs here)

I attend a writer’s group every second week, and it encourages me to keep writing. They provide feedback and opinions, which will only further me in my writing career.

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Little Goals. Make goals for yourself every day. Take a walk, cook a meal, do a puzzle, etc. Little goals give you a sense of accomplishment, and can remind you of your capabilities. You suddenly notice that the person who wasn’t able to get out of bed can now go for a run, or go to social gatherings. It’s about reinforcing a routine and teaching yourself that you can function.

I ensure to keep hygiene regular, take in account my mood for every day, work on my writing, and work on myself individually.

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BIG GOALS. Eventually, your little goals can feed into a big goal. It will seem impossible to reach at first, but it is very likely, and attainable. every day, you make a little goal to work on it, and in no time, it will be done.

I recently completed my first draft to my first ever novel; a goal I never thought I would reach. With persistence, I finished that first draft in four months. My upcoming big goal is finishing the chapter edits and getting that out to my Beta Readers.

(If you’re interested in being a Beta Reader for this novel, read about it here and complete the application)


My quality of life has vastly improved. I’m attending weekly therapy, I’ve applied for disability, I’m in the midst of a job application, and I finished the first draft of my book. My almost dead relationship is currently blossoming healthily. I am gaining weight, and I understand that I am healthy and that it’s natural; cutting a meal because of a pound gained is illogical. The hair on my head is growing after my trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder) spiked in August. My hygiene is better, I’m taking sleep medication, I’m doing puzzles, I’m accepting time away from my boyfriend, I’m working on my book every day (even if it’s for five minutes) and I’m genuinely happy.

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I never thought that I would get here; happy. I’m not living in the best place with the best conditions, but I make the most of every single day, and I’m thankful for what I have. Being happy and healthy is more important to me than wasting my life with Borderline. I will always have it; I will always struggle, but I will always fight. 

Thank you to those who supported me through this writing process, and who have supported my blog. I hope I bring you joy and inspire you to reach for recovery, just as I have. All together, we can overcome Borderline Personality Disorder, and embrace what it has made of us. 

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Dear Trichsters: HAIR WON’T MAKE YOU HAPPY!

Humans are creatures of the overplayed concept of “I want what I don’t have”. It repeats in our brains like broken records. We want money, stability, healthy relationships, material possessions and great jobs… But sadly, not everything we want can be ours, nor will it make us happy.

Those who suffer from trichotillomania, the compulsion to pull out one’s hair, who have lost significant amounts of hair may think that the solution to their problem would be a full head (or body parts) of hair, which is false.

hair, trich trichotillomania www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com sloth speed recovery

In my experience, I began pulling the hair from my scalp in early 2014, and with such a large bald spot, I was forced to chop off most and shave half of my hair. I reminisced on my long locks and all the fun ways I used to style it, and desired that feminine definition again. I tried to stop my pulling, reducing it great amounts to which it what practically unnoticeable. I grew my short pixie cut over 2 and a half years. I had hair down to my breasts. It was long, healthy and beautiful. I finally felt like a woman again.

I had the hair I had long awaited, but I wasn’t satisfied.I wasn’t any better, or any more “cured”. I was still little ol’ me with a hair pulling disorder, who still wanted more and more hair. My hair still wasn’t good enough by my standards, and I soon understood that that wasn’t the cure to my unhappiness.

I have come to realize, and so should many, if not all “trichsters”, that hair will not make us happy. We want the hair because we lack it, but believe me, hair has its down sides. We have lost something that so easily defined us, and it was practically out of our control. We want hair to avoid isolation and to feel validated, and because we have been robbed.

It’s great to have a goal to work to, and to try to curb the behaviour, but it is important to note that no amount of hair will make us happy. We may be more confident, style it in various ways and flaunt it, but it will not be our solution.

What will make us happy is trying to control the trich, working on our self-confidence and accepting our disorder for what it is. We will fight for the rest of our lives but our happiness will not be dependent on the strands of dead cells that hang from our scalps, no matter how much we crave it. Our hair does not define our happiness.

 

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The Suicide Stalker

I’ll be entirely fine, having a decent day. I’m eating, taking care of hygiene, taking my medications, enjoying the sunshine… But something changes. A bad interaction, anxiety, my trichotillomania kicks in or I just end up too depressed for anything, and then everything changes…

I don’t understand how I can go from okay to just not okay. I’ll be having a grand day, but something has to be said to destroy me. I’m just trying to get by but I can’t shake the demonic thoughts that persuade me and encourage me to destroy myself. I’ll convince myself that I am cured, recovered and okay, but the next moment, I’m contemplating suicide. I just can’t get away from my suicidal thoughts, depression and Borderline.

I’m stuck in an never ending loop. The darkness is all around me and I am drowning, and nobody is there to save me. I feel so alone and lost, and like I could die off and the world would not be concerned.

I am trying with all of my heart and soul to keep my life going but it’s debilitating, and I’m really losing sight of my life and well being. It seems that I’m well on my way to being awful again, unable to function.

My inability to function is destroying opportunities, my relationships and my life and I just don’t know how to get a hold anymore. And when that sinks in, I always contemplate suicide… I am being stalked and followed by my own suicidal desires and my unstable mindset. I am fighting with all of my will power, but I am losing myself…