Quick update.

The reason there haven’t been many updates to the site recently is that I have been going through a huge change in my life right now.. New Job, new Location.. Everything is changing so quickly and I have to focus on that. Once things settle down a little I will get back to posting more updates to this site.

In case you want to look else where, do a google search on CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Doing CBT combined with supplements like NAC is the best way to recovery. There is hope for those of you out there with trich. You can get better and be completely free from trich, you just have to be persistent in your battle against it and you will eventually come out victorious.

Two new pages are up – Supplements & Glossary

Two more pages have been added to the site:

1. Supplements – a guide about the best supplements to take in order to overcome trich. The information on this page is the distillation of years of research, sifting through hundreds of sites, scientific papers, and books to find only the best supplements.

2. Glossary – this page contains a quick reference to terms used throughout this site. Please mind that this page is under heavy construction and will be updated frequently as this site expands.

The next blog post is going to cover more more cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods. In particular, it will discuss stimulus control – how to identify the environment, moods and circumstances that trigger pulling.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Step 1 – The Diary

“A consciousness of wrongdoing is the first step to salvation…you have to catch yourself doing it before you can correct it.” – Seneca

All highly trained clinicians that specialize in trichotillomania use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as their primary tool to help trichsters overcome pulling. Why? Because it works extremely well at shifting the beliefs AND actions that trichsters deal with. Instead of a passive counseling, CBT helps trichsters take massive action that leads to a great reduction in symptoms. Many people have drastically reduced their urge to pull and overcome trich by using CBT. Studies have shown that when CBT is combined with NAC supplementation, results come even faster. In this article I’m going to start with the first CBT action step.

STEP 1 – CREATE A DIARY: The first step involves creating a diary where you track how many times you pull throughout the day. This self-monitoring process makes you more aware of your urges, pulls, and the emotions you feel when doing it. Trich behavior can often be unconscious, awareness can be improved by starting this pull diary. The very act of recording the behavior can also interrupt the process and reduce the pulling behavior. This is such a simple, yet powerful step you can take. You will be amazed at the progress you will make with just this step alone.

HOW YOU DO IT: Each time you pull, you simply add a tally mark to the current days entry and add a short blurb about your mood / location / circumstance at the time when you pulled. Later, if you decide to take nutritional supplements, you can keep track of that in your diary as well. I used Evernote to keep the diary online, so that I could access it from anywhere with my phone or laptop computer. Evernote is completely free and private to use. I’ve used it for years and highly recommend it.

To give you an example of what a diary looks like, here is an excerpt from my trich diary leading up to the last day I pulled.

As you can see from my diary example, the first line consists of the date  and # of pulls. The second line is used for the context of the pull.. what i was feeling, what was going on during the day, etc. The final line is used to track supplement usage.

This should be more than enough to get you started on your own diary. Remember, this is what professional that are experts at dealing with trich, with PhD’s and many years of experience will tell you to do. This is a critical step you must take to getting better. Don’t procrastinate any longer. Start your diary right now.

The first step in your Journey – Belief that you can and will get better.

“Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place” – Eckhart

There are countless ways one can begin to treat trich, but the most critical piece of the puzzle is that you must sincerely believe that you can and will get better. There are many false beliefs that trichsters carry around with them that prevent them from even taking the first step to recovery. Some of these false beliefs go along the lines of, “There is no hope”, “I’ll never get better”, “I’ve been doing this so long, how will I ever stop”, “the urge is too strong, it’s just hopeless”, and so on. In reality, there is hope. There are countless people who have conquered trich, myself included, that have gone on to live their lives pull free, without the shame, without the guilt and without all the emotional baggage that comes with it. No longer having to live with trich is one of the greatest reliefs someone can experience, and you have the power within yourself to make that happen.

I know that those with trich are some of the smartest, craftiest, and most loving people in the world and one of the main things holding them back from conquering trich is the false belief that they are doomed to have it for the rest of their lives. These false beliefs lead to trichsters ignoring the problem, inaction, and a refusal to even look into treatment options. In truth, there are plenty of methods one can use to get better, from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to sharing your experience with a support group and creating new friendships, to nourishing your mind with the supplements it needs to heal itself. There are plenty of options out there waiting for you.

Just remember, you are not alone, over 200 million people around the world suffer from trich. Everyone is in this battle together and they all have the power within themselves to change, they just have to unlock it. The way to unlocking the power of change is to accept that you are capable and worthy of it. There are countless others out there just like me, that have overcome trich and you can be one of them too. I promise you, as unlikely as it may seem to you right now, as bad as it may be, you can and will get better. There is a better life out there waiting for you, a life where you don’t have to hide, and one where you can be your true self, you just have to take the first step. Every new day is a chance to change your life.

The Primary Causes of Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a very complex hair pulling anxiety condition that consists of genetic, emotional, environmental, neurological and addictive factors. It is viewed as a coping mechanism that people have developed in order to bring some semblance of balance to their life. It shares great similarity with alcoholism, smoking/drug abuse, over-eating, and other detrimental and addictive escapes. Many of the reasons why trich persists are the same as smoking, over-eating – a genetic predisposition to addiction, emotional issues, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, stress, boredom and an overall lack of proper coping skills. Many of these have a negative feedback loops that perpetuates the the habit

Emotional –  Different emotional states trigger pulling: stress, boredom, anxiety, frustration, and tiredness. There might also be a combination of more deep seeded issues that may contribute to pulling. Things such as physical and emotional abuse, loss of a loved one, feelings of rejection, suppressed emotions, etc all linger in the subconsciousness. There is the potential for a negative loop to occur. Pulling leads to noticeable hair loss, which might lead to taunting and ridicule from peers, which in turn lowers an individuals self-esteem and causes stress which leads to more pulling.

Addiction – There are two addictive aspects to trich. The ritualistic aspect and the chemical dependence aspect. The ritualistic aspect is the searching for the perfect hair, the twirling of the hair, pulling out the hair, then rubbing the root against the lips. There is something remarkably soothing about the process. The chemical aspect plays a role here in that the small amount of pleasure derived from the pull becomes addictive. It could be likened to the same feeling a smoker has from the first drag of a cigarette in the morning. That pleasure a puller experiences grows into a chemical addiction much in the same way someone gets addicted to a drug. There is always that one extremely pleasurable pull that they had, and they are consistently going after that ‘high’.. its a craving. Now, imagine this positively reinforced action of pulling taking place hundreds of times a day and you can begin to see why it’s so difficult to stop. Even worse, the addiction doesn’t cost a penny and can be done virtually anywhere. The human brain is wired to crave instant gratification and with something as accessible as pulling a hair out to feel pleasure, it becomes the go to coping mechanism. The instant gratification that pulling provides is one of the major reasons why the illness perpetuates itself.

Genes – Your genes are the blueprint, the ‘biological code’, that programs everything about you. Some people are genetically pre-disposed to trich more so than others simply by the genes that were passed on to them by their parents. For trichsters, there is some code inside their genes that says: (IF under stress OR bored THEN pull hair to feel better). The urge to pull is hard coded into the genetic blueprint as one of posisbly several options to dealing with stress and other negative emotions. Once the behavior is learned it perpetuates itself through its addictive aspects and becomes the go to coping mechanism for the individual. Genetics play a relatively minor role in the reasons trich persists. It’s only contribution is that it is hardcoded as one of many ways for an individual to overcome negative feelings.

Isolation – The majority of pulling is done when alone. This is another one of the negative feedback loops that makes trich persist. The puller is in isolation when pulling, noticeable bald spots then causes shame, embarrassment and a reluctance to be seen in public, which leads to more isolation and pulling, and the cycle continues.

Neurological / Chemical – Pulling is used to regulate mood. Trichsters pull to relax when stressed out, pull to perk up when bored and pull to relax even more when going to sleep. Trichsters develop a craving for the the chemicals that are released in the brain every time they pull.

The key to overcoming trich is to interrupt the negative feedback loops that perpetuate trich. The two best methods available to accomplish this are currently Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the use of supplements / medicines. Both methods should be used in order to gain the quickest and longest lasting changes. The next article will begin to look at CBT and how it can be used help reduce pulling.

Welcome to TTM Freedom Foundation

TTM Freedom Foundation is a site  dedicated to helping those with trichotillomania. TTMFF will will foster a community for trichsters to share their experience and get to know one another. Through new friendships and mutual support, TTMFF members will have a chance to help each other to manage and hopefully overcome trich. Blog updates will consist of motivation, stress management strategies, tips, personal stories, and the latest scientific research developments. Bookmark this site and check back regularly. Follow TTMFF on Twitter and Facebook too!