I came up with my ‘Trich prevention kit’ back in August 2012 and wrote about it on my blog Trichsterknitster. Since then I have been trying my hardest to use at least one of these items during times of bad pulling or bad urges to pull. The ‘items’ that I have found most useful have been the hat and crafting. Perhaps you will find that other ‘items/ideas’ in your trichotillomania kit will be more useful to you.
It has occurred to me that the title of this kit ought to be changed to ‘My trich avoidance kit’, as it helps me to avoid pulling but does not prevent it. I have been able to avoid pulling with the use of the kit but it has not prevented me from pulling, it is still possible to pull whilst crocheting! Another ‘item’ should be added to this list, but it is an invisible item that cannot be photographed: will power. I have tried to do many things in order to stop pulling but none of those will work unless you have the determination and the will to stop pulling.
Pulling out my hair makes me feel better only whilst I am pulling but it makes me very unhappy once I see the hair that I have pulled out and once I see the bald patch. I have to constantly remind myself when I have the urge to pull that pulling will make me unhappy in the long run. I like pulling my hair but I want to stop. I don’t want to be self conscious about bald patches anymore. The point I am trying to make is that: you may have all the books about trichotillomania, all the things to help you avoid pulling, and all the support you need to stop BUT that won’t help unless you make the decision that you want to stop pulling despite how good it feels.
So here is my trich prevention / avoidance kit – I hope that you will find something in it that helps you. If you have any ideas that you wish to share please comment on my blog
My trich prevention kit explained –
1. As you have probably guessed the top item is a hat! And I use it in bed when I am most stressed out and more likely to pull my hair. The tassels all over it are a good substitute for hair as the yarn breaks up easily making me feel like I am actually pulling out hair. A good equivalent to this hat is a cheap faux fur hat (from Primark for example). Faux fur feels like short wispy hair, so it may not be the greatest substitute for those of you who search for the wirey hairs. The good thing about faux fur hats is that it can be twisted like hair and pulled out!
2. On the right is my craft equipment – nothing keeps hands busy like knitting and crochet! Not only does it keep my hands busy but it also keeps my mind busy. I have found that my anxiety subsides greatly when I focus on knitting and crocheting.
3. The blue balls on the left below the hat are stress balls. These stress balls can be easily made using balloons and flour. I find them good to squeeze when I need to keep my hands busy to avoid picking and pulling.
Beside the stress balls is my tangle toy. It’s excellent for hands that need something to do. Keep it in your handbag all the time! This tangle toy is the same as the one found in the Quit Kit for those giving up smoking. I applied for a Quit Kit because the NHS should be supplying boxes like this for people with other problems too, like trichotillomania sufferers, so I figured it was acceptable for me to get one too! (Don’t feel bad about getting one.)
Below the stressballs is a flexicurve which can be good for bending and messing with. It is a stationary item used for drawing lines, so it can be kept on your desk. However, it is quite stiff and not as easy to fiddle with. I would advise you to buy a tangle toy instead of this! The only reason I have it is because I found it in my house.
4. Beside the tangle toy is my hand clicker, which I click on days that I feel really awful and I need to remind myself that I am good at doing things. I click every time I achieve something or do an everyday task, as evidence that I am capable of doing good things. It can be used to count hairs pulled too if you want but I prefer to use the counter to count positive acts instead of negative ones. Counting good things I have achieved is a positive act and counting the urges that I have resisted during the day is another positive act and a positive number.
5. Finally, my gloves from Boots pharmacy. They are ‘cosmetic gloves’ that some people use once they have moisturised their hands in the evening. I put them on at night in bed when I am reading so I can’t pull or so I am less likely to pull.