Life with Trichotillomania: Waxing

So it’s only half 10 on a Sunday morning and I already have the washing machine on, and I’ve decided to wear a dress for the day (despite it raining and the fact that I don’t really like day dresses.) But I’ve also done something else mystifying: I waxed.

waxingNow I know this isn’t particularly ground breaking for many of you, while others might wince at the thought but I found it especially odd. I have Trichotillomania which means I have urges to pull out my hair– what sense is there in encouraging this habit with a method which purposely pulls out hair at the root? It’s always confused me which is why I’ve never bothered to try it.

Not to say I have lovely furry legs, I have a particular fondness for shiny, smooth legs (on the rare occasion that I show them off, otherwise it’s far too much effort for me to bother). Instead I prefer to use Veet or Nair as I find them quick and simple to use, and far less risk of scarring myself which happens with razors.

But upon moving in, my house mate found an unopened box which she didn’t need anymore (having invested in an epilator.. eek!) so I decided to take them. It’s only taken me two weeks to decide to try them out.

I knew the general idea– place strip on your leg, rip them off. It will hurt. So how hard could it be?

I quickly read the instructions and realised that you had to ‘warm the wax’ by rubbing them between your palms for 30 seconds. Which I probably did for more like two minutes, just to make sure! Then you had to peel the two strips apart slowly (which I probably ended up taking over a minute to do). Place on your leg firmly (done, I feel like a punched myself in the leg many times) then rip off.

That’s where I stopped reading since I thought that part was obvious. But I got it wrong. What I didn’t realise was that you were meant to rip it in the opposite direction to the hair growth– which cued images of me ripped my skin off and made this whole thing even less appealing! So when I did that wrong, no hair came away though the ripping off still hurt.

Take two. Put on firmly, hold skin taunt and rip upwards. Ouch. Done. And voilá attached to the slimey wax was several fair leg hairs. I’d done it– well, one, only had to repeat it another 10 odd times.

Personally I don’t think the process was terrible. Though I will probably be sticking to my typical hair removal methods, I can see why waxing is a popular choice– if your pain tolerence can take it, I can’t imagine the hair grows back very quickly at all!

In terms of a trich perspective, I can also see why this might not actually encourage pulling. The area of pulling, especially within one go, is much larger than what you would do normally. To me, this isn’t the same as a typical pulling urge where I would focus on one single hair or area at a time. It probably also helped that I wasn’t stressed or anxious, which are the two triggers for my condition. Therefore I also won’t associate waxing with my trich whenever I do get in those states, like I do when I start pulling at my eyelashes or eye brows.

My list of ‘firsts’ before my 23rd birthday is beginning to grow…


Pointless diaries: Great War Diaries

I’ve always wondered what is the reason why people blog. In some way, people have always blogged– from cave paintings, to paper diaries, to the online community as we know it today. We have autobiographies published and other people write up biographies about people that they admire. But why is this all so common, and why has it survived for so long?

One of the things that I find really interesting is how diaries and journals are being used to create a better understand of World War One. Like the current BBC series which finished tonight, Great War Diaries, which depicted the lives of people in different countries and of different ages and their personal accounts of the War. For those of you who have read Anne Frank (which unfortunately is still on my to-read list) I can definitely understand why it is such a popular read. But seeing it all on screen– with the voice overs reading out the passages– is heart breaking.

What I found even more interesting was when one of the authors, a German girl in school, stated that the only reason that she was keeping the diary was because they had been told to do one for school. With teachers forseeing a “glorious victory by Christmas” it reminds me of my own teachers telling us to keep summer diaries for English class.

I don’t imagine an historian dusting one of those folders off in a 100 years!

Continuing with the theme of WW1, the Manx National Heritage group recently discovered diaries written by a local vicar during that period. But what was even more significant was that these hand written note pads were used to keep track of each man from his congregation who was abroad. Apparently he colour coded each of the entries so he was up to date with the individual’s location and status– presumably to pass on to the rest of his church for their prayers. But I assume that this man did not write these entries for the purpose of having them used 100 years later.

Personally I keep a personal diary, handwritten and hidden safely away from prying eyes, as well as this online blog– and yes, be assured that I don’t manage to keep either one regularly updated until motivation comes along! But I don’t see either as particularly significant. My personal diary is more of my random rantings whenever the mood takes me, which I find calms me down if I’m in an especially bad mood– but I highly doubt that’ll change over the next centenary!

What’s even stranger is the idea of online blogging being seen as historic the way that many younger children will now see pen and paper. Everything is done online nowadays, to the point that we are even entrusting our lives to computerised cars, so how far away is having some sort of device which records our day to day activities? I’m thinking a Black Mirror type chip in our head, but even the fact that many of us rely on our computers and smart phones for 90 per cent of our activities– will there be much point in a diary when we’re so comfortable writing everything on social media?

And given that anything on the internet never really disappears, I doubt there’ll be much point in whatever the future version of an archeologist digging around…

So if in essence our diaries and blogs are little use to future generations, do we write them for the here and now? For our own personal thoughts? Or just because that is what everyone else is doing?

Happy 100th post: Who are you?

Wow it’s my 100th post… Pretty impressive! Well, I guess it would be more so if I was a bit more regular with my upkeep of this blog but hey! So I’ve decided to write a nice personal identity kind of post to er… celebrate.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of people in the world, and I define them as the 9 to 5’ers and the adventurers.

Which does sound incredibly cliché I know. But in four years of university I got to meet some amazing people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I met people from England, Ireland, Romania, France, Lithuania and America. We all had completely different passions (though our love of the local pubs and bars was shared with the majority of the student population) and yet I felt as if I was the only one who enjoyed the academic side of life.

While I was in the library until 6am researching for my latest 5,000 word essay; my more creative friends were out discovering the latest news to publish on their blogs, making music with their bands or planning out new documentaries to film. I was amazed watching them using computer programs like Photoshop and drawing brilliant portraits with a pencil and paper– skills that, as hard as I tried, just seemed impossible to me.

And they would look at me in horror whenever I mentioned my latest essay topic on social policy.

The best part though was that we never judged each other for our passions. Instead I think it gave us new things to talk about, and new areas to explore. I had been friends with the same crowd for the majority of my high school-hating years, and the only feelings that we had discussed revolved around our dislike of school. We did very little besides hang out in the park, or along the promenade, waiting for our GCSEs to be over. To be ‘free’ as if high school was some form of torturous prison… But I guess it’s the same for every teenager.

None of us had any sort of ambition that I can remember.

Obviously going into sixth form at another school introduced me to a new set of people– the nerds. These were the 9-5’ers of the future; these people had gone through school with their hands shooting up before the rest of the class and gaining straight As without so much as a gasp of surprise. It was expected. They were future lawyers, and doctors, and PhD students.

I just wanted an office job.

So the mix I met at university was scary and yet a relief. Though I was more academic, and probably the only person who actually enjoyed writing essays (shock horror!), I never considered those of my friends doing arts degrees as “stupid” or “doomed”. In fact, they never failed to amaze me with their creativity.

It got even more different when the discussion of travel came up. After university, my aim was to get a job. Yes, pretty standard I guess but in the crowd that I hung around with a typical 9-5 job was nowhere on the cards. Not because of our failing economy or the amount of effort it would take, and they certainly all had the brains to get a job, but they wanted to expand their horizons. They wanted to see the world not a computer screen.

One portion had been to Cyprus, another had spent a semester in China, there had been trips to Amestardem and Poland along the way. Me? I spent three months in New Jersey and a week in Ibiza. My passport has little more use than on the rare occasion that I get ID’ed at the bar.

I was discussing this with my most travelled friend of the lot last night (check out her new travel blog Frenchie Without Borders). Though I love hearing about her adventures (given that she was one who went to China, Cyprus, and is now running off to Canada) I couldn’t do it. I don’t think I’m brave enough. But more than that, I just don’t have the same passion that she does for experiencing new things.

I’m the kind of girl who’s in the office an hour before everyone else, and awake at 8am on the weekends. I don’t even have the slightest urge to open up a travel magazine and browse holiday websites.

But I think the best thing, by far, is that even though we are all so starkly different– us 9 to 5’ers vs. the adventurers– it’s not impossible to get along and learn from each other. And even now university is over, I don’t think that’s going to change.

Throwback Thursday: A Level Results

If there was ever an occasion I did not like it was results day. Whether it’s a blood test or my exams, there’s that overwhelming anxiety that you did not do well enough. And the irony in that you have not been able to do anything for days, weeks or even months because they always make you wait so long!

By now most people will have their results. But you’ll probably remember the day for a few years yet– even four years on I still cringe at mine.

I had just broken up with my boyfriend so my university choices were between Liverpool (my dream university, completely unattainable according to my predicted results, all of my teachers and even the little voice in the back of my head. And yet they had given me an offer) and UCLan– where I knew he would be attending.

So I was up at 6am in anticipation for UCAS to be updated. I think it was around 8am (or was it 7am?) when the website crashed. Obviously the entire sixth form population in the UK was currently trying to log on in a mad panic hoping, like me, that there would be good news on the next page.

Instead of several error messages every time you refreshed.

I think it took me about half an hour to successfully make it through and to be confronted with the message: congratulations, you have successfully gotten into the University of Central Lancashire.

Or something to that effect.

I nearly cried. Not because of my ex boyfriend, or because UCLan was a terrible university because it wasn’t. But I’d proven my teachers right, I’d aimed too high… In fact, even they had aimed too high with my predicted grades so I guess in a way I also let them down. Within the space of thirty minutes I had gone from organising freshers plans with a potential Liverpool friend to having no idea what the future held for me in Preston.

It got even worse when I arrived at my school to collect my results. I realised that I hadn’t even made the grades to get into my second course, but instead they had accepted me at their own discretion. I had been so close to going through Clearing or not going to university at all… And by some crazy bit of luck I had scraped through (especially crazy since the following year, the Isle of Man Government raised the grade requirements to gain funding to study at a UK university, requirements which I would have missed.)

The friend that I had gone with kept telling me that I turned white as I read that piece of paper.

But here I am, four years later: a successful undergraduate degree and a masters degree under my belt and I even gained full time employment (in a job that I actually enjoy) less than a month after my degree finished.

I think if university, and my A Levels, taught me anything it was that nothing ever turns out the way you expect. That doesn’t matter. It’s up to you to make the best of whatever gets thrown at you– because trust me, there is no way 16 year old me would ever believe that I could explain how a car engine works!

Perks of being Manx: Isle of Man TT

I’ve lived on the Isle of Man since I was three and yet it was only once I came to university that I began to appreciate the Isle of Man TT.

Now, I’d probably say that the Isle of Man TT is the marmite of the island: you have the people who love it, and the people who purposely book a two week holiday to France to avoid it.

You see, the TT literally overtakes the island for two weeks during the summer. And by ‘take over’ I mean the population is doubled with leather and helmets, the roads are rammed with motorbikes with foreign license plates and there’s a huge increase in the number of accents you hear in the pub– which is unusual in itslf considering the lack of variation when it comes to the cultures on the island to start with.

But there’s several problems with it as well, especially for the residents. First, the increase in accents also means the number of people in your local is going to trip– having an hour wait at the bar is never fun.

Second, the come-overs on their bikes simply love that our little island doesn’t have a national speed limit. While in the UK you’re restricted to 70mph, over here certain sections are literally unlimited. Though you’re supposed to translate as ‘only go as fast as you can control’, many read it literally.

There’s nothing good about 100+ mph and surprise cliff edged roads.

That brings me onto my third issue: the danger.

With my vague knowledge of the TT I don’t really know much about the history, but I do know that it is to this day the statistically most dangerous race in the world.

Take out the speed, you have wildlife to worry about!

But here it is again– two weeks of revving and beer. So let’s enjoy it while the sun lasts eh!


Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety

Firstly, apologies for not posting on Monday– it’s not good that my schedule has already gone down the pan so soon after making it! — but I do have an excuse.

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week. Someone of you might have seen the posts all of social media, some of you might not have even realised. But in my case I feel very personally about it so it’s something I like to pay attention to, especially since this year’s theme is on anxiety.

So why didn’t I write a post?

Well, like I said, anxiety is a very personal topic for me. I knew that would be my theme for my blog post this week and that hasn’t changed. I even started writing several different posts. But I really struggled.

If you check out my post My Four Post Confession: Trichotillomania that’ll explain why I feel so personally about this topic. But it’s not something I’ve exactly kept a secret, especially on this blog, it’s just not something I shout from the rooftops.

And that was my problem.

I have had trichotillomania since I was 11, and even at 22 I don’t feel like I’m an expert on the topic. Yes, I’ve researched it; I’ve tried and tested several methods to stop myself pulling; I’ve even checked out some of the communities on Facebook and Twitter to understand how other people cope with it.

But I know I’m not an expert so I feel like a fraud to offer people advice on the topic.

My problem though is people who do feel that they are experts.

I’ve seen people in these groups offering medical advice, despite the fact they’ve not even made it to university never mind completed a medical degree. I’ve even had someone turn around to me today and tell me that I didn’t even have the condition because I’ve not been diagnosed by a doctor.

That’s a blow after 11 years!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the need for this sense of community. Though I don’t post in them myself, it’s like the fitness groups I talk in; everyone needs a support network and after growing up being laughed at I know this all too well.

But there is a difference between offering some suggestions and telling people how to feel.

The worst thing is, a lot of these people are barely teenagers themselves!

Personally I feel that it can be extremely patronising and while the majority of the people on these sites simply try and offer comfort and an ear, which is always greatly appreciated, it’s easy to get shot down with such a fragile condition.

So my advice?

If you feel you have trich, or any mental condition, then yes do try and seek expert advice. Yes, there are methods out there to help you– whether it be medication, therapy or anything else. If your doctor, like many of mine, tell you it’s ‘just a phase’ and you don’t feel comfortable with this then get a second opinion. If your parents don’t understand then research it and explain it to them, same with if your friends. My own mother called me a freak for five years before a friend of hers explained what the condition was– and that was before even I knew what it was!

The worst thing you can do is listen to one person who tells you something negative and take it as fact. In the end it could just make you feel worse and I know from experience that feeling bad isn’t going to help you at all.


I’m Going to be HOW OLD?

So I’ve just realised that today mark’s eight months since I turned 22– which, of course, means that I only have four months until I’m 23.

Seriously, TWENTY THREE!

And the fact that this is causing me to break out in a cold sweat is worrying since I always thought the mental breakdown over my age would come on my 25th.

I dread to see what happens then…

But anyway, I’ll be 23. I remember when one of my friends turned 23 and we all laughed at him, being the naive 18 year olds that we were. Twenty three was old and by 23 you were expected to have a job, a life, on your way to getting engaged.

This guy was still living with his parents (and their bank accounts).

In all honesty it’s not like I’ve got anything to worry about. My entire life I’ve been ‘too old for my age’ and when I hit 20 I finally felt like I was where I was supposed to be. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life of coure but I felt like a 20something.

I’d wanted to be a 20 something since I stumbled across a blog using the term.

20somethings didn’t have the lack of independence that a child did, or the negative connotations that being a teenager held– no, a 20something could do what they wanted, when they wanted. We’re encouraged to make wild decisions, to go travelling and partying, to find yourself without the constraints of a family.

So why does it feel that that freedom is disappearing?

Even though I’m still a 20something, I’m starting to realise that it might only be the ‘early’ 20somethings who can do that. By early I mean those pre 25 year olds. The rest of us need to be settling down, having kids, getting a career and buying our first homes.

Considering my diet consists of supernoodles and take aways, I better do a helluva lot of growing up in the next two years!