The word “confidence” is a term that has a nuanced meaning, which varies from person to person. Yet, the core idea of confidence is centered upon individuality and control, and how one’s unique strengths and beliefs may allow them to be positive toward themselves. Nowadays, there are many ways to bring down one’s self-esteem, such as by comparing appearances and lifestyles or talking down oneself and their qualities. I’ve struggled with confidence throughout my teenage years due to my experience with trichotillomania, and the sensation of feeling out of control of my own life.
Trichotillomania is a hair-pulling disorder that is associated with an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is described as an irresistible urge to pull one’s hair out, usually from the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, and other regions of the body with hair. While this may be seen as a habit, it can also be fueled by stressors such as anxiety, sadness, or even boredom. The act of pulling out hair is usually done to bring forth relief and temporarily help with the stressors that are experienced. This disorder may also come and go and sporadically span throughout numerous days, weeks, or years.
I have dealt with trichotillomania ever since I was a child, but the disorder significantly impacted my well-being as I entered my teenage years. With the significant stress and anxiety brought forth by my familial and academic environment, I had managed to internalize that conflict for many years due to the belief that I was confident and in control of my life. Yet, as my well-being gradually slipped away, I felt as if every action and every thought I expressed had no impact. My life was not going the way that I had meticulously planned for it to, and I did not recognize myself. Thus, I began pulling strands of hair in order to feel a sense of relief. However, my physical appearance continued to make me insecure, and thus led to a continuous cycle of temporary relief due to deepened insecurity.
With time, I have learned how to control my hair-pulling. I have listed tips below that demonstrate external/physical and internal ways to feel in control of trichotillomania, which ultimately led me to be more confident in myself.
Ways to be physically confident:
1. Play with an object/fidget toy
Occupying yourself with something to play with is a good way to stray away from the urge of picking your hair. Whenever you feel bored, anxious, or stressed out, use a small object to twiddle, twist, or press! I usually use an eraser due to its smooth texture, which I would have in my hand during class to relieve my stress. However, you can use whatever works for you! The goal of this is to make you feel in control of your actions whenever you encounter stressors.
2. Tie up your hair
I have observed that whenever I tie up my hair in a ponytail or braid it, the hairstyle restrains me from excessively picking at my hair because I would not want to ruin it. By doing this, it allows you to be conscious of whenever you have an urge, and thus allows you to feel more confident in yourself.
3. Write out your feelings
When you have an urge, write out how you feel and your current circumstance in a designated journal or paper. As you write, you may feel less stressed as you are replacing your potential physical hair-pulling into one that is through writing. When you want to go back and reflect, read through your physical writing and document or be proud of how you were able to overcome the compulsion during that time!
4. Photo document your progress
While this may not be suited for everyone as it may be too uncomfortable, take photos of yourself in order to see the growth of your hair. I usually do this whenever I want to look back on how I have been doing, and it definitely makes me feel as if my physical growth is a representation of my internal one.
Ways to be internally confident:
1. Establish a minor, yet accomplishable, long-term goal
One of the ways that I have felt confident in my sense of control was through the use of goals. By establishing a goal, I have set up a responsibility that allows me to feel like I am making an impact within my life, despite encountering certain compulsions that sometimes feel uncontrollable. My most valued goal is to treat life one day at a time and to not over-evaluate my mistakes. This allows me to lessen my stress, which ultimately decreases my urge to play with my hair.
2. Focus on deep breaths
I found out that focusing on your breathing whenever you have the urge to pull greatly helps with releasing internalized tension and anxiety. Google has a great 1-minute breathing exercise tool that you can search up and follow along whenever you encounter stressors. This will ultimately make you feel internally better by decreasing the sensations that you had, and making you feel capable of having a solution for it.
3. Try to meditate
Meditation is a great solution that allows you to feel connected with your inner and outer self, while allowing you to resist your urges within a certain mindset. YouTube has great videos showing meditation techniques that may be categorized by time or music based on your preferences. By doing this daily, you may feel as if you can gradually resist the urge to pick your hair.
It is incredibly understandable if you do not feel comfortable talking to your peers or family members about your experience with trichotillomania. As of this day, I can admit that I am not completely confident as well. Yet, it is important to be aware of the resources and help that you can get if you need it, especially through the helplines that I have listed below:
International OCD Foundation Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 in the US or Canada, 85258 in the UK, and 50808 in Ireland in order to speak to a counsellor 24/7. This is also applicable to COVID, depression, anxiety, and many more concerns, which can be viewed on the www.crisistextline.org website.
The CALM Lifeline: Call 0-800-58-58-58 or visit www.thecalmzone.net to learn more about OCD. This is a nationwide lifeline based in the UK.
SAMHSA Helpline: Text 1-800-662-4347 to communicate with a counsellor that will aid you with support and guidance whenever you are encountering incredibly difficult conflicts with your mental health.
I hope that these tips will help you as they did for me. While developing confidence takes time, its meaning and perception are completely dependent on how you define it to be! Make sure to take your time and truly believe in yourselves throughout any stressful times.
Dissociative identity disorder, (DID) (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) is a trauma-based personality disorder that forms in childhood, usually as a result of repeated trauma before the personality fully forms. This causes a split in the personality of the person, creating two or more distinct personality states, otherwise known as alters. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding DID as the condition is quite a complex one, however, it’s not as uncommon as you may think, it’s thought that around 1-3% of the population have a diagnosis of DID which is around the same amount of people that are redheads, so it is so important that you know the truth about this disorder.
Here are some common misconceptions surrounding DID and how it actually is to experience this.
(DISCLAIMER: DID is different for everyone and my experience may differ from someone else, do not take my word as gospel)
1. Alters are “evil sides” of the host.
This is what a lot of people seem to think and that just simply isn’t the case. There are different roles within the system and although there are alters known as “persecutors” in some systems, they aren’t evil, and they typically don’t understand that what they are doing is wrong.
2. It’s obvious when someone switches.
This is an extremely common misconception, but in reality, switches are really subtle. It can be as simple as seeming as if you’re spacing out, or sometimes not even that. Unless you know about someone’s DID and how the different alters act, you likely won’t even notice the switch. Only 5-6% of DID systems have an overt presentation of their alters. Although some alters do have different accents, genders, sexualities, mannerisms etc. most alters will do their best to mirror the host as a way to keep the system safe.
3. If you had DID, you wouldn’t know.
Now this one can sometimes be the case. I went most of my life not knowing about my DID, but what I did know was I was losing periods of time, and my friends and family knew what I’d done during that time and I didn’t recall any of it. About two years ago one of my alters presented themself to me and that’s how I found out, I then later got a diagnosis from my therapist. Although initially, it is common to have no awareness of their trauma self-awareness is possible at any time, it’s not uncommon for people to find out about alters and recognise switches through letters or journals entries that they can’t remember writing, items of clothing that they didn’t buy amongst other things.
4. DID can develop at any age.
This is most certainly not the case. DID can only develop in early childhood, usually before the ages of 4 and 9 which is before the personality fully forms. It’s important to note that there are other dissociative disorders that may develop slightly later on, but for DID, it is physically impossible for this to develop after early childhood.
5. Parts of a DID system are just variations of the host at different ages and times in their life when trauma took place.
This is most definitely not the case. Alters can be any age, gender, nationality or personality type, for example, I have a 19-year-old male, a 25-year-old female, and a six-year-old female amongst many others. Alters are not just fragments of the host that are “frozen” in time marked by when trauma took place, as for a lot of systems, trauma took place every single day. Many alters are not associated with any specific trauma, but still have an important role in the mind.
6. Integration is necessary to live a normal life or is everyone’s goal in therapy.
For some people, this is the case, but this is up to the system to decide, for me and my system, we have decided we don’t wish to integrate, plainly because we can live a perfectly normal life without doing so.
7. You can “kill” alters.
This is physically not possible. Although alters can go dormant, they are not dead, they just disappear for a long time.
8. DID isn’t real and anyone who says they have DID is a faker.
This is definitely not the case. DID is a recognised diagnosis worldwide and saying that it isn’t real is the same as saying that schizophrenia or OCD isn’t real, invalidating a mental illness can be extremely damaging for someone, even if someone was faking, it’s not anyone’s place to say so.
There are a lot of other misconceptions surrounding this disorder as it’s not seen by most people that often, but in order to fully understand this disorder, it’s important to listen to people’s experiences with DID and be willing to understand. If you want more information on DID, I recommend Dissociadid on youtube:(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6kFD5xIFvWyLlytv5pTR1w)
Their videos really helped me to understand my system more. If you need to talk to anyone about DID, you can message me on Instagram: @mummysbrattybunnyboo or you can message us on any of our social media platforms here at TWE.
If you are struggling with DID, it is super important that you get the right support, whether that be from a therapist, your doctor or an online support system. DID can be extremely dangerous if you are struggling alone and after everything I’ve been through without support, I would never wish that on anyone else.
Remember no matter what you aren’t alone and you are loved and understood.
Okay, so a lot of people have their own viewpoints on what autism actually is, and a lot of these opinions are media based. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder, and has many different factors, including but not limited to, social interaction, communication (both verbal and non-verbal), intellectual capacity and repetitive behaviours. When people hear autism, they typically think of Rainman, Sheldon Cooper, or the highly intelligent, quiet person at school that is socially awkward. That is autism, but that isn’t solely what it is.
I was diagnosed a few months ago with high-functioning autism. This basically means that I’m able to communicate to a degree, although I find it difficult, and I struggle picking up on a lot of different social cues, and struggle in some social situations. I do have a higher IQ than a lot of people my age, and I have some extreme obsessions, namely with music. It’s my strongest passion. Mention George Ezra or Lewis Capaldi and I could talk for hours with no issues.
It took 17 years for me to actually be diagnosed, because first of all, I’m a girl. There are so many differences between boys and girls being diagnosed. Boys display autism differently from girls. It’s so much harder to receive a correct diagnosis as a girl, often being told that it’s “typical girl behaviour” because of our obsessions, or social awkwardness and that all girls do it. I showed behaviours from a young age, but was told “I’ll grow out of it.” I didn’t. Fast forward to age 15, I was receiving some help for my anxiety when I was asked about my thoughts on Autism, and if I thought I maybe had it. At first, I was in denial, going off the stereotypes. I did some research, and deliberated for a while. It makes so much sense. I went through a test called an ADOS, which is used to help diagnose autism in children and young people, and a week later I was given a diagnosis.
I’ve found over the past few months, when I tell people about autism, or have seen other things on social media, there are a lot of misconceptions and people jump to conclusions. I want to address a few of these.
“You don’t look autistic.” This is probably one of the worst things that you can say to someone who has been diagnosed. There isn’t a set look when you’re autistic, it’s not like we have 3 eyes or a horn coming out of our heads. “Oh my god you must be so smart can you do my homework?” No. I’m not doing your maths homework. Or your science homework. I’m hopeless at both, they’re not my thing at all. “Are you sure you’re autistic? You don’t act like it?” This is one of the more annoying ones, where people look taken aback because you’re actually able to engage in conversation. “Don’t you have those ear defenders things?” Nope, I like to joke about it with close friends, but I can actually process a lot of sensory things. They’re helpful, but I’m not reliant on them.
Now this one is even more annoying, but people try to compare me to another autistic person they know. “Oh but my friend's cousin's sister is autistic and she’s non-verbal.” Okay? It’s called a SPECTRUM. Where everyone is completely different. This also means it isn’t just a straight line, with non-verbals at one end, and high functioning, maths geniuses at the other. It’s so much more complex than that. No two autistics are the same.
So, I hope I helped with some of the misconceptions. For any autistics, or those waiting to be diagnosed, if you ever want help, I’d highly recommend looking at the National Autistic Society’s website. They have a lot of information, and in some areas, they even have support groups, which I personally think could be brilliant!