I need some advice

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Ellis

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I need some advice
« on: November 26, 2018, 01:35:49 AM »
This is going to be hard to type... But here goes.

Some minor backstory - involves neglect:
(Feel free to skip to below if you don't want to read)

It's... This word. This thing that I fear and despise so much. Lice. Let's call it something else for the sake of my sanity because seeing it, hearing it, saying it makes me uncomfortable. It's now called Nuisance.

I had Nuisance in the younger years and my mother at first would be there to treat my hair. But as I grew, it changed. I had Nuisance again and I went to my mother for help. She snarled at me in response, wondering how I got it again. Eventually she would treat my hair. But it wasn't treated enough and a week later I found I still had Nuisance. I confronted my mother and she became very angry. At that point I left her alone as to not cause her a headache. I waited a month. I asked for help again. She had somehow assumed that I had rid of Nuisance, so when I told her she snapped "You got it again!? Why do you keep doing this? It's so frustrating."

Seeing her disgust of me I dropped the subject. I waited more months, and more... Months turned into years. Every now and then I'd ask for help, but she groaned and ignored me every time. I tried to treat my own hair but it was the length of my tailbone at that point. I couldn't treat all that hair on my own, and I couldn't see a hairdresser with Nuisance.

Eventually I managed to get rid of Nuisance! A miracle. I was so so happy. And then I visited a friend... And got it again. When I saw it I dissociated into a numbing psychotic state. I couldn't believe it. After trying to rid of it for years I had it again. I didn't dare tell anyone, and some days I think I refused to believe it myself.


Thankfully I don't have Nuisance right now and I keep my hair short as it should be.


So what's the actual problem?
My habits. I claw at my head and hair without me even thinking, without even having an itch. I just automatically mutilate myself and I can't stop.


What do I need?
Advice. How do I stop? What can I do to drop this habit?
It's such a terrifying subject to me that I don't want to see my doctor or therapist about it. It makes me feel like a disgusting human being.
I have been shunned for this my whole life and I'm scared to talk about it.

Re: I need some advice
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2018, 11:25:53 PM »
Hi Ellis,

Wow, you were so brave and strong to type that. Well done.

I've read that Nuisance prefers clean hair. It's very hard to treat even for families who are well resourced, with parents who are engaged with the process and really want to help their children get rid of it. Nuisance doesn't choose which people to come into contact with, and getting nuisance doesn't mean you are a bad person. Also, your mother must have been extremely sick and stricken with powerlessness and very ugly state of mind to react like that. None of this has anything to do with you. It was all circumstantial. This kind of thing happens to a lot of children and I know that if you met a child going through this today, you would know it didn't mean the child was bad. You would have a lot of sympathy, empathy, love and care for the child. You would nurture them, love them and help them. You definitely wouldn't blame them or shun them.

The only way I know to undo powerfully charged memories and compulsions like this one, is to access or experience the feeling and then hold it in a neutral, mindful space. Give it lots of love and space to charge itself out. See if you can access a part of yourself who is bigger than the memory, who can hold the space, and observe the memory and the feelings. It's like having two minds operating at the same time. See if you can just become an observer while it is happening. I hope this makes sense.

You have written it on here so maybe you are ready to speak to a therapist about it. That would be a good experience because there is no way the therapist would shun you, and that would give you a new experience about it.

If you are mutilating or hurting your head, could you wear some gloves to protect your scalp from your nails? That, again, would break the circuit.

I wonder if giving your scalp a loving massage every day, or having a professional person give you a head massage, would help to break the associations and give you a different experience of that part of your body, helping you to imagine it differently and discharge this repetitive energy loop you have around your head. You could massage your scalp while creating pictures in your mind about how it is nuisance-free, clean, sparkling, safe, nurtured and loved. You need to replace the pictures, feelings and associations. You might need to do this a lot of times.

If you notice yourself scratching: catch it, see if you can direct nurturing, loving, accepting ideas and feelings to the parts inside stuck in this loop, tell yourself why you don't have to do this any more, tell yourself reasonable and rational and factual things about nuisance.

I wonder if there is a hair treatment or scalp treatment or smell that would give you a different feeling and experience on that part of your body. Like a tea-tree oil product? Is there a smell or sensation that gives you the feeling that is the opposite of Nuisance? Put that on your head. 

I'm so proud of you that you talked about this and also that you got rid of it yourself - that's an amazing achievement.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 11:28:51 PM by fullofsoundandfury »

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Ellis

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2018, 09:59:57 AM »
Sound and Fury,

First off I just have to say... Wow. You've blown my mind with knowledge and care and I'm so very thankful for your reply. Words can't express.

You are right about so many things, and you mentioned one thing that resonated. Nuisance does prefer clean hair, yet my mother always said that I had Nuisance because I was filthy and a slob. It doesn't add up does it. But knowing she's wrong, knowing the facts, makes me feel not so... Disgusting.

And you're right, I mean... If I was caring for my inner child who had Nuisance, I'd brush his hair gently, massage and wash. I'd sympathise with him and tell him "don't you worry, we'll deal with it together".

I might try your recommendations first before seeing my therapist about it. I'm still quite hesitant about talking of it face to face. And I think your recommendations sound quite helpful. I can't wear gloves all the time but you've given me the idea to cut my nails a lot shorter than they are now. I don't like them so short but if it breaks my habit then I can't complain.
I'm definitely going to try the massaging thing. Maybe just taking extra care in my showers to ease and relax. And now you make me want to try all sorts of different scented products!

As I was typing this I noticed my hand reaching for my head like usual and I stopped myself this time. I know it'll be a hard habit to break but I'll never get anywhere if I don't try.

Thank you so very much. You make me feel normal and cared for. I wish you have a good and safe day.

Regards,
Ellis.

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Blueberry

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2018, 11:51:48 AM »
As I was typing this I noticed my hand reaching for my head like usual and I stopped myself this time.

 :cheer: You're being mindful. My type of selfharm is similar or certainly involves my hand reaching for my head. Part of stopping means being aware of when I'm about to do it. You noticed in this case :thumbup:

fullofsoundandfury has given you very good ideas, at least in my experience. Stopping the circuit is a good plan. Gloves didn't work for me, I needed to use socks on my hands. But you can experiment and see what works for you. Obviously you can't wear socks all day but for a number of years I wore them at night and my automatic reflex when I put them on was to stroke my hair rather than pull it out.

This article http://www.aaets.org/article206.htm on SH may help you. Some of it is directed more at cutters than other types of self-harmers, but still might be useful.

ime a therapist who doesn't react with some compassion or at least neutrality to the topic is maybe not a good fit. Also Ts who have insisted that this type of behaviour is the same as cutting - well, they weren't helpful to me. I see in your response to fullofsoundandfury you're already using compassion to talk to your inner child :applause:

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Kizzie

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2018, 03:51:44 PM »
Hi and welcome to OOTS Ellis. 

Quote
Advice. How do I stop? What can I do to drop this habit? It's such a terrifying subject to me that I don't want to see my doctor or therapist about it. It makes me feel like a disgusting human being. I have been shunned for this my whole life and I'm scared to talk about it.

As you mentioned in another post you feel like you are spiraling and while we can certainly provide support and encouragement and share our experiences, it sounds like it may be time to take a deep breath and seek some better professional help given you don't seem to be able to open up to your current T.  I would encourage you to seek out a therapist who is trained in self-harm AND trauma because it does sound like this is very much trauma related.

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Ellis

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2018, 01:12:44 AM »
As I was typing this I noticed my hand reaching for my head like usual and I stopped myself this time.

 :cheer: You're being mindful. My type of selfharm is similar or certainly involves my hand reaching for my head. Part of stopping means being aware of when I'm about to do it. You noticed in this case :thumbup:

fullofsoundandfury has given you very good ideas, at least in my experience. Stopping the circuit is a good plan. Gloves didn't work for me, I needed to use socks on my hands. But you can experiment and see what works for you. Obviously you can't wear socks all day but for a number of years I wore them at night and my automatic reflex when I put them on was to stroke my hair rather than pull it out.

This article http://www.aaets.org/article206.htm on SH may help you. Some of it is directed more at cutters than other types of self-harmers, but still might be useful.

ime a therapist who doesn't react with some compassion or at least neutrality to the topic is maybe not a good fit. Also Ts who have insisted that this type of behaviour is the same as cutting - well, they weren't helpful to me. I see in your response to fullofsoundandfury you're already using compassion to talk to your inner child :applause:
Thank you for your reply, Blueberry!

And thank you for your encouragement. Unfortunately today I could not stop my habits this time but I'll try to remember your encouragement and just... try to stop.

The socks sound like an interesting idea, not sure how much I'll be able to do with having 4 less digits on each hand but I'll work it out.

And that article you've linked is very extensive and informative, thank you! I'll have to bookmark and study it.

Thank you again for your reply.

Hi and welcome to OOTS Ellis. 

Quote
Advice. How do I stop? What can I do to drop this habit? It's such a terrifying subject to me that I don't want to see my doctor or therapist about it. It makes me feel like a disgusting human being. I have been shunned for this my whole life and I'm scared to talk about it.

As you mentioned in another post you feel like you are spiraling and while we can certainly provide support and encouragement and share our experiences, it sounds like it may be time to take a deep breath and seek some better professional help given you don't seem to be able to open up to your current T.  I would encourage you to seek out a therapist who is trained in self-harm AND trauma because it does sound like this is very much trauma related.
Hey Kizzie,

Thank you for the welcome.
I know it's probably definitely something that needs to be talked to my therapist about. But it's like there's this big wall in front of me and if I dare even mention this problem, let alone try and get over the wall - the wall suddenly turns 90 degrees to hit me. The main thing that stops me is my fear of judgement and shaming. But I know my therapist is a very kind lady, realistic, but gentle. I should really try. Thank you for your encouragement.

Regards,
Ellis.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 09:44:18 PM by Ellis »

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Kizzie

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2018, 04:16:41 PM »
Quote
The main thing that stops me is my fear of judgement and shaming. But I know my therapist is a very kind lazy, realistic, but gentle.

Pretty sure you meant to type "lady" lol, but glad to hear you are open to her gentleness, that can teach us a lot about how to be kind to ourselves (and in turn may reduce your urge to self-harm).   :thumbup: 

Cheering you on  :cheer:  Would be interested to hear how it goes  :yes:


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Ellis

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2018, 09:45:06 PM »
Quote
The main thing that stops me is my fear of judgement and shaming. But I know my therapist is a very kind lazy, realistic, but gentle.

Pretty sure you meant to type "lady" lol, but glad to hear you are open to her gentleness, that can teach us a lot about how to be kind to ourselves (and in turn may reduce your urge to self-harm).   :thumbup: 

Cheering you on  :cheer:  Would be interested to hear how it goes  :yes:
Oops, a very misfortunate typo! Thanks for pointing it out.
But thank you for your support, Kizzie!

Regards,
Ellis.

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sanmagic7

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2018, 01:09:39 AM »
ellis, my d came home from school with nuisance - she'd used a friend's hairbrush.  i had to take her to the city nurse to register this and find out how to treat it.  had to go back in a week to get the 'all-clear' so she could go back to school.

while it was a pain to wash all the linens, do everything needed to rid her and our home from nuisance, i never thought of her as disgusting or dirty - this is coming from a mom's perspective.  i'm so very sorry your mother didn't care for and comfort you while going thru this, no matter how many times it happened.  you didn't deserve to be demeaned and shamed/shunned. 

i like the idea fosaf gave about getting a head massage, or even doing that to yourself as often as you can to break the association of how your hands move to your head and what they do once they reach it.  you'd probably be creating new message circuits in your brain, which might also help you become more mindful of what, exactly, that hand on your head is for.  your scalp only deserves gentle, caring touch.

as far as telling your t, could you write it just like you did here?  i thought it very courageous of you as awful as the association is for you to write about it.  i think it's a first step for you to stopping the sh.  well done.

sending love and a hug full of gentleness and caring for your head and scalp. 

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goblinchild

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Re: I need some advice
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2018, 01:55:25 AM »
I also think you're very brave for coming here. I don't know what's going on with you behind the scenes of course, but reading all the responses you've given people so far I feel like you're handling this with so much grace and courage!

I'm not sure if you'd be given to getting manicures? My nails are pretty thin, so when I paint my nails myself with more than two layers the nails become thicker and the tips become thicker and feel smooth instead of sharp. I usually don't do mine that way because like when you have an itch they're too smooth to scratch with! But that might be helpful in this case? If you would want to try it but aren't into nail polish colors, I believe there are matte clear nail polishes now that would be less noticeable when worn. (If you don't already know, matte is like the opposite of shiny.)

Also, I wanted to suggest maybe reading through the forums about other cases of neglect? There are so many others out there who have also had intense feelings of dirtiness and disgust with themselves. I think you'll find that all of these people are perfectly deserving of kindness and empathy. There are so many good kids out there who got stuck in a bad situation. And good adults!  Maybe seeing that in other people will help you realize it in yourself.

Even in cases which aren't specifically about neglect, there are many people who go through things so horrendous, they feel like the horrible things they've experienced are too far removed from polite society for others to understand or sympathize with. They might question how any normal person could get past the shock and disgust of the situation enough to ever wrap their minds around empathizing with them. Personally, I've heard some pretty shocking and gory things from people but I've never found a person who's opened up and not been 3000% empathizable and human. There's always a perfectly lovable and valuable person in there and their trauma is never too scary or disgusting to be empathized with.