Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Did I Finally Have The Last Lash?

Trichotillomania blog, Pull-Free Trichotillomania

On November 19, 2010, I drafted my first post on LastLash. Within that post, I said,
"I am going to stop pulling my eyelashes and eyebrows once and for all. I know that I'm going to get the "last lash" in this matter. Hardy-har-har, I'm so funny :) No, really though, I'm not going to pull out the "last lash"... I'm going to overcome it. Watch me shine."
To be honest, when I wrote that post, I didn't see any end in sight for my pulling. I was desperate and looking for any and all the help I could get. Fast forward to three and a half years later, and I'm sitting here typing this with a huge smile on my face and a heavy, heavy weight off my back. As of this post, I'm currently 62-days pull-free... and it feels so good.

And you know what's the craziest part of it all? I'm not struggling with it anymore. It's no longer a "desperate" feeling. The urges to pull, infrequently as they come, don't hold me down, don't control me, and don't get the best of me anymore. In fact, I hardly notice them at all.

I have a few areas of my life to credit for this radical change. God, first and foremost, has made the biggest difference of all. No longer do I take medication or have to jump through hoops to avoid the urges of pulling. Nope... nothing crazy like that. I just pray... and I pray a lot. And you know what? It has worked for me. In fact, it's been a miracle, because absolutely nothing else did. I know that I'm here today because of my faith in God and the forgiveness and blessing he has given me time and time again. He is my rock.

Second, I know for a fact that upping my exercise and giving up alcohol have helped tremendously. Exercising helps relieve my stress, and I do it at least 6-days a week. Whether it's running, lifting, biking, circuit training—it doesn't matter. I love my workouts and the stress they help me get off my back. In addition, each time I would have alcohol, I would notice that I would pull. So no more drinking for me... ever. It feels good to give up yet another something that's had such a strong hold on my life for so long, and if it can help me stop pulling, it's a win/win.

Updated to add: I didn't include this originally because I believe overcoming trich is a very personal journey, but I know that the support and encouragement from my husband, Daniel has also contributed greatly to my success over my pulling. Thank you, Daniel. You are the one who gets to see this change in me more than anyone, and I'm so thankful for all the help you've given me—and continue to provide!! You and your "Don't touch!" reminders keep me afloat. I love you!

The last area is this blog and my other personal blog, Aunie Sauce. I never thought that writing my story for the world to read would make such a huge difference—but it has. Like a journal, this place has become my diary to vent out my struggles with trich and the problems I've faced. And when I write it in a blog post, I am sharing it with everyone else so I'm not going at it alone. I want to thank each person who has commented and emailed over the years... you have helped get me to this point. Thank you.

Overcoming Trichotillomania, Annelise Rowe

I suppose the point of this long-winded post is to say that maybe—just maybe—I finally did have the "last lash" in regards to my trich. I'm not sure if I'll never pull again, but for the moment, it's no concern of mine. I'm going to be taking a break for a while, as I joined the Air National Guard and I'll be away at Air Force Basic Military Training for a few months, so I wanted to wish you guys well. I'm honestly not sure if or when I'll be back to LastLash, but I can assure you that if you'd still like to read along with my story, you can still find me blogging away at Aunie Sauce a couple times a week.

And remember, as long as that little pull-free counter is still adding up the days over to the right, you can rest assured that no matter what else is going on in life, I'm counting my blessings that I'm still pull-free.
No matter what your struggle is, I promise you can change it. I did.

Here's to having the "last lash" on trich—now it's your turn...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Trich and Alcohol... and Why I Won't Drink Anymore

Why I don't drink alcohol, Trichotillmania and Alcohol

I've been putting this post off for a while—not because I don't think it's important—but because I was hesitant to put my personal beliefs on this topic out in the open for fear of rejection, fear of judgement against me, and most of all—fear of failing. I'll explain more in a bit, but I wanted to begin this post with a disclaimer that the following content is my own personal opinion & perspective, and in no way do I judge or disagree with you if you don't make the same choices I do.

_______________________________________________________________________

I think I've always had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I won't get into the details, but let's just say that I've seen it tear apart relationships & destroy the health and lives of several people who have been very close to me. Growing up, I told myself I would never drink, because I didn't want to see my life head in the same direction that I had seen so many go in before me.

You can probably guess where this is going. I had my first drink at age 18 and began going out with friends when I was 21. While I never enjoyed the "downtown" scene—when I went out, I tended to order at least one drink with dinner. And the way I did it, one drink turned into two, which turned into three, which turned into... well, you get it. I wasn't able to just stop at one. Now, I wasn't having drinks all the time, as you may presume. I'm talking once or twice, maybe three times a month. Nothing too extravagant.

But as the years turned and I found myself in troublesome times, alcohol was where I sought my refuge. Never a fan of strong-tasting drinks, beer or red wine, I would sip off the stresses with a margarita, a Malibu & Diet, a glass of Moscato, or a pretty & über-sweet cocktail. And like I said before—it was never simply just one.

The additional drinking led to weight gain (roughly 30 pounds more than I am now) and insecurity, and of course—more drinking—lots and lots more drinking. I suppose I should also include the fact that while I drank I was such a different person, and that was the kind of person that truly no one wanted to be around. I was a destructive person when I drank. I destroyed relationships, I destroyed people's feelings, I destroyed my own self-confidence. In addition—though I never realized it at the time—the more I drank, the more I pulled out my eyelashes and eyebrows. It was a downward spiral and though I knew how to get out of it, I didn't want to. I thought it was too enjoyable... too fun... not worth it to give it up.

Fast forward a few years to 2013, where drinking wasn't so much of a priority but I still had one here and there—one margarita while out on the lake, one glass of wine at a fancy dinner, one hot toddy while up at our favorite mountain resort. Ever since I became a Christian in 2012, I had begun developing a conviction that I shouldn't drink at all—but I could never justify giving it up completely. I didn't think I needed to.

Then, last fall after my trichotillomania & pulling had gotten so much better, I realized one distinct correlation. I wasn't drinking like I had been... at all. It had been months since my last drink and I had hardly pulled out any eyelashes or eyebrow hairs, whereas before, I pulled and pulled each time I drank. I knew that my decline in drinking had helped lead to my decline in pulling. So I gave it up. Right then and there, I decided I was done with alcohol. For good.

However (here's where we get into what I mentioned above about being hesitant to post this)—I gave it up quietly. I made this decision after praying about it and talking it over with Daniel, and essentially only told my parents. And I did it so quietly out of purely selfish and misguided reasons. I was leaving the door open to the possibility that if I did have a drink in the future, that I wouldn't be held accountable for my actions because I hadn't told anyone that I'd stopped drinking. Wait, what? Yes. I'll say it again, I was leaving the door open to being able to still drink in the future. I'm telling you, I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I wasn't able to just let it go. It was as though I thought I needed it or might need it in the future. I was afraid of failing—so I didn't tell anyone about it.

So this post, right here, is my public declaration. Despite whatever opinions, thoughts or judgments about me & my beliefs may be cast because of it. I haven't had a drink since last fall, and I won't drink ever again. I'm doing this for myself, for my husband, for my family (and future family!), for my trichotillomania, and mostly—because of my faith in God, the convictions He has given me, and the path he has placed me on.

This is one of those long-winded, wordy posts that will surely drive people to click that "X" at the top of their screen. But this is one of those posts that is so important for me to share. I've always said—I love to share my story and put myself out there—and this is just one more page of my story that I don't want to forget, and don't want to go on without sharing. Please remember, I don't judge anyone based on if they do/don't drink or what their stance is on the topic. I hope I didn't come off as judgmental by publishing this post. This is a very, very personal post and it took me a long time to gather the courage to write it. But I knew I needed to... for myself—and for closure. Here's to holding myself accountable, once and for all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Trich & TV

Trichotillomania, Pulling While Watching TV, Pull-Free, Eyelashes and Eyebrows

My biggest personal struggle is with trichotillomania and pulling out my eyelashes and eyebrows. Sometimes it's a daily battle to not pull, other times it's hourly, other times it's hardly even present at all for several days. But here's an update about my pulling.

In December, Daniel and I cancelled our TV service. We got rid of cable and opted just to keep our streaming Netflix subscription. We aren't big into watching TV—we typically only watched Castle on Monday evenings and then some football on the weekends. But here's the thing—despite how infrequently we were watching TV, almost every time we did, I would begin to pick and pull at my eyebrows and lashes. I do the same thing when I read. It's the times when my mind is distracted and my hands have nothing to do that they always wander up toward my face to search out hairs to pull. What an inconvenience.

Though I knew that one of my triggers for pulling was when I was watching TV, I didn't necessarily relate the two as going hand-in-hand almost every time until we cancelled cable. I remember sitting on the couch on New Year's Day, watching an episode of Arrow and pulling out a single eyebrow hair. I instantly scolded myself, reminding myself that I had wanted to try to be pull-free in 2014. Needless to say, since our cable was cancelled right around that same time, I haven't pulled since.

That's where my epiphany came in... if the temptation is there, I'm probably going to give into it (I'm working very hard on practicing repentance!). My trichotillimania + watching TV = pulling. Therefore, my trichotillomania - watching TV = no pulling. I know that my pulling doesn't always occur when TV is a factor, but since it's the biggest one, it makes sense that we got rid of it. Saving money and no pulling? It's a win/win!

In addition to everything mentioned above, for the last two years, I've had my eyebrows professionally waxed, thinking that if someone else was doing my tweezing & waxing for me that I'd be less-inclined to pull. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite the case because for those last two years, I've also regularly pulled my eyebrows out, though not to the extent that anyone but Daniel or my esthetician would notice. I think that since I would go anywhere between 2-4 weeks between appointments, if my eyebrows got too long or too scraggly that I would be more inclined to pull. January 2nd was my last eyebrow appointment, as I've decided to maintain my eyebrows on my own to try something new. And remember how I said my last pull happened on January 1st? 2014 has been this whole big fresh start that I wasn't anticipating, but I'm soaking up every minute.

I think the moral of today's story is this: if something isn't working for you, change it. Big change, small change—doesn't matter—just make the change and respond accordingly. The only person who has control over what you do is YOU. And I know this much... I believe in you. ♥

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Update

Annelise Rowe, Bye Bye Beehive

You know, I haven't been as active on LastLash as I used to be, and I apologize for not filling this space as often with my thoughts on trich and updates of how I'm doing—but I suppose you can take that to mean that I'm doing well. Life is busy and there's always something to look forward to (I just joined the Air National Guard!), and though my trich & pulling are still around... it's not who I am nor does it define me. In fact, I think that finding my strength to overcome my trich struggles has even made me a better person—and I'm so thankful for that.

Despite my lack of updates and posts on this blog, I'm still around a few times a week over at Aunie Sauce, my personal blog that covers everything from big life events to little details and memorable moments. I would love to see you there.


Take care, friends ♥

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

BeauTrichful Magazine

BeauTrichful Magazine, Trichotillomania support magazine

Every quarter, a new edition of BeauTrichful Magazine is released—a publication from HelpMe2Stop.org that strives to increase trichotillomania awareness and help those suffering connect to people who can help provide services and treatment at lower costs.

Since BeauTrichful Magazine has been released, I've read every edition, and even have had feature articles in their Spring 2013 and Summer 2013 editions. This quarter, I was lucky enough to be chosen as the cover and feature story for the Autumn 2013 release. Inside the magazine, you'll see my article about how trich is my "gift", read inspirational stories from many other people who also have trich, check out a makeup tutorial for creating thicker lashes, and see tons of before and after photos of people who are making changes in their lives to overcome this disorder.

If you're interested in giving back or helping support this amazing organization, click here for a variety of opportunities. I'm so grateful for this magazine and the support and awareness it's bringing to the trichotillomania community. Please take a moment to read the Autumn 2013 edition of BeauTrichful Magazine below. Enjoy!


Friday, September 27, 2013

This Isn't a Deal Breaker.

Trichotillomania, eyelash and eyebrow pulling
Jacket: c/o Joules

A couple years ago, I learned that my trichotillomania triggers were stress & change. Anytime I moved, changed jobs, classes started or ended, and began or ended a relationship—I had to watch out and be ultra-conscious of my pulling and try so hard not to pull. I never did very well with my attempts and always found myself without any eyelashes or eyebrows.

This past year, for the first time since my late teens, I've had much better control over my pulling. A couple months ago, I was even able to go just over 11 weeks without pulling a single eyelash or eyebrow. Lately though, I've been having a harder time. I haven't pulled any eyelashes, but my eyebrows aren't doing as well as I'd like. I don't have any blank patches, but parts of them are sparse. I think this whole move into the new house has thrown me for a bit of a loop and I've started pulling occasionally again.

But through everything—each trial—the one thing I've learned is that every day is a new day and just because I've been stuck in a rut of doing something before, doesn't mean I have to still do it. Just because I've pulled a couple (or a lot) of eyebrow hairs here and there for the past several weeks doesn't mean that I have to pull them all out again. This isn't a deal breaker. I may be down at the moment... but I'm not out.

I suppose this is my attempt to blog about it—to get it out in the open that I've started pulling again—and once again, a public affirmation that this disorder does NOT control me, WON'T hold me down, and I WON'T let it get the best of me. The pulling stops now... I can do this.

Matthew 15:28 "Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A HAIR CUT!!

Last month, I celebrated my 27th Birthday, and I kicked it off with a "why not" of all why-nots:

Long to short hair cut, Haircut before and after
Long to short hair cut, Donate your hair
Long to short hair cut, Haircut before and after

I've always been a fan of change, and for this new year of mine, I embraced it! I ended up having 12 inches cut, and I donated my hair to Children With Hair Loss—they accept all kinds of hair and since the tips of my hair were bleached a few years ago, I picked their charity because some of the others have requirements against bleached & highlighted hair. This new cut is spunky, sporty, and of course—extra saucy. Why not, right? I blogged more about the whole thing here.

So I know this isn't about eyelashes or eyebrows... but it is about hair. The thing I've learned with hair is it grows back. So here's the thing, if you want to make a change, DO IT. Whether it's a cut, a dye, a wax job (eyebrows, of course), or something fun... just have fun with it. Be you & let your light shine!

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