The holiday season can be particularly tough for many people. It sometimes isn't the warm and cozy feeling that the movies tell you. Sometimes there are things that cause people to feel anxiety during the holiday season. For people in the body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) community, this might be an even more challenging time.
People with body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) like trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), dermatillomania (skin-picking disorder), nail biting, cheek biting, lip biting, nose picking, etc. have a unique challenge during the holiday season because these disorders leave physical reminders. They often alter the person's appearance in some way. All of the emotions that come along with that, whether it is guilt, shame, embarrassment, and/or insecurity, is amplified. People often think, How can I face other people like this? Will someone notice and point it out? Will someone laugh at me? Uncle Blah Blah will make a snide remark again I bet.
These negative thoughts begin to take over as the holidays approach which in turn can lead to more pulling/picking/biting. Remember: BFRBs are self-soothing behaviors. Our body is trying to help us the best way it knows how. So now I am pulling more because I'm scared to face Auntie Blah. Why? Because Auntie Blah always makes negative comments and I know when I walk into the living room her eyes will be all over me. Do you see where I'm going? This is just one example of the negative cycle we in the BFRB community find ourselves in.
So what can people in the BFRB community do to make this a more enjoyable time for us?
Bring your favorite tools
If you know you're going to spend some time at a relative's house, bring a backpack or purse filled with things that will make you happy while also helping soothe you. This could look like fidget toys, arts & crafts, bandaids, a beanie, a soft blanket, string, beads, etc. You might never even open your backpack or purse but having your tools just in case will give you a sense of relief.
Make time for you
Spending hours upon hours at a relative's house can become boring and/or overwhelming. Find some time where you can be alone or with someone you feel comfortable around. Take a walk if you're able to. Go hang out in the room where all the babies are sleeping so you can have some silence- just don't wake the babies up! Sit outside for a moment.
Lean on your support system
There are people in your life who love and accept you for who you are. If the holiday season is difficult for you, reach out to them! That's what they're there for! Support systems look different for everyone. Maybe it's a grandparent, a cousin, a family friend, a person online, you name it. They want to be there for you, they love you!
Set (or already have) boundaries
It is not your responsibility to answer questions just because you are asked. That goes for anything. If you are at a place in your journey where you welcome questions about your BFRB, please continue doing what makes you happy! If you are not at that place you don't have to answer them! You might think it'll make the moment awkward, and it might, but that is okay. You'll feel proud of yourself for setting a new boundary. You are able to exist with a BFRB without having to explain anything to anyone.
Remember you are not alone
You may be the only person in your family that has a BFRB but that doesn't mean you are alone. There are SO MANY PEOPLE in the BFRB community! SO MANY! You can reach out to those in the community for love and support because we are dying to give it! The thoughts in your head telling you that you are weird or defective or ugly are LYING TO YOU! Having a BFRB isn't a death sentence. You can still lead a successful, loving, and beautiful life with a BFRB. Not convinced? Reach out to someone in the BFRB community and they'll tell you the same thing.
Above is our family! We surprised everyone with onesies for Christmas in 2020. So hilarious!