I am just one of the millions of people in Canada who has a condition called Trichotillomania, a.k.a. Hair Pulling Disorder. This condition falls under the category in the DSM-5 as OCD and Related Disorders. These conditions are also under the umbrella term Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs), which also include conditions like Dermatillomania a.k.a. Skin Picking (Excoriation) Disorder, nail biting, cheek biting etc. Every single day I dedicate hours promoting awareness about these conditions so individuals know they are not the only ones who perform these repetitive behaviours.
In Canada, there are currently only TWO doctors who treat these conditions, and they have waiting lists for up to a year or more. Many times people in the BFRB community share the fact their own family doctor or psychiatrist don't even know what they are talking about with regards to hair pulling or skin picking. Family physicians are on the front lines, and if they don't even know what to do for patients coming in looking for help with BFRBs, then we are failing at getting people the necessary support they need to treat these conditions.
Often times, people who have a BFRB actually have to educate the medical/mental health professionals about their own condition! I have had people tell me they print off information from the Internet to show their doctors what they are trying to explain. This is unacceptable.
How is it possible there are over a million Canadians with BFRBs, yet we are clearly being overlooked in the mental health/ health care system? Most of us are left to deal with them in silence, isolation, embarrassment and frustration. The more awareness our BFRB community creates, the more people are coming forward to receive help. If our own doctors don't know about these conditions there is a problem. I am asking that every single medical/ mental health professional please take the time to learn about Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours, so that WHEN (not a matter of if) a patient or their parents turn to you for help, you will have an idea what it is they are talking about.
Having just two doctors in Canada who are trained to treat BFRBs is a huge problem. So please, I encourage you to consider being trained to help more people like myself deal with these complex and widely misunderstood conditions.
This upcoming Saturday, April 5 in Toronto, the first Canadian one-day workshop is taking place. This is a great place to learn about the most recent advances in treatment, research and recovery tools for these behaviors. This workshop is open to those with hair pulling, skin picking, and related BFRBs, ages 14 and up, parents, and partners/spouses/support persons/friends as well as treatment providers.
Learn more at www.canadianbfrb.org .
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: