if only we could treat ourselves every day

The Do’s and Don’ts of caring for a loved one with a BFRB

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a medical professional (or even an adult for that matter). However, I do have the experience of being a sufferer of trichotillomania for several years with an unsupportive family. I also know that there are very limited resources when it comes to sufferers of BFRBs and their friends/significant others/family. BFRBs manifest differently to different people, so take this all with a grain of salt. These are just things that have found to be true in my years of struggling with my trich, and if you are a sufferer, feel free to add on anything that I have missed! I hope that this can be a little helpful!

Do Not:

Slap/grab/pull/or have any contact with their hands at all

If you think you are helping with this, you are gravely mistaken. Most times we will know if we’re picking/pulling, with a few exceptions. Even if we are not aware, this reaction is never okay, much less helpful.

Get visibly angry/frustrated/upset

Believe it or not, we are not doing any of this on purpose or for fun! It’s quite the nightmarish condition, with almost no help available to us at all, despite it being more common than you would think. We are more frustrated at ourselves than you will ever be at us, so adding your frustration on top of it all will only make it considerably worse. Let me echo the first phrase none of this is done on purpose or ‘’for funsies’’ if you get angry there is literally no reason for it and you’re being an asshole to a person who’s already suffering. Any display of frustration or aggression will most likely make your love one feel not only disappointment at themselves for pulling/picking, but a disappointment to you for pulling/picking.

Question them while pulling/picking as to why they are doing it

You know we have this condition. While pulling/picking sometimes flares at random, stress can be a large factor figured into it. Cornering them and asking why they’ve started to pull will only make it worse, and the added stress will make it considerably harder to stop, at least in my experience. If they are trapped in a stressful situation, do your best to remove them from it and ask questions later. Berating them while they are pulling/picking is literally one of the worst things you can do and I repeat it will not help in any way, shape or form or get them to stop. It will make it worse.

Do not confront them about recent hair loss/scabbing

Believe us. We know when we’ve relapsed. Having someone come up to you and mention it is basically like having your ‘’failure’’ being thrown in your face. It’s upsetting, very upsetting. 

Do not question them as to ‘’Why do you do this?’’; ‘’Why don’t you just stop????’’

If we could stop we would. No one, literally no one enjoys ripping out their own hair/breaking open their own flesh/whatever your behavior entails. If there was some magic button I could press that would cause me to stop pulling out my hair, I would do it! However, BFRBs are legitimate disorders. 

Would you ask someone who had a broken leg, why they just won’t take off their cast and walk? Would you tell someone with a peanut allergy to just eat a jar of peanut butter and get over it?

No! Of course you wouldn’t! Because that’s a ludicrous idea!

The thing a lot of people don’t understand about BFRBs, is that if we do not do our behavior, for most sufferers it can be physically painful. While the thing is destructive, and seems painful and easily avoidable for the observing party, for the sufferer it’s almost unavoidable. Not only can it be painful, it’s hard to focus on literally anything else when you have the urges.

This is also demeaning, and makes it seem like we would have to put in no effort at all to give us a magical ‘’cure’’, just because you brought us this piece of very obvious advice that we have heard a thousand times before. The reality is that in order to stop pulling, you have to literally fight a battle with yourself and learn tools against yourself for the rest of your life, knowing that at any time you could ruin years of hard work. It’s terrifying and by no means is it easy, so don’t treat it like that.

Do not go through their rooms/floors/trashcans/vacuums looking for evidence of their relapsing

This should be a given. Not only is it invasive of our privacy, I can guarantee that we know exactly how much we’ve ‘’slipped up’’ and have already spent every waking hour of the day beating ourselves up about it. You may think you’re helping by ‘’alerting us’’, but it’s only beating a dead horse and making our lives that more miserable. It also makes us feel like a criminal, or that we should have the power to just wave a wand and say ‘’Be gone my illness! Be gone!’’

Make jokes at their expense/Demean them/Treat them as a burden or embarrassment 

Plain and simple. If you love them, you wouldn’t and will not do this. If your loved one does this to you, I would advise you to get them far away from you. You are not an embarrassment. You are worth the world and more than your BFRB.


Be understanding

Listen to them. BFRBs are almost never talked about, so of course you’re not going to understand it! Ask them to tell you what you need to know about their condition. Communicate with each other!  However remember to apply common sense and respect with the questions you ask. If you love them, this should not be a problem!

Be supportive

It may be incredibly odd to you at first, but once again, it’s a condition that doesn’t get a lot of coverage. Your loved one has trusted you enough to open up about their condition to you, which was probably incredibly embarrassing and scary for them. Please try your hardest to be supportive of their journey to recovery/ongoing battle with a ‘’gross’’ mental illness. 

Learn what helps with their urges/what you can do to help!

BFRBs are different for everyone! Learn from your loved one if there’s anything you can do to help them with their urges and flareups! Who knows, there might be something you can do to help, or you can at least learn when to steer-clear.

Treat them like a normal person

Having a BFRB doesn’t make you into some sort of freaky monster. It’s just like any other mental illness. We are still living, breathing and functional people! 

Puppy Love



Cosima’s feelings differed from Delphine’s as she usually went all out in the past for her partner when it came to Valentine’s Day. She always showed romantic gestures but even more so on Feburary 14th. This year was difficult. She didn’t have anyone she was intimate with and it was made even harder when America constantly shoved the holiday in everyone’s faces.

Since moving from San Francisco she had lost a girlfriend but gained a best friend. And she couldn’t imagine spending her single Valentine’s Day with anyone but Delphine. When her friend agreed to come over she couldn’t help but smile. She ignored the excited and anxious feeling, though, still trying to ignore that emotion. Just friends. She just wants to be friends I know it.

“Awesome! Don’t worry, no horror movies. I don’t do horror movies on Valentine’s Day. That’s just lame.” Although she pretty much watched them every other day of the year. “I have class until five but I’m totally free for the rest of the night.”

“Some of the movies you like are lame.” Delphine teased her best friend. She would never understand the love for these films. How someone could like all the gore and ripping off body parts. It was disgusting. “Mine ends at two, so I can buy some wine and maybe some other treats? The only good thing from Valentine’s day is the more treats. I can bring some nice things. We might as well enjoy ourselves, yes? Not that we normally don’t, but you know what I mean." 

Delphine rested her head against her shoulder as she looked up at the brunette. “Cosima? Can we watch those.. how do you always call them.. chick.. chick something.. Chick fl.. flex, non.. flicks! That is it.. can we watch those movies? I know you are not a fan, but can we watch those? I promise that on another day I will sit and watch those action things you like.”

Cosima’s smile widened when she offered to pick some things up. "Bring whatever you want, maybe even a heart shaped box of chocolates,” she replied teasingly. When Delphine struggled for the right word she couldn’t help but think about how adorable it was when this happened. She never intervened but whether it was because she wanted her to figure it out herself or because it was so cute was still undecided.

“Chick flicks? And you think my movie taste is lame?” She playfully rolled her eyes at her, letting her shoulders slump as if she was giving in to something tetrrible. “Ok fiiiiine. But you’re gonna have to pick because I know next to none.” When they agreed on a time she hurried off to class. Completely distracted by the idea of spending Valentine’s Day with Delphine. She couldn’t help who she fell for. And her best friend was no different.

On the way home she had picked up a pizza to heat up. As she stood on the checkout line she couldn’t help but be suckered in to the cute little puppy stuffed animal holding a heart shaped balloon. Picking that up she asked the cashier to add it to her total. Arriving home she took a very quick shower and got dressed into one of her more comfortable outfits. The pizza was in the oven and she looked down to her watch, surprised at how quickly she had gotten the place set up.