Overcoming Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors by Dr Charles S. Mansueto

BFRBs affect 1 in 5 people. That means that someone you know is dealing with a BFRB.

5/5 stars.
ebook, 216 pages.
Read from April 7, 2020 to April 16, 2020

BFRBs affect 1 in 5 people. That means that someone you know is dealing with a BFRB. What is a BFRB you ask? BFRB stands for Body-Focused Repetitive-Behaviours and they include excessive hair pulling (trichotillomania), excessive skin picking (dermatillomania) as well as a bigger spectrum of other repetitive behaviours. If you’ve never heard of these conditions before and your first reaction is reluctance or disgust, I beg you to do some more reading as chances are that someone close to you is hiding their behaviour due to that exact fear and stigma. I can assure you that these conditions are very real and cause very real trauma for those that have to deal with it.

You don’t read a book like this unless you’re looking for help yourself. Over the last few years, I’ve made it no secret about my skin picking disorder and have been actively volunteering with an organization in Canada called the Canadian BFRB Support Network (CBSN) to help others with BFRBs as well as to aide in my own recovery. I also contributed to a book called Project Dermatillomania as well as some blog posts on BFRB Relapses and Dermatillomania Makeup Tips.

Lately, this little demon of mine has started to become a problem for me again and I’ve realized that I’ve been denying that fact. I’ve not talked about it like I used to as I’ve felt too ashamed to deal with it or acknowledge again.. My last breakthrough with dermatillomania was when I opened myself up to the BFRB community and my loved ones. It was lifechanging. I have to see again that trying to hide or acknowledge these issues again is only going to make my shame grow and is not going to help my progress.

So here I am, being as proactive and forward as I can.

Overcoming Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours is the book that BFRBers have been waiting for. When I first began my BFRB journey, skin picking wasn’t even in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Health Disorders and all three of the health professionals I spoke to didn’t have a clue about my condition (though they were still pretty helpful). BFRB awareness has come a long way and its thanks to organizations like CBSN and The TLC Foundation for BFRBs for their constant work and dedication. The author of this book as well as the contributors are health professionals and researchers that have worked closely with the TLC Foundation to help learn more about BFRBs and come up with an effective program to help combat and deal with them.

This book talks about the specifics of BFRBs, what makes them different from just a bad habit, what they do to our brains, thought processes and feelings, and how we can try and rewire our patterns of behaviour. The method that Dr Mansueto and his team have found to be effective in working with many people with BFRBs through the TLC Foundation is called the Comprehensive Behavioral Model (ComB), which combines aspects of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT).

What makes this book exceptional is that it gives you all the tools you need to tackle your BFRB on your own. Worksheets are provided using a SCAMP model (Sensory, Cognitive, Affective, Motor, Place) to help you determine your very own pattern of behaviour when it comes to your BFRB. The book then gives you to the tools to create an action plan for all the different aspects that you’ve identified where you engage in your BFRB so that you have real tools to support you no matter how intense your urge. While I’ve always advocated for ‘habit tracking’ and have had great success with it before from Annette Pasternak’s book Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop, this particular book is so much more robust as it identifies just how rooted our BFRB behaviours are.

I’ve restarted the process of tracking my behaviour and I look forward to creating some action plans to help get me back on track. The thing with BFRBs that there is no easy fix. If you have a BFRB like I do, you’ve probably got years of practising your BFRB so it’s going to take a lot of dedication and hard work to break free from your BFRB,  but if you’re willing to put in the work you will see results with this book.

This book is now my top recommendation to anyone that is battling a BFRB. It’s concise, reassuring, easy-to-follow, supportive, progressive, with feasible accomplishments that you can track if you put the work in. If you’re fed up and ready to tackle your BFRB head-on, waste no time and pick up this book as soon as possible.

Stockholm Syndrome: Dermatillomania Makeup Tips

Learning to use makeup and learning about skincare has helped me with many self care techniques for my dermatillomania and otherwise.

Originally written for the Canadian Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour Support Network (CBSN) during BFRB week October 1-7, 2017


I love makeup. Or rather, I should say that I have a Stockholm syndrome relationship with makeup. At 19, I was held hostage by makeup and my dermatillomania, having never before worn it or had any interest in wearing it.

When my dermatillomania was at its absolute worst in my early 20s, I quickly learned the ins and outs of how to conceal my awkward condition. Every day I prayed to and thanked the makeup gods that I was able to cover up my horribly red, weeping, and marked face (or arms) just to give the appearance of functioning like a normal person. But I was not okay. I needed help. Makeup made me feel better and calmed my rising anxieties about my appearance. Even when I was home alone or ready to go to bed sometimes just applying makeup and wearing it through the night was enough to calm me and temporarily halt my urges.

At first, I did not know what I was doing at all with make-up. It started with just concealer but when I started using half a tube on face every day and realized it wasn’t blending well, I discovered foundation. And then I learned that powder can help create a smoother and lasting appearance and that it also seemed to work better on slightly open wounds. I then started using all three and tried every drugstore brand under the sun. I bought brushes and sponges, watched YouTube videos, all to perfect the technique of smothering and soothing myself. I needed makeup and started to carry an emergency kit of concealer and other supplies around so that my flaws never showed. I did not go swimming. I did not wear tank tops or short sleeve shirts. I hid in my makeup that kept me safe. I remember feeling so frustrated that I was a slave to this commodity and felt that I needed it like a junkie needs drugs. Wearing makeup was a consolation that provided me the facade of happiness.

skin picking
Image credit: http://bit.ly/2hgUH1S

After years of misery perfecting my cover-up techniques and learning about the different aspects of skincare, I finally started working through the healing stages of my dermatillomania. I started to improve to the point that dermatillomania no longer controlled my life or all of my waking thoughts. I began to enjoy the makeup process as it did not feel like a necessity anymore. I felt attractive for the first time since I could remember.

While I can probably get away without wearing makeup most of the time now, I don’t. Makeup is still my comfort and still brings me some degree of happiness wearing it. I have even noticed that if I am having a hard time with my skin I will sometimes splurge at Sephora to make me feel like I am somehow being proactive about my skin.

Learning to use makeup and learning about skincare has helped me with many self-care techniques for my dermatillomania and otherwise. Would I have found this comfort and interest in makeup and skincare if I had not had dermatillomania? As I spent half of my life as a tomboy, it is hard to say. Regardless, I am grateful for what makeup has given me even if it was not something I would have chosen.

makeup tips
Image credit: http://bit.ly/2AgYZKo

For those that need it, here are some derma-friendly makeup tips that have worked we for me:

  • Primer and setting spray: I use to scoff at it. Seemed like another layer to add to my face that was already bordering on way too much but it truly helps the makeup adhere better to your skin and makes it last longer so you do not have to worry about your carefully placed makeup accidentally rubbing off. 
  • Invest in quality concealer and foundation: Not only do better quality products cover better they are often better for your skin (oil-free, paraben-free etc). Take the time to find a brand that works best for you. Make Up Forever carries a water-resistant brand of concealer that lasted me 2-years even with regular everyday use (they have a foundation too). When applying concealer, dab it, don’t swipe it for better adherence. 
  • If your skin is weeping and open, it is hard to cover and you run the risk of infection – The best course of action is to let the wound get some sort of barrier on it before you put on makeup. Here are a few techniques that can help:

    • Liquid bandages – Found at practically every drugstore, using this requires a bit of technique to get right. The key is to get the thinnest layer possible for the best coverage in the end. It stings a bit when applying it but it will protect your skin once it is dry. Make sure it is dry before applying makeup. 
    • Honey, lemon and cinnamon: These ingredients are naturally antibacterial and will reduce redness. If you have time, put a mixture of these three on the area for 10 minutes or more to allow a barrier to form (the sticky mixture helps you from touching it too) then very gently wipe away with warm water. 

      lemon-honey-cinnamon
      Image credit: http://bit.ly/2m0PSLR
    • Tea tree oil: Naturally antibacterial, tea tree oil can help dry out open wounds. Make sure to check the bottle to ensure that you get 100% tea tree oil as many brands like to add a small percentage of tea tree oil and fill the rest with rubbing alcohol and then charge too much (I’m looking at you Body Shop). Be aware, that the pure essential oil can be strong so if you have sensitive skin dab a cotton bud with water and then add the tea tree oil before applying it to your skin.

      polysporin cold sore patches
      Image credit: http://bit.ly/2jaTCcI
    • Purchase Nexcare acne patches or Polysporin cold sore patches (these ones are thinner and are better but more expensive) for more severe wounds. You can then apply makeup on top of the patch. The patches still show a bit but chances are if the wound is bad enough it still looks better than the wound would with makeup. You’re also protecting it and it will heal faster. These are also great to wear at night time when you want something to heal fast! 
  • After primer and concealer, follow with foundation and then a loose mineral powder (with or without colour) for a more natural and lasting finish: Investing in quality products and applicators will reduce the caked-on look but it is also important to work within your budget! There are decent cheap alternatives. Maybelline’s Fit Me foundation and FaceStudio Master Fix primers and powder are budget-friendly. Makeup brushes/sponges really do make a difference for the look, feel and coverage. 
    • Flat foundation brush: Put the foundation on the back of your hand (not directly on the brush) and swipe your face in a downward motion starting in the middle of your face. Reapply more concealer after if need be and dab with a makeup sponge for a quick smooth finish after. 
    • Stippling brush: These brushes are great if you want a more airbrushed finish. With the foundation on the back of your hand, dab the makeup on to your face. Do not swipe or twirl the brush as it defeats the purpose of the technique. Give your skin a chance to absorb the makeup afterwards as well for best results. 
    • Powder: Loose is better than pressed and mineral is better than not. Use a kabuki brush and dab it on wounds instead of swiping in order to get it to adhere better. Powder ensures the longevity of your makeup. For those with mature or dry skin, loose powder can set-in wrinkles and dry patches so just stick to a good hydrating liquid foundation and setting spray. 
    • Brushes don’t always have to be expensive: Granted quality ones last longer but it is still hard to cough up the money for them, even if they do make a difference. Check out these cheaper sets by ELF Cosmetics. Amazon also offers plenty of options. 
    • Setting spray: Essential for hot summer days or a humid climate, a setting spray keeps your make up locked in place and your skin looking moist and fresh. 
  • Keep your makeup tools clean: Whether you use your fingers, brush or a sponge to apply makeup it is even more imperative for those with dermatillomania to keep these items clean to avoid infection. Use a daily spray cleaner on your brushes and sponges and then deep clean once a week. If you use a sponge make sure to replace them once every 3 months.
    dirty make up brushes
    Image credit: http://bit.ly/2haYsCj

     

    • Homemade brush and sponge cleanser: Mix water, rubbing alcohol, tea tree oil, antibacterial dish soap, olive oil, and micellar water in a spray bottle. Use daily. 
  • Less is more: I know it is tempting to smother on the concealer but it is important to apply it on in smaller layers in order for it to look natural and blended. 
  • Blotting papers: These are especially important for those with oily skin. They remove excess oil but not your makeup. It will help to keep the shine down and keep your makeup looking fresh. Tissue can be used in a bind but will remove more makeup. 
  • Wash your makeup off before bed: It is tempting to leave it on sometimes and I have definitely done it many times but you are ultimately making your skin worse in the long run by leaving it on. Your skin can become infected and will be more prone to breakouts and wrinkles. 
  • Face masks: These can as soothe your skin, pamper it, and can help you to stop touching it. Find ones that help reduce redness, like clay masks. 
  • For immediate relief of redness: Stick a spoon in the freezer or on ice and apply it to your face. Witch hazel (though try to avoid putting it directly on an open wound, it stings), moist tea bags and cucumber slices are also great redness relievers. 
  • Make your routine about self-care, not self-loathing: Touch your skin with kindness and allow your makeup routine to become a positive aspect of your derma struggles. Make an effort, no matter where you pick, that you will touch your skin with kindness and that every act of your routine is done gently.

My Favourite Reads of 2014

happy-new-years-cat

As a new year approaches I like to take a look back on what books I’ve devoured over the last year. These are my top 3 favorite reads, for both fiction and non-fiction, that I read in 2014:

*Click on the links to see my reviews of each of these

Fiction Top 3

3) Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell: One of the mostly beautifully written modern stories I’ve ever read. The novel’s tone is dark and lurking but is balanced with the fierceness of  Ree, the female protagonist. A quick and awesome read.

2) All The Light We Cannot See By Anthony Doerr:  Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best Historical Fiction! This novel is one of the most popular published books of 2014 and it’s worth all the attention. Following the lives of two young people who are on opposing sides of World War II, the novel explores humanity at one of its worst times in history. This book has all the feels! Worth the read.

1) Stupid Children by Lenore Zion: I can’t say enough good things about this book. I came across this small-time publication through The Next Best Book Club on Goodreads and I was lucky enough to be apart of a group discussion with the author (see my review for some insight into this discussion). This book has a strange but amazing concept. After Jane’s father attempts to commit suicide, he is institutionalized and she is sent to the foster care system. The family she is adopted by is apart of the Second Day Believers cult. The novel depicts Jane’s upbringing with this family and the ordeals of living within a cult. This book is funny, creepy and extremely thought provoking and is the kind of book I almost want to read again. Support small press and buy this book!

Non-Fiction Top 3

3) The Romanov Sisters by Helene Rappaport: This novel won the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 for Best History & Biography! Lucky for me, I was able to read this book through Netgalley.  For those that have never explored non-fiction or even a history piece, I’d recommend this one for you. This informative book reads so much like a fiction and it gives a massive insight to the lives and personalities of the Romanov family.

2) Skin Picking: The Freedom to Finally Stop by Annette PasternakThis book is a bit personal but it was so immensely helpful that I have to include it. For anyone suffering from a BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior), please read this book! It’s informative and has real exercises and practices that will dramatically help you get a handle on your condition. Life changer!

1) Diet Cults by Matt FitzgeraldWe are constantly bombarded with information of what to eat and what not to eat. Tragically, all of this information often times contradicts itself depending on the source and whatever died fad is currently being endorsed making being healthy quite confusing. Matt Fitzgerald, a professional coach and athlete, makes food simple again with this book and breaks down the data that many diet cults perpetuate. He never bashes diet fads but explains why they appeal to people, why they work for a short time, why our bodies can adapt to eat anything and how to get back to the basics and stop stressing over food! This was a game changers for me with my approach to food.