I said to the sun . . .

I’m going to begin with one of my all time, absolute favourite quotes – “I said to the sun, ‘Tell me about the big bang.’ The sun said, ‘it hurts to become.'” (Andrea Gibson).

And my oh my, that quote just fills me with so much power and so much strength; strength that it not my own but something that I feel as though I can be apart of.

These past two months have been a whirlwind. Everything has just been going and going, and these days have been all about hard work and consistency, and just getting stuff done. It’s exhausting, but a good sort of exhausting. It’s a normal kind of being to busy to breathe kind of exhaustion, rather than my mind is going crashing through the ground. It’s a refreshing change.

Some solid, concrete steps for the future are fitting into place. This morning I was offered a new job, and it has made our future far more secure and stable. It hasn’t sunken in yet really. It will change a lot of things, in a good way.

Lately my head has been doing so good. I feel burnt out, but not because of what’s going on within, but because I am able to do so many things beyond now. I have felt so confident and content. I don’t know what has changed. Maybe it’s all the therapy work. Maybe it’s all the pushing to change. Maybe it’s just a new season. But what I do know is that I feel more me than I can ever remember.

For years I was stuck within illnesses that took over my entire world. Every decision, perspective, and moment was controlled and dulled by their graces. I was never me. I was just trying to survive, and knew only how to exist just beneath the surface.

However today, I feel more authentic to who I am supposed to be than ever. It sounds cheesy but I don’t know how to describe it. I have been trying to stand up for myself and for what I believe is important. I am talking to people I would normally be afraid of, because I can think “what’s the worst that can happen?” and actually go ahead and do it. I’m trying to stay true to my values in all situations. Anxiety, where are you at? It’s weird but enchanting. It’s amazing how much life expands when anxiety lets you push it. I truly don’t know how all these things have changed, but for now, things are wonderful. Thinking to how things used to be – to hell and back – I don’t know how I am still in today. But heck, I am so thankful for it.

Right now I am living in these days where I don’t constantly think about and dwell on bad things that have happened, and it’s such a strange, yet absolutely amazing feeling. To have my mind not imprisoned with a reel that replays the worst on repeat – it’s crazy. I still think about these things, a lot, but they are not my every thought anymore. I’m trying to build new moments and thoughts to outgrow the old. Bad, triggering songs are being replaced with songs to make new, good memories with. My psychologist and I are working on my safety behaviors, and it’s horribly difficult but good too.

The sun has told me that I can cope, that I can survive and keep living, and today I am beginning to believe her.

Expanding the narrative of mental illnesses.

Today I’m writing about why your voice is important, and about why it deserves to be heard.

The stereotypes of mental illnesses portray a narrative; a story of what it means to be mentally ill. These stories are often limiting, damaging and aren’t the full story. They often don’t capture the experience of having a mental illness, and being a person beyond that.

The stereotypical story tells of what it should look like to be mentally ill, of what it should feel like to be mentally ill, and of who you should be if you are mentally ill.

A young, thin white woman who has a feeding tube and suddenly is miraculously recovered but is still very thin and doesn’t eat carbs, is the story of an eating disorders.

Self-harm is a lost, slightly confused teenager, who just needs to be requited with their crush and then they will be cured

Depression is a short stint with feeling a bit glum, but once you smile more and think positive, everything is sunshine and rainbows.

Need I go on?

These stereotypes aren’t just false, but they are also harmful. They spread the message that to be sick and to get treatment, your experiences have to mirror these stories.


That’s not to say that actual, lived experiences of mental illnesses do not contain some of these elements, as they certainly might. However they are so much more than these simplistic, one-dimensional viewpoints.

Eating disorders are messy. They can involve screaming, sobbing, your hair falling out, gaining weight, losing weight, eating, or not eating, isolation, obsession, disgusting ways of hiding and getting rid of food, pushing away those closest to you. They are definitely not a diet gone too far, or a supreme example of self-control.

Eating disorders can affect any person, of any weight, gender, race, socio-economic status, geographic location, sexual orientation, religion and age.

They involve food, yes, but they are also involve so much more. They are an accumulation of a lifetime of chemicals, experiences and circumstances. 

They are so much broader, and deeper, than a false impression of Anorexia.

And this is just with eating disorders.

There is a plethora of damaging stereotypes surrounding the lesser spoken about mental illnesses – schizophrenia, psychosis and dissociative identity disorder just to name a few. Stereotypes consisting of violence and fear, casting cowardly shadows on an already deeply discriminated community.

These false impressions do no good, and they do not serve a purpose in healing, in well-being, or in a society fighting the stigma against mental illnesses.

So this is what we must do, despite being afraid and despite not fitting in with what mental illnesses are deemed to look and be like. Share our stories, the messy, horrible and happy parts. The spectrum of emotion that goes with being a human with a mental illness, rather than a mental illness itself.

Share the good parts, the bad parts, the confusing parts. Share the parts that don’t fit in with the stereotypes, and those that may do too, to show that we are more than a singular, flat existance.

Share that there are many roads and paths to recovery, and that recovery does not look the same for everyone. For some, recovery is about eliminating symptoms, and for others, it’s about learning how to live alongside them. Some paths are short and others are long. Some are well-supported while others are not. 

All of these voices can, and should contribute to what being a person with a mental illness means. A myraid of perspectives, a full sky of meaning, a vast and brilliant constellation of being human, and of one that experiences hard things.

Try not to be afraid to share your voices my sweet friends.

More than an illness.

Sometimes mental illnesses can become so overwhelming, so all-encompassing and bold, that it can feel as though we have lost our entire selves to their entity.

During the deepest, most destructive stages of an illness, everything can feel subdued, isolated, and lacking in richness; colour. What would usually mean the world to us could become meaningless, or be a source of pain and guilt. Feelings of unworthiness and of not being good enough, to be worthy of good things in our lives, show their sneering faces.

It’s not as though any part of who we are is necessarily taken away, but rather that there is a heavy filter over ourselves and all we experience. A thick raincloud that buckets down abuse, regardless of if we are walking beneath the sun. 

Through learning how to live a full, rich life alongside whatever is going on in our brains, whether this be recovery, healing, or any word you wish to use to describe your journey, these filters can fade. They may always have a presence in our lives, but they will not always dictate our experiences, and who we become.

Something that both the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and being deeply unwell with one, have in common, is that we can be told, whether it’s by ourselves or from others, that this is who we are. That we are depression, anxiety, self-harm, the whole shebang! That our experiences from a particular time, while being unwell, defines who we are. That our potential is tethered and capped by the arms of the mental illness. That mental illness is who we are, and who we will be.

The day that I asked my closest friends if they would like to be my bridesmaids was during my recovery. We went out to a cute little cafe, and it was the first time I had eaten out with them in about four years, and one of the first handful of times I had eaten with them at all. After we were done, I got a message from my best friend, saying that in all honesty, she didn’t think she would ever see that day come. She also said how proud she was of me, and how far I had come.

This is a person who had seen me at my worst, for years. Who saw me refusing to get help again and again, and saw how it tried to destroy everything in it’s path. Who saw me make up lie after lie after excuse as to why I couldn’t go to to certain events, and who saw my anxiety bubble over countless times when food was present. Her message meant so much to me, and to be honest, I didn’t think that day would ever come either. Of being able to do something as normal as going out to eat brunch with your best friends. 

That day gave me so much hope. And it still does, thinking back. Because when you are utterly consumed by a mental illness, it can feel as though you are the embodiment of it. That your entire past, present and future will be tormented. There is no light, there is no hope. Your horrors are all that you are.

Well I’m here to tell you that this isn’t true.

You are so much more than an illness.

Remember that the illness resides in your life, rather than you within it.

Here I am.


My name is Kaitlyn, and I experience depression, an anxiety disorder, and dermatillomania. I have largely recovered from an eating disorder and self-harm too.

This things are part of me, but they aren’t all that I am.

And that’s the same for you too.

There was a time in my life where they felt as if they made up so much of me. But it’s important to note that they weren’t everything.

I am so much more than some of the stuff that goes on in my head.

And you are too.

Think of all those little moments where you feel wonder to be alive, of all the songs you sing along to, of all the people that bring you joy.

Think of the flower that catches your eye, of what you gravitate towards, of what makes you laugh.

Think of all the times you have helped others, of when you have accomplished hard things, of when you have been honest.

This all helps to build up you too.

You can be everything beyond what mental illnesses say you can be.

You are so much more than a label.

What is dermatillomania?

From writing a couple of little ancedotes about my experiences with dermatillomania on here, quite a few people have said that they hadn’t heard of it before, and didn’t know what it was. And understandably so! It’s a big, long funny sounding word, and it definitely isn’t talked about as much as other mental illnesses, such as anxiety or depression. So I thought it would probably be helpful to make a factual sort of post, explaining what dermatillomania is, and how it is generally expressed in different people. I hope this doesn’t come across as lecturing or condescending, or like I’m demanding that you learn everything about dermatillomania, but merely if you are interested, here you go! 

So first things first, dermatillomania is also known as skin-picking disorder or excoriation (another complicated sounding word) disorder too. It’s classified as a BFRB, which stands for Body Focused Repitive Behaviour, and that’s actually quite an informative acronomyn. There is also a big debate about whether dermatillomania is more closely linked with obsessive compulsive disorder, impulse control disorders, or body dysmorphia disorder.

From a technical perspective, dermatillomania is defined as the “repetitive and compulsive picking of the skin which results in tissue damage.”. It’s estimated that about 2% to 3% of people experience dermatillomania. This can present itself in many different ways across the population of people who experience it. For some, it’s all about removing anything that is percieved or deemed as a blemish or irregularity, regardless of how small, while for others it has a more obsessive nature. However, across all, the urge to engage in picking feels uncontrollable, and there is always physical harm as a result.

Most people pick with their hands, however tools after often used too. This happens can happen primarily during times of stress, tension and anxiety, and can also occur absent-mindedly, without the person even realising what is going on. The focus is generally on the areas of the body with the most percieved impefections, however once the skin becomes too damaged, other areas can be targeted too. The most commonly affected areas are the face, scalp, limbs, shoulders and chest.

It’s also important to note that most people do pick their skin from time to time, that it’s just something that lots of humans do. However it’s the significance of the effects of the picking, including physical, mental and social, and all the chaos going on in the brain surrounding the skin picking, which sets it apart as a mental illness – dermatillomania.


The physical consequences of dermatillomania aren’t too fun, and many provoke the continuation of the disorder. Picking, squeezing and scratching the skin, for what can be hours each day, has significant, long term effects. Scarring, both temporary and permanent, is really common, as is pain and skin discolouration. Infection and tissue damage is also prevalent, which can be a nasty surprise when you are convinced that your skin picking is nothing to worry about. A blog post over at Fkin Realistic, BFRB Put Me In Hospital, describes really wonderfully the severity of dermatillomania. It’s a great read.

From a mental perspective, dermatillomania rampages here too. The embarassment, guilt and feelings of shame that arise from skin picking are apparent, and it also really doesn’t help with self-confidence, self-esteem, or resilience either. It can also result in social issues, such as interfering with work and social lives, and having to hide the condition away.

Treatment for dermatillomania is a bit of a tough topic, as not a lot of research has been done. Also, it’s estimated that less than half of people with dermatillomania seek treatment. The embarrassment and shame can be huge. The physical consequences on the skin of dermatillomania can also mirror drug abuse in some instances, and the stigma surrounding both is harmful to accessing treatment in both cases. However, success has been found in the use of anti-depressants for reducing skin-picking severity and intensity. Behavioural therapies have also proved useful in many cases. It’s all about trying out as many options as possible, until the individual finds out what works for them.

Anyway, that concludes this little introduction to dermatillomania. I hope it didn’t come across as too boring, or like I’m some sort of expert, because that is definitely not how it is! I’m just an ordinary person who recently got diagnosed, and who is trying to learn more. If you got this far, thank-you so much for sticking through, and I hope that this has helped in some ways whether you are just interested in learning more, or if this is something that you identify with. It’s really important that if you see your skin-picking and thoughts around it as a problem, or if others have expressed concern, that you do get in touch with a doctor or mental health professional. They truly can help, and you don’t deserve to live all alone with no tools to use against dermatillomania. 

This article by SkinPick, Everything You Need To Know About Dermatillimania, does a superb, detailed job at explaing it all much better than I can. 

If you would like to read more of my posts about dermatillomania, you can check out finding some good in dermatillomania, dermatillomania, bees, and buttercup, and dermatillomania and self harm – twins or neighbours? All involve big old rambles and yarns, if that’s more your jam.

Finding some good in dermatillomania.

A couple of months ago when my therapist began talking about dermatillomania with me, everything clicked into place.

It all made so much sense. Why I find it near impossible to just leave my skin alone, and why I’m constantly running my hands down my limbs, face and scalp, searching for any imperfections to remove, regardless of if they are real or not.

Dermatillomania causes arguments in my relationship with my husband, because for him it’s painful to see somebody he loves and cares for, hurting themselves. And for me, what it really comes down to is that it’s an impulse control disorder, so it can be really tricky to mitigate and explain.

It makes me self-conscious. Right now, my face is a mess, not from acne, but because I remove anything I classify as “blemishes”. My legs also look rather bad, because I got a couple of mosquito bites while in the forest at the weekend. They would be fine, however dermatillomania mixed with insect bites does not go well. So what began as a few small bites have now turned into a nasty red, painful jungle, spreading over my legs and feet. I had to put plasters over all of them to try and preventing them being touched and to be given a chance to heal. But then all the plasters looked silly with the dress I wanted to wear, and I wanted to avoid questions from people I knew, so I had to wear jeans in this 27°C, 95% humidity weather. A weird little reminder to the many summers of having to hide self-harm scars. But different. Better, much, but still a bit of weird nostalgia.

I don’t know how to explain dermatillomania, other than all I feel is that I have to do it. Sometimes I’m aware of it, and sometimes I’m not. It can kind of be like a trance?

Anyway, all of this feels super whingy and complain-y, which doesn’t help anyone. I’m also not very good at explaining what dermatillomania is, why people with BFRBs do what we do, and what it all feels like.

So, I turned to tumblr for some help, and found some absolute gems which made me laugh, a lot!

I like laughing at how illogical and silly my brain can be. It helps me, and these follwing images describe perfectly what goes on inside my head.

I get worried that people will be offended that I can laugh about my mental illnesses or whatever, but I’m trying to push that aside. Mental illnesses aren’t funny and they aren’t meant to be the brunt of every joke, but it’s okay to find good, warm things in your own experiences. If laughing about your own mental illnesses helps, then by all means, go for it! Perhaps we could all use a little bit more silliness and light-heartedness sometimes. These following jokes help me cope with my experiences, and hopefully they will help somebody else out there too!

Therefore, instead of wallowing about in the I Don’t Know What To Do About Dermatillomania phase, I thought why not share what I found, because not only are they insightful (each one is literally how my brain works), but humorous too!


And I truly haven’t seen anything more apt than below (my favourite)!

The next ones are fabulous too!

And these are like my brain speaking into an internet microphone –

And to end with, here is a sweet, little bundle of hope.


I hope you got some light-heartedness out of this too! Let’s work on spreading flowers, on spreading hope, on spreading kindness. It begins with ourselves.

The logical insignificance of self-doubt.

We are small.

We are only mere individuals with arms and legs and sometimes fire-making abilities, and many, many flaws capping our way.

Not much of what we do actually matters, to the world as a whole.

Our actions, our words and our values imprint on those around us. They matter. They are important.

But to the world? It’s unlikely.

This sounds all dark and grim, but really it’s not, I promise you.

Think of everything holding you back, everthing in your way, stopping you from being who you have the potential to be.

It is all only as big as ourselves, at a maximum, really.

Which could make it sound either very big, if you are thinking about your dislike for peanut butter, or very small, like anxiety which feels as heavy as the weight of the world.

I’m not talking about political, or geographical, or socio-economic boundaries, as those are not from ourselves yet they do play a part in how we are limited. Of course, they too can shift.

What I’m meaning is that every ounce of self-doubt, of not feeling good enough, of a lack of self-worth, is no higher power. It cannot truly govern or rule us. We allow it to, when in reality it exists within us, because us, of us, rather than for us.

This means that every one of these shrewd, destructive thoughts, is entirely insignificant. To ourselves, to the world around us, to each other.

This is not intending to invalidate these thoughts, by saying that they dont play a big part of our lives, or that they aren’t real, because they are significant to our own lives, and they do exist.


However, to everything and everyone outside of what they are, they are nothing.

They hold no power, have no weight, and are meaningless; weightless.

Being humans, as we hold onto them, they become stones. They sink us, and we drown beneath what we make them out to be.

And we become a person who is limited by something that doesn’t really exist.

This is all really comforting, in a way, because we are so small in the big scheme of things, but we can be so big in what truly matters; to one another.

In love, in joy, in hope.

And everything within us that is unbearable – the relentless,  degrading voice which demands that we aren’t good enough – is in fact, by all logic anyway, tiny and miniscule. 

Head outside tonight, and gaze upwards at the stars. The galaxies are infinite, vast, and by comparison, self-doubt is really isn’t very monstrouly huge at all. The universe is ethereal, and self-doubt really is an insignificant blip.

Recovery & joy.

Hello everyone! I’ve not been able to write as frequently on here for the past few weeks, which makes me a bit sad. I love the WordPress community I’ve found here, and following along on everybody’s journeys and adventures. Currently I’m working on catching up on all the blogs I have missed reading, so I’ll get through them all eventually!

The past couple of weeks have been hectic and so, so busy, which is why blogging has taken a backseat, and become a little bit neglected. Hopefully in a week or two, things will settle down, and I can get back to rambling on here more often. I’ve been working all the time, as well as spending a lot of time with family and friends, and while both of which has been anxiety provoking, they have brought me so much joy. I am so thankful for the past few weeks, and all the wonderful people in these moments.

A massive highlight has been celebrating our first wedding anniversary!

We spent a weekend driving up and exploring the very tip-top of our group of islands here in New Zealand, a place called Te Rerenga Wairua, or Cape Reinga. It’s over 100km away from the nearest small town, a distance which makes the final destination even more special. Neither of us had been up that far before, and so it was magical to see it all for the first time together.

Right at the very top, the view is magnificent, surreal. There is a cute, little lighthouse, and you can see the waves coming in different directions, crashing against each other, marking where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. It looks like something out of a movie – too spectacular to exist in this life. The deepest, rich blues of the oceans, and the sheer, stark quiet of the place, was incredible.

We camped at a beach about 45 minutes away, at Spirit’s Bay, an isolated, gorgeous coast with a wild swash. About 10m from where we pitched our tent, there was a herd of around 20 horses, all carefree playing and grazing. We drank moscato, got a bit giggly, and reveled in our surroundings. It really was the most special place.

The next day, we explored the Te Paki giant sand dunes. It was nothing like I ever expected, or even could have imagined. It was like stepping into a whole, new land; a sand desert so different from all other landscapes here. The sand dunes are dynamic – ever-changing and shifting. We climbed up so many sand dunes, people were boogie-boarding down them and everything, and I can’t even explain how vast and brilliant the world felt from up there. It made us feel so small, in the best of ways.

This beautiful celebration that we were so blessed to have made me think about a lot of things.

About joy, about luck.

About the little things, which can be as meaningful as the big things too.

It made me think about recovery, and how thankful I am for it.

Without recovery, I doubt I would have been able to get married. I wouldn’t have been able to give all the time and energy that marriage deserves, because I would have been to preoccupied being trapped in the eating disorder. I wouldn’t have been able to wake up and eat cookies for breakfast outside our tent. I wouldn’t have been able to go swimming, and I definitely wouldn’t have made it up those crazy huge sand dunes. I wouldn’t have been able to have fun.

I wouldn’t have been able to live the journey, of our first year of marriage, let alone find joy within it.

Without recovery, from many other things as well as the eating disorder too, I doubt that I would still be here today.

Recovery is the hardest thing. But it is so, so worth it. I promise.

Keep fighting, my sweet friends.

P.S. Hope you like the photos! I’ve decided to try be brave, and start using our own photos instead of CC0 images. It might help to put a face to all these ramblings too.

My journey through veganism – and back.

I spent three years of my life as a vegan. And I loved it.

I loved learning about the positive impact that veganism has – on the environment, on the animals, on ourselves. 

I devoured all the information I could, from documentaries to studies, to speeches. It was Gary Yourofsky’s youtube video, The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear that gave me the final push to make the plunge.

I was passionate, educated, and just trying to do my very best.

Veganism resonated, and still does, with my very core. The idea of doing no harm, and of treating the precious beings around us and earth, our home, with peace and kindness, means everything to me.

Theoretically, and in an ideal world, I would still be vegan. I would do no harm, none at all, and everything would be perfect.

However, life has a funny way of knowing our plans and intentions, and throwing a spanner, or sometimes a handful, into the works.

Mental illnesses, and the recovery from them, have a knack of influencing everything you do. Whether that be behaving in a particular way, having to tell some thoughts to shut up on the daily, or perhaps making choices that you brain doesn’t agree with. When people are mentally ill, they don’t become their illness, as that isn’t who they are, but rather they are influenced by it to varying degrees.

The eating disorder likes to sabotage things that are important to me. As it turns out, veganism was just another avenue that the eating disorder could run it’s nasty, slimy little slither down.

Although I promised everyone that my intentions were pure, that this was a new opportunity for me to start afresh and eat well, nobody really believed me, and understandably so. 

I tried my best. I really did. And for three years too. 

However, when you have an eating disorder which is based upon restriction and secrecy, deception and lies, largely removing safe foods from an already small list, can be detrimental. 

I do want to make to clear that veganism did not cause, or set-off, or provoke the eating disorder. I was unwell for years before being vegan, and if it hadn’t been cutting out dairy and animal products, it would have been something else.

However, it’s important to repair what was broken in the past, and to do so, I had to learn how to eat again. From scratch. Everything I was afraid of.


Recovery from an eating disorder means challenging, hundreds of times each day, the voice in your head which tells you “no”, which holds you back, which restrains you. 

Recovery for me involved learning how to eat foods that others had prepared for me, not being able to analyse the ingredients or how it was prepared. It involved learning how to not have to read the labels and ingredients lists before I ate anything. It involved learning to eat a wide range of foods, and learning what I truly disliked, or what didn’t sit right with me, rather than what is founded in fear and anxiety.

Part of recovery means ensuring to myself that my intentions with veganism and vegetarianism are pure. Honesty is of upmost importance. This meant that I have to eat all the foods I was afraid of, such as dairy and eggs, so that my brain could heal and the eating disorder could slowly be smothered out.

The fear of judgement from other people when I first switched back from being vegan to vegetarian, was outstanding. Everyone knew that I was vegan, and had been for a long time; it was part of who I was. However, everybody also knew, though in a slightly different way, about my silent struggle with the eating disorder. Perhaps that’s why everyone was so kind and supportive as they eventually found out about the change. There were some questions, merely out of curiousity and good intent, and it was hard to answer. But I think my honesty about recovery was well recieved. I am so grateful for the lack of judgement, and the magnitude of support.

And what a weird coincidence! I just took a break from writing this piece, and a coworker asked “you used to be vegan right, but now you are vegetarian?” and then “why did you change?” And as per usual I got a bit nervous and my heart beat a little faster, but it was completely okay and accepted. He was just thrilled I could eat ice cream now!

I am so very close to being able to say I’ve done it, I’ve won; I’ve fought the impossible battle of an eating disorder and come out the other side. And in doing so, I’ve had to do some hard things. Things that I don’t like or agree with, but they are necessary and right for my personal situation. Good things come from doing what is tough, rather than what is easy, uncomplicated – unchanged. Inertia is a human experience too.

My experience with veganism taught me that we cannot be perfect. That being the “perfect vegan” does not exist, and that every choice we make regardless of the label, all adds up in the long run. It’s the actions you take in the day-to-day, the intentions you have, and the willingness to care for your brain, as well as the animals, which is what matters.

So, that’s me. I’m Kaitlyn, and I’m an ex-vegan – a vegetarian now – who is just trying to do her best. One day, when I am truly, fully well, and when I can trust my brain enough to know that my intentions are clear, I will return. But for today, I just have to put in the hard yards, and do what I’ve got to do.

Dermatillomania, bees, and buttercup.

Yesterday during a volunteering session at the local community garden, I had a really interesting experience.

We were clearing out a garden bed in order to create a bee-friendly space. A space with a diverse variety of flowering plants, to give the bees a healthy range of pollen sources. This first involved weeding out all the invasive, pest species, and then planting new flowering herbs which will hopefully grow big and strong.

Getting rid of all the buttercup plants first was a mighty task, as it had completely taken over with really deep, twisting roots. Although buttercup is flowering and therefore can be suitable for bees, it’s pest and weed type nature means that it smothers out all other, less intense plants, removing the natural diversity in both the vegetation and soil.

We used hook type tools, and Japanese weeding blades to clear the buttercup shoots and to dig up the roots, and in doing so, something really weird happened.

It’s really difficult to explain. In using the tools to dig deep into the soil, and remove out the knot of budding weeds which centred each buttercup plant, this mirrored exactly how it can feel to have dermatillomania.

Don’t worry if you are lost, even I’m quite confused about it all at this point.

The drive, the full concentration, and sole needing, of absolutely having to remove all the complex layers of root systems of each plant – is exactly how I feel having dermatillomania.

Except with my skin.

Macro Photography of Green Grass

Even thinking back to all the weeding we did, removing the plants in their entirety; it gives me a weird feeling. A feeling of needing to keep going, to make it all perfect, of it never being good enough. A feeling of absolutely having to, of there being nothing else I would want to do, or could do instead. That this is what I need to do, plain and simple. Making the soil pristine from all buttercup roots which could come back with a vengeance, and the appearance of the garden bed with far less imperfections – it’s all exactly the same as needing to clear and get rid of my skin.

As a small child, I remember sitting in the gravel driveway of my Uncle’s farm, using a stick to pick out small stones. This wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be doing, per say, as visiting the cows or hanging out with my cousins would have been far more fun, but it’s something I couldn’t resist. I had to, almost impulsively. It’s like I had no control. The satisfaction of removing each small piece of gravel was like some sort of buzz, keeping me going and going until my parents said it was time to drive home. The knowledge that what I was doing was incomplete and unfinished, bothered me greatly.

It’s not as though I’m particularly passionate about weeding, or removing small pieces of gravel for that matter. It’s more an “instinctive” feeling or drive, like something I just have to get done before all else. I took a while to get to sleep last night because my brain kept replaying over and over again how removing the weeds felt. And how that feels very weirdly exactly the same as removing anything I deem “wrong” with my skin. Which is quite often an awful lot, and sometimes apparently invisible to everyone else.

I don’t necessarily like or enjoy what I’m doing. I just have to do it, if that makes any sense.

All I can think about is how it feels removing the weeds, which is annoying because today there are lots of things I need to get done, and none of them involve obsessing about weeding buttercup. Honestly, if anybody else could see inside my brain, they would be absolutely baffled.

Seriously brain, what are you doing?

Hopefully this discovery, albeit strange, can help me channel some of the nuisance that is dermatillomania into helping the bees instead. Saving the bees is a way better cause than taking apart my skin any day.

All of this felt kind of uncomfortable to write, like saying it aloud. Does anybody else have experiences that have nothing to do with what’s going on in the brain, but feel strangely similar?

A reason to recover (number one billion).

WordPress is prompting, encouraging eagerly to “share your story here” but this particular story is a really difficult one to share.

It’s one that is close to my heart, that has shattered me and broke me in ways I never knew possible. It’s also one that I don’t know if it is right to share.

However in saying that, it is part of my story, part of me in some way, and I’m trying to learn not to be so darn ashamed all the time. I yearn for honesty – to share openly and with vulnerability – as this is where I’m at in recovery.

I’m at the stage where I’m trying to stop running. The stage where you learn to stand still, strong, in the face of all the old gusts of wind trying to force you to bend, break.

Before I begin, I must say that what’s to come discusses miscarriage, pregnancy loss and self-harm. Remember to put yourself first, and please stop reading if it won’t serve your recovery.

About two and a half years ago, I was a broken, confused, and very, very lost person.

I was 20, had just dropped out of university due to being too unwell to attend, and was deep in the hardest slog of recovery from the eating disorder. I spent the next eight months working incredibly hard to gain back all that I had lost – weight, energy, friends, the ability to learn and understand, and most importantly, my life.

I moved in with love of my life, my now-husband, and had enrolled to begin a new course at a different university. A brand new start all round. Things were looking up. I was learning how to be stable in my eating disorder recovery, though still struggled immensely with self-harm and anxiety.

In the weeks leading up to beginning my new degree, I felt a bit different, a bit “off” you could say, and was experiencing symptoms that weren’t normal for my cycle. Despite not believing that it could be a possibility at all, I took a pregnancy test just as a precaution, so that our minds could be at ease.

We were not prepared for the result.

Those two, little purple lines, a positive, changed life as we know it.

We were terrified, confused and shocked to say the least. We always, always would use contraception, so were baffled at how it could have happened. No form of contraception is fully 100%, but it’s not the sort of tiny chance that you think would happen to you.

Until it does.

How could it all be real?

However, the positive result lines were not the only marks that caused immense feeling. Days earlier, in one of my many, messy episodes of intense self-harm, I had slashed into my stomach, leaving behind superficial trenches of hate, of hurt.

Right across where our apple seed sized baby was growing.

I don’t think I have ever hated myself as much as when I realised what I had done.

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A few days later, I woke to the sound of my alarm going off, waking me to begin my first day of classes, in my brand new course.

Immediately, I felt that something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel nauseous, as I had every day before. All my pregnancy symptoms were gone. As nice as it was to feel normal again, it was confusing, so I took another pregnancy test.

This one came back negative, meaning that my body had stopped producing hCG, the pregnancy hormone.

As if with perfect timing, blood flowed, and I lost our baby.

What I didn’t know, or expect, or anything, because nobody really talks about early miscarriages, is that it takes days. It takes days for your body to pass the pregnancy tissue, to empty your womb out, and that it’s a really, really hard thing to go through.

When researching early pregnancy loss, I found out that miscarriages are actually really common. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and most of the time nobody really knows why. It’s just part of life, sadly.

One of the most difficult parts of it all to deal with is the guilt.

The guilt for feeling afraid of your pregnancy, especially because it was unplanned. We were young, financially struggling, and I was still unwell with mental illnesses. I feel the need to point out, though it really doesn’t matter, that although I am staunchly pro-choice, I wouldn’t have chosen an abortion. However the thought of bringing a child into our lives was still, nevertheless, incredibly frightening. And that’s something that it’s hard not to feel guilty about.

Then there was all the guilt about the ruins I had turned my body into, merely months earlier, from the eating disorder. That this could have been the reason for our baby leaving us.

There was also the guilt about all of the self-harm, all of the time and energy spent into tearing myself apart, all while unknowingly pregnant. What if the baby knew how much it’s mother hated herself, and left because of that?

Although we don’t know the reason for the miscarriage, it could have been anything really (and logically I know that, I promise), and in a way it has really influenced my recovery.

I think back about how ill I had been, both before that time and during, and I am astounded that person was me.

It has made me determined to be the best I can be. To work on my mental health, which in turn helps my physical health. To be the most well and healthy I can be, so that when we are ready, we can welcome our baby with open arms.

Sometimes we think of what could have been, and although painful, it’s comforting in a way. We like to think of that baby just visiting, popping in to say “hello, I’m waiting for you”, and that they will come back when the time is right.

All these experiences, they have broken, torn and ripped through me. But in a way, they have given me the opportunity to build strength, to work on being resilient, and heal, for when we do have our own family.

You maybe have seen me mention babies a few times on here, and that’s because the prospect of them makes me so excited. I am filled with so much joy and hope, at the thought of becoming a Mum, and same with my husband at becoming a Dad.

We are so excited to meet our future babies.