Thursday, September 9, 2021

Naltrexone and Trichotillomania


Hi, again!

A quick disclaimer that I am not a medical professional, and please consult one if this info interests you or may help you. 

I thought I'd do a quick check-in about taking Naltrexone or Revia. I did previously write about it here too. I take it off label - it's mostly used in aiding alcohol and drug addiction - for trichotillomania (which is the lovely word - ha! - for hairpulling).  I've been taking it for so long now that I can't remember exactly when I started.  I know it's been at least six-seven years and a good chunk of my 40's (I turn the big 5-0 next year - what?!?).  For reference, I've had trich or TTM since I was eight; the pic above is me and was taken before it took over my little kid world - good times! :-) 

Side note: where are my eyebrows in this pic?  It's common with TTM to pull brows, but in my case, they are just super-pale. Anyway, this photo always makes me laugh, but oh, I would love to have that head full of hair again!

Throughout my life, I've been prescribed many different medications for anxiety and depression in the hopes that it would alleviate my trich.  And while I believe they are effective for anxiety and depression, they've never really helped my TTM. In fact, some antidepressants have made it worse.  Naltrexone is the only medication that has helped me stop pulling or at least helped me delay the urge to pull (if that makes sense). Instead of automatically pulling, I can slow down and really think about it and more often than not, I don't want to or the urge diminishes, and I forget all about it.  It's been a game-changer for me, to say the least. 

Naltrexone works by decreasing urges (again, usually for alcohol or opioids) by blocking the effect of opioid receptors or reducing the need/use for the things we are craving. It's also currently used as a weight-loss drug (Contrave) in conjunction with Welbutrin (an antidepressant).

Basically, Naltrexone tamps down the pleasure centers in your brain. This is a good and kinda weird thing all at the same time.

The good: I can keep my pulling at bay and give my scalp and hair follicles a chance to heal. It decreases my appetite, which I am OK with; it helps keep my weight in check because I have thyroid issues too.

The weird: It can be hard to get adequate calories, and sometimes food is just not appetizing. But I also have high cravings for sugar - it tastes the best (duh)! As we all know, sugar or empty calories are not ideal to nourish yourself, so I have to be mindful of that.  I guess your brain/body gets its kicks wherever it can?  I've heard that when people quit drinking/smoking/etc., they often turn to sugar, and I can totally relate!

Unfortunately, Naltrexone does not regrow hair. I wish! :-) Despite having so much success in not pulling, I still have a lot of permanent damage. It's OK as I just cover my head, get over myself, and get on with my days - I've made peace with it. How?  Therapy, people! I also follow lots of women with hair loss (TTM, alopecia, or many other reasons) on social media, and it's made a world of difference to me. I have a supportive husband, friends, and family - no complaints! I am also lucky to have access to healthcare and a doctor that suggested trying a drug off label. It really does take a village!

I hope this helps anyone struggling with trich; it's such a complicated disorder to navigate. 

I don't think Naltrexone is a miracle pill and may not be for everyone, but it might be worth exploring with your healthcare provider. It's given me a lot of relief, and I believe that's worth sharing. I still have to be intentional about the work I do in regards to my trich; taking medication does not give me a free pass - diet, exercise, sleep, and good mental health hygiene are all important, and I have to work on all of those aspects every day and often fail (but don't we all?).

Either way, if you have trich, please remember you are not alone, and there is lots of help in many different forms.  I know it can be hard to ask for help when you feel alone and struggle, but it can also lead to wonderful, unexpected things.

Take care!

PS/update: I did take a break from taking it for about six months this year to see how I would do.  My urges definitely increased and food tasted better too/had a bigger appetite - crazy! I do notice a big difference with and without it. Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 26, 2021

Summer 2021 Random Things

Oh, hey!

This post is just because and a quick snapshot of some stuff I love this summer.  No links are affiliated in any way, and I feel the bug again to write/post, so I guess that's a good thing?

Best things about summer: all the fresh fruits and veggies, fireflies, hummingbirds, grilling out, stopping for Jeni's ice cream, the hammock on our deck, and longer days.

I carry this tumbler everywhere I go.  It fits in my car's cupholder, and I prefer having a straw.  The handle also helps as it's pretty large (40 oz). It's a little similar to this Stanley one (that's always sold out) and costs a little less. Have tumblers always been pricey? I've had mine since March and run it through the dishwasher too.  It's got a little peeling happening on the outside, but overall in excellent condition. I drink a lot of water and am always on the lookout for a solution - so far, this has been great for me.

Supergoop! is my favorite sunscreen brand and has been for years. Their Unseen Sunscreen has a cult following (it's perfect if you hate wearing sunscreen).  I recently figured out you can buy some of their formulas via the FSA store online.  If you have any leftover funds at the end of the year, it's a great chance to stock up.  Otherwise, wait for sales.  I've also used Nordstrom Notes in the past to buy it for "free" - it's that good! I am currently using the City Serum on my face and the Play Everyday lotion everywhere else.  I won't rant about the importance of sunscreen, but the best sunscreen is one you like and want to wear every day. 

I wear these sunscreen gloves when I commute.  A bit much? Maybe. But I have fair skin, and the benefit is worth it to me.  They are lightweight, have tech fingertips, and are machine washable.

Most evenings, I have plain Greek yogurt, berries, and these mini chocolate chips.  It's my favorite dessert right now, and the mini chips pump it up a notch - I love the taste and texture they add.

Last summer, I made whole-lemon lemonade a lot, but I also want to make this recipe soon.

(I took a photo of - I am that nerd, I liked the styling/thought it was cool!)

Linen-blend pants (above) from J.Crew were my pandemic work from home go-to pants last summer and I got a couple more colors this year.  I think they are overpriced (get them on sale), but I love that you can wear them with sandals, flip flops, or sneaks.  They run big, so size accordingly; I'm not a shorts person, and these help keep me from being miserable in the heat. The exact ones I have are sold out (try Poshmark, eBay, or ThredUp,) but if interested, here are a similar pair

I also got these summer-weight jeans from Everlane.  They feel like I've had them for years and are super comfortable.

A Cefaly device. This was my biggest purchase by far this summer, but the most impactful one too.  If you suffer from migraines, it's worth looking into.  Amazon also sells them, but I believe it's the prior model.  I've also seen an even older model selling on eBay.  It basically massages the nerves in your forehead (the trigeminal nerve) to prevent and treat migraines.  It does take some time to get used to (it feels weird, to say the least), but it's nothing compared to the pain of a migraine. It's reduced my need for rescue medication and lessened the severity when I get an attack. I've even taught my husband how to set it in prevent mode for me. :-) 

My best advice is to keep it charged.  That might sound "duh", but I always think the battery will last longer than it does and it's run out of juice a few times when I was using it - bummer.  It does have a great battery life, but it's best to keep on top of it and be prepared. Once you get used to it, it's relaxing and if you are experiencing an attack it offers a distraction and relief. I also bought this electrode adhesive gel to help prolong the life of my pads.

Other things in my "migraine toolkit"? 

An ice roller, turmeric supplements, magnesium (supplements and lotion), and again, lots and lots of water. I also avoid artificial/alternative sweeteners of any kind, reduce gluten (sigh), and rarely drink alcohol - yep, I am the life of the party! ;-) As always, check with your doctor first regarding supplements or treatments - I am no medical professional.

TV/streaming/movies: The Handmaid's Tale, C.B. Strike, The Bridge (the original one), Making It, Bosch, Never Have I Ever, Hacks, Mare of Easttown, Promising Young Woman, The Sound of Metal

Also loved - watched last year/earlier this year: I May Destroy You, Big Little Lies, Shrill, Little Fires Everywhere, Mom, Normal People, Superstore

Looking forward to Nine Perfect Strangers (love anything Liane Moriarty!), Bridgerton (started watching, but did not finish), Better Things (coming back soon, please?), and new seasons of Modern Love, Stranger Things, and What We Do in the Shadows

Music: Bleachers, featuring Bruce Springsteen - Chinatown. The Dee Gees - The Foofighters alter-ego - brilliant! (Have had a massive Dave Grohl crush forever and this project only sealed the deal!)

YouTube rabbit hole: See above music, Atypical60, Hot and Flashy, Dr Dray, Shelbey Wilson - (basically I love vlogs about hair [alt-hair, thank you very much!], makeup, pro-aging, and skincare) follow all of them on Insta as well. 

Also on Instagram, an Atlanta fashion designer, jabellafleur (can't figure out how to link!) - who makes her beautiful kiddos' clothes out of vintage fabric (like vintage sheets). Her posts are always inspiring and the styling is perfect.

Books: I've read 25 books so far in 2021 (not bad, right?). My favorite so far is This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. No spoilers here.

Whew, that was more than I thought! 

Hope you are having a great summer, enjoying your fave things, and staying cool.