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.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Shadows and Light

I guess there's nothing like a pandemic, sheltering in place, and caffeine-induced insomnia to get you back to your much ignored little blog. It's been almost two years! How is that possible? I had two drafts in the works, but one was Halloween-related, and I clearly missed the mark (boo! ha!), and the other never got off the ground.

So here we go again.

There's been a lot of loss lately (some for other posts later).  A lot of damage to many of us.  Living in the US and having a loss of freedom of movement is crazy and odd and unsettling.  

I've always been an introverted homebody and worked from home before it was required, but I miss the energy of going into our office once a week. I miss playing music in my car on my short commute; going into the grocery store; the occasional Target run. I miss the sweet woman who serves me at the chicken place I will not name because I shouldn't be frequenting their drive-thru as I so don't believe in their politics. Still, I think she's great (and damn, so is some of their food!). I miss seeing my best friend for dinner and a cocktail (it's actual therapy!) and going to the movies with my husband. I miss being able to see my family whenever we wanted to get together.

I miss going into and eating at restaurants! We've been getting takeout and delivery to support our local faves, but it's not quite the same. And Aldi! Oh, how I miss Aldi! I've been shopping via InstaCart at Aldi, but again, it's not the same!

And these are small things. 

I am healthy, my family is healthy, and for now, most of us are gainfully employed.  We are safe and sound while so many are not. I am grateful and know all of these things can quickly change.

I lost a sweet friend (not to COVID) the last week of February, and it was a shock as he was healthy and only 50. I am thankful his family was able to have a proper funeral (which was packed), and we were able to spend time with his wife and kids. COVID-19 was creeping in, but it didn't impact us celebrating his life and coming together.  I never thought I'd be so grateful for a funeral. I am also so happy I got to see so many old friends and celebrate a great man.

There have been positives too, of course. 

I can still work from home, which is enormous, and I work for a company that supports it - also a big win! I'm biased, but they've made it a positive experience and done thank-yous that have made a world of difference and boosted morale.  No small feat during this time! I've also been busy, which has kept me sane and "business as usual" has been a gift - normalcy and routine are A-OK.

My husband and I have been taking more walks and spending more time together as he's been working more from home too. Our dogs love the extra walks and attention as well. I've been baking more (a good and bad thing, I guess) and we get to have weekday lunches together every now and then. There's more time for the two of us to talk - not a bad thing.

It's been an extended Spring season weather-wise, and it seems like we've been able to really enjoy it this year. We talk to our friends and families more often as well - those check-ins have become even more essential and needed.  Small house projects and chores are getting done on the weekends - woo-hoo!

I'm listening to music whenever I can to keep my energy up (I get my money's worth on our Spotify family plan), trying really hard to keep a gratitude list every day, and messing around with paints, crayons, pastels, and pencils too. 

Is everything perfect? No. But it wasn't before the pandemic hit and it won't be after. If nothing else, it's been a reminder that change is the only constant we have and we can choose to focus on what's working and always pivot when it's not.

Please stay home, stay safe, and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Be well and whoever is reading this, thank you!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Current Reads: The Little Paris Bookshop


Loved, loved, loved this book!  So much so that I plan to buy a paperback or hard copy edition (I read the Kindle version) of it so I can highlight so many of its beautiful passages.

It wasn't anything like I expected - I thought it would be light, cute, & fun.  And while it was some of those things, it had greater depth, knowledge, & emotion than expected.  It's about love, loss, life, getting stuck & how to get unstuck (you know, the universal issues :-) - there's a lot of beauty & wisdom within these pages.  It will also make you want to explore the South of France via the Seine (never a bad thing!).

This was my neighborhood book club pick for the month & I am so thankful for the recommendation.

The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel

I am part of Amazon's affiliate program - affiliate links above.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Currently Reading: The Storyteller's Secrets

So, so good!

After multiple miscarriages & a wounded marriage, Jaya travels to India for the first time as she learns the grandfather she's never met is near death.  In an attempt to escape her pain & learn more about her family, she meets Ravi, a trusted friend of her deceased grandmother.  Ravi's story of her family pulls the past into the present & Jaya learns more than she ever hoped to - about her family's history & secrets & most importantly, about herself.

The Storyteller's Secret: A Novel

I am part of Amazon's affiliate program - affiliate links above.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Currently Reading: The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

A few years ago when we were visiting Hoboken, a dear friend grabbed (as in, borrowed) this book from the library - I snapped a pic so I would remember it & happy I did!

A trip to Casablanca goes awry - how to do you navigate a foreign city with no passport or money - no identity?  What if you don't want that identity anymore?  How do you get back home? What does home mean?

This book is emotional, beautiful, sad, funny, & creative.

Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

I am part of Amazon's affiliate program - affiliate links above.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Currently Reading: Still Alice

This was another heavy one!

It's worth the read though because although it's fiction, it gives excellent insight into Alheizmer's disease  - what it's like experiencing the symptoms, getting & processing a diagnosis, telling your loved-ones, & knowing you won't know when the day comes that it takes over your entire life. 

It's heartbreaking, to say the least (I think I had real nightmares while I was reading it!). I know this may not sound like a glowing endorsement, but I think the compassioned gained through Alice's journey makes this book a solid pick.

Still Alice

I am part of Amazon's affiliate program - affiliate links above.  All opinions are my own.