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BFRBs (body-focused repetitive behaviors) and TMS

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by c90danwaiel, Feb 7, 2018.

  1. c90danwaiel

    c90danwaiel Peer Supporter

    Hi all,

    I'm on the tail end of a flare (pain is slowly but surely fading away as I've got over my fear spike), and I noticed something strange. I have a fairly mild case of a BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior) - basically, I chew my lip compulsively and kink my beard hairs between my fingers.

    A fairly common version of this is biting your nails. Some others involving hair pulling (known by the tongue-twister term "trichotillomania"), picking at your face, etc.

    Thankfully, mine is pretty mild and its something I consider one of my lower priority issues, behind my OCD and TMS. At worse, I get a barely noticeable irritated red spots on my face, when it's particularly bad.

    What was interesting though was during my last TMS flair, I noticed my BFRB urges dropped dramatically. Now that my flare is ending (and my brain isn't preoccupied with my symptoms), my BFRB urges have gone up dramatically. Even my low-level OCD thoughts nearly disappeared and rose back up to their usual low frequency.

    But I was curious if others here had these issues and noticed them fluctate with their TMS symptoms? I definitely think TMS and BFRBs are distinct, but I could see how they might be linked, since they focus on your attention. Curious if there's any people here that happen to have both and if there's a relation between how the two affect you.
    Baseball65 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I certainly am very familiar with my many different little symptoms or sensations that come and go constantly - but I never put two-and-two together and made what I can see must be an obvious connection between TMS and these addictive little behaviors that we all have.

    And we do all have them, right? I sure do. They're essentially a mild form of OCD.

    But let's not forget the use of substances like tobacco or gum which generate other forms of obsessive physical behavior, such as chewing or smoking.

    And... there's the final connection: obsession is addiction. And I firmly believe that addiction is just another TMS equivalent, as is occasionally discussed here on the forum. All forms of obsession/addiction are clearly forms of brain distraction, but they have the potential to be much more disrupting to people's lives than some other forms of TMS.

    Good catch!
  3. jbasscase

    jbasscase New Member

    I have trichotillomania, along with some lingering disordered eating/body dysmorphia issues still from my teen years. I've definitely noticed that during a flare-up of my pain symptoms that I don't have my obsessive thoughts about my hair, food, weight, etc... I'm 100% focused on my pain and all the fear that surrounds it. As soon as it starts to fade and I start getting my appetite back, I start eating again which triggers all my negative food/body/weight thoughts... and I start worrying more about my hair and tend to pull more. I'm always worrying about something. The other day our furnace went out and I remember feeling very bad about my body and hair that morning- but as soon as I had this furnace issue to worry about, I forgot about all my food/body/hair issues and just stressed out for the next few days about getting the furnace fixed. Now I have a massive headache and I'm stressing out about that again.
    Lotus likes this.
  4. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Wow... I never ever think about it much, but when my pain left so did a lifetime of chewing and tearing at my fingernails! And it has never returned in 20 years. However I DO twist my beard up in loops when I'm Bored (when I have one...clean shaven now) and I do smoke,chew gum and gnaw on things constantly. It's a family-thing. My dad, my Bro and sis...all smokers, chewers, weight strugglers. I never linked it with TMS but it must be because of my nail chewing leaving with the pain.

    It's great little observations Like this that lead us to the truth about the not-always-sense-making things we do as people.

    I have two spots on my leg and foot that I itch when I am under stress... itch until they bleed sometimes. I went to the doctor 15 years ago thinking it might be like athletes foot or something and he said there was Nothing there. I realized then that they were TMS equivalents, so Now whenever my calf or foot start itching I view it as a TMS early detection system and sit down and do a review the next time I have alone time (It often starts at work)

    As JanAtheCPA said....good catch!
    Lotus and JanAtheCPA like this.
  5. lowella

    lowella Peer Supporter

    Wow, this is truly a great observation. Now that you say it, I have a thumb twitch that I'll do until it hurts (then causes TMS pain) when I don't have other pain distracting me. I guess it is like the beginning (or end!) of the journey into TMS? If we can work ourselves back so we don't have that, maybe it would be the "warning" before full-on TMS begins? Or maybe I'm overanalyzing again and it's all just in my head like the rest of it :)

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