“Just” and “stop” are two completely innocent words, but put them together and they can be cringe-worthy. I know first hand the power they can have.
“Just stop” is a phrase burned into my mind after years of people seeming to think that was the solution to my skin picking problem. But it hurt because I didn’t know why I couldn’t “just stop”. It added more guilt and shame to what was already threatening to crush me. It made me feel at best like a disappointment and at worst like a complete and utter failure.
And I’m not the only one.
Most, if not all, of us with a body-focused repetitive behaviour (BFRB) have heard this phrase at some point in our lives, and it is something that we all either take personally or poke fun at, depending on where we are in our own personal recoveries. I can’t even count how many times I’ve see someone bring up in a post online about hearing “just stop” and hating it.
Personally, I’ll poke fun at it. Once it would have bothered me, like I said, but now I know that it’s the product of sheer ignorance. True, ignorance is really not something we should take lightly, but sometimes it’s difficult to do anything but. It’s its own coping mechanism of sorts, I suppose.
Really what we have to do though is work towards educating people about how two little words are both harmful and unable to change our behaviours. “Just stop” suggests that what we do is a choice, or that we’re too stupid to even have thought of that ourselves. Nowadays I sometimes have to hold back a sarcastic, “Oh gee! I never thought of that! Wow!”
None of us would choose to do this to ourselves. None of us would choose the shame, embarrassment, and struggle that we all feel at first. None of us would choose this life of extra challenges we just don’t really need.
If you come across someone who has a BFRB, whether it is skin picking, like mine, or hair pulling, nail biting, skin biting, or whatever other plethora of BFRBs there are, know that “just stop” doesn’t help. Ever.
Language is a very powerful tool and has the ability to build up or destroy with a simple utterance. This isn’t just the case for BFRBs, but for all forms of mental illness and in all areas of life. Consider the words you’re going to use before you use them. Consider what they could mean to whomever you’re saying them to.
It could save a lot of grief and heartache.
October 1st-7th is BFRB Awareness Week. It’s a time for us to educate ourselves and others about what BFRBs are, what it’s like to live with BFRBs, and what can be done about them.
About Laura Barton
Laura is a 25-year-old writer living in Ontario’s Niagara Region. Her passion for writing and personal journey with mental health issues has led her to become an advocate, a blogger for the Canadian BFRB Support Network and also to release her own book, Project Dermatillomania: The Stories Behind Our Scars. She struggled with depression and anxiety through university, but pulled through, receiving a BA in English Language and Literature from Brock University. She is currently pursuing a diploma in Journalism. You can follower her on Twitter and find her on LinkedIn.