First Public Talk at UCLA and Solo Exhibition

It’s hard to put into words how yesterday felt. Ted drove me to the UCLA Campus after we stopped off for coffee. When we arrived, I could see my artwork through the glass windows of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Oof! A swell of pride and emotion flooded through me. There they were. The mounted prints, up on the wall! At UCLA. That’s a life achievement to cherish. It was incredible. What a journey this has been.

  Lured by the offer of free pizza (!) the number of medical students who turned up for the talk was exciting. I think more than 50 were there. They were so engaged, and asked great questions. I know 2 to 4% of the general population have Compulsive Skin Picking and Hair Pulling disorders, so I felt sure there would more than likely be skin pickers amongst the students listening. Sure enough, later that afternoon I had an email from one of the medical students who wrote that hearing my story had been a significant experiences for him as he identified with me so much and sure enough is battling in private with this illness. In a way when that happens I often think ‘Job done’. I aim to carry a message of hope and experience to others. If one person is helped each time, I’m doing the best advocacy I can. His email was so moving. Hope and courage to him for finding help.

The Dean of UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine was in attendance. She loved hearing my story and recovery and thanked me warmly. I think I did a good job. 

I was lucky to have family friends Tone, Willem and Kristina in attendance – they all live in California so made a special trip to see my work and talk. I was able to spend a lovely lunch with them, such a blessing!

And in the afternoon I hooked up with Lauri Mattenson, she teaches Creative Writing at UCLA and has also come out about her lived experience of Compulsive Skin Picking. We had incredible affinity through our experience of this disorder. So inspirational to speak with her, I feel I found the first of many kindred spirits. We are excited by the parallels in our creative processes and lived experience of this disorder, so we have already thought we could write a paper together, so fantastic!


Somehow adrenaline and the sheer scale of information and inspiration in just a day means jet lag hasn’t hit. Although a cold has, and I’m rather hoarse! 

Other gems from today included a thrift store experience of utter joy at Jetrag where I bought a 1940s wool coat, and a crazy dining experience with Ted and his artist friend Teale from the Brewery at Cliftons. The bars were teaming with amazing taxidermy … And there was even a giant redwood in the centre of the bar! Rolled into bed after Banana Foster pie at The Pie Hole.

Amazing day.



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