If you travelled back in time and asked Christine of 12 years ago that I was making this post, she would have been mortified. At that time I wasn’t ready to tell the world. Heck I had just told my best friend about it.
So what is that big word? Trichotillomania
What is it? A disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out body hair.
So why share now? About 5 years ago I decided to seek out therapy for this as our local university had a professor who specialized in therapy for this disorder. Therapy went “ok” but ultimately they decided that what I needed more was help with anxiety and depression. Also I really wasn’t ready to truly work on my compulsion.
As time has gone on I have become more willing to be open about the things I’m working through. It went from telling that one best friend, to a therapist, to hair stylists, to other therapists, and at some point I just stopped caring who knew.
When did it start? Around 14 or 15ish years old. This onset I believe is on the high end of the average start age.
What does it look like for me? I pick at the hair on my head and body. I do both automatic and focused pulling. This means that I could be focused on something else, like reading a novel, and my hands just gravitate towards pulling. Also if I am stressed or anxious I can pull as a part of self soothing relief. Pulling out hair is satisfying for me, one might even say pleasurable (not in a sexual way..but a pastime you might enjoy). I also like to pick, at skin, nails, pimples, etc.
Maybe you have notice and maybe you haven’t, but I have super short hair pieces on top of my head. I also wear my hair up almost ALL the time. This is because I have short hairs that are hard to style and small bald spots that would need to be covered. This is probably the last thing that makes me self conscious.
So how does it effect my life? To start…I shed hair all over the place because I’m pulling it out. I’m self conscious about bald spots and short hair. I used to avoid going to a hair stylist because I didn’t want to have to explain it. However now I just stick with the same one and that makes it easier. It effects the way I style my hair. I also try to pick at my spouse, which he hates.
I used to be so worried about people seeing or finding out, but honestly I’ve accepted that this is a compulsion. Maybe I’ll tackle it someday, maybe I wont….but one thing I do know is that I’m done hiding.