This is really difficult to talk about, I'm overcoming some serious self consciousness about it, so please be kind with your thoughts, words, and assumptions.
First, some basics:
- Trich is more common than people may know because it is tough to talk about openly for those who have it. Some of you may have this disease and not even realize it because you didn't recognize it as more than a "bad habit".
- Celebrities such as Olivia Munn, Megan Fox, Charlize Theron, and Justin Timberlake have all admitted to (I hate the word 'admitted', it makes it seem as though it's something to hide) being diagnosed with trichotillomania. (p.s. don't mind if I add or miss a few letters here and there in that darn word, it's a doozy and my laptop doesn't autocorrect it if I get sloppy hah)
- It is seriously a compulsive disorder I do not enjoy doing it, I do not enjoy having patchy hair, but no, I can not "just stop doing it". I am very aware as I pull out lashes... some people with the disorder do their pulling and picking subconsciously, but even though I know and hate that I'm doing it to myself-- I cannot physically stop.
- Trich, like other compulsive disorders, can be managed with medication and/or therapies of the sort (behavioral and talk therapy). I take Zoloft for other anxiety and depression issues- which are common companions with obsessive compulsive disorders. Zoloft is also often prescribed to help people like me with managing our need to pull.
- I'm no expert, I'm just stuck living with this pain in the ass disorder. Professionals are probably loads more helpful than little old me if you think you have trichotillomania. It took me a long time to even tell my mom about it, I felt, and feel, so self conscious still. It's ok if you're not up to telling anyone about it yet. Just be honest with yourself about if you need help. Does it affect your social or romantic life? Does it affect your body image? Does it affect your happiness? If you said yes to any of these, you should seriously consider seeking some guidance. I've gotten guidance over the past two years, yet I still say yes to all of those questions.
- The severity can flare up in emotional times. Sometimes I don't pull out hair at all, for weeks. Sometimes, like this week, I pick a particularly bad amount. I've actually found that I'm more likely to pull when I'm bored than when I'm stressed. When I'm stressed I usually have my hands busy (ha).
Here are some photos to show what I do to myself. I feel the impulse to apologize for unflattering pictures, isn't that silly? I'm so used to hiding and concealing it, rather than sharing it.
My patches aren't as obvious as some people who have the disorder on a more severe level, but to me they're glaringly obvious. Especially as I try to apply makeup to hide it.
You may be able to tell that there are patches in my eyebrow(s), and a chunk of eyelashes missing.
These show my poor eyelashes best.
Pulling out hair hurts physically and emotionally. Imagine how it feels plucking your eyelashes like you do your eyebrows, ouch. Now imagine that you couldn't stop yourself from inflicting this pain on yourself, even if you desperately wanted to.
Once I get started it's almost impossible for me to stop. I feel embarrassed, helpless, and self harming when I get into a bad 'episode' like I did before these pictures were taken. Even now I'm struggling not to pull out more eyebrow hairs. Even though I literally can see how bad it's gotten in the pictures just above.
I've tried most things I can come up with. Lotion or oils (natural kinds that aren't irritants, don't go putting perfumed things near your eyeballs) keep me from being able to get a solid grip on a hair to pull it out. Some oils and serums also help strengthen the hairs, it's a pain to battle the natural hair loss that occurs with mascara and things on top of pulling them out yourself. I've tried wearing gloves when I have down time, again so I can't get a grasp on hair or lashes. I've bought bracelets and rings that are made to keep my hands busy so I fiddle with those.."idle hands are the devils workshop" means a lot to me. None seem to really help when it gets to the point where I desperately need something to stop me.
Do you have any ideas? Your own experiences with trich? any tips on how to grow hair back? Did you learn something new from this post?
Let me know in the comments, or on Instagram if that's easier.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. The more we talk about these things, the more people will actually find help. I hope no one feels as ashamed as I do about something we can't "fix" on our own. Also take this as a reminder to be kind to others, you never know the battles someone else is facing. Sometimes battles aren't as visible as missing chunks of hair.
Anna. (aka Texan Trichotillomaniac)