© The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors. 2016. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from INTouch, Issue #52.
I have something called trichotillomania, and for seven years I have been pulling the hair out of my head. My personal journey with trich is long and detailed. I have been to six foundation retreats (to which I owe many, many thanks for helping me accept, yet challenge, my trich), I have enlisted the help of hypnotherapists, psychiatrists, and biofeedback specialists, I have worn a wig and then subsequently destroyed the wig by pulling from it. For most of the time I was pulling, I wore a scarf on my head every day. In fact, there are many people in my life who have never seen me without a scarf.
After moving to Austin, Texas, I started seeing an expensive but effective psychologist. Soon after I began therapy, he prohibited me (asked me nicely?) from wearing the scarf. I decided, with his help, that the scarf had become nothing more than a crutch, that I could continue pulling at the same rate or more and just throw a bandana on my head like nothing had ever happened. I was forced to take into consideration my outward appearance, and I realized that looking shabby made me feel shabby too. The scarf triumphantly came off, and my self-esteem and determination grew. I started tracking my pulling, hair by hair, and really treating the trich as an addiction (a model I had always suspected might be of value). Through some much needed tough love, tell-it-like-it-is therapy, I decided that as long as I was pulling I couldn't really be Christina; that the Christina I had always wanted to be was not the one hiding behind a scarf, secretly ashamed of something that had become more than just a bad habit.
Since living in Austin, I have revitalized a local support group for hair pullers and skin pickers. We are a group of strong, marvelous women who meet weekly to talk about what we can do to make our lives more manageable and how we can reach out to other pullers in Austin. Through the help of some lovely co-facilitators we have managed to create a close-knit community where we can always depend on each other for love and accountability. I credit much of my current success to these women and their support.
I am currently seven months pull-free. This is the longest I have ever gone without pulling my hair out, and it seems like nothing compared to the seven years I have pulled. I have a full head of gorgeous, curly hair that reminds me every day how amazing my progress has been. I am still taking things day to day, but I wake every morning to a new chance to show the world who I am and what I stand for. Unfortunately, little is known about this disorder and little is discussed amongst the scientific community. The beauty industry teaches us that we have to have perfect hair, and peddles product to help us achieve it. As a woman, hair loss is shameful and seems to somehow detract from our femininity. Trich is not only hard to talk about but sometimes even harder to accept.
So I'm coming out. I have trichotillomania. I am trichotillomania. Chances are you know someone who is too. It's time that as a community we found a collective voice of hope and action, and began an open, honest discussion about this common disorder. Challenge yourself to go tell someone about your or someone else's pulling. Until we can be candid with ourselves, we cannot be candid with others.
722 Words3 Pages
Trichotillomania is a psychological disorder, resulting in an individual having an overwhelming urge to pull their hair out. The individual may either intentional pull the hair out or it may be the result of unconscious behavior. Hair is pulled from the scalp, eyebrows, arms, legs, pubic area and/or any other area on the body where there is hair.
The method for pulling hair out, is typically done with the fingers, however, some individuals will use items such as tweezers, for removing the hair. The crown area of the scalp, is the primary area where individuals with trichotillomania begin pulling hair from. Over an extended period of time they will develop large bald spots on their head. In attempt to avoid additional bald spots, they…show more content…
The individual with trichotillomania will often display an increase in tension or stress, immediately prior to pulling hair. They will also have a display of gratification or pleasure as well as relief during and after pulling out the hair.
There is often a tremendous amount of shame and/or guilt associated with the symptoms, as well as the after effects (the baldness), of this diagnosis that it is often unreported. The low percentage of reports also result in lack of treatment. These individuals tend to perform their hair pulling behaviors in private. The majority of these individuals feel as though they are the only ones with this problem. They will often wear hats, scarves and wigs, or style their hair in a fashion that will not bring attention to the loss of hair.
A decrease in social interactions often occurs, due to the embarrassment the individual feels from the noticeable hair loss. It is not uncommon for individuals with this diagnosis to become depressed, anxious and/or develop low self-esteem. Though the individual may not have previously been diagnosed with a mental illness, the effects of the trichotillomania will often lead to them seeking help for the depression and/or anxiety.