Where to begin?/What is trichotillomania?
I should probably start by telling you what trichotillomania is. That is, the actual definition. Trichotillomania is: The compulsion to tear or pluck out the hair on one's head and face and often to ingest it. A compulsion to pull out one's own hair. abnormal desire to pull out one's hair called also hairpulling - tricho?til?lo?man?ic /-'man-ik/ adjective. n : an irresistible urge to pull out your own hair.
Now let me give you my own definition of trich. Trich is something that just comes upon you...one moment you realize you've pulled out a hair...and how relaxed it made you feel to pull it out. You love that relaxed feeling...you become tense again...and the need to pull another hair and feel relaxed again is so intense it's like your fingers and scalp and mind is on fire. Then, you find a hair, and pull...and funnily enough you don't feel the pain anymore. Just that lovely relaxed feeling. It's there for a moment, but then you become tense again, always needing more. Always in search of the perfect hair...the one that will make that relaxed feeling last. You think that only a few hairs missing from your head won't matter...that hairs grow back fast. That's just what they DO. No one will even notice they're gone. Days go by and the pulling gets worse and worse as your need for that pulling-induced relaxation gets stronger like an addiction. One day you look in the mirror and realize you've got a nickle-sized bald spot on the top of your head. And on the sides of your head. And gosh, you really can notice all the missing hairs underneath your bangs. But now it's too late. Your body and mind needs that relaxed feeling so badly...there's no going back. You try to stop yourself fom pulling...try to distract yourself, but it occupies every moment. You find your fingers in your hair without realizing what you were doing.
People started to notice then that my hair looked funny. I was about 15 when I started pulling. Looking back, I don't remember being stressed. I just remember thinking that my hair looked sparkly in one section and I wanted to see it more closely. So I pulled one. And that was it for me. I think there's a lot of things I can't remember in my life (more on this in future posts), but this one moment stands out so clearly. The first person to comment on my hair was my aunt Lori who said "You better stop dyeing your hair...it's getting THIN!". When I went to college, the pulling got so bad I had to wear a hat all the time. I was so desperate to hide it from my roommates that I would come out of the shower still wearing my ball cap. What an awful feeling. I can't describe how it feels to be 1/3 bald on your head.....because you pulled it out. Your scalp itches...it feels bumpy and greasy and gross. You can feel the wind blow your long hairs and expose the bald parts. I was afraid to go out without my ball cap on. I tried to keep my hair in a ponytail...but even then it was hard to cover up and eventually I couldn't put it in a ponytail anymore. I'm not sure what I did with it after that point to cover up the damage.
One time my roommates noticed my hair...and I made up some excuse about how my hair had become so damaged and had just broken off at the roots. One time I went to my mom's hairdresser...who said there was nothing to do with my hair but just cut it. She wouldn't even give me a perm. I left the salon feeling so humiliated...and I haven't been back since. That was when I was 18. I'm almost 28 now.
You do weird things when you have trich. You become desperate to be alone so that you can pull. Or you try to find secret ways to pull. One time I always wrecked my truck because of pulling while I was driving. You lie to people about why you wear a hat all the time. I can't explain the ugliness that I felt when the pulling was really bad. Even on my wedding day, I couldn't do my hair the way that I wanted. That was a real low point.
The worst time I've had pulling was after the birth of my beautiful daughter almost two years ago. I would just sit and pull and pull while she napped. I was so stressed and so tired. Everyone who is a mother would know how this feels. But trich was my only way out...my only temporary escape. Because for some reason, I don't like to talk to people. I don't like to talk about myself, or how I feel. So instead my feelings come out in other ways, like pulling or overeating or shopping too much. I'm not quite sure how to change this. Everyone sees me as a very happy, very caring person...but inside I feel numb and detached much of the time. I know my life is very happy, and that I have a lot to live for. But there are so many words and feelings in my head that never get out...and I don't know how to get them out. I was raised to believe that my feelings were invalid...unless I was acting happy and sweet. Anything else was not appreciated. I felt ignored alot. I guess I just withdrew into myself at a very early age and I never came back out. I do hope to change this, someday. Maybe keeping this diary will help.
I've been pull-free now for maybe 71 days? I'm not sure...I've lost track. I don't know how long this will last. I've been pull-free before, but it never lasts beyond three months. But while I'm pull-free, it feels like it will last forever. But while I'm pulling, it feels like I'll never be able to stop. I love the way my hair is starting to look right now. It's more filled in that it has been since I was 16. I want to stay pull free. I hope that I can.
I hope that this diary will help someone else who has trich. I always felt alone in having it. I mean, what kind of person does this to themselves on purpose? It just doesn't make any sense. I hate trich. I wish I would have never had it. But I also want to let people out there know that you're NOT alone. And this isn't your fault. And that your still beautiful. Things people never said to me.
Posted by Cody on August 18, 2004 7:05 PM