August 18, 2004

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 moment you realize you've pulled out a hair...and how relaxed it made you feel to pull it out. You love that relaxed 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'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 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 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.

Until tomorrow.

Posted by Cody on August 18, 2004 7:05 PM


Sis-- this is really, really good.Your hair did look really beautiful at your wedding though. You looked like a princess.I hope having your diary helps. I bet you will help lots of people.Ya sistaPilgrim

Hi cody, Im sally, iam 31, mum of 3 and have pulled for 10 years, this is my first time on this web page and your story was the first i read and as i was reading i felt realy sad because i so understood what you were saying and how you felt as i feel the same way, but then as i carryed on 3 words poped out and hit me in the heart and that was (YOUR PULL FREE). I felt so happy for you just so sad for me as i've never been pull free and feel that i never will, i just wish that one day my family and friends will see me without my hands in my head and in my lap and never having that erge or feeling to pull. Well im very proud of you and now im going to read more i wish you the best and keep strong good luck sally.

I'm 15, and have had this problem since I was 11 or 12. It's really humiliating and distressing... But it's nice, in a very disturbing way, to know that I'm not the only one.

Do you ever have the urge to bite the "perfect" root? I do. It's very strange. And bad. I probably have more hairballs in my stomach than a cat by now. Tragic, eh?

Hell, at one point I hadn't pulled for 4 months, and was wearing my hair down long. Sadly, I'm now about 1/3 bald on the top of my skull. Cest'la'vies.

Keep trying, though. Who knows? Maybe we'll both "pull" through? (Bad trichster puns. Yegods. xD)


I've been pulling my eyebrows out for 3 years now. Reading what everyone else has written ESPECIALLY Cody, it's like reading a page out of a book I've written or an inner monologue I've had with myself. I just about go crazy and wonder where this even came from. No one else I know does it. Where did I even get the idea. I'm fighting the urge right now. It actually sends almost electric wave through my body. Typing is the best thing I can do to distract my hands. Thank you for sharing your stories. I don't feel so alone.

Im 18 and just started to pull. I want to stop, and i want to know if they'll grow back. Can you help me?

I always knew there were others out there like me, but it really helps to see how other people feel and the different kinds of hair pulling. I am 33, I started to pull my hair out when I was 8 or 9...I was fasinated by the root. It started out slowly...then it overcame and consumed me, My mother didnt know how to handle it, what to do or where to turn. I embaressed her. I used to have long red flowing hair. EVERYONE knew me by my hair. It was very humiliating for my mother to walk around with this child who had half the side of her hair gone. She then shaved my head. Everyone would tell her she was so stupid for shaving my beautiful locks and WHY would she do that to my hair???? For 13 years I pulled my hair, thank god for the punk rock era, I just pretended that I was a rebel and cut my hair the way I wanted to. Outside I fit this punk rock part but inside, I was nothing like that. Then when I gave birth to my daughter I read an article about how prozac could I talked with my doc for the first time about my problem and I went on prozac, within 3 months, I was pull fact it lasted 6 years, that was the happiest time in my life!!! I had beautiful hair, believe me people DO treat you different by the way you look. Then I went through a divorse and moved and I started doing it again. I got back on prozac it didnt work! Zoloft, some other drug and some other drug and now for the past 6 years Ive been doing it. So much that I am bald. I now wear a wig to cover up my problem. My husband cant understand what has happened, for some reason I was able to hide it from him and blame it on STRESS. I dont think he would understand. Sometimes, I wake up around 3 in the morning and pull my hair for 2 hours straight. I ingest the root part. I want to know if that is a problem? and Why? I want to stop and am ready for any kind of advise. Oh yeah I am the mother of 5, who wouldnt pull there hair out??? My kids are wonderfull and they too are confused about all this and I worry how this will hurt them later in life. I know that if any of my daughters friends found out that I wear a wig, they would tease her. thank you for letting me vent and open up for the first time like this.
Wiggin' out in Vermont

I'm a 18 year old girl and been pulling my hair since I was 11 years old. My life has been full of shame embarrasment and depression. being so young and having this disorder really took a toll on my life. I've had to wore wigs,scarves and hats during my school years. I am very jealous when i see other girls wearing their hair in cute hairstyles. I wonder "why me" what did i do to deserve this. I cry and have break downs every now and then because it hurts so bad not to be able to stop pulling and hiding the bald spots from every one. Well the last break down i had was about a week ago and I been pull free since then. I ve never went a week without pulling. I want my hair back i'm fed up and i'm taking control of myself and i'm trying to stop the pulling so I can be myself again

hey, i'm 14. i've pulled sincei was about 8. i've had numerous relapses and all of this sucks. i eat the roots. and my mom is determined to make my life super happy because she thinks it's because of stress. i try to tell her and my therapist that it's not. they said that's impossible. i say that's stupid. anyway, i just have always been fascinated by the whte, waxy root.

This has provided me with so much information. I just found out that this is most likely what I have...and I now see what a big problem that this can turn into. So far, I have pulled all of my eyelashes out over five times. I don't know what to do...and don't want this to progress any more than it has.

heya, I just found out that I have trich. The way you describe how you feel is EXACTLY the same as me. I had it (undiagnosed) when I was really little but my parents just thought it was a phase so they cut my hair really short so I couldn't grip it to pull it out - so I stopped. I am 16 now and in the past 8 months I have been tearing and plucking like crazy, I can't stop and it is tearing me apart inside aswell. I have only really spoken to my sister about it and she came across an article about trich this morning and I have spent the whole day reading about it and I definitely have it. My parents live abroad and they don't even know, or really care (I go to boarding school). I am under so much pressure all the time because I go to a really academic school, my mother is an abusive alcoholic and I am very over weight and surrounded by skinny, verging-on size 0 girls. You're not alone. I can't ask for help because my school would get too involved with it and I don't trust anyone anyway. I feel awful and ashamed.

I now know whats wrong with me! I cant believe how good this feels! I heard something about this condition on the tv over the weekend and i have just looked into it on the net after finding myself pulling out a clump of about 20 hairs at once with no pain?! I always just thought this was something only i did and that i was a weirdo! Its so reassuring to know im not the only one who has the uncontrolable urge to pull out my hair and then put it in my mouth! I cant just pull it out, it always has to go in my mouth! I run it between my front teeth and then maybe bite the end off. WHY?? Why do i do this?
i dont recall ever enjoying it or even feeling the relaxed feeling some people have described, i just do it, i find a hair that feels good and i pull! Ha ha! how crazy is that that it is a medical condition! i am over the moon that i have found others who do the same thing as me! I also feel concern for you all wanting to stop, and i wish you all the best of luck!
I only pull from the back of my head at the sides, it is never really really noticable, only when i go to the hairdressers and one side of my head at the back has hardly any hair on it! I dont want to get really bad though and am wanting any tips regarding hypnotherapy or anything like that that will help me stop too!
Thanks you lot! you have made me so happy!

whoo hoo, i no how u feel, i go troo that prob. i bite the end off 2, i guess its just bcuz we like the texture or something.

I am 37 and have had trich. since age 13. I stopped from age 19-24, than gradually started again. Age 36 was the worst. But, now it's growing back. Last year was a lonely year as I just went to work then went home. I am divorced and didn't date because I was afraid my date might notice my thin hair and bald patches. It's growing back now, but, it feels like it's taking forever. I tried this product called FNS that seems to be helping a bit. It's still really embarrassing. I can't explain what made me stop. I just gradually went from pulling about 40 hairs a day to pulling 10. Now, I'm down to about 5. I do it only in the tensest moments...not cold turkey yet, but, hoping one day I will be able to stop completely. It's great to be able to talk about it with others. Thanks Loads. xoxoxoxox

Dear Cody

I didnt realise what 'Trich' was until I googled it and quickly realised that I too am a sufferer. I first started 'plucking' my hair when I was about 15, eventually culminating in a bald spot that was of great amusement to my soccer team and friends. I cant even remember what my excuse was. However, I am a pretty strong willed person and I stopped when I realised what I was doing, though I have always had the urge to pluck, though not to the same extent. I am now 26 and back in college studying for a masters. However, the few weeks prior to my exams I found myself plucking again and bang, before I realised it, my hair has thinned considerably at the sides around my ears. I have quite long hair and it covers it up but I am very worried about it - and just pray that it will grow back, im very confused about this as there are so many conflicting views out there, I dont know what to believe. I found your article well written, honest an a great help to people like myself. All the best, Shane

Hi, i'm 17 and i started pulling when i was 15. I really hate it.It's so embarassing especially that people have noticed my hair thining. i used to have very smooth, silky, full hair and now its very thin and just ugly.i'm going to a psychologist next week for help. i pray for everyone out there who has trich.-molly

my eyes are streaming with 15 and ive had trich for 4 months..i never knew pulling hair was a disorder...i felt so completely lost i thought i was completely alone. My hair was heavenly black and long but now its reallly thin and its make me cry. my mom is really worried and i try telling her its a disorder but she doesnt believe me. i have a few bald spots around my head and im always making excuses. But now thats going to change. I am going to fight this battle and win. Im young and i dont want to growup wearing a wig or hiding from people. I usually feel downcast on most days and i have a low self esteem. But now i will start a new life, and proudly feel confident about myself and say im pull free!! goodluck to all the trichsters..We can do this!!

what a relief to know there's so many of us trichsters out there! I've been pulling for 14 years now and feel that I'll never be "cured", the urge to pull and feel that sensation as the hair departs from my scalp is as addictive as any drug. I have absolutely no control over my hands, they're like a magnet to my scalp. I hate myself for what I do and am deeply ashamed and embarrased, why the hell would anyone do this to themselves? And how can I explain it to anyone when I dont even understand it myself? Am I just mad? It feels like it most days.

I'm so glad to know that there are other's out there and that there is a way out! I've been pulling since I was 11 or 12 - mainly due to stress and bullying when I was younger, and now, unfortunately it's just a stress habit. I go through phases and have relapses, but i'm trying to stop. Thank you so much all of you for your honesty and willingness to share your stories - it's been a great encouragment to me - so now i'll carry it in my heart and think of it whenever I feel the urge to pull.

God bless you all :)


I am 48 and I started pulling when I was about 14. My friend's dad pulled a hair out my friend's straight hair and compared it to my curly, frizzy hair. To my surprise, the ends of my hair were like wire springs. That started me pulling them; to feel the springy part with my fingernails and front teeth. Then the springs were springier. I bite off the springs and throw it all on the floor. My mom was angry because there were dark brown hairs all over the back of the beige sofa. I had a car accident in my 20's because I was pulling while driving. I've never done that again. I have pulled on and off for years, but when I was in university when I was around 40, I pulled so bad I had a bald spot on the back of my head (cowlick) about 2" across. My boyfriend and hairdresser noticed and I was so embarrassed I changed hairdressers (once it grew in). Then I began to pull evenly all over so there wouldn't be any bald spots. I know that if I keep my hair super-short the ends don't curl. That helps. I usually pull when I watch TV so I have replaced hair pulling with nail grooming- usually. It uses my hands, is obsessive and something to do when I'm sitting. It takes away tension as I try for the most perfect fingernails and toenails ever. If I pull, I sweep a lot. I hope we all get well.

I just found this site and already it is making me feel a little bit happier :). I have been pulling my hair out for about 3 years now, I started when I was 14 yrs old. I used to have thick, wavy brown hair that everyone would envy, now it is short, straight and thin. I really miss those days when my hair was like that. I'm a senior this year so we have to get our senior pics done and I am holding back on that, I am too ashamed and embarrassed with the way I look right now. I don't know why I started pulling all I never is just for a second it makes me feel less stressed, better when I am pulling and then that feeling is gone so I do it over and over again. I know people always tell you there IS someone out there like you but really I don't see how that is supposed to make you feel and better. I have been diagnosed w/ depression, OCD and anxiety so I am thinking that the OCD is what brought the pulling on. I am on zoloft and I have tried many other meds and while they help with my mood they don't seem to be a help with my urge to pull. I just hope that one day I can beat this and be become who I was before I started doing this.

I started pulling from my scalp the summer of 14 yrs old. I think because I was changing schools and had anxiety about it. I had pulled my eyebrows earlier than that though. I had a HUGE bald spot on the back of my head bigger than two fists and I told my mom I got it caught in the hair dryer. I don't know if she believed me but it scared me that I didnt pull again until I was about 22 yrs old. I am now 26 and I've had to shave my head twice to keep myself from pulling from my favorite spot. I just shaved my head again last week. it helps! but I have to wear a hat still because the bald spot is obvious :( I kept thinking maybe I have a brain tumor in that area or something because is the only area I pull from.. the back of my head because it feels like there is something under the skin and when i pull it is released or something. Its hard to explain. When I was 22 I googled 'hair pulling' and the word trichotillomania came up. I was so relieved to find out I wasn't crazy! I dont pull my eyebrows anymore but it is obvious that I did pull them at one time because they are thin and one area has a scar because my mom took away the tweezers from me when i was little so i had to pull w my fingers which caused scarring :( I love to pluck peoples eyebrows and other places. I also pull from my legs, armpits and private area. I feel like such a freak.. I am so lucky to have a husband that loves me anyways. Oh and I am also deaf so i think that causes a lot of anixiety/issues growing up that may have caused me to pull in the first place as I was always left out.

I have never really told anybody except for my mom about pulling my hair. I guess because I never really believed it was that bad. I am almost 14 now, and I have been pulling for about 6 months. Actually, when I was 10 or 11, I was really fascinated with pulling my eyelashes out. Fortunately, I stopped pulling them out when someone commented on how thin my eyelashes were. I started pulling my hair out around Christmas time, and I didn't realize I was doing it until my brother asked why there was so much hair on the floor. At first, I pulled the hairs that were kind of curly and had a weird texture, but now I pull them because I like the white and waxy thing on the root of the hair. Reading some of the other comments, I realize that I don't have trich nearly as bad as some other people, and I am thankful that I have been pull free for a couple of days now, but there was a time where it was getting pretty bad. At first, my mom noticed that I had quite a few little short hairs along my part, and I had a little bald spot on the top of my head. And then sometime in March, my mom also noticed that my hair was really thin on the sides. After that, I was pull free for a couple of weeks but then started pulling again. I usually pull my hair a little bit when I am watching tv and nobody else is around. But at night, when I am reading, I can sit there and pull hundreds of hairs out before I finally fall asleep. For about a month or so, I have been wearing a shower cap that I brought home from a hotel as a stupid soveigner, just to stop myself from pulling my hair out at night. My hair is finally starting to grow back on the sides of my head and on the top of my head, but most of the hair on the top of my head is about 2 inches long, and sticks up all the time. Reading all of these other stories has sparked some light inside of me to really help me stop pulling. However, some of these stories of people who have been pulling their hair out for years, has made me kind of feel like I will never be able to stop. I really hope I can stop, and I want to wish the best of luck to everyone with trich, and everyone who is trying to stop pulling their hair out.

Hey, i kinda understand how you feel, ur story is truely deep. I also hav trich.

I feel your pain guys. I also pul my hair out since i was 12 i am 17 and stil doing it. I feel like the most unlucky person. My mum has bipolar ocd depression and more. I was teased all my life cos of my mum and my teeth cos i am missing 2 they also alienated me nobody ever wanted to talk to me i had to drop out in yr 12 cos of my hair it has jeopoardised my life i have no friends and my dad is physicaly abusive to me. I am so frustrated when people think their life sucks cos they got dumped or some pathetic shit like they have no idea what pain feels like until they lived it!

My God, I feel like I am reading my own life. I can't change any details of your story to fit mine because the details are the same. I don't know if you are still keeping up on this, but I'd love to know if you have been able to remain pull free and if after all those years of pulling, did your hair grow back?

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