Updated: Feb 16, 2020
This is a different kind of hair post. I think it’s something that isn't talked about enough.
For those who don’t know what trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is, it’s a compulsive disorder that causes hair pulling. Some noticeable signs of trichotillomania are:
Repeatedly pulling your hair out, typically from your scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes, but sometimes from other body areas, and sites may vary over time
An increasing sense of tension before pulling, or when you try to resist pulling
A sense of pleasure or relief after the hair is pulled
Noticeable hair loss, such as shortened hair or thinned or bald areas on the scalp or other areas of your body, including sparse or missing eyelashes or eyebrows
Preference for specific types of hair, rituals that accompany hair pulling or patterns of hair pulling
Biting, chewing or eating pulled-out hair
Playing with pulled-out hair or rubbing it across your lips or face
Repeatedly trying to stop pulling out your hair or trying to do it less often without success
I cant say exactly when this started for me, but my guess is that it was a response to stress in my life, around middle school. I actually did a pretty good job at hiding it for a while until one day my mom caught me and told me to stop doing it. I used to half-jokingly daydream that we would go to the doctor one day and they would tell her it’s a condition and she wouldn’t get mad at me for doing it, that never happened, but I found out years later that it actually IS a condition haha!
You’ve probably seen it on My Strange Addiction, people laugh at that show, but that show is how I found out that this was an actual medical condition and I wasn't crazy. I remember that episode so vividly, the girl sitting in the bathroom, just pulling and pulling for hours, been there! She definitely has a severe case of it, I'd say at its height, mine remained in the mild-moderate stage, and rarely entered into the severe stage.
I had back-length hair when I was in high school (still pressing my hair, of course), but I tend to pull from the front of my hair. Not quite the edges but just before. I’m sure it’s the reason my hair has a hard time growing there, now.
I remember one summer I had it so bad, when I went to get my hair pressed my hair dresser was like “why is your hair so broken off in the front!?” Obviously I said I didn’t know...
I think that was the first time I realized how bad it was.
Now mind you, I should have known before that, I used to pull so much hair out that there would just be piles of it behind my bed, I could practically scoop it up with my hand. I think this is a part of what makes it a compulsive disorder, it's sometimes classified as a type of OCD because people tend to form habits when they do it. Pulling it and then expecting the hair strand, or pulling and eating it (the woman on My Strange Addiction.)
When I had homecoming junior year of high school I went to get my eyebrows waxed, and the lady was like “you’re missing hair here” and I was like "yeah it just grows like that." Chile! The lies I’ve told! 😭 She filled it in with a brow pencil and I kept it pushing.
I don’t have a fix for this, it decreases when I’m less stressed/ anxious and that’s just what it is. It’s not something I’m really seeking to have fixed either. It’s just Another way that my anxiety has shown itself over the years. There are mixed review on if it should be considered an anxiety disorder but for me, when I'm highly stressed and/ or anxious, that's when I notice it gets bad.
I also want to take the time to point out that sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing. At times it is intentional, yes, but often times it's just a habit that I have and I don't catch myself until I'm 5-10 minutes in. I know what it is now and I catch myself, but honestly I could be doing so much worse to manage my stress. I could definitely be doing better, but it could be worse.
It has been severe at times times in my life, but for the most part, right now, I’d say it’s under control. I know it’s not something we openly talk about so I just wanted people to know that I’m here if you ever want to discuss it with someone who gets it!