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Trichotillomania

Monday, January 23, 2012

So I have a problem.

Trichotillomania. 
Pronounced like this.
Say that five times fast ;)



My Mom took me to Dr. Jones one afternoon when I was I don't know how old, but I was close to getting into middle school I think. He was meeting with us after hours and I didn't know why we were in this special room instead of one of the regular dr rooms we usually go to when I'm sick. Little did I know that I wasn't that kind of sick.

He pointed out to my mom that if it was not one thing it was the other. I would tap my pen, if you told me to stop I would drum my fingers, if you told me to stop I would tap my toes...If you told me to stop bitting and picking at my nails it would move on to something else. And it did. I remember my Mom was so freaked out! And I was so confused, was there something wrong with me? I can only image what she was thinking. I remember Dr. Jones saying something along the lines of Trichtrillomania, but my kid mind did not remember that word until I saw it years later. 

Well it got worse over the years. I started to pick at my hair. It started with my eyebrows. I think that's why my Mom took my in, thinking that I had some sort of rash that I was itching. So I put cream on my eyebrows and it didn't help. I still needed to stroke my eyebrows, and pull the hair. Then I moved to my eyelashes. Then to the hair on my head. I have a favorite spot that I pull on, right about where you put an up high ponytail. That's one of the biggest reasons I wear a ponytail so much, it's easier to hide the cowlick on the top of my head. I have to wear my part to the side so that the hair can cover it when I wear it down. It was almost a bald spot once. 



It's embarrassing. To have people look at you like you're crazy. To have people look at you like you're ugly. 



When we came to obsessive compulsive disorders in our abnormal psych class I was stunned. There are other people like me? Enough that this disorder made it into a text book? One study thought that there may be a unique genetic mutation as the cause. At this I thought, wonderful, I'll be a mutant like X-men. But seriously.

Stress seems to be involved, and I know that's true. I'm always trying to keep my hands busy with something else because if they're doing something else like tapping a pen, typing, playing the piano, crafts, I can't reach for my hair...but when I'm reading, studying, or sitting on the couch stressing out over something...sometimes I don't even realize I'm doing it till I look down and realize there's a pile of hair on my lap. I don't know if you can understand if you haven't had that happen to you, not realize you're doing something like that...The shame, is unbearable. I can't stand it. Robbie comes home and looks at me like why did you give in? Control yourself!

And that's what I got all through middle school and high school, from every one. No kind words of understanding, just stop it. Why can't you stop?



Let me tell you a little more about it. It's classified under impulse-control disorders, along with compulsive shopping, pyromania, pathological gambling, kleptomania...It is an irresistible urge. And urge that nags at your brain. And at first it just sits there, and then it festers, and get antsy, wanting you to pay it some attention that it feels it deserves. Then it tries to play nice, and it reminds you how good it feels to pull that one hair that feels like wire. How relaxing it is to stroke your eyebrows and just pull a little, just a little to see if any will fall out. To feel along your eyelash line to see if there are any that are growing out of line that need to be removed. If you don't give in it gets mean again, telling you that you know you want to. Telling you you might as well, you've already almost got a bald spot. You might as well! Why do you need to feel this pain! JUST PULL IT!

It never stops. The urge is always there. The best thing I can compare it to so that you understand is Frodo and the ring. You love it, but it haunts your every waking moment and doesn't even leave you alone to dream peacefully. 

I wanted to share this with you for a couple reasons. One is to bring awareness to it, so maybe if you see someone (or me) picking at ourself you can just love them instead of judge them. 

Also because I know we all have excuses for not changing our ways. Whether it's eating healthy, or exercising, or not keeping to your budget... Our excuses usually keep us from changing into who we want to be. 

So why try?

I'll tell you why.

Because it's worth fighting for. 

I'm trying to fight this. Every day is a struggle. That's one of the reasons I like staying home so much, there's always something to keep my hands busy. But at school I have to sit on my hands. When I study I have to sit  on my hands. I've gone almost a week now, only pulling one or two a day. I've gone almost a month now without touching my eyelashes. My eyebrows are beyond repair. The hairs that grow back don't grow straight so I have to cut them. But now my parents understand. I called my mom once, a couple months after I had been married, and just cried for an hour, telling her everything I just told you. Now my hairdresser understands, and every 5 weeks I go get a trim. It's wonderful therapy.

If I can fight a mental illness, you can fight your excuses. 

I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. 

I will fight for control of my body and mind.

Will you fight for yours?

 
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