Trich And How I StoppedHey, my trichs-in-law. Today, I am going to share my entire story of Trichotillomania and how I have managed to make a great recovery (for those of you who have trich, you will know what a task this is).
I know exactly where it all began. Right now I'm 17 years old. The incident happened somewhere in the middle of 8th grade I think, 5 years ago. I was in school, just hanging with my girlfriends and then suddenly, bamm!, an eyelash went into my eye. It was really painful because it went so deep and it was long and I could feel it moving around. I tried to get it out but couldn't manage. I went to the nurse’s office and had her take a look but she told me there was nothing there. What did she think? That I was lying? Aaaanyway, the day went by and every now and then I could feel the eyelash moving. I went home, still no luck, and then I went to bed. I didn't get it out till the next morning and by then I was really mad.
After that I regularly took my eyelashes in my fingers and pulled slightly, checking if there were any other loose lashes. THIS IS HOW IT BEGAN.
After that it became a habit of mine. It didn't seem to do anything except for maybe making sure the incident with the eyelash in my eye didn’t happen again. But gradually, with time, the pulling got harder and more precise. I also started pulling at my eyebrows when I saw the eyelashes had gotten thinner. Kids at school would ask me if I'd gone to a saloon and had them do my eyebrows. I denied, not fully realizing that the kinds must have thought I was lying.
I think it was in 9th grade when I started using dark eyeliner to cover up the loss of eyelashes. I had not been using any make-up up until then and was quite bad at it actually :) It was crude and I was not happy about how it looked but I had to do something right? No-one could know about my secret.
When I was learning to use eyeliner for the first time it took me around an hour just making it look natural with so few eyelashes, mom was quite frustrated with me, complained that I was always too late for school and I didn't need makeup. This didn't make me feel very good.
I also remember the first time I plucked out ALL my eyelashes for the first time ever! We were on our way to a little cottage, like, 2 hours away from home. There was another family with us. We went by car and on the way we were eating chocolate. Because of that, my fingers got sticky, I pulled my eyelashes, and they came off much more easily than normal because I had such a good grip. When I let my thumb run over my eyelids, feeling no eyelashes at all, my heart thumped so hard in my chest it almost hurt. The adrenalin shot out and I felt a rising feeling of panic. How was I going to hide this? I'd left my eyeliner at home! My secret would be revealed! We were going to be staying there, the 6 of us, for 3 days!
But when we got there, no-one noticed. I guess that's because I rarely made eye contact with anyone unless necessary. I still don't know how they couldn't notice though!
After that, I always took my eyeliner with me whenever I was taking a trip that would last more than only that day. If I was going to a sleepover, I had to bring it, if I was going for a swim; I had to bring it and then take care not to rub my eyes at all when my hands or face was wet. You also learn not to come too close to another person's face, look deep into their eyes or hold eye contact for long. It’s actually quite sad when you think about it…
When my trich had reached that level, I started pulling my eyebrows more and more too, until they became 'not there' anymore. I think that in the beginning of 10th grade it became the worst it had ever been; I started pulling at the hair on my scalp. I only did this for a short time, thank god. I pulled at the hair by my temples, my bangs and at the back of the neck. When the hair started growing again, it was really noticeable, so I quit. I don't know exactly, like, how I was able to quit so suddenly, but I guess it had something to do with me going to the hairdressers and she noticed these 'short locks of hair' on some places. I was so embarrassed it must have made all the difference.
But then, nothing really changed for a long time. I kept on pulling at my facial hair, then covering it up. One of the things you get along with all the guilt and secrecy and lack of self-confidence is a whole new level of lying. You just do it, you heart doesn't beat faster, your palms don't get sweaty, you just lie to protect yourself. There have been a couple of times when a person actually noticed my condition. Pffffff, I don't like calling it a condition...well..:s
It happened twice at school. Once, it was one of my best friends, she was like: "OMG! Your eyelashes! They are so thin and few! WHY!??".
Yeah, that was like a blow in the stomach. But I kept my composure perfectly, and I said the first thing that came to mind (there wasn't even a pause). I said: “remember that time when I sent to Spain? Well, there was this guy selling cheap mascaras, I bought one and apparently I had some allergic reactions and the eyelashes, just, fell off". Isn't it a good lie? She believed it of course and felt all sorry for me.
The other time was worse. I don't know if you've experienced this but, it's like, the person notices you have trich. They see that there is something missing but don't say anything, that way, you can't lie, you don't have the opportunity to defend yourself. And that's horrible. Anyway, I was doing some project with this girl and suddenly she's all staring at my face. I'm like: "what?". She pauses and then: "nothing" and looks away. I carry on but she then stares at my face again. And she doesn't just do a double take; she does a Quadruple take (4 times). I know she knows, but she doesn't say anything. ****...
I'm not going to write about the third time this happened because it was really similar to the one above. Just know that it was paaaaainnnn all the way through.
Well, now to a crucial part. There is a very important person who discovered my trich. My mom. I think that having one of your family members find out about this is kind of the worst thing you can experience. Why? They don't understand anything. They will ask you questions like: Why are you doing this? Why don't you just stop it? Does this come from stress? Is there anything I can do to help you?
No. They can't help you. They can't. You have hands. All the time. And the person who discovered your secret isn't with you all the time. See what I mean? It's all up to you. And they saying those things to you, at least to me, only made me feel even worse. I begged her not to tell anyone and she promised. But then she googled what I was doing. She went online and then came back to me and was like: "do you feel anxiety? Are you nervous?".
I'm not nervous. I'm not stressed. I just have this weird habit of pulling out my eyelashes.
BUT as hard it was for me to have my mom hovering over me, telling me to stop something she could never understand was so hard, it made me think.
And now I'll tell you how I got better.
Look, no-one can really help you make recovery. If you really want to get your hair and confidence back, you have to look inside first. The way I saw it was: I could get better because Trich did not control me, I controlled it, I was the one doing the pulling, I COULD STOP IT TOO.
I will not lie, it took a long time.(a year) It was hard, I failed 4 or 5 times, but I made it.
This is how I started out. I took out my calendar and numbers the days from 1 to 20 from the day that was that day. On the 21th day, I then wrote down a price: something I wanted. Not something expensive (it was chocolate raisins:D). Yes, I wanted chocolate raisins. I then made an X over every day that passes and I'd managed not to pull. On the 21st day, I rewarded myself. I then did this again, only making it 30 days now, a whole month. I failed. I was really sad and angry with myself. I repeated this again, but failed. My mom nagged and I felt worse. Buuuuut, I knew I could do it. I was the master of myself.
However, I gradually just let myself pull out all the eyelashes and eyebrows I'd gotten back for some time, thinking, “this is just a part of me… I can’t change it”. I was giving up. I’d failed just a little too often. But then, a few months later, I suddenly got this new boost of energy to try and make another attempt. Then , I googled trich like my mom had done. I'd never done that before. And I felt I wasn't alone any more. I watched youtube and read stories and finally, had the guts to take it on again. Maybe it was from fear that I’d end up like that 60 year old woman who actually counted every single eyelash she pulled out, or that girl who’d gone bald.
Anyway, I bit my tongue and with extreme will, got all my eyelashes back. I started using mascara again, because I could. Aaaaand I failed. Hehh, I know. This was about a month and a half ago. When I’d started using mascara, it got so easy to pull. Damn. But now, I haven’t pulled since then. For 1 and a half months J. I know it’s not a lot of time, but it’s quite the accomplishment for someone with trichotillomania isn’t it? Well, anyways. I’m going to keep on fighting this day by day and maybe sometimes on the future, I won’t even think about it anymore every time I clean of my mascara. Or, that is my dream at least. I’ve heard of people who have fallen down again after a few years of resisting, but, I’ll just hope I’m stronger than that.
As a final step for me to recover, I’m going to do something a very few of us with trich have done. I’m going to share this entire story, plus more, which I didn’t write here, with my mom. You see, I always told her I pulled without knowing what I was doing, though I obviously do. I’m telling her everything. Yesterday, I even told her I needed to chat later in the week. I hope that after telling her, she can be more of a supporter than someone pushing me in the wrong way. I recommend finding someone to share your secret with, I know how terrible and scary this sounds but, think about it, OK?
Anyways, this is already way too long. Maybe I’ll upload pictures of my eyes to show my recovery? And maybe I’ll even tell you how my mother takes my secret when I've told her.
I'd really like to hear your thoughts, can you relate to anything I'm saying or is it just me? Are you planing to stop too?
Well, thanks for reading guys and good luck.
Petrea94 16-17, F 23 Responses 11 Nov 22, 2011