It's A Thing, It's A Real Thing!!!!

I will never forget the day I learned that it had a name.

Trichotillomania. I love to say it. I love to write it. I hate to have it.

I started pulling when I was 8, I guess.
I didn't really notice until one day my mom grabbed my face and pulled my head in for a closer look.
She said, "Randa rhee, you have a BALD spot on your head, what the hell is wrong with you?"

My fingers seemed to know the way to my hairline, where I could feel a warm, almost slimy patch of skin. I gasped. What the hell IS wrong with me? I guess I knew I pulled out my hair, I didn't realize I had made an ugly bald spot though, and I sure as hell didn't realize it was going to upset my mom.

Well, she was angry somethin' fierce. She told me to stop. She told me she was going to ground me if I gave myself another bald spot. And that was the last time we talked about it until I was 17.

I never stopped pulling. I just knew I had to keep my little fingers moving so I wouldn't make a bald spot. I have incredibly thick hair, which made it WAY too easy to hide all my little spots. If I made too big of a spot, I would part my hair the other way for a few weeks. I have developed 7 cowlicks! Coarse "nappy" grows out of that very first bald spot.

When I was 17 I went through a particularly rough spell of pulling. I gave myself a huge patch all along my part line. I finally realized this can't be normal, there has to be SOMETHING wrong with me. It took me 5 minutes to look everything up online and give this horrible affliction a NAME.

I went flying into my mom's room. "It's a thing, it's a real thing! I'm not crazy, other people have it, its a real thing!!"

"What the hell are you talking about child?"

"Trichotillomania : compulsive hair pulling. results in bald spots."

Well my mom was less than enthused. I received a sort of "oh thats nice, dear" sort of response.
She didn't even care that my whole life I have been struggling with this disorder, trying to hide it from her. She didn't care that there might be treatment, I might be able to stop.

She was kind of mad that I was still pulling my hair.
"Why don't you just stop?"

I'm almost 21 now. I don't talk to anyone about this anymore. A few really close friends know, they think its weird and pretend I don't have it.

The only person who ever tried to help is my ex-boyfriend. He noticed something was up after we started living together, and it was almost a year after that I asked him to help me. I asked him to let me know when I was pulling, or to remind me to stop. It helped so much at first, but it turned into this thing where he would get mad at me, be mean about it, and I would say, "just one more, just one more" "I'll stop in a minute" "why can't you just leave me alone". And so on.
And then our relationship ended (because of other stuff, nothing quite so shallow)

And now here I am. Alone. Hair in hand.
No one on my side.

I want to stop
but I don't.

At least it has a fokken name.
leddead leddead
18-21, F
6 Responses Oct 23, 2012

I feel like we're in a very similar situation. I havnt received much support from my family either. However i'm currently something like 40 hours pull free so i'm holding strong. Also I noticed your use of fokken. A die antwoord fan by any chance?

you can do it!! and yeah, I do like die antwoord :)

I am 32 and have been pulling since just before my 10th birthday. I recently found out my 41 year old brother has it too, as does my 9 year old son my parents have custody of. I have lost jobs and not been hired because of the bald spots. Employers and schools have refused to allow me to wear any kind of head coverings, and if I was wearing one and they found out, I was out the door for some bogus reason shortly after. I have dropped out of school more times than I care to admit. I rarely leave the house anymore. Outside of errands and doctor appointments for my disabled husband, I never leave our apartment. I gave up medical treatment because nothing works. I've tried meds and behavioral therapy. All a waste of time.
I pull around the bandanas. I poked through the lining of the wigs. I even pull my husband's beard hair while he's sleeping (he has to swat me away.) I've attempted suicide more than once and have been in the psych ward because of the "bipolar disorder" I supposedly had.

AHHHHH I'm not alone!!! So nice to hear such similar stories to my own. Don't feel like a freak anymore. My hair looks terrible at the moment which has led me to find out what is wrong with me. This is the first time in 8years that I feel I have the motivation to stop. With you guys in mind I feel I have a support group, somebody to encourage me to stop. Just like having a friend that goes gym with you, just a kick up the *** those days you feel lazy! WE CAN BEAT THIS! :)

To know it has a name means everything. Thanks for sharing! I can relate to your story in the way of yor excitement about it being a real condition! I have always felt so crazy, thought I was alone and the only one in the world that did this. Even though it's a battle to keep my hands down at times, it validates my actions and assures me that I am not nuts, but I do enjoy pulling out my hair. The feeling is so good, yet so sad and helpless. I can't believe that some days I say to myself out loud with hair in between my fingers "don't do it, don't pull", i still pluck it out!!! Wtf. It is a trance that is stronger than my will to stop while in the moment. If I catch myself early, I can do deep breathing, get up and do the dishes or something. But to know I'm not alone and can talk to people who understand, I know I can beat this. Since I joined the group several days ago I notice myself thinking of you and others who shared their stories and I am able to be strong and keep my hands down. Thanks for your support. :)

Thank you for sharing your story - I started pulling my eyelashes out when I was five years old and at 34.... it's still going on, even graduated to include what's called 'dermotillomania' - aka skin picking. Yeah, I want to stop. My soon to be ex-therapist has said you have to want to stop more than you want to do it in order for it to work. Well, I think that's a pile of manure because believe me, I want to more than anything. (hence the 'soon to be ex-therapist' part).<br />
<br />
Asking someone to help you notice when you're doing it, or asking them to tell you to stop doesn't help, as you learned - what happened with you pretty much happens with anyone in that situation. I almost asked my husband to do that for me but realized how horrible it would make me feel.... and then him for making me feel bad.<br />
<br />
Too many who don't fully grasp the problem think you should just stop, like it's that easy:<br />
"You're hurting yourself, you should stop." I know, but I can't help it.<br />
"You're making yourself ugly, you should just stop." I know, but I can't help it.<br />
"Why do you do this to yourself?" I DON'T KNOW.<br />
(This ^^ is like my default for helping people attempting to understand where I'm coming from).<br />
<br />
The worst part is that meds don't help, therapy doesn't really help, all you can do is try to be constantly aware of what you're doing. I realize that when we pull we go into a trance-like state, but the key is to keep your hands busy with other things. Carry pens, small toys (like cartoon figurines or something), a worry stone.... something you can play with and fiddle with all the time. I 'curl' corners on handkerchiefs, but I'm the allergy queen so I'm never without one. <br />
<br />
Recently, I went and got some gel nails and it has helped me immensely. 95% of my picking and pulling is thwarted simply by the new thickness of the nail. Yeah, my hands still wander up to my face and yeah I still fidget, but once my hands get up there they can't do what they want to do and the trance never really gets off and running.<br />
<br />
Good luck to you. I'm here if you need a friend who 'gets it'.

thanks so much for the support :)

I have dermotillomania too, but that one is a little bit easier for me to control.
Sometimes I wonder if people think I am like a meth head or something....ugh

I've never been fond of the name trichotillomania, too long, but that's just me bein lazy I guess Haha.