Considering barely anyone I’m friends with know about this (or at least openly comments on it) I decided it’s finally time to push ahead and speak about it. Or at least write a blog that barely anyone reads. It’s a safe start.
According to Boot’s medical website, WebMD, Trichotillomania is:
“A mental health disorder that involves an irresistible urge to pull out hair.”
In my own terms? I’m some crazy chick who pulls out her eye lashes and eye brows when I start imagining bad things in my head.
In my mum’s words: “A freak.”
I started doing it when I was in year 6, so around the age of 11. I was sat in the class room, at the top end of the “U” shaped tables and a girl had gone up to the teacher saying something was stuck in her eye lashes. “Go and wash them out, just don’t pull at them.”
“Just don’t pull at them…” My ironic ability to do as other people are told not to is beyond belief. I don’t remember my first pull specifically, but I did go through high school with no eye brows and no eye lashes. And since I didn’t wear make up I couldn’t disguise it, in fact (silly me) I assumed no-one noticed.
Until year 11 when I had a huge fight with my best friends and suddenly they were all making “at least I have eye brows” comments on Facebook. Not that the fight itself wasn’t enough to trigger an anxiety attack and therefore the “trich”.
It was actually my mum who introduced me to the fancy medical term. Until then, she’d labelled me a “freak of nature” and I “seriously needed help”… Just want every teenage girl wants to hear. Apparently she’d been in the office at her work, my school ironically, and she’d noticed her friend doing it. My mother, the caring soul she is, turned around and said “Oh, do you get bored to?” This was a 40 year old man she’d grown up with, who’d dated her older sister when they were teenagers, and yet I can imagine that comment wasn’t too appreciate. But apparently he explained the medical stuff behind it and during one (typical) fight my mum shouted this at me.
So I was a freak, there was just a medical term for it. Wonderful.
Then I was reading a magazine one day, one of those girlie, teenager ones with real life stories thrown in. There was an anonymous entry about a girl who had no eye lashes or eye brows- she was exactly like me. She’d described all her ways of trying to stop which mainly consisted of sleeping with googles on and wearing falsh eye lashes. But that didn’t help me and I had only given in to drawing on my eye brows- there’s even a message from a “friend” in my year book to “Miss Drawn on Eyebrows”… They’d be scousebrows now, but they weren’t fashion back then.
When I was 16 I got with my boyfriend. I’d already explained my “condition” to him over MSN one day, which was nerve racking. I’d just asked him if he knew what it was and he googled it (this being the same guy who took an hour to click onto what “that time of the month” meant). He didn’t really react which was weird for me and when we got together I guess I stopped, or at least eased up.
I can’t say I really noticed but I think that was the point. I was so used to drawing on my eye brows by this point that I hadn’t noticed my actual eye brow hairs growing back through. I guess I was happy, settled, I knew it was triggered by anxiety so it made sense. Then we broke up two years later and voliá, it all started again.
This time I took my mum’s advice and went to the doctors. From my research though I started figuring I had depression (admittedly the “anxiety” theory hadn’t settled in yet) but going to a doctor, or at least my doctor, on your own claiming to have depression wasn’t a great idea. He literally laughed in my face, said that it was a typical teenage thing and I looked beautiful with my make up on (I wasn’t wearing any.)
It took me two more years to get the guts to go again, this time I was at university and I’d hit a low point. Though I was still not as bad as I had been in high school (at any point, I had a trace of eye brows) I feared getting back there. This time my doctor was a lot more sympathetic, but said that before she wanted to give me drugs she wanted to send me for counselling. I agreed…
And then the appointment letter arrived and I threw it in the bin.
It wasn’t until this summer I properly spoke about my condition with my peers as such. I went to Ibiza with a friend and her two friends and they wanted to give me a make over. Like I said, I don’t wear make up so this was pretty exciting- until they mentioned false eye lashes. I freaked inside, but managed to calmly say “But I don’t have any eyelashes, will they stick on?” I impressed myself to say the least but the most impressive part was that when I explained why I didn’t have any, one of the girls actually named the condition. She had it to, with her arms.
Besides my mum’s friend, I’d never even know of anyone with it never mind met them. Suddenly I knew what it was like for people who asked me, I was shocked and probably didn’t act in the best way but it was more of the “there’s others!” reaction to the “ew, you pull your arm hairs?”
When I came back to university my best friend began asking me, I can’t remember why it came up. I think it was discussing self harming (since some do class trich as a self harming method… weirdly enough) and I told her. She got so excited, apparently her dad has the condition to and she’d always wanted to ask someone about it. I then explained it to a colleague at work who simply started discussing her own anxiety. Suddenly, I realised I’d stopped doing it again, or at least to a lesser extent (I can’t honestly say a month’s gone by without me doing it slightly).
Personally, I found speaking about it to people who wanted to know really helped because as long as they tried to act normal about it I was happy to explain. That was my problem with counselling, I don’t think I could deal with someone digging into all my old problems when me thinking about them is the trigger. But there is comfort online, especially in blog’s like Beckie0 who I actually discovered through Youtube on this fantastic video fully explaining the condition in her own words:
So I’m not afraid of the condition anymore. It is me. I don’t particularly like it, and I can’t say I’m proud of it. But if there’s one common thing I keep hearing about it is that the only way you’ll defeat it is by accepting it. That stops the anxiety and therefore stops the urge to pull.
Now just to get rid of all the other triggers!