Monday, October 27, 2008

Birthdays and Pullfreeathons

Today is a very special day. It commemorates two anniversaries. The first is the day of my birth. I have been on this Earth for 22 years today. The other anniversary (the more relevant one to this blog) is that today is 10 days since the day I began my "pullfreeathon." This is a term used on the UK site, Trichotillomania Online (on my Trich-ed Out Links list, right sidebar) to indicate a pledge that trichsters can take to NOT pull. It's not a competition against anyone else, only against yourself and your compulsion to pull. You post on the forum to tell people that you are beginning a pullfreeathon, and the other members of the forum come out to support you!

I've found it very helpful. It helps me combat the urge to pull because I know other people (who understand what I'm going through) are cheering me on and keeping me honest. I also feel I have more of a duty to myself because I have a specific reason not to pull. Not just because I know it's not good for me, but because I want to increase the number of days that I can say I've been pull-free. I recommend pullfreeathons to all fellow trichsters.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Know Thyself - Trichotillomania and the Bible

I'm not much into Biblical allusions, but I am into pithy aphorisms that give great advice. "Know Thyself" is excellent advice for trichsters. You have to be self-aware and recognize your triggers for pullling.

For me, I know that when I lean my elbows on a desk, table, or any flat surface that I'm using to read or work, my hand is at just the right position to reach my eyelashes. And that's a bad thing. So I try to read with my arms stretched out, leaning back. Just to be safe, I put something small in both hands to try to distract them from the compulsion to pull. Because I know myself. If I prevent myself from starting, it's much easier to continue than if I try to stop in the middle of a pulling spree.

Do you know thyself?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Trichotillomania/Hair Pulling Quotes and Quotations

(Sort of)

A hair on the head is worth two on the brush.
Irish Proverb

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Bible, Matthew x. 30.

You do not lament the loss of hair of one who has been beheaded.
Joseph Stalin

I love getting ready to do a scene, and thinking about it, and talking about it. But the rest of the time, I'm so nervous and obsessed. I'm just tearing my hair out in the trailer. The whole time I'm really tense.
Casey Affleck

Prejudice is like a hair across your cheek. You can't see it, you can't find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.
Marian Anderson

I wish I had more hair on my head. Maybe if I sprinkled fertilizer on it, it would grow.
Kylie Bax

I'm the artist formally known as Beck. I have a genius wig. When I put that wig on, then the true genius emerges. I don't have enough hair to be a genius. I think you have to have hair going everywhere.

In mainstream romantic comedies, I'm usually tearing my hair out. It's just a devastatingly difficult genre for me.
Carter Burwell

It is foolish to tear one's hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

I guess if I wrote a book one day, it would be about hair.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

A hair divides what is false and true.
Omar Khayyam

Let the devil catch you but by a single hair, and you are his forever.
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Trichotillomania Awareness Week

Did you know that this past week (10/1 - 10/8) was Trich Awareness Week? I didn't find out until today. Here is some information about it.

Trichotillomania: Body and Mind Disparity

Whether you have trichotillomania or not, I'm sure that every person has, at one time or another, experienced a time when your body and mind did not cooperate with each other. When your mind was telling (or shouting at, or pleading with) your body to do something, or to stop doing something, and your body refused to listen.

That's what trich is all about. Intellectually, you know that you shouldn't pull your hair out. You can think of many, many reasons why you shouldn't. For me, I'm shouting at myself in my own head WHILE I'm pulling. STOP! Don't pull another eyelash! But my fingers won't stop. I have to physically restrain myself to end the pulling. Because mentally restraining myself so often just isn't enough.

We think that, as humans, we are superior to animals because we have intelligent minds and rational thinking. We pride ourselves on our self-control, our ability to deny what our bodies crave. Maybe our bodies are more powerful than we realize.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Another Trichotillomania JOKE!

What do you call a boy scout with trichotillomania?



See my other equally-bad JOKE!

If you can't laugh at yourself...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trich Journaling

Random jumble of thoughts
I was really bad with eyelashes just now. I just pulled out like 10 from the same spot unintentionally. I was trying to pull with the tweezers, enough to get the endorphins but not enough to actually pull them out. Needless to say, I failed miserably. Now I feel even worse. I have a giant bald patch on my left eyelid now. I’m even more anxious because I can’t put them back. I feel like I want to take an extra Cymbalta but I know I shouldn’t mess with that stuff. Should I hide it with eyeliner or punish myself by just looking bald?

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Girl With Trichotillomania

This is not mine, it's something I found searching on Google: trichotillomania cartoon

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trichotillomania Advice: KEEP YOUR HANDS BUSY

If you are like me, then your unconscious tendency to begin pulling comes from extra tension and energy trapped in your body. For me, it's worst when I'm concentrating hard with my mind. My mental energy is being expended, which leaves me with unused physical energy that often manifests itself in pulling out my hair.

Take charge of that excess energy. This is my biggest tip. Keep your hands busy doing something other than pulling out your hair. Preferably keep them far away from whatever area you may be tempted to pull. Since I pull out my eyelashes, I keep my hands busy by twirling my hair around and around my fingers. Doing so doesn't give me a chance to start pulling because my hands are so busy doing something else. Obviously, this is probably not the best idea if you're a scalp puller.

I also found an interesting and positive website with a lot of information about trichotillomania. They're trying to get you to enter their program (not for free, of course), but the site is beneficial, I think, even if you just read the info: The BrightLife Center for the Rapid Relief of Trichotillomania.

You are not a victim. It may feel like trichotillomania is controlling your life, pushing you into an unescapable corner. I often feel like that. But you must remember that while suffering from trich is not a choice, taking steps towards relief is.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Personal Evidence of my Trichotillomania

This is me. It's somewhat hard to tell the damage, because I'm wearing eyeliner, but you can see the big bald patch on my lower lid where there's no eyelashes. And you can see how sparse they are, not full like they should be.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Trichotillomania: Cycles of Destruction

I've been away from the blog sites for awhile, but I have excuses. I graduated from college in May, then I was job searching. I have a new job now as an editorial assistant, and my life has been in a bit of a whirlwind.

With work comes stress and, unfortunately, sometimes boredom. As an assistant, I don't always have that much to do, and when I'm bored, I pull. Part of editing also involves reading and concentrating. When I read, I pull. So I've been pretty bad lately. I have some bald patches, particularly on my right eyelids, because I started pulling and got into a cycle of destruction.

Pull one eyelash ↓
↑     Irritate the skin ↓
↑         Pull more eyelashes because it itches ↓
↑             Itching worsens ↓

Life, just like pulling, goes in cycles. Cause and effect. Every element of the cycle affects another, and more often than not, brings us back to the beginning.

Just my profound thought for the day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Unfortunate realization about Trichotillomania

I've come to an unfortunate realization. I guess in a way I knew it all along, but now that I'm trying to deny myself the "pleasure" of pulling out my eyelashes, I've come to realize that in my convoluted brain, it really is a pleasure pulling out my eyelashes. It feels good. I don't know why it feels good, and it seems counterintuitive for something bad for your body to feel good at the same time. I guess it's the same principle as eating foods that are good for your tastebuds but bad for your arteries.

Evolution hasn't quite worked out all the kinks.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Happy (belated) anniversary to me!

Tuesday was my 3 year anniversary with my boyfriend, so I thought I would dedicate a post to how he has dealt with me and my trich.

He's similar to my friends in calling attention to my pulling if I'm doing it in front of him. Sometimes he'll take my hands and do something lovey-dovey with them, but sometimes that makes me mad.

When I start to complain to him about pulling out too many eyelashes, he'll remind me of ways I can do something about it, like putting Vaseline on my eyelashes or playing with a hair band.

Mostly he doesn't interfere too much with my struggles with it; he's just there to support me in whatever I need him to do. Really, that's all I need to know.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Reactions to Trichotillomania

Haven't posted in a few days. Just a quick update about my own trich: I've been doing pretty well. I haven't pulled out any eyelashes for a few days, although I have been tweezing my eyebrows. I don't consider pulling eyebrows as bad for you as eyelashes, though.

The main thought of this post, though, is how people in my life have reacted to me having trich. A friend with trich suggested this idea for a post.

Most of my friends have been supportive. The most common reaction I get when I say I have trichotillomania is, huh? When I explain what it is, most people are initially fascinated. They have never heard of the disorder, and are fascinated that such a thing exists. After a moment, though, most people remember someone they know who has no eyebrows or who pulls out his/her eyelashes or hair.

Some of my closer friends who know about it yell at me or hit me when they see my hand moving toward my face because they know it's so often unconscious for me. Sometimes I thank them for it, and sometimes I get angry. Maybe it's because I'm embarrassed at being caught. I know they are trying to help me.

The person in my life with the reaction most upsetting to me is my mother. She doesn't nag me or yell at me about it, but she sometimes talks to me about how sad it makes her that I pull out my eyelashes. That makes me feel worse than if she would nag me or tell me I'm ugly without eyelashes (okay, that would hurt, too). She constantly urges me to see a psychologist, saying that I can't just pull out my eyelashes my whole life. I tell her that obviously I don't want to do it, but some people DO have it on and off their whole lives. That doesn't mean I'm not trying to stop pulling or at least reduce it. Sometimes disappointment and sadness hurts worse than shock or disgust.

Have people had similar experiences? Completely different ones? I'm interested to hear your stories!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Trichotillomania Suggestion, seemingly obvious

I've found the simplest act sometimes works to stop or at least delay pulling. Especially if you're in the middle of a pulling spree.

My suggestion, obvious as it may seem, is to change something about your environment. When I'm pulling eyelashes, sometimes I have to get up and take my contact lenses out. Maybe sit up if you are lying down. File your nails. Put on a ring. Change your hairstyle. Put on hand lotion. Take a shower.

Pulling is all about the repetition, the monotony. Break the pattern and take control by changing something that you have control over.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

ABC News story on Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania a True Medical Mystery

News story about some people who were interviewed about having trich. Nice that it's getting some press.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Pulling Piles: The Unsightly Reminders of Trichotillomania

What do you do with the hair once it's no longer attached to your scalp/eyelid/brow/[insert body part here]?

I put it in piles. Sometimes the pile goes on my desk, and I see a nest of tiny, spiky, black lashes in front of my computer. Sometimes I let them fall into the binding of the book I'm reading, for me to find later. When I pull in front of a mirror, I put the sticky end of the eyebrows/eyelashes onto the wall or door, a vertical pulling pile.

I have certain spots where I always pull. Trichsters are nothing if not creatures of habit. I make giant piles of lashes and eyebrows, the remnants of multiple pulling instances. The piles are like memories of me, evidence that I have been there. Maybe it would be better for my health if I just scrawled, "LASHES WAS HERE" in big letters.

Part of my trich is an obsession with everything being "right." In that way, I do see the resemblance with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I pull new, tiny hairs because they feel stubbly and like they don't belong there. I feel the tiny hair, either with my fingertips or because my eyelid itches, and I really really really want to pull it out. It doesn't "feel right." It doesn't belong. In my mind.

The piles are part of that obsession with feeling right and looking right. It's hard to explain. I want everything in its place, in the right place. It doesn't "look right" for a random eyelash here, an eyebrow there. The forlorn, fallen follicles (I love alliteration) need to stay together.

This is my attempted rationalization. I tried to explain some of my internal reasonings to a psychologist once. In reference to one particular rationalization, I said, "I guess that one makes a little more sense." His insensitive, abrupt response?

"Well, none of it makes sense to me."

That was the last time I went to see him.

I guess I understand now what he was trying to do - show me that, for all my rationalizing, trichotillomania isn't something rational, isn't something I should make excuses for, isn't "normal" behavior. In fact, it's destructive behavior. We have hair for a reason.

But he could have been a little more sensitive.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

AAGHH (Or, a bad day for my Trichotillomania)

Today was really frustrating. I was having a really busy day, doing a LOT of reading and concentrating. Reading and concentrating are my BIGGEST pulling times. I had really intense urges to pull, and I did pull a lot. It's such an automatic behavior. I'm holding a pen in one hand; I have my other hand at my eye. I tried to resist the urge, but IT'S SO HARD. I tried bouncing my legs to do a different kind of repetitive motion, but it didn't help.

It's like my hand has a mind of its own. I look at my hairless eyelids in the mirror, and I just feel a sinking disappointment in myself. I know it's not my "fault," but it's not like there's a rope attached to my fingers tugging them to (what's left of) my eyelashes.

Sometimes it feels so hard.

Trichotillomania Joke!

Don't judge. I came up with this myself.

What do you call someone who takes a hair-puller out to dinner on Halloween?


I'm so brilliant.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Trichotillomania Confession: I've been bad

I love Futurama
(I love Futurama).
I've been bad for awhile. My left upper eyelid is basically bald right now. I have to wear eyeliner all the time so that people don't notice that I have no eyelashes on my left eye and few on my right eye. It's amazing the amount of time trichsters spend trying to cover up our hair loss.

Sometimes, when I've pulled out a bunch of eyelashes, my eyelids get really irritated and dry, and it makes me feel like I need to pull out more. It helps sometimes to put Vaseline on my eyelids and eyelashes. Then it doesn't feel the same, and helps soothe the physical urge to pull.

Also, since I've put up this blog, I found out that a friend from middle/high school also has trich. One of those small world things. So many people have it, and so few actually talk about it.

Self-discovery about my Trichotillomania

I think that one of the most important ways to deal with having trich (or any kind of disorder) is to be aware of the ways it affects you. I made a discovery about my trichy tendencies today.

I was doing some reading (one of my biggest pulling triggers) on the couch in my apartment. I was eating Cheez-its out of the box in a very repetitive way. Hand goes in the box, hand goes to my mouth. Lather, rinse, repeat. When I had finished off the box, I realized that I hadn't pulled any hairs out since starting to eat the crackers. Maybe the cheesy goodness was distracting me, but I think that part of why snacking appeared to replace pulling was because of the repetitive nature of it.

Pulling out eyelashes, for me, is a repetitive action. I pull, look at the hair, rub it between my fingers, flick it away. Pull, look, rub, flick. Over and over. Sometimes, like when I'm snacking, I replace that behavior of my hands with something else. I think this might be a key in replacing my pulling compulsion with something else. Maybe not eating constantly, because that's not much healthier than pulling out eyelashes.

If you can recognize when you pull and, just as importantly, when you DON'T pull, I think that is one of the first steps to changing your behavior. If any other trichsters read this blog, when do you pull? When don't you?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Trichotillomania Cartoon, link

trichotillomania tweezers cartoon trich 101
Never seen a cartoon image of hair pulling before. This comes from a helpful, easy-to-understand website on Trichy called Trich 101. I've linked the image back to it.

My name is lashes, and I have trichotillomania

(Hi, lashes)

Here's the obligatory, easily-understood definition for interested parties who don't necessarily know what Trichotillomania is:

Trichotillomania (I prefer Trich or Trichy) is a strong, often uncontrollable urge to pull out your own hair. That's the only factor common to every person "diagnosed" with it" Even in the diagnosis, every person varies. Often, the "disorder" is self-diagnosed. Sometimes a medical doctor does it. Sometimes a psychologist. The symptoms vary. I pull out eyelashes, eyebrows, and all short, what I consider out of place hairs. Some pull out scalp hair. Some use fingers, some use tweezers. Some just pull the hair, some rub it between their fingers, some eat it (that one's called trichophagia). The causes also vary. For some, it starts in childhood. Others, in adolescence. Pulling can occur when we are anxious, concentrating, looking in a mirror, or just plain bored.

Like I said, I pull out my eyelashes and eyebrows. Sometimes little hairs on my stomach or on one of those gross moles/"beauty" marks that grows hair. I go back and forth between using tweezers and using my thumb and middle finger.

I'm starting this blog for a couple of reasons. First, I want to share my own experiences so I and you are not alone. I also hope that just by paying attention to myself and chronicling my actions, I can become more aware of when I pull and eventually decrease the compulsion. Finally, and most importantly, I want to start a discussion based on experience and suggestion that can help all of us trichsters find solutions together! Yay for boundless idealism!

So, feel free to post. Please post! I like pretending that I'm popular. Your posts will enhance the fantasy. Post responses, suggestions, rants, whatever will help either you or someone else deal with trichy a little better.

A couple small steps for trich, one giant leap for trichster-kind.

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