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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