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.


Katherine said...

way to know yourself! Don't see a crummy psychologist. I pull out my eyelashes too... After years of frustration, I just figured out that this is an actual disorder! I thought it was just a bad habit like eating too many chocolates... but it's so nice to figure out there are people like you blogging about this! I figured out I had trich on accident (through researching disorder for my psych class). I found it amusing that some people pull their hair out and eat it. Although I would never laugh at them, it's always nice to laugh how... "at least I don't eat my hair." Things could always be worse for us... right? :). Keep laughing. :)a


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