Wednesday, October 7, 2009

*Sigh* A Trichotillomania Relapse

I've been so good lately. My mother even commented on how nice my eyelashes look. I guess a relapse had to come sooner or later.

I've been doing editing work at my desk rather than on the computer today, so that's the culprit. When I'm on the computer, my hands are engaged, typing, using the mouse, so I'm less likely to pull. Since I'm staring down at my desk editing today, my hands are bored and so start pulling automatically. I've pulled at least 15 hairs in the last hour. Then I started doing my typical Internet research: looking for articles on eyelash follicles (what the colors mean), eyelash mites, and the relationship between trichotillomania and endorphins. I just find it fascinating, as I know other trichsters do, and I think it makes me feel more in control to learn about the specifics of my inner demons.

Does anyone else feel bad for their eyelash mites? I feel like I viciously evict them each time I pull out an eyelash. They're my poor, unsuspecting tenants, and I'm the evil landlord.

Eyelash mite

Image source:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Trichotillomania and Latisse

Trichotillomania and LatisseIn hearing so much about Latisse, the treatment to make eyelashes grow thicker and longer, it's only natural that the trichotillomania community was thrilled about the possibility but still anxious about its effectiveness in relation to trichotillomania. I've been waiting to see if some other trichsters would be the guinea pigs and try it first, so we could all see the results.

I'm a member of the Daily Strength, Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling) Support Group and get a daily email with members' forum postings and journal entries. Today in that email was finally a guinea pig! And with positive results! Now, of course that doesn't mean you should all rush to buy it, but it's encouraging to see that it's worked for at least one of our fellow trichsters:

Successful results at 14 weeks with Latisse

(FYI, the photos she is talking about are on her profile page. Click on Photos.)

Image source:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Having Serious Body Issues Today

Part of my trichotillomania is an obsession with having everything look and feel "right." The poor tiny eyelashes and eyebrows that are just trying to grow back in again are subject to my wrath, because they don't feel "right." You can see how this turns into a vicious cycle.

Like many trichsters, this compulsion for everything to feel right is not limited to hair. Many people with trichotillomania are also skin-pickers. I am one of them. I'm not as bad as some, who constantly make themselves bleed, but I'll pick at skin that has any sort of irregularity: pimples, scabs, dry skin, even just little bumps on my skin that aren't any of the above. Additionally, if I break or chip a nail, I have to stop everything and fix it, or I can't concentrate on what I was doing before. Today's been a bad day for epidermis issues. I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating at work because of them. I need a Pop-tart.

Monday, February 9, 2009

That Trichy Feeling

pulling out my eyelashes
I'm sure my fellow trichsters know what it feels like just before you pull. I was about to type that it likely feels similar for most people with trichotillomania, but upon reflection, I'm betting that it varies. I imagine, for example, that it feels different for a scalp puller than it does for an eyelash puller like me. What does it feel like for you?

Mine starts with a textbook description of trichotillomania, in the way that people who don't have it try to describe it. The way that psychiatrists describe it is with a tension that is relieved through the act of pulling. At the most basic level, this is true. But this isn't a very detailed examination into the physical nature of the tension and relief.

For me, the pulling urge often starts with a slight tingling sensation on the edge of my eyelids where my eyelashes grow. If I try to delay the pulling, I experience symptoms of general anxiety, including slight shaking, shortness of breath, and a feeling in the pit of my stomach, the kind you get when you're really nervous or stressed out.

If I give in and pull, the tension only eases for a moment, while I'm pulling. I lose one hair. The feeling returns, and I pull again. I lose another hair. The cycle of anxiety-relief-anxiety continues until my self-loathing overpowers the pulling urge and I angrily grab a jar of Vaseline and try to soothe my screaming eyelids.

Check out this quote. If you replace the word "obedience" with "pulling," is this not an apt description of the physical struggle we trichsters face?

As I grew older, I learned to delay my obedience, but each moment cost me dear — in breathlessness, nausea, dizziness, and other complaints. I could never hold out for long. Even a few minutes were a desperate struggle. (Gail Carson Levine, Ella Enchanted)

If you've never read Ella Enchanted, I emphatically recommend you read it. It's classified as a children's book, but it's one of my favorite books. It's a humorous twist on the Cinderella story written in 1998. The premise is that a young girl named Ella had a curse placed on her at birth which forces her to be obedient. Whenever anyone gives her a command, she must follow it. The above quote is the physical reaction in her body when she tries to ignore a command. The story follows her as she tries to break the curse.

Although I never connected this book with trichotillomania when I read it before, I can see now why it resonates so powerfully with me. This book is about a struggle for freedom from a personal barrier that holds Ella back from being the woman she wants to be. The same struggle that we live with each day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My Eyelashes: A Coloring Book

Sometimes, when I'm putting eyeliner on to cover my patchy, sparse eyelashes, I feel like a kid with a coloring book. I'm coloring in the lines. Or playing connect-the-dots. Or doing a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Post-holiday pulling

The holidays have come and gone since my last post, and coming back to work today has given me a new Trichy topic to discuss. I've been good without even trying throughout the entire holiday. I haven't had the urge to pull, either eyelashes or eyebrows (not in a pulling spree situation, anyway) throughout my vacation; in fact, I hadn't thought about my trichotillomania once until my friends commented on New Year's Eve how great my eyelashes look. Yet I've been at work barely a half hour when I immediately start compulsively pulling my eyebrows.

I've discussed on this blog before that reading, typing, editing, any task in which my mind is active but my body is sedentary triggers my trichotillomania, and I'm sure that's why I've started again. What surprised me was the immediacy of the change in my behavior. It's as though my trichotillomania was on a holiday schedule along with the rest of the world, and now it's back to business as usual.

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