18 Things Only People With Trichotillomania Understand
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Health and Wellness

18 Things Only People With Trichotillomania Understand

A list of things only hair-pullers get.

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18 Things Only People With Trichotillomania Understand
persephonemagazine.com

Trichotillomania is an impulsive anxiety disorder that causes the uncontrollable impulse to pull out your hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. There's not always a reason. Sometimes it's associated with stress and anxiousness, sometimes it's a need to have all the hairs be even, sometimes it's simply force of habit. Every "trich-ster," as outspoken YouTuber Rebecca Brown calls us, is different, but finding others who can relate to the struggle is always empowering and uplifting, even when the details aren't the same.

It’s an uncommon condition that’s difficult for most people to understand. But here’s a list of things to which we11 million Americans with trich can relate!

1. When people say, "Why don't you just stop?"

You would if you could, but not being able to stop picking is what trichotillomania is. So when people tell you to stop, suggest you should probably try stopping or ask why you don't just stop, it's like you asking them to stop breathing. Would they ask someone in a wheelchair to just stand-up? Just because trich is a mental condition, doesn't mean it isn't just as real as a physical one.

2. Any eye-related discomfort is 10 million times worse without eyelashes, but you can’t get too upset about it because crying hurts too.

Swimming, rain, putting on false eyelashes, snow, wind, eyeliner, dust, showering, getting something in your eye, getting bangs, bright lights, tears...all much more painful without eyelashes.

3. The strange paradox of needing makeup to look more like your true self.

Most people use makeup to enhance or cover up what they really look like. You use makeup just to to resemble the real you again by drawing on the eyebrows and eyelashes you're supposed to have. That's hard because you have to use something fake in order to feel genuine. Thus, you've grown up with a pretty confusing perspective of authenticity and baffling sense of self because you never really feel like your true self either way.

4. Hats are far more than just a stylish accessory.

The right hat is not only adorable, but it is also a shield for trich-sters with visible bald spots on the days when the constant hair adjusting is just too much. They also protect from those nasty bald-spot sunburns. It's a win-win-win.

5. What it means to be able to wear mascara again.

What to other people is just a regular event becomes a huge milestone. Even trich-sters who don’t wear makeup can understand the great accomplishment of having enough eyelashes to put on mascara.

6. The frustration/guilt when people pat your head.

The only thing worse than the instinct to flinch when people show you affection would be uncovering those bald spots you spent all morning trying to conceal. Plus, those prickly baby hairs aren't comfortable for either party.

7. The agony when the drugstore has every color eyebrow pencil but yours.

So you're stuck with choosing between going with a completely bare brow or having mismatched, cartoon-like eyebrows.

8. The satisfaction of buying them out when you are able to find the right color.

Never mind the weird looks you get at check out with a dozen pencils of the same color. You're set for months. You're unstoppable.

9. When someone asks you why you pull.

That's a really good question. You've been trying to figure out the answer for years.

10. What it really means to hate getting a haircut.

Having to explain everything to the stylist and sit there unable to leave while watching the stylist give you judgmental looks is one of the most vulnerable, uncomfortable and embarrassing positions for trich-sters. Haircuts are not just an inconvenience for you; they are a time of complete exposure of our greatest insecurities to a complete stranger while holding back tears until they finish. It's terrifying.

11. The bliss of finding a stylist who is totally cool with it.

When you find a stylist who isn't judgmental and can give you cute haircuts that hide your bald spots, it's as if you've found a new best friend. (I love you, Robert!)

12. When people try to teach you about trichotillomania when you literally just told them what it was two minutes ago.

Just because they're minoring in psychology does not mean they don't have any authority to tell you that you're handling you're disorder wrong. You've been dealing with this condition for years, and before this conversation started they didn't even know what it was. It's frustrating to be schooled on something that should be between you and your therapist, and it's pretty painful to sit though someone passing judgement on your strategies when they have no way to know what they would do if they had trich.

13. That little chuckle when someone says, "It makes me want to pull out my hair."

Oh boy.

14. If it looks bad on the outside, the mental struggle is even rougher.

It's hard not to pick when that voice of anxiety in your head is telling you it's all you deserve; that you've already picked one, so you might as well just pick all the rest; that you'll never be pretty, worthy of love or taken seriously; that your trich controls your life and you'll never be free from it. Though you would never think these things of a friend undergoing the same struggle, anxiety has a double standard, and is brutal and vicious to the person whose mind it inhabits. Even on good days, you're still having that internal dialogue trying to reason with your anxiety that you don't need to pull, but the thing is...you do. But you don't. But you do. The feelings of isolation, lack of self-worth and abnormality are a common themes amongst all of those struggling with anxiety and addiction, but the way it manifests for those with trich is something very tough to rationalize to someone who doesn't pick.

15. Sometimes not picking is scarier than picking.

Even if it's been months since the last time you picked, every day, you know you could do it again. It's pretty emotional to look in the mirror and finally see you're real self knowing that tomorrow, you could lose it all. That makes progress bittersweet.

16. Not picking isn't just about your appearance, it's about feeling like you're in control of your own body.

Even though trich is reflected on the way you look and looking like yourself has so much to do with it, it's mostly how being able to let go of those urges makes you feel. When you feel like you are in control, it's harder to let the anxiety overpower you. So even when you're looking like you want to on the outside, on the inside, the trich could still be just as overwhelming. Long eyelashes and thick hair don't mean as much when you still don't feel like you're in control.

17. Knowing how wrong people are when they say your patches make you unable to go on dates.

Au contraire. Just because they're too shallow to get past a few bald spots, doesn't mean everyone is. Even though trich can leave you feeling pretty insecure, at the end of the day, you can take comfort in the fact that if someone is superficial enough to not see your beauty despite your trich, they aren't worth your time. While your appearance isn't about finding a significant other, you know that if you do decide to date, you will find a pretty special person who will embrace your struggles, be there to support and comfort you on your low days and elevate you to make you feel like you can take on anything. Those who would say, "No one wants a bald girlfriend," will be stuck with the jerks who would overlook someone just because of a physical difference.

18. Those who are judgmental of your hair-pulling allow you to appreciate the accepting ones even more.

You've probably run into your fair share of those who turn their nose up at you, pass judgment and treat you like you're disgusting when you're just doing the best you can. This makes the people in your life who are willing to open their minds and hearts and treat you with love and kindness shine even brighter. It's not that these people get it, it's that they're smart enough to know they don't have to understand it to be capable of treating you with kindness, love and respect. These are the people you cherish and hold close because they are most likely fighting their own battle too, and you support them just like they've always done for you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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