In honor of mental health awareness month, I am deciding to open up about my long-term battle that I have suffered from: trichotillomania.
I know many of you do not know what that is, and when you do find out, you may question me or think, "She is so weird, that is very strange"- trust me, I know. I battle with it everyday.
So let's backtrack to 6th grade when it all started. To be straight up, I haven't had a full set of eyebrows since I was about 10 years old. People who suffer from trichotillomania have the urge to rip out hair, classified as mental and obsessive disorder.
Unfortunately, I do this without realizing and have faced many years of embarrassment about it. I have carried around an eyebrow pencil with me in my purse for longer than I can remember. Oh no, we are going swimming? What if they see me without any on? What if we go to the beach and it comes off? The humiliation and embarrassment was a lot to handle for me. So I often avoided these situations as best I could.
Many people who do not have this problem look down upon it, but little they do know that this disorder is linked to bipolar and mood disorder, which is also what I have. So to the people who judged me for years, this is who I am. Take it or leave it.
It was not until about last year that I looked at myself with my half eyebrows and felt comfortable. School was very hard for me, and I hate looking back on photos from then because it brings a lot of dark memories for me up while I was suffering from it.
After I finally felt okay with who I was and the way my face looked, a lot of the embarrassment and humiliation went away. I let more people see me without the eyebrows covered and it is not a constant worry for me anymore. I have tried a lot of different coping skills and I have to say some do help, but trichotillomania is not something that will ever go away; I will have this battle my whole life. I have accepted that and still love myself for who I am.
To me, the 6th grader being bullied about this: I hope you know it truly did not matter. I spent so many days and nights worrisome about the outcome of what people would say or do to me. Then I look at myself now, 22, and I am stronger than ever. This mental disorder does not take away my beauty or personality, and if I want to go swim, I will. Those little things do not matter at the end of the day.
Although this has been an issue and secret of mine for many years, I decided to talk about it and let others know who may be suffering from it, that this does not make you an outcast nor does it make you strange. It is a problem, but you can take control of it.
Keep on keeping on, friends! Stay strong and healthy.
Love Always, Mel.