Most women my age have insecurities about the way they look. For some, it may be weight, for others the size of their nose, but my insecurity is a bit more obscure — I barely have any eyelashes.
I struggle with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder known as trichotillomania.
In simple terms, it is a hair-pulling disorder that could come in the form of eyebrow, hair, or eyelash pulling as I deal with. The reason behind the eyelash pulling is to provide a sense of relief or comfort when I become anxious.
It is a reflex for me as common as crying when I'm sad. It's become such a normal action for me to do that I can barely recognize it until I have nearly no eyelashes left.
While pulling at my eyelashes is initially to heal myself from anxious thoughts, it only complicates the problem. I sit on my bed in a pool of eyelashes and think to myself "What have I done?" After I gain the courage to view the results from my latest eyelash pulling session in the mirror, my anxiety multiplies because I begin to feel ugly and disappointed in myself.
What scares me most about having trichotillomania is that my invisible disorder becomes visible.
My anxiety is open for the world to see because of my naked eyes. I keep my head down while I walk around my house so my mother doesn't have to worry about what the previous night's anxiety attack was like. As for outsiders that are oblivious to my condition, there seems to be no other explanation but the truth when they ask what happened. Suddenly, more than a few people are aware that I cried me to sleep the night prior.
Many people aren't aware that trichotillomania exists — I surely didn't until my therapist put a name to what I had been suffering for so long. To this day, I don't personally know anybody else who struggles with this. I always thought that I was insane and alone in my battle until I stumbled upon Colleen Ballinger, also known as Miranda Sings, on YouTube. On her personal YouTube channel, she openly speaks about her skin picking disorder, dermatillomania, which is very similar to what I suffer with. Hearing her speak about her struggles and the help she's seeking made me realize that I am not alone in what I'm feeling and it can get better.
It's important for people to be aware of all mental health disorders, especially the less known ones. Often, people restrict "mental health disorders" to only meaning depression and anxiety, but it's so much more than that. Although no physical harm is done when I pull at my eyelashes, it is still a very serious condition because it greatly affects my preexisting mental health disorders.