Trichotillomania and Me (Pt. 2)
My Ongoing Struggle Against My Hair and Myself
The first article in the series is available here. Please read it before continuing.
As I finished middle school and started high school, my trich went through a roller coaster of ups and downs. Sometimes, I didn't pull much at all. Sometimes, I couldn't stop and would pull out substantial sections at a time. I recall one family gathering where I cleared out a section the size of a dime in less than an hour and a half. Despite my times of self-restraint (or lack of interest in pulling), my hair and eyelashes never came back full strength; I never stopped enough to make a real difference.
Depression and Headbands
In my junior year of high school, depression set in. Trich and depression often go hand in hand although in my case I believe they are separate entities, for the most part. As life got more difficult and my ability to deal with it well declined, my hair pulling became one of the few things I could control. Still somehow this was not the worst stage my habit reached.
My hair thinned out significantly and I struggled to make it look decent. I started wearing thick cloth headbands a lot. Friends and family bought them for me as presents, although not everyone knew why I wore them so frequently. I had to stop wearing some of my favorite hairstyles because they now showcased my problems. I experimented with different hairstyles to figure out how best to hide my thin patches.
College started. My depression was bad; my hair pulling was bad. College continued. My depression got better; the trich still wavered up and down. At one point, I had enough eyelashes in that I actually purchased mascara for the first time in my life. I never got to use it; I pulled them all out the next day.
In sophomore year, I called one of my best friends crying one night because I thought the only option to do anything would be to shave my head. After talking, we decided it wasn't the best decision at the time, and my pulling slowed for the time being.
Then junior year hit. My depression (for no known reason) went absolutely off the charts, and my hair pulling with it. By November 2015, I had cleared out a bald spot larger than the size of my hand in addition to other various bald or thins spots on on my head. I had been planning on studying abroad in Ireland in the spring, but after discussing it with my doctor, mentor, and parents, I realized it would not be a good idea. This, of course, made the pulling worse. I also got more brazen with my hair pulling. Previously, I was reluctant to pull in public. At this point I started pulling out my hair in public as much as I did in private.
Looking for Answers
By the summer of 2016 (also for no reason at all), my depression lessened significantly for the first since 2011. I tried to stop pulling since I was feeling better than I had in years, but there was no luck. I started reading more about it on the internet. In my searching, I came across Beckie-O's Youtube channel.
Her honesty helped me so much. I read in the comments that some people felt triggered to pull more by her videos; that was not the case for me. I felt encouraged and less alone. She taught me it would be OK if I had bald spots, shaved my head, wore wigs, or did whatever necessary to stop.
I still tried to find options to help me quit pulling. I tried to play with fidget toys, wear hats, wear gloves, sit on my hands, tie my hands together, wear baggy sweatshirts and tuck my hands inside the sleeves, tear apart T-shirt material, etc. Nothing helped. I slowly realized that really only one viable option remained: I needed to shave my head.
To be continued.