I never knew that pulling your hair was a disorder. I always compared my hair pulling to a nervous tic like shaking your leg, twirling your hair or biting your nails. So no big deal right!
Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh), also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.
My earliest memory of pulling my hair was a couple of years after getting married and although the early years are considered the honeymoon years it was still hard. Hell, still is sometimes! Looking back I know that pulling my hair was definitely anxiety & stressed induced. I can remember my grandmother calling my daddy on the phone saying:
Russell, Hope in here pulling her hair again!Leotha
The pulling hair thing then maximized after this thing called GRIEF hit me like a ton of bricks! My brother and grandmother died a day apart from one another on March 1st & 2nd of 2015. Every living part of me began to malfunction I had absolutely no sense of who I was anymore. I made an life changing decision to move from my hometown, the only place I’d ever known to a place that I had never been until moving there. I convinced myself it was for a better school system for my kids when in reality I was running from the place that held so many memories of the loved ones I had lost.
The hair pulling had gotten so bad that I would have a pile of hair onside of wherever I was sitting. At home everyone in the house was aware of it but not family members on the outside. Many didn’t notice because I only pulled from the middle of my head under the top layer of hair. Eventually it got worse and I couldn’t control the urge to pull wherever I was. Before long everyone knew what I was doing. I was forced to go see my doctor and I was educated on the disorder and given medication.
At the height of my hair pulling I allowed myself to let go. I had moved away where no one knew me, I allowed my weight to get up to 198lbs the biggest I had ever been, and kept myself secluded from others.
Trichotillomania can be related to emotions:
- Negative emotions. For many people with trichotillomania, hair pulling is a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings, such as stress, anxiety, tension, boredom, loneliness, fatigue or frustration.
- Positive feelings. People with trichotillomania often find that pulling out hair feels satisfying and provides a measure of relief. As a result, they continue to pull their hair to maintain these positive feelings.
Signs and symptoms of trichotillomania often include:
- Repeatedly pulling your hair out, typically from your scalp, eyebrows or eyelashes, but sometimes from other body areas, and sites may vary over time
- An increasing sense of tension before pulling, or when you try to resist pulling
- A sense of pleasure or relief after the hair is pulled
- Noticeable hair loss, such as shortened hair or thinned or bald areas on the scalp or other areas of your body, including sparse or missing eyelashes or eyebrows
- Preference for specific types of hair, rituals that accompany hair pulling or patterns of hair pulling
- Biting, chewing or eating pulled-out hair
- Playing with pulled-out hair or rubbing it across your lips or face
- Repeatedly trying to stop pulling out your hair or trying to do it less often without success
- Significant distress or problems at work, school or in social situations related to pulling out your hair
For people with trichotillomania, hair pulling can be:
- Focused. Some people pull their hair intentionally to relieve tension or distress — for example, pulling hair out to get relief from the overwhelming urge to pull hair. Some people may develop elaborate rituals for pulling hair, such as finding just the right hair or biting pulled hairs.
- Automatic. Some people pull their hair without even realizing they’re doing it, such as when they’re bored, reading or watching TV.
Life has a way of throwing some things at you that’ll make you do things you never thought you would. So, be consciously conscious, Be willing to face disappointment, and know that sometimes you have to Let go to Grow!