Trichotillomania. Ever heard of it? No? That’s what I thought. It’s a disorder that not many people suffer from, so I don’t blame you for not knowing. This disorder is considered a form of OCD. Trichotillomania, or shortened trich, is the intense, irresistible urge to pull out one’s hair. And no, it doesn’t hurt. In my opinion, the feeling of pulling out that one extra coarse hair is about as satisfying as finally letting out the sneeze that has been stuck all day. You have probably encountered someone with trich before and never knew it because most of us are extremely good at hiding it. Here are some of my personal experiences and thoughts.
1. My family was out getting ice cream with my grandparents once and as sisters do, we were joking around. I said something and my sister very loudly says, “I’m not the one who plucked out all my eyebrows,” as she burst into laughter — right in front of my very paranoid grandma who thinks every health problem is far more extreme than it is.
2. I had some friends over and I was wearing a baseball cap because I was too lazy to put effort into hiding my patches. My friend’s brother decided it would be a good idea to yank my cap off. None of them knew about my trich, but fortunately, I had my hands up already in an attempt to fight him, so nobody saw anything.
3. This guy had a big crush on me and he was one of the few people I could actually talk to about it (I found out he liked me after I told him about my disorder). He would always make really unintentionally hurtful jokes about it and laugh and say he was kidding. I felt bad that I didn’t like him in the first place, but that’s what really drove me away.
4. Being around my crush was always super hard since I could never get my hair to look even halfway decent and I look like a gopher anyway.
5. I feel a hair I don’t like and my mom slaps my hand away, tries to take my tweezers, and so on. I never asked her for help and all she does is piss me off. It feels like she thinks I’m not capable of self-control and that I don’t know the consequences of my actions.
6. A friend once freaked out in front of a bunch of other people and said, “Why did you shave your eyebrows?!?”
7. As a band kid, every time there are concerts, I feel nervous not about the performance, but the fact that the stage lights show the thin spots.
8. You hate the wind because it messes up your delicately placed hairs and partially reveals your bald spots.
9. Wanna go swimming? Forget it. Unless you have a swim cap that guarantees your hair stays bone dry.
10. I can’t help but pull all the loose hairs off of clothing and it bothers my friends.
11. Breakups are especially hard because not only did you lose the one you really cared about, but it amplifies your trich and you can’t freaking stop pulling your hair out which only makes your self-esteem worse.
12. All these commercials portray women with long, beautiful hair, perfect eyebrows, and thick eyelashes. High school girls notice everything — they notice if any of your hair is even slightly imperfect.
13. You have days that are plain awful and you hate yourself, so you strive to do better. You barely pull for 3 days and then you have a major relapse and hate yourself all over again.
14. Everyone always asks why you don’t just stop, but they don’t realize that you ask yourself that every day.
Living with trich is awful. It’s plain awful. I’ve had it for about three years now. I’ll never forget when it was triggered — my sister came home for Christmas my Freshman year of high school and asked if I ever like to go through my eyebrows and get rid of the loose ones. I said no and she said to try it, so I did. Three years later, I’m writing this, partially recovered, but it’s a daily fight. If you ever find yourself struggling with this, remember this; any guy who is worth your time will love you regardless of your trich and certainly won’t make fun of you. You aren’t normal and that’s okay. You have a burden to bear that will make you stronger in yourself as long as you can accept yourself. Natural beauty, hair or not, is always more attractive than inch thick makeup. But most especially, you are lovable and you are worthy. Anyone who has to put you down to bring themselves up needs to reconsider their own life. Don’t beat yourself up over something you have no control over.