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The Truth About Living With Trichotillomania

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Brandi Redd

I have Trichotillomania, or trich for short, which is the most obnoxious name for a disease where every day involves concealing it. Trichotillomania is categorized as a form of OCD involving the urge to pull out your own hair.

My main issue is eyebrow hair pulling which has left me with a bald spot on my inner right eyebrow. It’s an impulse control disorder meaning I have the uncontrollable urge to be self-destructive to my own body. It’s almost impossible to stop myself even though I so badly want to. Because it’s uncontrollable, I often feel like a prisoner, held victim to my urges.

I’ve had trich for over a year now and I’ve found that it’s easiest for me to just conceal it than to explain it. I wish I could explain what the urges feel like. I feel it in my bones. It feels as if my eyebrow doesn’t belong on my face, like it’s a foreign entity I must remove. It drives me absolutely insane. Every time I pull out a hair it relieves some of my stress; the same way people bite their nails when they’re nervous. It’s obviously not a healthy way to relieve stress but when you find a stress relieving method that “seemingly” works it’s hard to give it up.

I remember the moment I said, “Fuck it!” and pulled out almost every hair on the right side of my eyebrow for the first time. From then on I realized just how important eyebrows are and just how weird you look without one. With the trich I have I feel like I can’t leave the house without putting on makeup to conceal the damage I’ve done. I have to wear makeup to the gym. I constantly worry that someone will notice. Every time I sleep over someone’s house I worry that my eyebrow makeup will wear off in the night. Sure, I’ve told people about it but they don’t really understand no matter how hard I’ve tried to explain it. I’ve been told to just stop, like it’s that easy. Trich has the power, not only to give you uncontrollable urges, but also the feeling that you are completely alone.

Mental illness, unlike most other diseases, is easy to hide. The way society reacts to mental illness can make you feel like you should hide it, as if you don’t deserve to be recognized for a disease you didn’t choose to have. There have been major fundraising walks to raise awareness for all types of diseases but mental illness is “supposed” to be private. Staying hidden has never solved anything and I refuse to hide any longer. Not many people know about trichotillomania, I didn’t know about it until it was happening to me. I wanted to tell my story because I believe awareness is important. I encourage others to tell their mental illness stories. Trichotillomania, like many other mental illnesses, is a battle but it doesn’t have to be fought alone. TC mark

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