I remember being asked as a young teen if I was getting chemo treatments, being forced to let a girl count my eyelashes because she thought I was so weird, not to mention all the activities I felt unable to participate in for fear of my makeup washing off and revealing I had no eyebrows. Sleepovers were so uncomfortable, swimming underwater was not an option. My self esteem was crushed.
Once I started attending college I began researching my condition and discovered it had a name: Trichotillomania. I felt a wave of relief somehow knowing I was not alone and finding it so intriguing that all of us who pull have such similar thoughts about the process. How interesting the brain is! How could we all be feeling the same way? Almost everything I read could have come straight from my mouth. The unfortunate thing I discovered is that there appears to be no cure, no proven treatment. Lot's of supposed success stories who overcame it and all you have to do is take their course or buy their book for $500. I can't believe it. Coming from someone who pulls and knows the emotional and physical strain this has caused in my life you can bet that if I figured out a way to cure this I'd be shouting it from the rooftops and helping anyone I could for free. No one should have to struggle with it and I find those supposed cures very suspicious.
In saying that I have spent a lot of time and money trying to find my own way to overcome it. Cognitive behavioral therapy, daily journals, cutting my nails painfully short to prevent pulling, getting acrylic nails when that didn't work. Removing or covering all the mirrors in my home even medication. All to no avail. I'm still experimenting with natural supplements but have yet to see any results.
At one point a few years ago I came to an unsettling realization that maybe there was a part of me that didn't want to stop. After all these years I had identified myself as a hair puller. I spent all of my developing years feeling insecure and unhappy with the way I looked. Hating what I saw in the mirror. What if someday I did stop pulling, all my hair grew back, and I still felt terrible about myself? Right now when I feel bad I can blame the fact that I've pulled out most of my eyelashes and eyebrows and tell myself if they were there I would feel better. But what if I didn't? I felt upset and mostly ashamed of how vain I could be. I had to stop letting the amount of hair dictate my value. To look at myself differently regardless of physical appearance. I've never judged anyone based on their appearance so why was I being so hard on myself? And honestly most people don't even notice the lack of hair until I point it out. Even then the reactions are not as they were from my childhood, people are generally understanding and above all interested and supportive.