Everybody’s got their battles to deal with. No matter how long they’ve been there or how severe they are, they’re a reality. A reality that affects us and the people around us, sometimes quite drastically. My biggest battle is one that I’ve been struggling with for over 12 years, and I’d like to tell you a bit about it.
It’s called trichotillomania (trick-o-tillo-mania), also known as a hair-pulling disorder, and is classified under obsessive-compulsive & related disorders (OCD). I hate it, I try so hard to overcome it, but it keeps getting the better of me.
Lately, however, rather than allowing myself to be consumed with self-loathing, I’ve decided to try to embrace it and accept it. After all, I didn’t choose to have this disorder. I still try my best and do all I can to stop pulling my hair out, of course, but I figured it might be easier if I learned to love myself a bit in spite of it for once.
Some of you might be wondering what I actually mean by “pulling my hair out” – but that’s exactly what it is. I pull out my eyelashes, my eyebrows, and the hair from my head. I’ve also had small bouts of pulling hair from other areas but they never really ‘caught on’, so to speak.
I haven’t had a full set of eyelashes in over 12 years – in fact, that’s where it all started.
I remember being home on a school night and, without realising, I pulled out nearly all my top lashes. I then noticed that my desk was full of little hairs (and my eyes and fingers felt sore) and when I looked on the mirror I was shocked, confused, and overwhelmed. I told my mum and neither of us really understood what happened so she gave me some vaseline to put on them. Not sure what the thought process was, but what else do you do?
I went into school the next day with weird, naked, slimy-looking eyes. Keep in mind that make-up is forbidden in schools, so it was blatantly obvious that something wasn’t quite right. Many people asked me what happened… I lied and said they fell out cause of a bad reaction to something or an accident with my eyelash curler. I’ll never forget how one particular teacher (one of my favourites) said she couldn’t look at me because I looked so scary. Thankfully, since I finished school, I’ve mastered the art of disguising it with eyeliner and no one ever notices unless I point it out.
Over the years, I also started pulling out the hair from my head. Sometimes I pull out a few, sometimes I just break the hairs by ripping them in half, and sometimes it gets pretty bad and I even end up with some bald or scarce patches. When it comes to my eyebrows, it was only recently (about 2 years ago) that I started pulling those hairs out, and I’ve since had them microbladed on.
Side note: It turns out drawing on eyebrows when you have nothing to go by is really difficult and you end up with all sorts of weird things happening on your face.
Sadly enough, I was already a couple of years in when I found out that it was an actual disorder, that I wasn’t a freak, and that there were other people out there with the same condition as me. It happened when I came across a YouTube video by someone who has (still to this day) the disorder, and I cried so much after I watched it. Just knowing that it’s an actual existing condition was life-changing for me.
This is why I’m writing this and sharing it with the world. It isn’t easy, but maybe I could be that person for someone else. I’m trying to be the person I needed when I was younger; when I felt alone and afraid.
I still suffer with it a lot – I have good days, sometimes even good weeks… but all it takes is a few minutes to screw it all up again. I haven’t given up on the hope that I’ll overcome it some day. Until then, I just have to keep trying.
To all my readers: No matter what your battle is, you’re not alone. Somehow, you will get through it. It might take years or even decades, but along the way, know that it is making you stronger in its own unique (and somewhat messed up) way. Meanwhile, as you try to overcome it, learn to love yourself in spite of it. Because if you can’t love yourself, how can anyone else?
Stay strong, stay incredible, stay you. 💕
Note: Unfortunately, there is no medication or cure for such a disorder, but therapy – particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – can help a great deal. There are also several books and online write-ups that provide lots of useful and interesting information and tips that may help both sufferers and their relatives / friends to cope a bit better. Feel free to get in touch with me for more information.
Until next time,
Special thanks to my good friend Neil for these wonderful photos and helping me feel comfortable in such a vulnerable state. If you liked this, follow my Facebook and Instagram pages for regular updates.