Hello, friends. I want to share something with you that I don’t talk much about. It’s not a secret, per se, but just not something I generally talk about. I have trichotillomania. For those of you who don’t know what that long, bizarre word means, here is an even longer definition:
“Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is a disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop.
Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which causes significant distress and can interfere with social or work functioning. People with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise the loss of hair.
For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the compulsive urge to pull hair is overwhelming. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.” ~ Mayo Clinic
This affliction is actually fairly common, and there are so many different degrees of severity. I honestly don’t know how long I’ve had trichotillomania, but I remember becoming aware of it around the 8th grade. My symptoms are not nearly as severe as some people that I know (I went to school with a girl who had to wear beanies to hide small bald patches from her pulling her hair out), which I am thankful for, and they pop up randomly, usually when I am stressed, anxious, or upset, but sometimes I do it out of boredom, and don’t even notice it. I pull my facial hair, specifically, my eyebrows and eyelashes. When I was younger, I had long, thick, black eyelashes. If you’ve seen pictures of my son, picture those beautiful eyeballs of his, on my face, with blue irises.
Look at him! He’s perfect. He got those eyes from his mama.
Circa 2008 or so.
These days, both my eyelashes and eyebrows are coarse and unappealing. My eyelashes are still long, but there are noticeable (to me) gaps between them, making them look clumpy. It makes wearing mascara difficult, because I then drive myself crazy trying to separate the clumps, and end up with black fingers. I also can’t wear eyeliner well on my upper eyelids because of the thick gaps in my eyelashes, and how thick the skin is at the root. I am actually incredibly embarrassed about these things. I’ve also, on more than one occasion, pulled my eyelashes out so violently, that it caused my eyelid to become swollen and red. Try explaining that to someone who doesn’t understand mental disorders.
Most days, when I’m home alone with the baby, makeup free, I am okay with it. I don’t mind the gaps in my lashes, or the coarseness of my eyebrows… until someone mentions my son’s lashes. My mother and grandmother, specifically, are able to get under my skin about this. It isn’t their fault, as neither of them know about my struggles with trichotillomania, and likely haven’t noticed the difference in my face, as I haven’t seen either of them in years, but it still gets to me. I sometimes find myself feeling jealous of my one-year old son, because he has these beautiful lashes, and I will probably never have that again. Coincidentally, my trichotillomania worsened after my son was born, but has gotten a bit better.
“He has your eyes! You always had such gorgeous lashes!”
“Look at those LASHES! Just like his mommy!”
“You had the prettiest eyelashes when you were younger, too!”
Past tense now, of course.
It can take several weeks to several months for eyelashes to grow back, though there are little tricks to get them to grow faster and thicker. Of course, the rate at which they grow back means nothing if you continue to pull others out in the meantime. It’s a vicious cycle. I’m also a compulsive skin picker (hurray, adult acne!), but that’s a whooole other problem. Just add that to the list of weird things that add to my many reasons that I suffer from such severe self-esteem issues.
Does anyone else suffer from trichotillomania? Were you aware that there was even a term for it? How has it affected your life?
Thanks for reading, friends.