Mania - excessive excitement or enthusiasm; craze
Tillo - to pluck, tear, pull
Trich - hair or hairlike
When I was aged four or five, it began. Innocently, as most ominous habits do, though this façade was fleeting. Humans of this age tend to be fascinated by touching and playing with anything that lies within reach, and, conveniently, my hair seemed to fit this criteria. I began pulling. Many children of this age do, and they also tend to outgrow this habit. Alas, I have not.
Trichotillomania (the compulsion to pull out one’s own hair) was brought to my attention again in grade six, at the age of eleven, when there was a positive correlation between my pulling and my awareness of the horrors concomitant with existence. It began with my scalp, pulling near the hairline, desperately rooting for any coarse, unruly hairs. I began to develop a rooster like growth pattern on the crown of my scalp from all the short hairs growing in, along with intruding bald spots.
I began wearing mascara to increase my attractiveness level, as most insecure teenage girls do. Yet, I became enthralled with the activity of scraping off the make up from my eyelashes. Soon, my eyelashes were removed with the mascara, and I discovered my secret fascination with the feeling of pulling short bristly hairs and the texture of bare lashline. Shortly thereafter, I had no eyelashes. With the lack of pulling opportunity, I moved to my eyebrows. Currently, I have none of either.
Though these three areas were my main preoccupation, I did not neglect other areas.
Tweezers were my most abused tool. I would sit after a shower and pull out every leg hair I missed. I would search for loose or long arm hairs during class. I would sit for an hour straight digging at every ingrown hair or scar in my pubic area. I would sit in front of mirror and pick at all the imperfections on my face until it was scarlet and swollen, or until a frustrated knock on the bathroom door shock me from my trance. I still do all these things. Any black of coarse hair on my body would be disposed of with enthusiasm. They still are.
I am unable to properly convey the utter frustration this imparts on me.
I despise having to spend time every sunrise clumsily filling the void where my eyelashes should be, or drawing amateur-ly on myself what the Mona Lisa herself lacked.
I despise the looks I collect when people see the pile of hair on my desk that I accumulate during each class.
I abhor the pain in my fingers from attempting fruitlessly to pull out that minuscule stub of a hair that only grew back last night for hours on end when I lose my tweezers.
I cannot stand how self conscious I feel around everyone, even those who accept my habit and remind me unceasingly of beauty I do not believe I have.
I abhor myself for the jealousy that undulates through my being when I see mascara advertisements boasting of their length strengthening formula, or the wonderful long hair everyone around me sports, or the manner in which someone is able to sit through an entire class without even touching their hair or face.
I regret the mountains of moments I have lost, having been startled out of a pulling trance and noticing both the pile of hair on the floor and the pile of time that has escaped me.
It is so unutterably difficult to stop this compulsion. My mum would repeatedly get mad at me for unconsciously pulling, and tell me to stop. I would, though it would only resume moments later unnoticed by me. There are so many methods and tricks to help regain control, but gloves and tape can be taken off, threats and willpower can be ignored, and distractions can be cast aside when the urge presents itself. I had dreadlocks for eight months, in an effort to keep my hair from being able to be pulled, and I only pulled more, ultimately destroying the effort and time I put into my dreads. The need is always stronger.
This obsession has deepened my depression and caused a swell in my stress. It’s a small inconvenience to many outsiders, but it is often the tipping point for many of my emotional breakdowns.
Throughout this entire post I have been pulling out the stubble of my right eyebrow, and though I catch myself and attempt to stop every time, it is relentless. I only have a finite amount of willpower and patience, while my trich is infinite in its potential energy.
I have never done a full account, or even a partial account, of my trich to anyone. I mostly hope that someone takes something from this that is useful to them. I find reading the stories of others’ experiences interesting, so share yours about trich, depression, frustration, or any of the horrors of existence. There certainly are a myriad.