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My Buddy: Trichotillomania This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Greensboro, NC
I walked into my house, dropping my backpack in the playroom. I was tired, hungry and annoyed, just wanting to go upstarts to my room and sleep after a stressful day of ninth grade. As I stepped into the living room, I noticed my mom sitting on the couch, working on something in her lap. No one else was home, only us. My dog, Ginger, crawled out from under the couch and came to lick my feet as she greeted me.

“Hi kiddo,” My mom says to me, setting aside her project, “How was your day?” I replied with a halfhearted fine, making sure to not make eye contact so as to avoid anymore questions. I hurried into the kitchen, anxious to get something to eat for my famished stomach. Searching through the pantry, I found nothing, so I traveled to the fridge and brought out a crunchy, red apple, grateful for the coldness as I bit into it.
“Your teacher called today,” I passed through the door into the living room, “She wanted to inform me that you were pulling your hair.” I stopped as I was just about to leave. Great, I thought, not this subject again. Nonchalantly, I turned to my mother, crunching on my apple.
“Okay.” I bit into my apple again.

“I told her that I knew you were pulling your hair and informed her about your Tric. She was just worried that something was wrong, but I informed her that everything was okay.” She smiled at me, and went back to her work. Seeing the subject dropped, I left the room and as I headed up the stairs.

I went to my room and plopped on my bed, not bothering to start my homework. Homework was the least of my worries. Sitting there, I thought about my disorder and how it consumed my life. The endless embarrassment and frustration that it caused came rushing to my memory, feeling like a wound that would never truly healed. I hated the feeling it gave me, the insecurity that I felt all the time. I hated to walk into a restaurant and be mistaken for a boy or to look in the mirror and hate how I looked. The torture of looking at myself in pictures was almost too much to bear. I hated it all.

I started to remember when it all started. When I found out what I really had. When I was back in eighth grade…
~~
It came upon me suddenly. I didn’t even know I was doing it. It all started because of boredom. I would sit in the classroom at my middle school and would get bored of the endless talking. To pass the time I would grab and couple strands of hair and twirl it around my finger, but unfortunately this would cause it to knot and get stuck, forcing me to pull that whole clump of hair out. I guess I, in some way, I got addicted to it and it led to more extreme things. The year passed and I would sit in class and gradually pull my hair out, feeling my stress and boredom release. I remember vividly that I left my social studies class one day and looked down at my feet, and noticed all these strands of hair on the tile floor. At that point I knew what I was doing and was embarrassed, but couldn’t stop. I didn’t even tell anyone, not even my mom. I couldn’t really explain what was happening, because I didn’t fully understand it myself. Nobody did at the time. I pulled so much in the eighth grade that I started to form a bald patch on my head, much to my humiliation when school pictures rolled around. That’s when my teacher called to inform my mother about it, and she suddenly realized what was happening. During that year I got a new hair cut and changed my hair part, which helped to conceal the bald patches for a while. The pulling didn’t stop though and new patches eventually began to form in their place.

Eventually eighth grade year passed, and ninth and tenth and eleventh and the pulling didn’t stop. I went to so many doctors and counselors, trying to figure out what was wrong with me, hoping to get rid of it and put it behind me forever. Many were helpful and kind while others suggested solutions that weren’t permanent and seemed to degrade me when they spoke about it, like it was a disease that they could make fun of. One counselor thought it was caused by anxiety, while a doctor had no idea what I had. I felt like I was going around in circles, never getting to the solution, always running around the problem.

Finally, my mother brought me to a different counselor, one that understood what I was going through. I remember walking into her office space, a quaint little house with couches, chairs, and dim lighting inside. I waited for ten minutes until I heard high heeled footsteps coming down the stairs. A blonde lady came forward and introduced herself to me, her kind smile putting me at ease. I felt relaxed and hopeful in the presence of this lady. Throughout my sessions she helped me a lot with expressing my feelings and getting to the bottom of this disorder. She was very helpful and kind to me, but unfortunately I didn’t stick with counseling for long. After a couple of months I got tired of it, tired of talking about my feelings, tired of spending all this time for results that I couldn’t see. Since I left counseling, I never did return and my family stopped bugging me to stop pulling once they found out that it was probably going to be permanent. But not all the counseling was in vain. I learned a lot like the name of my disorder: Trichotillomania.

Trichotillomania, Tric, or TTM is a hair pulling disorder. It is usually associated with anxiety or depression, both of which I don’t have, which is why it is hard for me to get rid of it. There are also many different symptoms: hair pulling, eyelash pulling, eyebrow pulling, picking at the skin, and other body hair pulling. Everyone who has it has different variants. Some people pull tons, while others only a little. Some people eat their hair, which causes them to get intestinal problems while others don’t even pull their own hair, sometimes they pull dolls hair. People’s hair color and texture have also known to change. I know mine has. I used to have straight, fair hair and since I started pulling, I have gained curls at the base of my head. My texture has also changed to becoming a little thicker when it used to be really fair. Different things vary with different people. With me, I only pull my scalp hair and nothing else. In my four years since I have had this disorder, I have only known one other person that has had it and she was one of my best friends.

It was in ninth grade, the beginning of small group. I got assigned a small group for church with all of my friends, and I was really excited to go and meet these girls that I would be spending the rest of my four years of high school with. I arrive at my leader’s house and met everyone, feeling like I fit in instantly. We all traveled to the living room and sat around a table, proceeding to tell a little about ourselves. My friend sat next to me and began to talk about her family and life. Then she got to the part that surprised me. She talked about a disorder that she called TTM where she would pull her eyelashes out every time she played basketball. At the time, I had no idea what TTM was, but I immediately recognized it as what I had. I was absolutely relieved and astonished. I never knew anyone else had it; I thought I was the only one. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t alone in the world. This helped me to come out and tell people outside of my family what I had for the first time.

Of course, the biggest curse of having this disorder is not getting the hair style that you want. I used to have long hair, but as I slowly started to develop bald patches and hair thinning, I had to cut it shorter and shorter until it turned out to be shorter than my brother’s. I’m one of the lucky ones because I don’t mind short hair, I love it. Ever since I was little, I always wanted short hair or hair like a “boys”. I have gone through many different hair stages, most of which have been in the last three years. First it was long hair, and then I had to always wear it up in a ponytail because one side was thinning faster than the other side. Once my hair started thinning and getting uneven, I had to wear clips to keep it all together. Eventually it got too much of a hassle to keep it up with so many bobby pins and clips and I was getting annoyed with how much I fretted over how I looked. After a while I just got fed up with it, so I chopped it all off. That was probably the best decision that I ever made. The hairdresser I went to knew how to make me look good while covering up my bald patches. Because of this I am so grateful to her. Once again I got to feel like my old self, not having to worry about how my hair looked every day, how I would look when I got to school, or how other people perceived me. Being able to get up in the morning and spend less than five minutes on my hair has been a huge relief to me and to my self esteem.

It’s been a long trip and I am tired. Tired of this pulling, tired of walking out everyday hoping that nobody will notice any difference in me. Sometimes I have almost given up and have, very seriously, thought about shaving my head bald. Because of this hatred that I felt toward my disorder and sometimes towards myself, I have learned to just deal with it. I know that this part of my life will probably never go away and I have come to accept that over the years. I don’t care how other people perceive me now, how I look or what people call me. All I care about is myself. I care about feeling good and knowing that no matter how I look, there will always be people to care and love me for who I am. Tric has helped me to grow as a person and as an individual through everything I have been through and through everything that I have felt. Tric is a part of me now, and I am a part of it. I have learned to stand strong when things don’t go apparently as planned and my life takes an unexpected turn. But right now, all I can hope is that one day my Tric will be gone and I will once again, be able to leave my seat and see a clean tile floor under my feet.





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Violabookworm said...
Oct. 31, 2012 at 11:29 pm
Hey guys, thanks for reading my article! Yes, this is mine. I know it says anonymous, but its not supposed to. I never meant it to be posted anonymously, so I am just letting everyone know that this is my aritcle. Yes I really do have this disorder and yes, those are true events. If you guys have any questions about Trichotillomania just ask! I'd be happy to answer. :)
 
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