The short? No.
I don’t ever remember my hair pulling as being painful. Sure there is the odd moment you pull a hair and a twinge of pain lasting a second appears, but with it comes a feeling of relief.
When I pull I look for certain kinds of hairs, as many trichsters do. Seeking a certain texture, thickness or length. I pull from specific areas, carefully chosen areas. I haven’t always done this, but over the years I needed to hide bald spots, so I pull in targeted places.
I pull from behind my left ear, the crown of my head and when life is too crazy, or a day is really bad, my eyebrows or eyelashes. For me it’s become about being discrete. Even though I don’t want to hide what I do, and hate the way pulling makes me feel; I still pull as I am a trichster.
Some trichsters pull knowingly using of tools like tweezers and actively decide to do so. Others, like me, pull unknowingly in moments of extreme focus such as studying, or in the idleness of watching a movie. My hand travels behind my ear in class, on the bus, but most frequently on my couch watching Netflix or at my desk doing schoolwork. For me, keeping busy is key. I pull when I feel a loss of control such as the end of an event, or completion of a campaign. Times are bad when a constant ceases to exist any longer.
Not physical pain, but emotional.
The urge to pull cannot be stopped, and in that lies the damage of the illness. It’s not a habit. A trichster cannot “just stop it”. The desire to stop and the inability to do so is what causes emotional pain. The moment of realization that you’ve created a new bald spot, that you’ve been pulling for a hour and notice the pile of hair beside you. Moments of shame at what you’ve just done, of doing something you so much desire to stop, but can’t.
Trichotillomania is with me in everyday. It’s there as I decide how much I hate my hair every morning getting ready, it’s in the insecurity about my hair I feel everyday, but particularly on a windy one. Insecurity lies in my fear of wearing my hair in a high pony-tail exposing a bald spot. Insecurities also lie in my fear a tuft of short hair will decide to peak out at any moment. These insecurities, often lead to fits of anxiousness without a reason, reasons I don’t leave the house some days.
Trichotillomania is a part of me, it hurts my confidence, it controls me, only when I can’t control it.