Over the past two days I’ve been struck by one thing in particular- an ability to hide. It seems that as I share my story, others so too feel empowered which I love so much. Yet it makes me sad in our ability to live so close, to know each other so well, and still hide such major parts of our lives.
Here’s how I hide.
I’m a bit of an artist when it comes to hiding my Trichotillomania, I’ve had to be. Media portrays beautiful women with long flowing, full heads of hair. Beautiful is hardly patchy hair, short in spots and dry in others. I’ve had to hide that, or at least thats the way I’ve felt over the past eleven years.
I’ve developed mechanisms of hiding my reality, of hiding my Trich. However, these masks of the reality also act as coping mechanisms to keep pulling at bay.
Braids- They take effort, and time to put in making taking them out or ruining them by pulling far less appealing. Braids provide a pulling sensation when done tight enough that I find relieving, but is also not damaging. Braids can go all the way around my head, or only hold a certain part in place; they are versatile. When I wear a braid I worry less that a tuft of hair will escape, hence why they’re my favourite for events and long days.
Buns- Once a ballerina, always a ballerina. I grew up with my hair in a tightly made bun, it’s hard to pull from the crown of your head when there’s a bun there. Buns also take work, and when you’re dancing there’s little time to un-do and re-do one between rehearsals. Although buns do have their downfall in that they perfectly expose one of my most prominent pulling places; behind my ear.
Hats- Ah hats, one of my favourites. Chances are if I’m studying, or watching a movie at home I’ve got a hat or headband on. They serve as physical reminders not to pull. When I reach to pull a hair, fabric hits my fingers first and reminds me not to. Recently at the Jack.org Summit at MSVU I received a snap back from Hats On For Awareness, which has been an absolute hair-saver (see what I did there?). Not only is it great for reminding me not to pull physically, but emotionally as well. It’s meaning with regards to mental illness and awareness has helped me to focus on not pulling more than any regular old beanie. Check out Hats On For Awareness to learn more about this great organization.
Photo credits to: Haley Myatt, Beth Hoffe & UPEI Photography