Time To Talk.

I was twelve, sitting on my grandmother’s couch in the heat of summer. A slight breeze blowing outside, and the whir of grasshoppers shrilling in my ears.

First one,

then two,

then a pile.

A pile of hair.  On the couch next to me. Frantically I hide it, running to the bathroom to see what damage I’d done.

This would become a familiar occurrence in my life, as would be a familiar feeling of shame. Just as pulling the hair out of my own head would become normality.

I have Trichotillomania.

Conscious, and in my case more often the unconscious pulling out of the hair from my head, from eye lashes and eyebrows. A mental illness related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorders but more recently classified as a Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour (BFRB). Trichotillomania affects millions of Canadians, mostly women but men also. The illness tends to begin in adolescence; as it did for me. I grew up being told it was “just a habit”, trying my best to fiddle with anything but my hair, developing other habits like biting my nails or chewing on the inside of my cheek as replacement. I know how to hide bald spots with expert ability, fill in my eyebrows, and wear fake eyelashes when times are really bad. I pull in times of stress, but also in times of idleness. Often I don’t recognize I’m doing so until it’s too late, until I see a pile of hair beside me. Everyday I struggle, everyday I feel regret, EVERYDAY I obsess about my hair.

I’ve spent most of my adult life hiding from those around me; sharing with few. Only those I truly love, those closest to me, and a few counsellors have known my struggle. There is stigma attached to being different, and struggling- it shouldn’t be this way, but it is. Depression, Anxiety, OCD, Schizophrenia, PTSD and many others are all illness we hear about; we cry-out for help for those affected- we support. I’ve rallied to end the stigma associated with mental illness, while all the while holding back in sharing my own struggles.

Trichotillomania is strange, it’s unusual and it’s rarely talked about. 2-4 percent of Canadians have trichotillomania but few talk about it due to shame. Stigma regarding Trichotillomania and other BFRBs has come from me as I’ve kept the shame I feel as secret for far too long.  I’ve lived with this secret for eleven years now. Hiding in shame, not sharing my experiences despite the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve avoided explaining Trich to the utmost of it’s reality.

Enough.Of. That.

Eleven years of hiding is simply too many. Although I can’t take those years back- I can talk now. For those little girls and boys who feel shame as I did, as I do.

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15 thoughts on “Time To Talk.

  1. Yes! Someone that understands! Haha I relate to everything you said! I suffer from Trichotillomania as well since I was young. Would love to talk about it!

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    1. Love to chat! Follow along this week and share via #7DayTrichster! Hoping to keep conversations in the comments so others can see and feel the desire to join. Have you shared your story before?

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      1. I am so glad to find your site just now. My 12 yo daughter has Trich and we are trying to figure out what to do next…. I think this weekend I’ll try and share your site with her…..she doesn’t want to talk about it 😦 We live in Asheville, NC now and there are any therapists or support groups around 🙂

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  2. Anastasia just another way you are amazing! I know a few young girls in the schools I have worked in that suffer from this, but I didn’t know what it was called. I look forward to learning more and please know you don’t need to feel ashamed. Not then and not now, we love you just the way you are ❤

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    1. Thank you Kathy! For all your support in not along this but everything else 🙂 Glad to have been helpful in sharing some info! May the rest of the week be equally as enlightening.

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    2. Thank you Kathy and my goodness I am SO SO happy to have been able to educate someone on the topic 🙂 Growing up no-one, even my family and I understood Trich. I too am continuing to learn about it, as is the mental illness field. Awareness breeds knowledge. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week.

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  3. Hi Stacia you have nothing to be ashamed about! Good for you speaking out for different kinds of mental illness! I grew up in a time where it was never appropriate to admit to or discuss any issue that someone was having. Best wishes on your journey! All the best!

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    1. Thanks Susan ❤ It wasn't easy, but it's important, each day I grow more excited, less terrified by it, and THAT is progress. My hope is others will do the same.

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  4. Wow Stacia! You were such an amazing kid, always looking out for others. I see that has continues into your adulthood. You are so brave for sharing and once again helping others. Im proud of you, in my eyes you’re still a pretty neat “kid”!

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    1. Took me a while to recognize the name (the lack of Ms. threw me off)! Hello 😀 Thank you for the kind words, and the support 🙂 Here’s to many more years of helping others, I’ll let you know if I figure out adulthood tho #stillakid

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  5. Oh yes, we are experts at covering bald spots, avoiding certain situations that might mess up our meticulously crafted attempt at appearing normal.

    So. Much. time. I will never get it back. I don’t want to lose any more time to trich.

    Thank you for being vocal about it! It’s harder to fight the battle thinking you’re alone. Good luck!

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  6. Wow – once again taking the role as leader and doing what you can to help others. I’m sure this blog will be helpful to you as you explore your own jouney, but it will absolutely be a huge help to anyone who is working through any kind of personal struggle, aka, all of us. Your strength and kindness is a gift. Thanks for sharing.

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