Ever heard of trichotillomania?

I did not, until now, when I Googled it up. According to Wikipedia and trich.org, Trichotillomania is an impulse control disorder, where people repeatedly pull their scalp hair, eyelashes, or any other body hair, sometimes resulting in bald patches. It is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, since people who has “trich” cannot control themselves pulling their hair, and it is “preceded by an uncomfortable sensation that must be relieved.”

Symptoms are (taken from trich.org)

  • Inability to resist urges to pull out one’s hair
  • For some, mounting tension before one pulls
  • For some, gratification and relaxation when pulling
  • For some, a feeling of relief after pulling
  • Noticeable hair loss
  • Increased distress and/or interference with daily life

Now why am I all of a sudden talking about this psychological disorder? It’s just that I am certain that I have a mild form of trichotillomania, since I have this excessive impulse to pull my hair whenever my hands are not busy. I touch and feel my scalp hair, and when there is a strand that seems “out of place” and “thicker than the regular ones”, I then pull it off, usually with my fingers, sometimes with scissors. And then I go and find another hair strand to pull again. I do this usually when I am alone, but I also sometimes cannot help but do it in other public places, usually in class. It has been bugging me for quite some time now (translation: a few years).

Thankfully, I have not acquired the severe form of this disorder (and hopefully never will). I do not have bald patches on my head (whew), nor am I depressed or “experiencing academic decline” (double whew). I excessively fiddle with my hair though, and I believe it is enough to at least declare myself having a mild case of trichotillomania. Better to accept and learn the truth than to deny it, the wise always say.

Okay, now people will know me as the crazy, impulsive, hair-pulling girl. This frustrating habit of mine is really very personal to me, and in many ways, deeply shameful. I could not help but think that many of my failures in life resulted because of my impulsive hair pulling. Like for example, I feel like I have lost so much time with my hand on my hair. Instead of concentrating on studying or solving math problems, sometimes my hand automatically goes to my head, searching for another strand to pull.

Of course, I do not pull my hair all the time. I only do it when my hands are free and not holding anything. But this does not relate to why I hate being bored and not doing anything. I naturally love keeping myself busy. :)

If this is really embarrassing, why am I blogging about this? I feel that letting this out may help me recover an get over this frustratingly damaging habit, and I need to do something about this before it becomes worse. I do not want to damage my long locks. I am tired of feeling pathetic and helpless every time my hand automatically touches my hair. I do not want to be overcome with depression. Most of all, I cannot afford to lose any more precious hours of my life on earth just because I cannot help pulling out strands of my hair one by one. (I permit you to laugh now.)

Another thing, it surely helps for people become more informed, even about weird psychological disorders like these. Who knows? Somebody who is also in a similar situation like me might stumble upon this entry and realize that they are not alone and they are normal human beings with odd problems (who doesn’t?), and it just turns out that it concerns the impulsive pulling of hair. Two to ten million Americans have this disorder (world figures are unknown though), with 80-90% of them female. And it is definitely curable! Can you believe there is a whole organization dedicated to the treatment and awarenes of this disorder (along with chronic skin picking, another obssesive compulsive disorder)?

So what do I plan to do with this, aside from shamelessly blogging about it? According to trich.org, through cognitive-behavioral therapy,  I need to find out what triggers the impulse to pull hair and redirect the impulse to something else, like reaching for a book or something. I could also use more creative and practical techniques, such as wearing thick cloth headbands to cover my head, and keeping my hands busy.

By the end of this summer, I aim to lead a pull-free life. Else, my self-esteem, my studies, and my (seemingly) bright future will be at stake.

Woah, I never touched my hair the whole time as I typed and thought about this.

Am I cured now? :)

Hong Kong, fasting, among other things

We’re going to Hong Kong tomorrow *excited to bits* for four days. It is probably our seventh (or is it eighth? Never bothered to keep track. Better ask Sheila. Her answer: “Endless!”) time to go on a vacation on China’s tiny territory and one of the most densely populated places in the world. Not that I’m complaining, but I silently wish that we travel to someplace new and more exciting this time (like Korea, or India, or any other Asian country I haven’t been to yet). Then again, it’s just a company trip. Daddy told us that he will take us to more exciting places without other people tagging around. :) After all, there is always something new to see and experience on a foreign land, even though you have been there endless times already. You just have to keep your mind open and your imagination run free.

And I plan to do just that. I wish the next four days would not be any ordinary trip to Hong Kong. I do not like to spend the whole trip shopping, even though that is what most people go there to do. I want to go sightseeing. I want to learn more of their culture. I want to gain new perspectives. And I wish the other grown-ups would not get in the way.

*starts to surf the Web for new places to see*


My head is starting to hurt. I wonder if that is a result of me not eating any solid food today. I only drank a whole pitcher of special fruit juice my mom bought for me (I am starting to think she is more concerned about my weight than I am). It is the second time in one week that I fasted, and I am happy more of because that I have been able to control myself from a basic human need, and less of the fact that I will be able to lose a pound or two when I wake up the next day. Oh, and that I am fasting on Holy Wednesday. Now that is the first ever Holy Week sacrifice I have managed to fulfill. :D

My sister is quite incredulous that I had the “willpower” to not eat anything for a whole day. She said she could never do that, given her huge appetite but enviously stick-thin figure, while here I am, striving to shed a few pounds and getting hurt as my mom tells me I looked thinner in a picture taken in Hong Kong Disneyland a couple of years ago.

Well, that’s my mom, clearly more concerned about my weight than the far more important things, like my future or something. She comments more about my eating habits than my study habits. But that’s Mommy. I love her just the way she is.

I can’t wait to eat real food again tomorrow *stomach roaring*! And the best part is, food is always way more delicious in other countries! But I vow to walk more than eat more. Who says you can’t lose weight while on vacation? ;)

A time to stress, a time to rest (the exciting way)

Rosie Hardy's In Love

Rosie Hardy's In Love (click on picture to view her photostream)

If there is one thing I would like to change about today’s generation, it would be the belief that they have all the time in the world, that it is completely fine to do absolutely nothing but simply let the grains of sand trickle away in their hourglasses of life. If I could remove one word from their memory, it would be bore. No, make that lazy. Or are slacker and bum more detrimental words?

I once swore to myself that I would never say or even think of the following phrases: “I’m lazy”, “I’m bored”, “There’s nothing to do around here.” Then again, I never had time to feel lazy nor bored. Life is too exciting, unpredictable, and just a bit too short for me. :)

What does “bumming around” mean anyway?

Is it having TV show marathons, with the likes of Gossip Girl, Heroes, Lost, and House?

Is it spending hours playing games, uploading photos, and continuously updating our Multiply, Facebook, and Friendster profiles?

Is it talking on the phone with your best friend for hours and spilling in elaborate detail about how your crush has finally noticed you?

Is it playing video games all day long and only pausing to eat and to go to the bathroom?

Is it taking extra-long naps because we don’t have anything better to do?

Is it Plurking and continuously updating the whole world about what you’re currently doing, thinking, loving, and hating at that particular moment?

Is it mindlessly strolling in the mall, basking in the cool air-conditioned atmosphere, going inside every trendy store but not buying anything anyway?

I guess these activities are typical of the youth today. I admit I do some of the things above myself (particularly Plurking and malling, and surfing the net mindlessly for hours at a time). Nevertheless, how many hours or even days, are wasted doing these routine pastimes? Bumming around, for me, is wasting time, and not even caring to do anything about it. It means ceasing to look for excitement, and settling for what is within our reach. It is the easy life. The stress-free, hassle-free, blissful life people “deserve” to have after a hard day’s work.

Bumming around is to lose the opportunity to improve oneself, with the amount of resources that are given to us (the Internet, various activities offered in school, all this unstructured free time), it is such a waste to not use it by not doing something different, exciting, and productive.

Of course, lounging around once in a while is quite harmless. But what I mean is it is dreadful to spend so much time that way, without realizing that you can do more exciting, worthwhile, productive things with the time given to you.

M. Scott Peck, the author of The Road Less Traveled once said:

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

Finally, summer is here. I am now free from deadlines, stressful group projects, and grueling exams. There is so much free time again to do the things I truly want, and I do not know where to start! For starters, I have about more than fifty books eagerly waiting for me to devour them one by one, and a stack of DVDs to watch. I want to take up a new sport, apply for a summer job, go on a study tour, to improve my Photoshop skills, practice driving… The possibilities are endless. Bumming is so not on my to-do list.

I have always been a girl longing for some excitement and adventure. Staying put will only make me fidgety and irritable. Why waste time doing trivial, mindless stuff? I wish more people would realize that the world is our playground, and it is waiting for us to take action, to make a difference, to change things, and most of all, to enjoy the thrill and happiness life gives us along the way.

I remember a wise person say that we are all equally given 24 hours each day, but it is what we choose to do with each of our 24 hours every day determines who we are going to be and what we will be able to fulfill in life. I myself fall to the habit of procrastinating every once in a while, and I desperately want to develop better time management skills (I better reread The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Seth Covey <highly recommended book for dazed and confused teens like me>).

So start veering away from your computer screen and do something different, anything at all. Just do not settle with being bored. Read a good book, join that contest, break a world record. Bumming around is so yesterday. Being prolific, productive, and interesting is the in thing now. ;)