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? :)