This post is one I never thought I would ever write…and (understandably) it’s taken me a week to do it. There are some things in my life I’m scared to bring to light…to share in such a public place. But the more I battle through this THING in my life, the more I realize I need to get it out (because the more I hide, the more I’m able to deny I have a problem).
And by “pull out,” I don’t mean handfuls at a time like they do in cartoons. I pull out hairs one or few at a time. In fact, if you have been around me, it’s very possible you have seen me do this. It’s almost involuntary now, this hair pulling, and I don’t even realize I’m doing it half the time. Of course, with the constant pulling out of the follicles, it’s pretty easy to see how my hair would end up like THIS…
And this doesn’t even scratch the surface. Much of the inner layers of hair on either side of my head is gone/slowly growing back (only to be plucked again here and there). You can’t see it, but my hair isn’t just thin…it’s SPARSE. This makes it difficult to cut/style, and I always feel bad for anyone who attempts to do so. So I just ask them to do what they can, and this is normally what we end up with. And even if they do try to style it, it’s what I end up with when I try to style it myself.
So, knowing all this, why do I keep pulling my hair out? Apparently, there’s a word for this behavior. It’s called “trichotillomania” – an impulse control disorder characterized by the compulsive desire to pull out one’s hair. While I haven’t been officially diagnosed, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put the pieces together. The inability to resist the urge to pull out hair to the point where bald spots appear, both the conscious and unconscious pulling of hair, and the associations with other psychological issues – depression, frequent anxiety, etc…it all adds up. And with every hair pulled, there is a feeling of relief. Yes. Relief.
No, it doesn’t hurt to do it.
I wish I could just stop doing it.
I’ve tried to stop myself. I’ve tried to cut my hair short so I wouldn’t feel I would need to pull out my hair. Even my friends (because they love me so much) have tried to keep me accountable. But for the past 22 years, and I’ve not been able to “get over it” and stop pick at and pulling out my hair. It’s not that I don’t WANT to stop (after all, I want a stunning head of hair like the pictures at the beginning of this post). But I’ve come to realize, after many years of self reflection and muddling over this issue, that none of the methods I have used to try and stop this habit scratches the surface of the root problem. There is something dark and ugly in me that doesn’t allow me to feel comfortable with myself. So I feel have to try and tear pieces of me away, giving me that facade of getting rid of the ugly.
everything in me that I don’t think is beautiful.
And it’s not simply the ugliness of imperfection I see in my hair. It’s the imperfection I see in ME! It’s the physical flaws I see in the mirror. It’s the things I do (or cannot do) that make me feel inadequate. It’s all the people I disappoint along the way because I cannot be what they want/expect me to be (yes, I’m a people-pleaser). It’s so much more than just hair…it’s dissatisfaction (or more accurately, UTTER LOATHING) I have of myself…and my obsessive-compulsive need to make myself “perfect”.