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Trichotillomania (TTM), otherwise known as Trich, is a disorder where people pull out their hair, one strand at a time, from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or other parts of the body. It can be very traumatic for sufferers. Today, Shannon shared her own experience with us, teaching us more about the condition…

I’m gonna talk about a condition that girls would never speak about and not many people know about, trichotillomania!  now I know most of you are probably like what is that?  basically it’s where I feel the need or the urge to pull out my hair. Now I only ever pulled it from my actual hair on my head but some go as far as pulling out eyebrow hair, leg hair, eyelashes and so on, in a way I guess it’s self harm, I’m harming myself to make me feel better. 

I started this when I was about 8 years of age not even realising I had began it in the first place, my parents had gone through a messy divorce ( I’ll leave that for another time) and I guess I couldn’t cope and needed something to distract myself. I’ll never forget it a girl in my class in primary school said to me why do you have a bald patch on the back of your head ? You look like you’ve got cancer and that stuck with me. My  mam eventually coped it and sent me to the doctors who asked and are you eating your hair ? To which I replied no I just shove it down the side of the couch. I got sent to a therapist who helped a lot I loved her my teachers were told and to stop me doing it I was to write down every-time I had the urge to pull. I did stop for a while. 

But when puberty hit me and having to deal with peer pressure and boys and all that comes with it I started again yet this time I was more secret about it. Now at the age of 21 I still do it, but rarely I notice I’m doing it I do it when I’m stressed or feel like I’m having a bit of anxiety. It was only up until a few years ago I had a name to match it and I wasn’t the only one who does this I deal with it I don’t let my imperfections get me down. 

So if your reading this and thinking I do this too, then speak to somebody it’s better to let it out and talk to anybody; a doctor your mam your dad a friend a family member. But don’t think it’s a bad thing don’t think you have to hide it either or that it’s wrong it’s not. Writing in a diary helped me when I was younger and music helped me a lot.  As I always say now it’s just a bad day not a bad life.

What is Trichotillomania?

Many individuals who have TTM may have noticeable bald patches or no eyelashes or eyebrows. There are two types:

  1. Where the person knows that they’re pulling out their hair or eye lashes.
  2. Where the person doesn’t realise that they’re pulling out hair/eye lashes until they notice the hair, eye lashes, etc beside them. This typically happens when the person is doing something else such as talking on the phone, studying or watching television.

The Signs and Symptoms are:

  • lnability to resist urges to pull out one’s hair
  • Increasing tension before one pulls his/her hair/eye lash/eye brow
  • Enjoyment and relaxation when pulling
  • A feeling of relief after pulling
  • Noticeable hair loss
  • lncreased upset and/or difficulties with daily life.

Both men and women are effected by TTM and it can start at any age. For many people they usually start pulling around 12 years-old. The Trichotillomania Learning Centre in America thinks about 2-4% of the population has this disorder. In other words, this means that two to four people in every 100 would have TTM, so it is more common than realised.

TTM ranges in severity for people. Some people may only pull hair from one area, but others may pull hair from a couple of areas.
From time-to-time people who have TTM will suck or run the hair through his/her teeth and occasionally there are people who eat the hair. This is called Trichophagia and in severe cases it can cause intestinal blockages that require surgery.

Please remember that TTM is not:

  • just a nervous habit
  • a sign of abuse
  • a sign of emotional disturbance
  • your or your parent’s fault
  • people with TTM are not trying to hurt themselves or do this for attention.

 

You can get more information on Trichotillomania here.