Friday, January 28, 2022

Trichotillomania: My Story

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Trichotillomania is a disorder that involves repeated, uncontrollable impulses to pull out hair from different parts of the body such as the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, legs, arms, etc. Trichotillomania appears most often during teenage years, i.e., between the ages of eleven to fourteen.

I was in the ninth grade when the first symptoms occurred. I would play and disentangle my hair a lot. This activity grew intense when I had a test coming up or if I was under stress. Initially, it lasted for around five to ten minutes. I believed it was my fascination with my hair that made me do so. I had beautiful hair and many people complimented me for it.

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Years passed, and now instead of just playing with it, I developed a habit of plucking my hair. I would do it when I was alone in my room. I am an introvert, and I usually spend my time in my room which meant I picked my hair a lot more than before. My mother often found locks of hair near my bed before any exam. She was unaware of my habit, but she complained that my hair loss had increased considerably. One day she entered my room while I was plucking my hair, and she saw me doing it. She then noticed me for a few days and then asked me about it. I told her about my habit and promised her that I would not repeat it. But old habits die hard, and I did not keep that promise for long.

I took up Mathematics in my eleventh standard and was aspiring to get into IIT. Studying for such competitive exams is often stressful for any average student. During this time, I met a guy. I was attracted to him, and we started going out. Hence, I was preoccupied with either studying in my room or texting him. We had our problems, and I was often stressed because of our relationship. Some relationships aren’t meant for you, but you stick to them, hoping that it would get better someday. With all this pressure, my habit of plucking hair worsened.

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I would pull one hair at a time, and this would last for hours. It put me into a trance relieving all the pressures I had. I would even do it in public now. My friends and family started to notice my habit and constantly asked me to stop it. I would promise that I would give up on it but would never be able to stand up to those promises. Its intensity was maximum when I was in bed trying to sleep or while I was studying.

Two years passed, I did not crack JEE, and I had broken up with that guy as things weren’t working out for us. I pursued engineering from a local private college. My initial college days were relaxing as I did not have much to study and enjoy most of the time. With this, my habit of pulling hair vanished until our first semester exams. It resurfaced once our tests started. According to Wikipedia – “Trichotillomania can go into remission-like states where the individual may not experience the urge to pull for days, weeks, months, and even years.”

Trichotillomania: My Story 1
By Sakoodter Stocker/ Shutterstock

In my second year, while I was surfing the web, I came across a video of a girl who had symptoms similar to mine. I was shocked to see this, and out of curiosity, I started to read blogs and posts about it. I learned that my habit was a mental disorder named Trichotillomania, and many others suffered from it.

I realized that I could relate to all the symptoms mentioned on the blogs. I realized that the causes could be genetic, and I had some of my cousins who have had temporary hair-pulling periods. I came across many information regarding my disorder, like the fact that patients pull specific hair types until the hair feels just right, hair-pulling increases during stress, and people suffering from trichotillomania would have different hair lengths. Sedentary activities are conducive to hair-pulling, and all of these were very relatable.

Awareness of this disorder has decreased my frequency of hair-pulling; though, it has not stopped completely. I have had this habit for six years now, and I still do it when I am in extremely stressful conditions. There are periods when this activity increases considerably. It has been a few days since I told my family about this disorder and made them read what I was going through. They are supportive and plan to take me to a psychiatrist to treat and cure my disorder completely.

Trichotillomania: My Story 2
By megaflopp/ Shutterstock

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