I Have Trichotillomania, But It Doesn’t Define Who I Am

I was nine when I started pulling out my hair. I remember I only used to pull few strands, until it went to a point that I began to lack sleep because of my addiction. Every morning, I would find large clumps of hair under my bed. It didn’t take long for me to go bald. I was eleven when I lost most of my hair.

Going to school was a challenge. While all of my girl classmates had beautiful hair, I suffered from hair loss. To hide the bald spots, I would wear clips, headbands or bandana. Though I badly wanted to have my thick hair back, I could not stop pulling out my hair every night.

When my parents discovered my addiction, they did everything they could to help me. We thought of ways to stop the urge. I began to wear bonnets to sleep.

When that did not work, they put socks on my hands. Then I started to wear gloves or put oil on my hair. But none of these worked, either. I was a hopeless case.

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It was in college when I came across the word trichotillomania. Apparently, my hair pulling addiction is a type of mental disorder. I found out I was not the only one suffering from it. People who suffer from trichotillomania associate the disorder with anxiety and stress. They do it to calm or soothe themselves. Reading their stories made me understand my hair pulling addiction, and knowing that there are survivors gave me hope.

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But even though I know I suffer from mental illness, it took me a long time to admit to it. At first, I could not tell anyone about what I was going through. I hated going to the salon because people there would ask me about my hair—or the lack of it.

I avoided conversations that would lead to hair talk. I tried my best to deny that I have a disorder. But the more I tried to conceal it, the more I hated myself for it.

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It took me eighteen years to finally come to terms with my hair pulling addiction. At first, I thought the best thing to do was to not talk about it. But I realized that I must be open and vocal about my situation in order to survive it. With admission comes acceptance, and with acceptance comes healing.

I decided to tell my story to raise awareness. People with trichotillomania feel like they are condemned by those around them. This is because their friends and family think that what they’re going through is just simple. There are times they hear words of accusation, like they are not doing anything to help themselves.

As someone with trichotillomania, I can attest that we try out best to stop the urge to pull. But doing it is easier said than done. We want to help ourselves, but we also need people to understand what we’re going through.

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This is because healing comes from understanding.
I hope people with trichotillomania will not be called crazy, or be looked at like they’re less of a human just because they don’t have healthy hair.

Yes, we pull out our hair, but that doesn’t define us. It is something that we do, but it is not who we are.

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Kathleen Ocampo-Flores

Sometimes a Jane Bennet, usually a Mary Bennet. Potterhead by day, Swiftie by night.