Helpful Strategies

There are many things that I could do instead of pulling. A lot of the time I just pull anyway, I have vowed to work harder to use strategies that I know help.

What have you found helpful? It would be nice to try some new things and have a running list of ideas that have helped other trichsters.  We have to put our minds together.

1)tape/bandaids/or finger condoms on the fingers I pull with

2)bandana on my head

3)fiddle toys-tangle, putty, squishy balls -anything that feels cool

4)pray

5)change what I am doing

6)move around people

7)drink tea

8) deep breathing or relaxation exercises

9) journal

10)cold cloth on my eyelashes when irritated

11)wash my hair with denorex or apply scalpicin for itchy head

12) exercise

13)review reasons why not to pull

14)and most recently-blog about trich

Questionnaire

In one of my online support groups, TrichWorld, a friend asked some questions about each of our experiences with trich to gather information for a report she is doing.  I have posted my responses below and would love to hear your answers.

Questions:

What triggers you to pull?

How do you feel after you pull?

How long has it been since you’ve had a recovery period? (when I say recovery period, i mean when things are going great in life and you don’t necessarily have to focus on not pulling, it just sort of happens)

How old were you when you were aware of your condition (Trich) and are you able to attach the cause to something specific that happened in your life?

Do you exercise and still suffer with Trich?

Do you have any other ocd/addictions besides Trich (eating disorder, skin picking etc.)?

Why do you think you have this condition?

My Answers

What triggers you to pull?

stress, caffeine/sugar, mirrors, sedentary activities, driving…among many others-almost anything can make me start pulling

How do you feel after you pull?

I am conflicted as part of me feels better after pulling, but then there is the bigger part of me that screams-What did you just do!?!

How long has it been since you’ve had a recovery period? (when I say recovery period, i mean when things are going great in life and you don’t necessarily have to focus on not pulling, it just sort of happens)

It has been a long time about 15 years since I was fully pull free for any significant amount of time.  I was in fifth grade and did not pull for most of the school year.  I thought I was better and then started again while reading a book for class-I would have skipped the homework if I had known…

How old were you when you were aware of your condition (Trich) and are you able to attach the cause to something specific that happened in your life?

I was 6 years old when I began pulling.  There was no major event that caused me to start pulling. I did however suffer recurrent episodes of strep throat and think that P.A.N.D.A.S plays a role in the onset of my trich.(For more info see the research page)

Do you exercise and still suffer with Trich?

I do, the amount I exercise has fluctuated over the years.  Even with daily vigorous exercise I did not notice a decrease in my pulling.

Do you have any other ocd/addictions besides Trich (eating disorder, skin picking etc.)?

I have some minor OCD tendencies and am also a recovering alcoholic.  I have been sober for 4 years. Although working the12 step program has been hard, it is nothing compared my struggle to stop pulling.  I also have depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

Why do you think you have this condition?

Trich has helped shape me into the person I am.   I have battled through depression, addiction, and low self-esteem, which have all made me stronger.  I have learned to focus on a person’s character rather than their appearance. In addition, I feel I can relate to others with similar struggles.  Although it may not be hair pulling, people feel isolated and hopeless for many reasons.

Will They Grow Back

One fear I have obsessed about is that my hair, lashes, and/or brows will not grow back.  In a quest to find answer, I fond the following information most helpful.

According to the book “The Hair-Pulling Problem A Complete Guide to Trichotillomania” by Fred Penzel. There is a huge section on hair growth charts and facts. If you haven’t picked up this book I highly recommend it for understanding more about trich.

According to the book, Eyebrows Average Daily Hair Growth Rate Female is 0.16 mm.

Average Daily Rate of Hair Growth by Age and Area- Young Adult Eyebrow 0.14 mm. Mature Adult 0.16 mm.

Time Required for Eyebrows Regrowth of pulled Hairs by Age and Area- Young Adult 65 (days). Mature Adult 56 (days).

Time Required for Regrowth of Pulled Hairs by Area and Sex-
Eyebrows Female 61 Days.

According to the book, although there is not a chart on eyelash growth, it should be noted that eyelashes are the slowest growing hairs on your body, with a daily growth rate of less than 0.16 mm. The follicles tend to go into a telogen, or resting phase following removal of hairs. Also note that these are merely average figures. The actual amount of time it takes for your hair to grow back may differ from the time spans, as hair growth can be affected by many different factors.

According to the book damage beyond re-growth could only occur if infection is in the follicle, this can lead to permanent scarring of follicles, preventing further hair growth. This is more likely to happen as the result of picking at the skin with implements such as needles or tweezers to get at hair roots or ingrown hairs. A hair shaft grows from the papilla, and as long as the papilla has not been seriously damaged or destroyed, hair will continue to grow.

My Battle

In the 20 years I have battled trich, I have tried so many strategies, treatments, and therapies. Nothing has worked as I am still here pulling out my hair. I think I had sort of given up hope of ever truly being free from this. I had come to a level of acceptance. Now after years of passivity, my will is renewed. I have promised myself to fight the urges with all that I have and use every resource I can get my hands on. I have a tool box filled with ever strategy that has ever helped, knowledge of new treatments I plan to try, a positive outlook, and this blog. I am going to try to write about my battle, to share my story with anyone who wants to listen. I’m going to be honest. I’m going to force myself to address the reality of this situation for probably the first time. Maybe this time I can beat it.

I remember exactly where I was the first time I started pulling out my hair. I was 6 years old and in first grade. I woke up in the morning with my long eyelashes stuck together so I began to pick at the goo. As I cleaned my lashes, I accidentally pulled one out. The sensation was surprisingly pleasant. This became a morning ritual, I would wake up and clean my eyes, allowing myself to pull out just a few lashes that were stuck together.  Before long, I found myself sitting in class pulling on my lashes without knowing when I had started. I hoped no one had noticed and vowed to stop this habit. Well that was 20 years ago, and I am still here pulling. These days I pull out my eyelashes, my eyebrows, and hair from my head. I’ve become an expert in makeup, as I started using eyeliner in third grade. I’ve mastered the art of not letting anyone get to close to me because I’m so ashamed of what I do and am embarrassed by what they will see.

I commit to an honest expression of my battle with trich. If I can help even one person in doing so, then this page is worth it. We must accept that trich does not define us and we can choose how much control it has over our lives. Yes it may affect our hair and appearance, but we can still lead full happy lives. For years I thought trich ruled my life, but I have come to see there is more. Anyone who truly cares about you will look past it and see you. They will love you and support your battle. If you are not ready to tell anyone else, let me be your partner because we are in this together.