Ever since I was 11, the time when it all started, people would always say to me,
“Stop pulling your hair”
“Don’t touch your hair!”
“Come on, you just have to be strong. Get over the urge!” .
I mean, for how long was I going to deal with putting clips all over my head to pin new hair down? How much of my hair was going to be regrown? That too, in a strange new texture. All of this brought me immense shame, along with frustration. It was especially frustrating when I had to face the fact that my trichotillomania could not be resolved in an instant — that I couldn’t just stop pulling when I wanted to (which was about always). .
I attended a Trichotillomania Learning Center for BFRBs mini conference a month ago. I had the opportunity to meet people who dealt with the same problem as me for the first time. We were each the same, yet so different. Different because our experiences weren’t all the same, nor were our learnings. Some of us encountered psychologists who knew nothing about our behavior. Some of us were parents, who held the fear that our children were going to contract the same behavior. And some of us felt that others wouldn’t accept us, would dislike us if they knew what we dealt with. .
We made ourselves out of different life experiences and feelings, despite encountering a struggle with the same name. .
When someone sees my hair, I want them to think I gained from Trichotillomania rather than lost from it. Trichotillomania taught me to explore my own self at deeper levels, as well as other people. Most importantly, it taught me that in order to ASK for empathy, you must GIVE it first. And so, it’s the things we’ve learned that truly define us, not the struggle itself. .
I hope to change people’s perspectives on mental disorders as I continue to grow older — I recently signed up to be a student ambassador for the TLC. I hope my story can help others overcome their shame, because I know what it feels like, and it should never have to be that way
#thisiswhatmentalillnesslookslike #mentalhealth #mentalillness #mentalhealthmonth #stigmafree #i #define #me #idefineme #photoproject #minoritymentalhealth #trichotillomania