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Trichotillomania

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posted on Nov, 28 2012 @ 06:24 PM
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Even Microsoft Word doesn’t know what it is. Trichotillomania is an impulsive control disorder that manifests itself in the compulsive pulling of hair on the head, face and body. It’s fairly rare, and as such is not something most people know how to react to.
I have dealt with this disorder since I was 7 or 8 years old and it has greatly impacted my life. Because it is not very well understood, even in the medical field, I wanted to write this thread to share my experience and encourage others to share theirs, as well as to answer people’s questions about it.

I’ll start by saying that I’ve never told anyone close to me about this. Not once. It’s no longer something you can see just looking at me, but when I was a child I pulled my eyelashes, so it was visible. People – even adults asked questions, made comments, and always generally assumed they had every right to point it out, as if I were unaware. They’d ask why I did it – a question I could never answer. People would even try to tell me my eyelashes would never grow back, which I still don’t understand because that’s totally false. I’m still often amazed by how much people have to say about the private issues of others, and how freely they feel they can comment. It’s absolutely inappropriate, and probably the main reason why this isn’t something I talk about now.

Even as far back as 3 or 4 years old, I had issues with anxiety and some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I can remember being no older than 4, lying awake at night worrying about what would happen if the house caught on fire or someone tried to break in. I’ve never dealt with stress very well, and have always been particularly sensitive to it. This combination ultimately led to the emergence of this disordered hair-pulling behavior. My parents, understandably concerned, tried everything – therapy, medication, sugar-free diet, hypnosis therapy, massage therapy, chakra meditation classes, yelling at me when they’d catch me pulling. None of it ever helped. Honestly, I feel that all of this just destroyed my self-esteem as a kid. The damage done by bullying from my peers could not have compared to feeling like even my parents thought I was some kind of broken freak. But I’m not sure they could have handled it any other way. What I would tell any parent facing this issue with their child today, though, is to never make them feel ashamed of something they can’t control.

I still struggle with trichotillomania, but I have since adapted the behaviors associated with it so that there’s nothing for people to ask about. Not even my closest friends know. My parents no longer bring it up or ask about it. I really feel that at this point, it has ceased to impact my life, and that is the closest I can come to recovering from it.

There is so little known about this disorder, and to this day there really is no treatment for it. So I’m hoping this thread can provide answers for someone out there in the same place my parents and I were.
I’d be glad to answer any questions on the subject, and would love to hear from anyone else who might have some experience with trich.

Thanks for reading


--Kit.




posted on Nov, 28 2012 @ 06:42 PM
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Thanks for posting.

My sister's boyfriend suffers from this from time to time. He goes through phases in his life where he feels the world isn't fair and he deserves more, he gets depressed and low and lounges around twiddling and pulling his hair. He twists it around his fingers to make a strand and then pulls at it. Not real hard but more in a repetitive fashion so I wouldn't class it as a self punishment type action but more of a nervous manifestation to provide a calming effect and cetainly not as acute as some people have it where they create bald patches. Not so much since he had it cut short but when it was long it was quite obsessive and a sure sign the chip on his shoulder was in full swing. No reflection on you btw, you are two individuals with a possible similar trait.

It often manifested when he was in discussion and someone was trying to help or offer sympathy towards his problems. I don't know how much he does it ast present because I don't see him much.

I'm quite surprised it has it's own name. Very definitive.

I used to suffer from a skin picking habit, something also listed in the same kind of category. A desire to rid myself of imperfection, those nasty little loose bits and rough edges. Sad thing was it only makes the problem worse, often until I bled. No worries now and well under control.

Glad you are doing OK now, be well and thanks for the thread, I learned something.



posted on Dec, 3 2012 @ 02:14 PM
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reply to post by Kitsunegari
 
I am new to this site and found your post. As a mom trying to understand this newly diagnosed disorder with my daughter, it is helpful for me to have you share your in site. Thank you.



posted on Dec, 3 2012 @ 04:52 PM
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reply to post by Georgiamom
 


Welcome to ATS! And thank you for sharing. I understand how stressful this can be. Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you. Feel free to message me privately any time.

reply to post by nerbot
 


I also have a bit of a skin picking habit, just around my fingernails. Both are definitely worse when I am acutely stressed. I think the two are very similar behaviors.
Thank you for sharing, I'm glad to hear you found my post informative. That's my goal


--Kit.



posted on Dec, 27 2012 @ 02:05 AM
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UPDATE

For anyone interested:


N AC Shows Promise for Hair Pulling
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), a dietary supplement and amino acid that affects glutamate levels in the brain, has been studied in the treatment of a number of conditions across medicine and psychiatry. In recent years, NAC has been thought to have the potential to improve symptoms of Trichotillomania (hair pulling). As no medication or other substance to date has shown effectiveness in the treatment of TTM, this finding is one of promise and one that warrants consideration and further investigation.




This is very encouraging news. I plan to try and track down the supplement and start taking it myself after doing a little more research. It seems this same supplement may also be useful in reducing similar behaviors such as skin-picking, which I also struggle with, so it will be very interesting to see if any of that changes.

--Kit.



posted on Dec, 27 2012 @ 03:12 AM
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reply to post by Kitsunegari
 


Hello you....Just wanted to thank you for this thread, and let you know that you're far from alone. I have this disorder too, and it started in childhood, maybe about the age of 13 I think. I almost can remember the second it started weirdly enough, but more of that later. Some of my experiences are way too private to make me want to talk about them here, and the embarrassment I feel surrounding this condition can be acute, but at least now it's under control pretty much, and isn't too big a problem for me.

I feel for you though, and we sound so similar. Please pm me if you want to, and I'm happy to talk about this off the boards. It's a very strange habit and I believe it's entirely stress induced. I don't handle stress at all well either, but at least now I've learned how to tell people that I'm not coping with it...if they can't deal with how I am, then it's their problem
Stress is a killer and manifests in some very odd ways...this just happens to be a more visible one.

Will be back later when I have more time...I got about 400 things on my list this morning....



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