Trichotillomania: An embarrassing confession


I started pulling out the hair on my head when I was a child. I remember people remarking on the bald spot I was creating at the crown, so I somehow forced myself to stop that particular form of pulling and the hair (thankfully) grew back in.

I flipped out over Michael Jackson in the early 90’s and started plucking my eyebrows in order to achieve the arched look that he had. I would stand in front of the mirror for hours trying to tweeze and shape the perfect brow, but I quickly discovered that a few strokes of an eyebrow pencil could help me get exactly the look I wanted. The photo that I’ve included is from the cover of his single “Black or White,” and it still serves as the model for how I think my eyebrows should appear.

In recent years, my near-constant tweezing has progressed to mindlessly pulling hair with my fingers while watching television or using the computer. Although I’m usually somewhat conscious of what I am doing, I cannot seem to make myself stop. One hair might feel too long or too stiff, and several surrounding hairs will get pulled out in my efforts to remove the culprit. I always dread looking in the mirror afterwards. I know I’m going to feel a combination of regret and anger, because I realize those few irresponsible seconds of pulling mean I’m going to have to spend the next few weeks hiding behind glasses and makeup.

I had never heard the word “trichotillomania” until my partner mentioned it a few years ago. It’s a form of OCD that can have devastating results in its more severe forms. An image search on Google for the condition will reveal some startling images of people with almost completely bald heads and faces. The Mayo Clinic describes the condition as follows:

Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-ne-uh) is an irresistible urge to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body. Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves patchy bald spots, which people with trichotillomania may go to great lengths to disguise. For some people, trichotillomania may be mild and generally manageable. For others, the urge to pull hair is overwhelming and can be accompanied by considerable distress. Some treatment options have helped many people reduce their hair pulling or stop entirely.

I feel like I’m stuck in some kind of tweezing/pulling cycle that will never end. I work so hard to achieve a certain look with my eyebrows, but then I destroy them in a matter of seconds. I’m tired of using an eyebrow pencil every morning in order to avoid looking like a freak of nature. I constantly worry about my eyebrows looking unnatural or whether the makeup will rub off, and I feel silly, shallow, and pathetic for allowing my eyebrows to have so much control over my life.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

3 thoughts on “Trichotillomania: An embarrassing confession”

  1. Oh Brian, you almost made me faint… I do suffer from Trich ever since I was 10 years old, and now you’re writing that you have that same condition. Wow!
    I’m a scalp and eyelashes puller, so at least on my head, bald spots can be covered with my longer hair. But having no eyelashes causes weird looks from others. Thank God I haven’t had a spree in a long time.
    I’ll send you an interesting link via Facebook.

  2. My grandma did this when her alzheimers progressed. When she lived at home we put scotch tape on her thumb and index finger so the hair wouldn’t come out, it would just slide through. When she went to the nursing home they wouldn’t do the tape thing because they were a non-restraint facility. So she had bald spots on her head. Of course, by this point she had no facilities about her and had absolutely no idea she was doing it.

  3. The longer I live, the more I believe that every single one of us has the potential and material to make at least one (probably several) highly embarrassing confessions. You, brave soul, have put yours out there. Good for you!

    I am tempted to say – and so I will – that it could be worse. Years ago I knew of a young patient, a 2-year old girl, who suffered from compulsive eye-gouging. They had to bind the poor child’s hands just to protect her from literally poking her eyes out. I sure hope she’s okay now!

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