I personally have struggled with the hair pulling disorder Trichotillomania (or ‘trich’ for short) since I was 12 years old (I’m currently 22). Almost half of my life has contained a struggle in which most people don’t know exists. Growing up in America, hair is critical to “being a girl” and if you don’t have that long, pretty, blonde hair, you get criticized and judged by your peers. When friends would remark about their “bad hair days”, I had to walk away because I would get angry… they just didn’t understand!
Throughout the 10 years trich has been with me, I believe I have had at the absolute most 2 years where I could wear my hair down without anything covering it. At one point in high school, my bald spots reached a point when I couldn’t cover them anymore and my mom and I made the decision it was time for me to shave my head until I felt in control of my disorder. It eventually was successful (after a good 6 months completely bald), but did not last forever. Stress seems to be the big trigger with me, even stress I don’t know I’m feeling or I block out. Once a long-term episode begins (usually lasting anywhere from 6 months to 3 years), anything will trigger me to pull, from boredom to schoolwork and reading to watching tv, and it feels almost impossible to stop. I’ve tried numerous medications and therapeutic strategies for coping, but over the years I’ve realized the only way for me to stop pulling is to make myself mentally strong enough to control my hands and distract my mind. Easier said than done. Now bear in mind, I find myself very mentally strong on the average day. I like to stay positive as often as I can and am very independent, yet the part that I struggle with is aiding myself in fighting the “feeling” of the pull (since it IS like crack!).
Only those with trich will understand this part…. I have favorite spots both on my head and in the hair itself. I LOVE the hair follicle and get temporarily upset if I pull a hair without a nice, plump white follicle tag on the end. Also, the bigger the tag, the bigger nerve feeling and satisfaction I receive. I also love the really bumpy, curly hairs and its an added plus if it has a nice follicle attached. I pull the same areas on my head and am so thankful my hair has always grown back, even if it takes longer for it to repair itself each time. I have been very lucky with that as I know some are no fortunate enough to have their hair regrow. My favorite spot to pull is on the top of my head from about an inch back from the hairline to the tippy top of my head. I also enjoy pulling on the sides of my head but only in the middle area (see photos if confused).
List of medications I’ve tried (some together):
- Prozac (current at max 80 mg)
- Revia (meant for treating alcoholism/drug addictions)
*update: after a few weeks, I began having mental changes/confusion so I stopped.
- Clomipramine (aka Anafrinil)
- Lorazepam (aka Ativan)
List of medications to try in the future
(please let me know if you’ve tried these, what your reaction was, good or bad!)
- Pristiq (an SNRI used to help treat depression)
- Viibryol (an SSRI used to help treat depression)
- Pevexa (an SSRI used to help treat depression, OCD and anxiety)
**Update (April 8th, 2015): My mom flew down a week ago to assist my recovery after an abdominal surgery. She took one look at my head and suggested that I shave my hair off again. Of course, even though I was a bit upset, I complied. It is still uneven with spots from where I had the bald spots.