Trichotillomania

A way to relieve anxiety or stress

Joanna Lopez-De Jesus, Staff Writer

I don’t remember how it really started, all I remember is grabbing and feeling my soft curly hair following my fingers and suddenly coming off my scalp. It’s like a needle pinching your skin for like half a second. That feeling is the feeling I started liking. Pulling one single strand of hair at a time because it feels “out of place.” The satisfaction of seeing the root still at the beginning of the hair strand and feeling that cold touch all over my lips. Leaving me with bald spots and thin hair.

 This might sound very “weird” or “unnatural” to some people, but in reality, I’m not the only one who deals with this condition called Trichotillomania. 

 “Simply put, trichotillomania occurs when an individual is unable to resist an acute urge to pull out their hair,” says Aarti Gupta, a clinical director at TherapyNest, a Center for Anxiety and Family Therapy in Palo Alto, California.  “Usually, people experience a heightened feeling of tension until the hair is pulled, at which point there may even be a sense of relief, satisfaction, or pleasure. On the other hand, many people are unable to identify any reason why they pull their hair and experience it as mindless or unconscious behavior.”

The most tempting places are the scalp, lashes, eyebrows, and body hair. Mayo Clinic Staff says that the causes of trichotillomania are unclear. But like many complex disorders, trichotillomania probably results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Trichotillomania mostly develops between the ages of 10 and 13 years and sadly it’s often a lifelong problem.

 Raphaela Sophia Krorotky, a 19-year-old student said “I always get asked why I do this to myself. It’s hard to give an answer when you don’t know why yourself.”

How trichotillomania has impacted my relationship with my hair

I always used to be insecure about my hair, or most specifically my bald spots. I struggled to do my hair in the mornings because my hair just didn’t want to cooperate with me. I always did the same hairstyle every morning just so my spots don’t show. I put my hair all the way up in a ponytail like Ariana Grande has her hair most of the time. 

Every time my parents pointed them out I counted my tears from embarrassment and sadness. Constantly have to have my hood on or something on my head to cover those bald spots. Looking at myself in my bathroom mirror with that going on in my scalp felt like a constant reminder that I was ugly.

 “It was a constant battle I had with myself that caused my self-esteem to plummet. I absolutely hated my hair. I would constantly catch myself comparing my hair to other girls’.” said Krorotky. 

What trichotillomania has taught me about myself

Trichotillomania has taught me that I’m not such a weak human being as others think I am. I learned and still learning every day that It’s not easy. There were times when I knew I had gone too far that I didn’t even want to get out of bed to check how much I’ve pulled. But sometimes you have to deal with it. Looking back at it now, I realize how much better I’ve gotten throughout the years.

 “Trichotillomania has made me more self-conscious about my appearance than I think I would be otherwise,” said Samantha Kwiatkowski, a 25-year-old content creator.

 “I always want to hide my bald patches, so I rarely leave the house without makeup to cover what I can. If I have no eyelashes at all, it really affects my self-esteem. Your eyes are such a focal point of your face.” said Kwiatkowski.

What I want people to know about trichotillomania

I wish people knew this is a common disorder, maybe a disorder without any information on how it developed, but at least we know it’s common in people. I promise you that you’re not alone. I remember finally talking about my disorder to a friend of mine and they ended up telling me they have other friends who deal with the same thing too. If you need someone to talk to, there are great organizations that provide information, support, research, and connection, such as the TLC Foundation for BFRBS, or text this phone number 951-472-9080 to reach out to me.

Hi my name is Joanna Lopez and I have trichotillomania