My story with trichotillomania begins in junior high. I don't remember exactly when I started pulling, but it was some time between 7th and 8th grade. That was a super stressful time for me since I was coming from a very small Christian school and going into a large public school environment. I'm not very good with large crowds of people and I was in the middle of that every day. I was very self conscious because I could see that my attire and non-makeup face was completely out of style at this new school. So, here I was in this new stressful environment with all these hormonal changes going on and I certainly didn't fit in.
At some point during this transition, I started pulling out my eyelashes. I remember feeling guilty, stupid, weird, and satisfied all at once. It became a habit when I would study, talk on the phone with friends, or just when I was alone. Pretty soon my mom noticed this behavior and my lashless eyes. Needless to say, she wasn't happy about it and wanted to help me quit. Taking away what little makeup I had to hide it, didn't help at all. Going into school with nothing to hide behind was an absolute nightmare and only made me want to pull them out all the more. My mother didn't know this, she was only helping the best way she knew how. At the time, however, this was a strain on our relationship since I felt she was trying to "shame" me into quitting.
I thought that starting a new habit of pulling out my eyebrows would detour me from pulling out my beloved lashes. Needless to say, it just resulted in me gaining a new habit of pulling out my brows along with my lashes! Not sure why I thought that was a good idea, but hey, I was 13!
Fast forward 20 years later, and my mother paid for me to see a psychiatrist about my trichotillomania hoping that it would cure me. She was very regretful that she couldn't help me when I was younger, but I can't blame her since she was in uncharted territory as well. So, I'm still here several sessions later with no cure for trichotillomania and still no lashes or brows. It did help me figure out what my triggers were, but just not how to stop. The psychiatrist told me to simply wear gloves all day. Having 4 kids, cooking, cleaning, and changing diapers just made that kind of impossible.
So, here I am with a habit of pulling out my lashes and brows and I'm having a heck of a time quitting for even a day. I have joined Instagram and I follow many people struggling with trichotillomania hoping to be encouraged to stop and start fighting. Part of me wants to stop but part of me doesn't believe that I even can.
I have learned to "deal" with it and accept it over the years. I have found several beauty tricks that help cover it up so that I'm not constantly thinking about what other people see or don't see on my face. That alone has helped my stress level. I have had to come to terms with the fact that it doesn't hurt anyone else or really even myself, therefore, it should not be my main focus in life. I can't constantly dwell on the fact that I can't stop pulling or dwell on what I look like without makeup. It is what it is! That said, this attitude hasn't helped me to stop pulling. I need to figure out how to make myself not focus on it, but focus on it enough that I can stop.
I would love to hear from any of you out there struggling with trichotillomania too!
Please feel free to leave encouragement or your own struggles in the comments! We're in this together!