Trichotillomania is a disorder that involves repeated, uncontrollable impulse to pull out hair from different parts of the body such as scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, legs, arms, etc. Trichotillomania appears most often during teenage i.e. between ages of eleven to fourteen.
It was in ninth class when the first symptoms occurred. I would play and disentangle my hair a lot. This activity grew intense when I had a recent test coming up or if I was under stress. Initially, it lasted for around five to ten minutes. I believed it was my fascination towards my hair that made me do so. I had beautiful hair and many people complimented me for it.
Years passed, and now instead of just playing with it, I developed a habit of plucking my hair. I would do it when alone, in my room. I am an introvert, and I usually spend my time in my room which meant I picked my hair a lot more as compared to before. My mother often found locks of hair near my bed before any exam. She was unaware of my habit but she complained that my hair loss had increased by considerable amount. One day she entered my room while I was plucking hair and she saw me doing it. She then noticed me for a few days and then asked me about it. I told her about my habit and promised her that I would not repeat it. But old habits die hard, and that promise was not kept for long.
I took up Mathematics in my eleventh standard and was aspiring to get into one of the IITs. Studying for such competitive exams is often stressful for any average student. During this time, I met a guy. I was attracted to him, and we started going out. Hence, I was preoccupied with either studying in my room or texting him. We had our problems, and I was often stressed because of our relationship. Some relationships aren’t meant for you but you stick to it in the hope that it would be better someday. With all this pressure, unconsciously my habit of plucking hair worsened.
I would pull one hair at a time and this would last for hours. It put me into a trance relieving all the pressures I had. I would even do it in public now. My friends and family started to notice my habit and recurrently asked me to stop it. I would promise that I would give up on it but would never be able to stand up to it. Its intensity was maximum when I was in bed trying to sleep, or while I was studying.
Two years passed and I was not able to crack JEE. I broke up with that guy as things weren’t working out for us. I pursued engineering from a local private college. My initial college days were relaxing as I did not have much to study and would enjoy most of the time. With this, my habit of pulling hair vanished until our first semester exams. It resurfaced once we our tests started. According to Wikipedia – ” Trichotillomania can go into remission-like states where the individual may not experience the urge to pull for days, weeks, months, and even years.”
It was in my second year while I was surfing the Web that I came across a video of a girl who had symptoms similar to mine. I was shocked to see this, and out of curiosity, I started to read blogs and posts. I learned that my habit was a mental disorder named Trichotillomania and there were many others who suffered from it.
I realized that I could relate to all the symptoms mentioned on the blogs. I came to know that the causes could be genetic and I had some of my cousins who have had temporary hair-pulling periods. I came across a lot of information regarding my disorder like the facts that patients pull specific type of hair until the hair feels just right, hair-pulling increases during stress, people suffering from trichotillomania would have different hair lengths, this habit leads to emotional negativity, sedentary activities are conducive to hair-pulling, and all of these were very relatable.
Awareness of this disorder has decreased my frequency of hair-pulling; though, it has not gone completely. I have had this habit for six years now and I still do it when I am in extremely stressful conditions. There are periods when this activity increases considerably. It has been a few days since I told my family about this disorder and made them read what I was going through. They are supportive and plan to take me to a psychiatrist to treat and cure my disorder completely.