Reached rock bottom and could only come back up
I am 35 years old. I accidentally stumbled on trichotillomania whilst looking at alopecia.
I was looking at alopecia because I thought that was what I have had for the past 20 years. My symptoms never really matched alopecia, but I thought this was the closest to what was wrong with me.
I now know that I have trichotillomania, and that I’m not alone, although for years I thought I was.
I’m really not sure why I started to pull my hair at about 12. I began by pulling the underneath of my then thick hair.
I also suffer panic attacks which make me pull badly. I need to feel the pain.
My mum used to blow dry my hair after baths and I remember the evening she found the big bald spots on the sides of my head. I recall the hurt in her voice, and the look of panic on her face.
I felt so guilty, and in the subsequent 20 years, that guilt is something that’s never gone.
I spent quite a bit of time at Kings College Hospital in London, seeing various doctors who took hairs from my head to test, the results always came back the same, that my follicles were not damaged, and they kept telling my mum and me I was picking it out. I was so ashamed, I kept saying “no, I’m not!”
Life was hell from then – wearing wigs, avoiding the wind, having to get rid of the hairs.
My turning point came on my daughter’s 9th birthday; I dont know why, but I’d hit an all time low, and felt suicidal. I remember crying out of the windows and telling my husband how something had to change: either I’d grow my hair or I would end it all now.
I stopped the pulling and felt better from that moment. I bathed every day and took pride in washing my almost bald scalp, until eventually it was hair I was washing.
I was so pleased! A year later, I stopped wearing my wig, which was hard; I felt like I’d forgotten something every time I went out. My hair grew back grey, but i now dye it.
I do still pull my hair and right now I’m back to two big bald spots. I feel revolted with myself, and scared my husband might notice, he thinks we are over this now, but the truth is I feel it’s like being an alcoholic, one pull and you’re back on it. Nevertheless, I know I will draw the line here, as this is the most hair I’ve had in 20 years and I’m so scared of losing it again.
My family are all pleased as well as amazed as to why after all these years it has grown back.
I live with the guilt everyday, and the fear they will one day find out the truth because I know they really wouldn’t understand why I have put them through 20 years of worry for what, to them, would seem like self abuse.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.