I decided to write in after viewing a programme on 20/20 on trichotillomania. I’m seventeen, and found out I had this disorder at the age of 11. I discovered my younger sister had two huge bald spots at both sides of her head. She loved to eat the white roots of the hair she pulled.
Terrified, I told my parents and after months of therapy, my sister regained her crowning glory.
Then I began to develop a weird fascination with hair. I didn’t believe my sister could pull out so much hair. My hair-pulling was subtle: I pulled at the front hairline, so it was less visible. When I was 12, my friends were wondering how come there was a white line in between my forehead and scalp : I could not answer. I soon started to pull my eyelashes and finger-hair. Till this day, the hairs on my finger have remained off, because I’ve been constantly pulling them. My eyelashes have grown back, because I’ve only been concentrating on the most inconspicuous areas.
There were periods when I told myself not to pull, and I would succeed, but I always started pulling again. I would pull under the top layers of my hair to avoid people seeing it, but soon I started to pull my partings. Just as my sister had done so many years ago, I relished the joy of eating the white roots.
I was unable to stop this compulsion. The partings grew wider and my mum noticed. She didn’t know what was wrong, but she coined my parting ‘the parting of the red sea’.
I would often change partings, wear hairbands to conceal the bald spots that my compulsion had left behind.
This year, I started to use eye-liner pencils to blacken the bald spots so that my school mates wouldn’t notice. Dad found out and said this would hamper the hair from growing even more, but I refused to listen. The shame of letting my friends know that I was balding would have been too much to bear.
I only found out about tric yesterday, and am so glad that there was a name, at least, for my disorder, and that many others were suffering from it. I felt brave enough to tell my story. I hope that anyone who comes across my story will know that this isn’t a lonely disorder.