Ahhh, the holiday season… Time for connecting or reconnecting with friends and loved ones. Picking up where you left off, reminiscing on old memories, and creating new ones, -if only I could find their phone numbers…
Ok, I’ll admit it. When it comes to keeping in touch with people, I’m not that great. It’s not that I don’t want to stay in touch, I do, honestly. It’s just that somehow, I just lose touch. I’m a texter, I love texting and social media. To me, it’s one of the greatest things to ever happen to the phone. I rarely ever actually talk to anybody on the phone. Maybe it’s my introverted personality, but being on the phone any longer than five minutes with someone is absolute torture. And it’s always been that way. I’ve watched my mom hold telephone conversations for over an hour in pure amazement. I don’t know how she does it. If I’m not shooting you a text within 5 seconds of receiving your phone number or vice versa, chances are that I’ll lose it. On the other hand, if I do have your number or social media handle, you can expect messages on birthdays and all of the holidays! I’ve also got a thing for greeting cards. I absolutely love shopping for the perfect card. So I guess I’m not at a complete loss when it comes to keeping in touch, but there’s definitely room for improvement, and I’m up for the challenge.
The first time I’d ever heard of trichotillomania was in the early 2000s. I was watching an episode of Boston Public, where a student had been wearing hats to cover up the fact that she’d been losing her hair. The other students began to think that she had cancer until one day she’d gotten sick in class and coughed up a hairball.
After seeing this episode I wanted to know more about this disorder, but unfortunately I was only able to find very little information on the subject. I never abandoned my search to find out more about trichotillomania. I recently began my search again and found all sorts of information.
So what exactly is Trichotillomania? Trichotillomania is a body-focused disorder which results in a compulsive urge to pull out hair strand by strand, often leading to baldness and emotional trauma. The hair pulling is not specific to a certain area on the body. It could be from the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or anywhere on the body. The severity of the disorder also differs from patient to patient. The eating of the hair after pulling it out is an extreme form of the condition known as trichophagia. In 2008, ABCNews.com reported that a 10 lb. hairball (trichobezoar) was surgically removed from a girl’s stomach in Mumbai, India. However, most trich patients do not eat their hair. Although trich is an anxiety/stress related disorder, the cause is unknown. It typically begins late in childhood or early puberty and primarily affects women.
Today, youtube is full of brave people sharing their stories about their struggles and triumphs with trich. BeckieO, a youtuber, said in a interview with ABC News that, “Pulling makes me feel better, but then you see the damage afterwards and you think no, that’s actually making me feel worse.” That seems to be a common pattern with trich patients. Shame, guilt, and embarrassment follows the pulling. I think that’s one of the reasons why people who suffer from trich don’t get necessary treatment right away. It’s embarrassing to have to explain to someone that you’ve been pulling out your own hair without even knowing why you’re doing it in the first place or how to stop. Trich patients are not helpless. 60 to 80% of trich patients can be effectively treated with behavioral therapy and medication. There are also toys called “fidgets” that are used to help relieve stress and to keep hands distracted from pulling. Trich patients sometimes feel that they are suffering alone but it’s not true. Several celebrities have also been diagnosed with having trich including Olivia Munn, Charlize Theron, and Justin Timberlake.
You can find out more about trichotillomania at trich.org. Also, you can head over to youtube and follow the trich journals of brave “trichsters” like BeckieO and many others.