Trichotillomania.

Yep, that’s a long, wacky word for a hair pulling disorder I’ve had since I was 12.

In middle school (like that time isn’t awkward enough), I pulled out all of my eyelashes. Running to the mirror to see what I’d done was horrifying, and with no access to makeup, I had to go to school and face everyone. Girls whispered. Boys flapped their wings while squawking, “Bald Eagle!” I kept my head down, tried not making eye contact with friends and avoided cameras, pool parties and social events. 

24 years later, I still struggle with trichotillomania (trich).

experience-with-trichotillomania

You may be thinking, “Well, that’s not a big deal. Hair loss isn’t life threatening.” But I disagree.

Hair loss can absolutely be life threatening. And I don’t mean in the “you can die from it directly” kind of way. But it threatens your quality of life on deep emotional levels. People with trich may often isolate, battle depression, anxiety, and deal with feelings of burdensome shame.

Hair loss can make you afraid of water. Will my makeup wash off? Will I be exposed?

Hair loss can make you afraid of wind. Will my false lashes fly away? Will my wig come off?

It may prohibit close relationships for fear of exposure. It wreaks havoc on your self-confidence. I’ve turned down beach vacations, pool parties, swims with my daughter because I was afraid that someone, anyone, would see the real me.

And now, with lash extension boutiques at every corner, and phrases like “eyes without lashes are like cake with no icing”, it makes people with trich feel less than. Ugly. Undeserving. I didn’t feel beautiful with trich. I didn’t feel free with trich.

But about a year ago, I stopped hiding and shared my struggle publicly on Facebook and Instagram. It was a nerve-racking experience. But then, messages flooded in. Messages of support and praise for such raw and honest vulnerability. Messages from friends that also had the disorder! It made me realize something necessary for recovery: I AM NOT ALONE. And neither are you.

Now, I talk openly about trich, and the support has reduced those horrible shameful feelings. Instead, I love myself deeply.

I am not my disorder.

I am not my hair.

And the love people feel for me and the love I have for myself has nothing to do with hair. I’m beyond grateful there are products to help restore pulled hair back to full growth. These products help me regain my confidence and self-esteem. And even though there may be setbacks, products like Vegamour give me hope that the hair will grow again. It will grow, as I grow too, and learn to manage and move through life with this disorder with everyone else struggling with trich and other types of hair loss. You are not alone.

Written by Jennifer Deyo Jennifer Deyo is a mom, wife and writer residing in Franklin, TN. As a mental health advocate, she’s joined her two passions and is co-authoring a novel with her husband, Bentz Deyo, featuring a teen with trichotillomania. For all things trich visit her website www.trich-tricks.com or find her on Instagram at @trichtricks.

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