Tracey started eyelash pulling at 14

Has had some success by setting goals

The eyelash pulling started shortly before a trip to Colorado and California with my older sister. She was 28, I was 14. She offered to take me to California if I would go with her to Colorado. It was a great idea, but I guess I was anxious about it.

I have always loved the memory of that trip, and yet it was really scary. She didn’t have a credit card so we couldn’t rent a car. We had no planned itinerary and basically if I couldn’t carry my own bag, she wasn’t going to help – so I had to pack really light- no hair dryer no make up – just 5 outfits for a 2 week trip.

My sister didn’t recall details well – like when our tour bus guide said they would pick up in a certain place at the end of the day, my sister didn’t remember where. If I hadn’t remembered, we’d have been left behind. I remember saying something to her like “you’re 28 – I’m 14 – who is supposed to be taking care of who on this trip?” We just kind of laughed it off, but I think somewhere inside I was feeling scared to be 2000 miles from home if I was the one to make sure that we got home at all!

The circumstances surrounding me starting pulling have always puzzled me. A few years earlier, I can’t recall exactly how old I was at the time, my sister-in-law, my niece and I were talking and my niece said that her friend had pulled out all of her eyelashes and that we should never do that. Her mom (my sis-in-law) chimed in with “no, she didn’t pull them out, she had an operation on her eye and they came out during that – but still you should never pull out your eyelashes”. I agreed with her that we should never do that.

Strangely, that was like a recurring thought in my head “..never pull out your eyelashes” Then I started thinking about it and whether it was even possible to pull out ALL your eyelashes? I didn’t think it was, but there was the intrigue of “I wonder if you can – what would happen”. I was sort of fixated.

I often tend to over think and analyze things people say to me, the conversation possibly did add to the probability of trich fully developing. I have read in so many books about how the things that you think about the most are what you do/say/ become.

I always thought my eyelashes got in the way of my vision – like I could see them there and feel them when I blinked and I found that annoying. I also think I probably had a tendency toward trich. I always had a fascination with hair.

Once I started there was no turning back. I pulled a small spot on the inner side of my upper left eyelid, probably 15-20 lashes. I used a tweezer so I could be precise and then said to myself “ok, now you’ve proven that you can pull out all your lashes” and I went to bed.

But then I couldn’t stop, partly because I hadn’t pulled them all out and something was saying “but you didn’t pull them all”, and partly since now there was the bald spot I was constantly touching it and it was easy to pull the lashes right next to that spot – and it got larger and larger until my entire left eye had no upper lashes. The right eye soon followed.

I didn’t go to the bottom lid for months – that is until after my family noticed what I had done. I did have good control though when they came back in. I would set goals – like for the spring band/choir trip I wanted to have lashes, so I would be pull free up until then. If I pulled after that goal passed, I would set a new goal and this went on for years – with months here and there when I was pull free, only to start all over again.

Tracey Baxter

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Accounts of people with trichotillomania

The BFRB blogs and experiences described in this section may be disturbing so don’t read on unless you’re sure you are up to it.

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