I started pulling my eyelashes when I was about 10. I can’t remember the first time I did it. At 14 I started pulling my eyebrows too and soon I had to start pencilling them in. I often thought about this ‘habit’ of mine but didn’t tell anybody about it. I genuinely thought I was the only person in the whole world who did this.
A month before I turned 16, we got the internet installed at home. One afternoon I typed ‘pulling eyelashes and eyebrows’ into the Google search engine. I was surprised at the number of sites that appeared on the screen. I soon found out that I had ‘trichotillomania’, a condition which involves pulling out hair from the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, etc. I found one site particularly helpful and joined as a member. I went on the site every day and chatted and posted messages. It was the first time I felt understood. I’ve made some great friends though the site and have had the privilege of meeting many of them in person. We’re all tied together by the trich thread but trich is only a part of our lives. We can be defined by so much more than just this one thing. We’re students, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters. We are people and people are multifaceted.
Over the years I’ve tried counselling, hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and online therapy. I would love to be able to write that I’m pull-free now but unfortunately I can’t. A couple of years ago this would have hurt so much. Now it doesn’t hurt as much. Physically I’m pulling the same amount of hair as I did four years ago. Psychologically I feel completely different; different in a good way. I no longer feel ashamed. I no longer feel frightened at the thought of people noticing my eyes. I no longer feel the need to hide behind my glasses. I can confidently wear contact lenses and can go to the opticians. And perhaps most importantly I can confidently inform people that I have a condition called trichotillomania.
I’m not 100% happy with myself. I feel depressed at times and wish I was more sociable and independent. Becoming pull-free is still very important to me but important in a different kind of way. It’s the icing on the cake now rather than the cake itself. How did I get to this point? My family’s continuous support has obviously been an important factor but I strongly believe that finding the site was the start of the journey that makes me to the person I am today.