Quarantine Diaries #3 – Living With Trichotillomania

By: Rawan Khalil

I have been living with my trich for years and over that period of time, I noticed that my trich is a taker and not a giver. My hair pulling has taken away so much from me; my self-confidence, my self-esteem, my motivation, my energy, and my happiness on multiple occasions. Trich has not given me anything more than a couple of seconds of relief which are followed by disappointment and pain. Now when I look at my hair in the mirror I wonder how I will go out after quarantine with my hair so much lighter than it was before. I look at my hair in the mirror and mourn what I have lost.

I can hear the questions people might ask.

I can see the judgment. 

I can imagine the pity.

Trich is a manifestation of my lack of control over my body, because I get insatiable urges to pull one hair which is followed by seconds of relief and then hours of self-shame, guilt, confusion, and regret. Trich is so much more than hair; it’s about the long nights where you lose sleep to create the damage, and the early morning you spend trying to cover it up. It’s about the tears which burn down your skin when you don’t know why you’re doing it. It’s the weird feeling in your stomach when you hope the hair will grow back.

It’s the fear of going to a hairdresser because you don’t want to answer their questions.

It’s abruptly moving your head so no one would bring up your hair.

It’s hoping you can hide your bald spots.

It’s hoping you can cover your scars.

It’s hoping you’d disappear.

Living with trich means I cry myself to sleep and cry myself awake hoping I could hate myself into someone I could love. 

Living with trich means my anxiety starts in my gut and ends at the tip of my fingers so no matter how many times I clench my hands into a fist I will either end up with scars on my palm, or hair in between my fingertips. I wish I could erase the scars. I wish I could put the hair back. I play with the hair between my fingers only to throw it away and focus on the damage I have done – the bald spots my parents point out every time they see my face, the bald spots my hands go to. The bald spots.

Living with trich means when someone says they are pulling their hair out, my first thought is literally.

Living with trich means waking up thinking you’re crazy, feeling alone, feeling helpless. It means sometimes giving up because that’s so much easier than fighting the urges, and slowly you feel like every bit of your energy is sucked too. 

Trich is so much more than hair. It’s rooted in trauma and anxiety which is so hard to deal with because I don’t know where to start or how to start. It’s an outlet for so much negativity which I can’t process and would rather not right now because I am not sure I am strong enough to handle it on my own. It’s a coping mechanism and I don’t know how to cope, because sometimes I feel like I am drowning. 

Normally, I would only pull my hair when I am at home but now I am stuck at home all day and it in a way I feel that my hair pulling is my companion. I am seeking comfort in something self-destructive because it feels normal. It feels more normal than a fucking pandemic. It feels like the one constant. And I can’t go around and say no one will notice because my parents have noticed and I am shamed all the time.

“Hey, don’t you want to be pretty when you go to university?”

“Why do you hurt me like this?”

“Can’t you just stop”

There are so many fucking voices in my head. There are the voices of my trich which push me, there are whispers of shame and guilt, there are my parents’ voices and frankly, none of them are mine. Voices that are telling me that one hair will make things better- lies. The shame just comes tickling back and my anxiety just excels once again.

Anxiety before and anxiety after.

I am tired.

I know I am not alone.

If you are going through this frankly enough you are not alone.

So, here goes to the person that hasn’t yet told a soul, who’s pulling their hair and doesn’t know why. Who’s scared to tell anyone because they fear being called weird. I see you. I feel you. You are not alone.

Here goes to the person who hasn’t done anything today but holding themselves back from pulling one hair. I see you. I feel you. You are not alone.

Here is a friendly reminder to breathe. 

Here is a friendly reminder to be gentle, and not seek revenge on your body.

I know it’s hard but you are strong- even though sometimes it feels like you are not.

Fight.

Breathe.

Talk to someone.

Cry. 

Fight. 

Do it again.

Love,

Rawan 

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