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I have trichotillomania and need help

(10 Posts)
CantStopPulling Sat 12-Mar-11 22:48:02

I have trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling). However unlike a lot of trich sufferers I don’t pull my head hair at all, instead I pull out my eyelashes. I’ve done it for 19 years – I desperately want to stop and want to stop before it gets to 20 years. I’ve had therapy before (for about 2 years) which was online therapy via this site. They were lovely and it helped a bit at the time but I never quite cracked it and stopped altogether. The longest I’ve gone without pulling at all in the last 19 years is just under two months. Even now I sometimes go for days or even a week or two without pulling and my lashes start to grow back but I always spoil it all by pulling again. At the moment I have quite a few gaps in my lashes and can’t seem to keep my hands away from my eyes, even though I know that it will lead to that horrible feeling of shame, guilt, embarrassment and desperation. I’m pulling as I type and know I will feel like shit in the morning. I just don’t know what to do next, or where to turn. My worst nightmare is a situation where I’d be without my make-up that I use to disguise it, so for instance I dread ever having to go into hospital or having to get up and go out for an emergency in the night (eg if DCs were ill) as people would see the gaps. I feel so self conscious and desperate. It sounds stupid but it’s like I’m trapped in a prison and I just want to be free.

I’ve thought about going to my GP but I’m scared about what they will say, as they may not have even heard of it, or may think I’m just a freak. I don’t want them to just pump me full of drugs. I’m also scared about what they may put on my notes. I’m bringing my DCs up on my own and don’t want to have anything that may affect them on my medical records. I’m being treated for another long term physical (not MH related) illness, so the thought of all this on my notes makes me nervous, as though I’ll be one of those patients with hundreds of ailments.

In the past I’ve been diagnosed with stress/anxiety/mild depression, so it could be linked, but that was pretty recent so obviously wasn’t linked to the initial start of the trich. I wasn’t offered medication or therapy for the S/A/MD as the doc said it was mild, and just to come back if it got worse but thankfully it improved. It comes and goes though.

Not one person knows about this. Some may have noticed and wondered what the problem was, but nothing's even been said to me. I’m really scared that friends, family and colleagues will find out, or I’ll have to tell them for some reason, as I don’t want anyone to know. I just feel so ashamed. Some conditions are more ‘acceptable’, or understandable than others and this one is not, so I feel I’ll be severely judged if people know I’ve got this. I’ll be the laughing stock of the family for one. It’s one of those conditions someone would read about and go ‘Why would anyone do that? They must be a freak!’. I know they would think that because that’s what I think about myself.

Is there anyone else on mn that has this? If so, have you had treatment for it? What should I do? I’m not sure where to turn next.

MadMommaMemoo Sun 13-Mar-11 10:09:30

I have it too and also don't pull out the hair on my head. I pull out my eyebrows, at the moment they look awful. Last year I went through a really bad patch and pulled them all out so was completely bald.

I have mentioned it to my psychiatrist and he compared it to OCD and self harm. Other than that he kind of glossed over it.

Sorry I can't offer more advice but will watch this thread with interest.

WhatsWrongWithYou Sun 13-Mar-11 10:19:51

I did this throughout my childhood and teenage years. In my case, it stopped when I first went to college at 18.
I don't know for certain why this was, but I think it may be because I was using make-up regularly and cleansing my eyes thoroughly each night, whereas they never would have got more than a splash in the shower before.
I don't know if this is relevant to your case as I think my pulling was more related to having flakes of skin around the eyelash-line (symptom of blepharitis), and vigorous rubbing with hot water and cotton wool is one of the remedies for this. Once the flakes weren't there, the impulse to scratch and pull seemed to fade away.
I don't understand why I was never taken to the doctor's about this; years of embarrassment and worry about people finding out could have been avoided (although I suppose that's assuming the doctor would have spotted the condition).
Not sure if I'm helping here, but I wanted you to know you're not the only one suffering this - and I've seen posts from several MNers confirming the same.

time2change Wed 16-Mar-11 10:13:20

I also have this, and have done for about 17 years.

I was counting it up my head last night - 17 feckin years!!!, I had IT longer than I havn't.

I head pull, and it's been really bad, and it's been really good - but never gone!

I am however feeling v inspired to change, hence my lovely new name change.

I'm going to start a new thread today on my hair pulling, becuase IT'S GOING TO STOP. It's like an evil relationship, and I AM going to make the break. It's chewed up enough of my life.

I'm going to use my thread as a journal/inspiration/encouragement and motivation - becuase as of today ( and if you count when I was asleep !!! - I have been pull free for 13 hours!!!)

Anybody fancy joining me??? Come on cantstoppulling we CAN do it and make a change!

ashamedandhorrified Wed 16-Mar-11 13:48:44

I have had trich for around 20 years now. I started a thread about 6 weeks ago, but it fell by the wayside a bit.

I was pull free for 21 days, then pulled 3 hairs. Since then I've pulled VERY occasionally. Probably 1 hair per week, which still adds up to a lot of hairs per year sad. I need to try and cut it down to none.

It really is a difficult habit to break, but I do think it's doable. I already feel a lot better about my hair since I've reduced it significantly.

Good luck!

time2change Wed 16-Mar-11 14:42:10

I saw your thread ashamed, and did wonder how you were doing.

Thats great news that you have barely pulled. Well done.

I'm hoping I will be in your position in 6 weeks as well.

Do you have any idea why you started ??? Curious what the trigger is. I am in the camp that any 'habit' I had picked up at the time would of been a major as I 'needed' something.

ashamedandhorrified Wed 16-Mar-11 16:34:53

I have a number of theories on why it started, and having been thinking about it a lot lately.

I used to bite my nails and my Mum got on at me all the time about it. I decided to find something else to do instead. Everyone always said what beautiful hair I had (no more), so I paid more attention to it. I noticed I had split ends, so those weren't perfect. I have to be be perfect, so I pulled them out. Hey presto, I have something to replace nail biting.

I find/found it very soothing and I can go into a trace like state when I do it. I had a traumatic experience as a child and I need to be able to zone out to cope. Nail biting initially, then hair pulling.

Very, very far from perfect now - positively odd looking.

Elicpise Thu 17-Mar-11 14:12:51

Hi i have been puling my hair for over 30 yrs now out i twiddle it so they are knots and then pull it out i find it very comforting and soothing

and stroke the knots it quite bad at mo thin and bald patches

IngridBergmann Thu 17-Mar-11 14:21:05

CBT might help. It's very good for stuff like this.

Sorry you are going through it.

sungirltan Mon 13-Jun-11 23:02:42

hi all. just found this thread. 25 fecking years!! trich has shaped my life and i didnt know anyone else even did it unitl about 2004 when i met a girl who wore a bandana all the time because of head pulling.

wondering how you are all getting on and if anything helps as my eyelash pulling is really flaring right now and i'm so fed up!

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