The beginning of my pull free life came to me only once I had given up the fight against finding help. It came to me only once I admitted to myself that I am human, and I can not do everything on my own, nor do I ever have to.
Since beginning therapy my urges to pull have decreased dramatically. My control over managing my urges when they do occur has improved significantly. I can not remember the last time I actually pulled out a single hair. My bad days consist of pulling sprees of my split ends, a couple minutes of searching my hair and tugging at it but not pulling it out, or tugging at my ponytail. Since beginning therapy I feel more comfortable discussing my Trich with people that are close to me and even people I have just met. That was something I felt would always be impossible, something I felt that I would never have the strength to do. Before starting therapy I did extensive research on what trichotillomania is, how to treat it, methods to manage it, and how to beat it. I am studying psychology in school so my background knowledge of how different types of therapies (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT) work on the brain helped me gain a good understanding of how to implement the methods I had researched. Without this previous knowledge I probably would have had no idea how any of the methods I researched were supposed to work. I chose a few methods and decided to try and treat myself. I continued to self-treat for a year. I had some success but I never saw the results I wanted, to stop pulling. I knew that something was missing, there was something I didn’t know, and that “something” was the missing key to stopping my trich.
To some, and even myself at one point, admitting you need help is the hardest thing to do. I was raised to believe in myself. I am strong. Anything I need to do, learn, figure out, I can do it. “I can do it on my own”. “I don’t need help”. “If I need help, I will ask you for it, until then, I can do it on my own.” . If you ask some of my closest friends they will tell you that asking for help, or accepting help is one of the hardest things for me to do. I will hardly ever let my guy friends open a door for me, because I don’t need them to, I can do it. I am able. This mindset has dominated my life and almost everything I do. I used to think I would be perceived as weak if I were to ask for help. I thought that being a female asking for help only furthered the absolutely ridiculous social belief that women need a man or someone stronger than themselves to do things for them. I was so adamant in this belief that I denied the truth that a therapist would ever be able to help me. I didn’t need a therapist. “I’ll figure it out on my own, like I always have”.
Asking for help is HARD. It was so hard that my it took me 3 years of denial to reach rock bottom. I remember sitting at my desk, the most frustrated I had been in a very long time. I was working on an assignment for my accounting course and I literally had no idea how to do it, and didn’t understand my textbook in the slightest. I was so frustrated I wanted to cry. I wanted to smash my computer screen with angry fists in hope it would calm the frustration. I wanted to scream. I put my head in my hands to try and breath and when I looked down I saw a massive pile of hair all over my lap. I hadn’t even realized I had pulled so much hair. In this moment I realized I had no control over my trich. I finally had to admit that this was something I didn’t have an answer to despite my extensive efforts to find it. I realized, no matter how much I wanted to, that I could not find the answer on my own. In this moment I felt defeated. I felt as If I had failed myself. I was angry. I felt weak. I thought to myself “How could it be so hard for me to overcome such a thing as small as a strand of hair on my head?!”.
“Ask for help, not because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong.”
I want to ask you to consider your journey with trich from the beginning to now. Think to yourself about all the emotions, the ups and downs, good days and downright horrible days. Consider the setbacks you have come across. Acknowledge the accomplishments you have reached once again even after your setbacks. Recall the comments and looks you have endured from your family members, peers, friends, and strangers. Celebrate the progress you have made. Remember all the times you have been millimeters from the edge, just about to step over that line and give up on it all. But you have not given up, not even close, because if you had given up you would not be here, reading this blog. You are NOT weak. Someone who is weak could not have endured everything we have and still have hope that if they keep fighting, even when they feel as if they can’t stay strong any longer, that they can and will beat their trich.
Please, realize it is OK to ask for help. It is OK to admit that there are some things in life that you can’t do all on your own. You do not have to feel weak, and when you do, just remember all the things you have already survived! Ask for help. Ask someone you trust, a family member, a close friend, a co-worker you trust, a teacher, a fellow trichster. Ask them to help you find the help you need. You do not have to seek out a therapist, asking for help may be just asking a friend to help keep you aware of your pulling when you hang out together, or to keep you accountable by sharing you progress, the good and the bad. Asking for help may just be asking someone to let you tell them what is on your mind, to clear your head and get it off your chest. It could even be asking them to hold your hands through a panic attack until you are calm. Anything. Asking for help does not make you weak, or sick, or crazy. It gives you the tools remain strong and learn how to take control over your battle.
We have all been through these things and we are all still here, fighting an impulse disorder that is almost uncontrollable! Give yourself credit you deserve! You have endured all of that and you are still here, fighting trich. You may be pull free 1 day or 100 days, you may be bald and still fighting this battle fiercely, you may be recovered a year, or just now learning you have trich, but you are still fighting. No matter where you are in this battle remember the amount of strength you must have to endure it all.
You are strong. There is no doubt about that.