You Don’t Make Me Pull My Hair Out, But Seriously, I Do Pull My Hair Out

“You are going to make me pull my hair out!”

Well, let’s be honest, you may get angry or frustrated, but you aren’t going to pull your hair out because of someone.

For some people though, they really do have an urge to pull their hair out.  They have a disorder called trichotillomania – or trich – for short.  The most common places they pull hair from are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.  This will leave noticeable bald patches.

Depending on who you talk to, there is a debate on how trich is classified.  Some say it is an impulse control disorder, some say it is related to OCD, others say it is a body focused repetitive behavior (BFRB). 

It can be found in all age groups, including infants!  However, most commonly it appears in the tween – teen years. 

According to the DSM V the symptoms of trichotillomania are:

  1. Recurrent pulling out of one’s hair, resulting in hair loss.
  2. Repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling.
  3. The hair pulling causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  4. The hair pulling or hair loss is not attributable to another medical condition (e.g., a dermatological condition).
  5. The hair pulling is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder (e.g., attempts to improve a perceived defect or flaw in appearance in body dysmorphic disorder).

There really is no known cause of trich.  It is thought to have a neurologically predisposition.  It is also thought to occur as a coping mechanism during stressful events.  I personally tend to pull out my eyebrow hairs during times of stress when I get anxious.  I do not do it all the time though and have learned to cope with it better when I have something to do with my hands such as play with a stress ball.  I tend not to notice I am doing it though unless someone points it out.  Many people with trich cannot control their urges though. 

Some treatment options have been used.

  1. Therapy is the most common one.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often used.  Other forms of therapy can also be used depending on your psychologist (or other type of therapist you see) and how you feel the best way of going about it is.  There are clinics around the US that specifically specialize in treating trich.
  2. Some medications have been thought to help trich although none are officially approved for it at this time.  Naltrexone and Topomax are two that some people have tried. Others have also been prescribed SSRI’s. 
  3. Support groups specific to trich are also important to gain connections with those that are dealing with the same problems you might be going through.

If you want more information on trichotillomania, a wonderful site to go to is http://www.trich.org/index.html

Some other sites that give general information about trich include:

 

***(There is also another disorder called dermatillomania – this is similar to trichotillomania.  It involves skin picking though, where a person will pick at there skin such as scabs until the skin is bleeding. If you would like more information about this, go to: http://www.skinpick.com/dermatillomania.)

 

Longing for a Friend, but Not Wanting Anyone Near Me

I am so scared to meet people and get close to people, and yet I long to have friends to trust and be able to go to and spend time with.  My mind can’t decide which is more important – protecting myself from possibly being hurt, or taking the chance of actually having someone to help me when I am feeling hurt.  I know this occurs partially because of my BPD – pulling people in and pushing people away.  But I think it really occurs with all mental illness in some aspect, and I think mine occurs more because of my social anxiety than anything.

Since the abuse from when I was younger, the molestation by my teacher in 7th grade, I have had a hard time trusting anyone.  I began to isolate from any friendships that I did have.  We moved the year after the sexual abuse happened and I didn’t want to make new friends or have to trust anyone.  Despite that, I really wanted to – I wanted to be able to confide in someone, to have them tell me everything would be ok. 

Now, 13 years later, my mind still works that later.  Constantly arguing with itself – should I socialize or isolate?  I am terrified to go out and meet people.  Will they judge me?  Will they see through me, will they see that I was abused? Will they blame me for it?  What if they find out I am on disability, what will they think of me then? 

What if they actually like me though, and then they want to hang out with me? See, I have been able to meet people sometimes.  I have made some friends.  But I am not someone who can constantly be around people non-stop.  I still need my space or I get overwhelmed.  I feel trapped, just like when I was being abused.  So keeping the friendship is hard for me because I begin to pull away and isolate.  Turning down offers to hang out, quit answering phone calls, and slowly letting the relationship dissolve until they no longer call me.

Isolating is so bad for our mental health though.  It keeps us in a negative state of mind.  Sure, it is good for us to have time for ourselves.  It is actually healthy for us to take time out for ourselves and spend time alone — sometimes!  Key word, sometimes.  But when we let our depression or anxiety take over and keep us from getting out to do things or spend time with others, we are preventing ourselves from actually enjoying life and living.  It is something I really need to work on.  I have definitely not won this battle yet.  I struggle with the social anxiety.  And when I get depressed it compounds my isolation even more. 

It’s funny how we can long so much for company and yet not want anyone near us at the same time.  Our minds work in funny ways. 

Post a Day – My Flaws and Imperfections, I’m Only Human

WordPress Post A Day  –  We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of the summer of 2014?

I’m not perfect.  I am going to screw up.  I can’t live up to everyone’s expectations. 

This summer, I owned up to that.  I took off my mask and quit hiding behind it.  I quit pretending like I could be happy all the time, I could be perfect all the time, like nothing that was said to me or done to me hurt me.  Because you know what?  It did, people hurt me.  They said hurtful things, they did hurtful things.  I suffered from mental illness and I wasn’t always happy all the time.  I couldn’t be strong all the time.  I’m human.  I’m only human.

 I’m only human
And I crash and I break down
Your words in my head, knives in my heart
You build me up and then I fall apart
‘Cause I’m only human

I try to make myself believe that I can do everything, that I can be someone I am not.  Throughout my life I have done this.  If you read my Post A Day yesterday, you will see I have done this my whole life.  But this summer, I learned I don’t have to do this anymore.  I can be who I am.  Christina Perri’s song ‘Human” describes perfectly what my Summer 2014 has been all about – discovering my inner strength – my power – to reclaim and show that I don’t have to be perfect.  I can be vulnerable, and that is ok.  It is hard, it is hard to let people in, and I am still working on it, but it is possible and it is ok.

Holding my breath, Biting my tongue, forcing a smile, forcing a laugh – that just isn’t possible anymore.

I can take so much
‘Til I’ve had enough

For me, once I have had enough, my only way out was suicide, and I can’t keep turning to that.  So this summer, I have begun to reclaim control.  Or, work on reclaiming control I should say! It is a work in progress and always will be a work in progress as that is how mental illness is – a lifelong struggle and battle. 

As I look back on the summer of 2014, I will remember this song, and how it showed me – it is ok to have flaws and imperfections, that is what makes us human and quite honestly I don’t want to be a robot! But in all seriousness, flaws and imperfections are just as important as our strengths, they make us unique!