Firstly, let me say that I have been a busy girl. I recently got the opportunity to fill a feature slot on in the Greystones Guide (my hometown news outlet) and I wanted everything to be perfect. So, my creative juices were flowing elsewhere. If you want to check the piece out, you can click HERE. I am super happy with how everything turned out and had a really lovely experience with it all.
But as you can tell by the title, this will not be a diary entry, it will not be a personal blog (for the most part!). I really feel like there are a lot of anxiety disorders that go unnoticed simply because they’re not as popular, or the people suffering from them do not have the capacity to speak out. ‘Anxiety’ seems to, in our society, be one big word with a million suggestions surrounding it. And for those of us that live and understand it, we know for a fact that there is more than one dimension to it. So, I followed my train of thought this week and learned something new and I would love to share with you all… Trichotillomania!
Basically, this all started a few days ago. My anxiety has been through the roof- like, seriously. I have been thinking some CRAZY thoughts, totally off the wall stuff. My stomach isn’t holding food very well, I’m not sleeping very well… I really haven’t been feeling my best. However, this time in my pit of anxiety, something different happened. I had some really strange urges that I have never had before- and if you are unfamiliar with them, you might actually think I have really lost it. Here goes… I had mind and body consuming urges to pull my hair out. Doesn’t that sound mad? I actually woke up at 3am the other night and my scalp was throbbing, my body was tense and all I could think about doing was ripping my hair out. Now, that’s a new one for me. I have never had thoughts like that before. I found myself pulling my arm hairs throughout the next day, without even being conscious that I’d started doing it! Luckily, I was able to rationalise my thoughts a bit. And instead of totally freaking out and panicking about it all, I decided to get my thinking cap on and do some research.
Here’s what I found out:
- Trichotillomania affects millions of people world wide. The shame and secrecy that so many people experience with this problem naturally makes it harder to solve. But it can be overcome.
- Trichotillomania is a compulsive pattern of pulling one’s hair out (or having urges to)- sometimes, to the point where it results in noticeable hair loss. People afflicted with this typically experience a powerful sense of shame and embarrassment which, most of the time, leads them to try and hide their hair loss. It can be hair from limbs, brows, lashes or scalp- even pubic hair!
- It is believed to affect about 3% of the population, and occurs much more frequently among women.
- It usually appears in late childhood or adolescence. It’s often accompanied, or caused, by increased levels of anxiety and depression.
- The hair pulling in trichotillomania is not a random activity, but typically follows a characteristic pattern. Identifying the specifics of your pattern is a key part of recovery.
- Internal discomforts such as “not feeling right”, anger, anxiety, tension, boredom and frustration are leading causes in trichotillomania.
- Trichotillomania is considered treatable by general psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy or through meditation. The most effective method available is a combination of two cognitive behavioural strategies: Habit Reversal and Stimulus Control.
Having done the research, I discovered how normal this was for someone like me. I do sometimes build my day on emotions like frustration and I feel anxious quite a lot. And this week especially, I have felt severely self-conscious and paranoid. There’s my answer! So, moving forward, over the next few days I will be focusing on my cognitive behavioural thinking and making sure I get a ten minute meditation in AT LEAST once a day.
See, it’s not all that bad. Half of the battle is finding out how to fix the problem- sooner rather than later. I can imagine this disorder being completely soul consuming. I can definitely identify with the feeling of shame and embarrassment after an episode. In my case, I was cutting myself. And every time I calmed down, I was completely overcome with guilt, shame and further self-hatred. This experience has reminded me to be a little bit softer with myself. I am my own worst critic and sometimes, I just need to give myself a break.
The main reason that I wanted to post about trichotillomania was just to break the ice a bit. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there, like me, that have had similar urges and just had no clue what was going on. I really feel that the more we just openly speak about these disorders and their cures, the less alone people will feel and in turn, the less likely these disorders are to escalate to their extremes. Not every embarrassing thought has to be held in. If you recover from a mental illness, you can only keep what you have by giving it away. You can only stay well in your recovery by helping those that are still suffering. That is a true demonstration of gratitude, in my opinion. Saying that, I am in no way cured or recovered. I really feel like I have only started my journey. However, some people aren’t even on that journey. Some people are still suffering inside their own heads, in silence. And that is where the beauty of websites like this is truly brought to light.
If you are somebody that has suffered from an anxiety order like this and are brave enough to speak out, my website welcomes feature blog posts. Especially when they engage with such controversial issues. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any of my social media platforms if you have any further questions, or would like to know more, about something I’ve posted. I hope this blog post has helped someone out there. This kind of knowledge could enable you to help somebody that you love or more importantly, help yourself- be it currently or in years to come.
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Hope to hear from you soon & until next time,