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Arden Raine is an ex-theatrical making sense of life through many lenses.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Trichotillomania and me

*This began as a Facebook status but is important enough to share here.*
I have been having a bad time with my Trichotillomania.
That is an obsessive compulsion to pull out one's own hair.
On YouTube I found a beautiful British Channel 4 documentary titled: "Girls on the Pull". 
It's in 2 parts and though I cried through most of it, I see what those girls are going through and realize how lucky I am. And so happy that those women found Lucinda Ellerby, the salon owner who specializes in helping those with Trichotillomania. 
I have had Trich since age 11, so for 31 years it has been my companion.
I have many times stopped and restarted the pulling.
As life and anxiety drag on my resources the trich becomes a means to buffer myself from that anxiety. I have come to see it as a gentle reminder to self care and revisit my therapeutic toolbox.  But I do not berate myself for the relapses.
My last restart began, unsurprisingly,  with the miscarriage last year. And has ramped up lately with the dual upheavals of kidlet's school problems and home worries. Nothing earth shattering but honestly I have pushed my own needs/self care to the back burner and the Trichotillomania is a wake up call to take better care of myself.
My lovelies I am sharing this not because I am in any way in crisis.  I am not. But because of the stigma and self loathing that trich can imprison a person. Obviously not me as I rarely wear make up anymore and am open about Trichotillomania.
I didn't know what Trichotillomania was until I was in college. It was that dirty secret I had to try to hide because it embarrassed my family. Too many who have trich feel this way.
I have since accepted my pulling as the act that it is. It is my body's way of processing high levels of stress and fear.
So if you see me with less eyebrows or notice my bald spots and want to talk about it- I am ALWAYS willing to do so.
4% of the population has this disorder.
That's a lot of folks under a lot of heavy-duty shame and stress (for the most part).
What I can say is it can get better. Self love and care can do so much. But science do not understand (yet) what causes Trichotillomania.  There are no cures (yet). There are some therapies that may work but there's not yet something that medicine and point to and say: that's why it is and this is what causes trich so here's how we combat it.
But it can get better.  Not everyone loses the hair forever.  Some never can grow back what is lost. Some find that after their first bout they never experience it again. For some it's constant. For me it's situational. 
But know I am using my toolkit to counteract the behavior.  Somedays I am amazing at keeping myself trich free. Sometimes years! Sometimes months, weeks, days, hours or minutes.  Each is a victory in its own time. Celebrate those victories!
If you have Trichotillomania and want to talk. Message me. If you do not have trich and want to talk, message me.
And again: I Am Not in Crisis! I am working through the issues that are behind the behavior and doing amazing at removing the triggers. (I have a lot of triggers. Lol) So don't worry.  I am alright.
If I was hiding my trich. You'd know I was in over my head! I love myself too much now to ever feel ashamed of my body.  I have worked hard to see myself as the beautiful soul I truly am. So if I have pencil brows it's because I want them not because the trich must be hidden. I wasted decades in my youth on such self destructive behavior.
And I recommend: "The Gifts of Our Compulsions" by Mary O'Malley.  It has helped with a lot of my compulsive behavior management/recovery.
As always be kind and find the beauty of this day!
Lucinda Ellerby

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