Why I’m not tearing my hair out

Trichotillomania, or trich for short, is a hard condition to understand. After all, who’d want to pull their own hair out and make themselves look like that? What makes it an even harder condition to understand is the fact that it mostly affects women and young girls, for whom hair and appearance is generally a big thing.

When people ask me about trich, I say it’s like nail biting, or having an itch that you’ve just got to scratch. I’d find it such a relief, a pleasure even, once I’d satisfied the impulse to pull my hair.

It started when I was about six years old and went on for years throughout school and during university. At times I have been almost completely bald. Can you imagine pulling thousands of hairs out, one by one?

Sometimes, I wouldn’t even realise I’d be doing it. I’d be watching the TV and then look down to see a pile of mousy hair in my lap. Then I’d look in the mirror and feel so angry with myself. I’d stare at my bald patches and think ‘what’s wrong with you?’

During my teenage years, trich affected me in all sorts of ways. My hair, or lack of it, made me feel incredibly self-conscious. I avoided anything that meant getting my hair wet and remember being petrified of the rain because then all my hairspray would come out and you’d see all the spiky bits of my hair – because that’s how it grows back. Or I’d be walking past a bus and thinking the people on the top deck would see that my hair was thin and patchy.

There were lots of things I’d shy away from, like being around friends who were doing hairstyles or talking about hair. If someone went to touch my hair I’d pull away violently and they’d stare at me like I was weird. I even avoided my graduation because I didn’t want to wear the mortar board, which would have meant having to take my hair out of a ponytail; the only hair style that would cover up most of my bald patches and make me look semi-normal.

I remember being so jealous of the girls with beautiful, long, flowing hair, laughing with the boys in the playground at school. Why couldn’t I be like them?

I tried hypnotherapy, medication, counselling – all sorts of things, but nothing worked permanently. There have been a few times when I have stopped pulling, sometimes for days, once even for months, but eventually for some inexplicable reason my fingers would once again reach for my hair and I’d begin all over again.

Eventually, I just thought I’m really fed of looking like this, feeling like this and fighting a losing battle against trich. I decided I’d rather just cover it up, forget about it and get on with my life.

For the past 10 years or so I have been going to Hair Solved, who I discovered on the internet and who specialise in helping women with hair loss problems. I was probably one of their first clients and I’ve been with them ever since.

Wearing a hair system has made my life more enjoyable. It’s so nice to get up in the morning and go out how you are. I’ve got more confidence and I can focus on things other than hair!

My hair system feels completely normal. It’s human hair so I can straighten it, curl it and do what I want with it, just like you would your own hair. I regularly go swimming now with my one-year-old daughter, but before I wouldn’t have done.

I only need a completely new system every three years and I like to try something different each time. Why not? I’ve been into reds or dark purples over the last few years and what’s great is the colour never fades! People are always saying ‘I love your hair colour, how do you do that? My daughter has fair hair, so when I had a new system just a few weeks ago, I decided to have a light and natural colour to match hers.

I normally start with the hair really long, because obviously it doesn’t grow, so I’ll start off with it as long as I can. After a few weeks, it starts getting loose because my own hair grows, so I usually go back to the Hair Solved salon every couple of months or when I want to. They’ll tighten things up for me and trim and style it, just to keep it nice.

My hair system is great in the Summer too. It’s basically a light mesh that your head can breathe through, so it doesn’t get hot at all. I’ve been in really hot countries and its absolutely fine and it actually stops you getting sunburn.

I’ve accepted that I’ll always wear hair systems and that’s better than always trying to stop the urge to pull my hair, because it’s so difficult to stop something when I don’t know how to.

Trich took over my life for a very long time, but I don’t dwell on it now because I’m a pretty positive person and life’s good now.

That’s why I’m happy to share my story. Because if you are reading this and struggling with trich, you really don’t need to keep fighting it. A hair system like mine could be the perfect solution for you. It’s certainly worked for me!

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