Growing up with Trichotillomania Grace's Hair Loss Story
“Over the years I was given many suggestions, one of which was to shave my hair off and start again. But oddly I couldn’t bare to see my hair go, it was a love hate relationship.”
My Trichotillomania began when I was 12
Thats when I started pulling my hair and trying to come up with rational reasons as to why I did it. I thought I did it to compare my individual hair colours, the darker brown to the lighter. I dyed my hair blonde to try and stop, but I continued to pull. I started to find my dark roots against the blonde interesting, and obviously I had the classic ‘trich-rush’ from pulling – a compelling urge followed by instant relief when you have completed the pull.
At 12 years old it was hard for me to identify that I had the compulsion to pull, I didn’t understand it. I remember the first bald patch that appeared, it was on my crown and rather easy to hide at this point, but it wasn’t long before it spread. I started coming up with creative ways not to have a parting and to hide the ever-growing bald patch. Over the years I was given many suggestions, one of which was to shave my hair off and start again. But oddly I couldn’t bare to see my hair go, it was a love hate relationship.
I was scared of irrational things
My Trichotillomania is a constant struggle in my life, my family and extremely close friends were always aware but I worked extremely hard to try and cover it; I adapted my hair styles with the bald that would lessen and worsen depending on my mental state. I was scared of very irrational things, from people being taller than me and being able to look down on my hair and see bald, or a gust of wind ready to expose me. I was scared of judgment and ridicule, I wanted to stop but I was also scared of being made to stop or being blamed for my desire to pull.
‘Just stop’ is an early memory of what people would say to me once they found out, as if it was just that easy, like I wanted to be bald? I hated what I was doing to myself and I felt weak for not being able to stop. Luckily my mum was a hairdresser so I never had to face a humiliating salon experience. I often wondered about all the other people who had this illness and didn’t have a hairdresser mother. What where they doing; cutting their own hair? That is what I would do, rather than have anyone see what I felt was like a shameful secret.
I became aware of hair systems when I was planning my wedding
Trichotillomania was not a widely known condition when I was a child, the internet didn’t exist as it does now, so seeking comfort was hard. Obviously as I have become older I have found help for my anxiety issues and have worked a lot on my mental health, but sadly pulling is something that remains. I got married in 2017 and after having thoroughly researched and understood Trichotillomania, I was aware of systems that could go on your hair to cover up any bald areas.
This was something I wanted, a chance to have ‘normal’ hair, but after having a consultation in a salon that did these systems it became apparent that it was far too expensive, I think altogether it was coming to a cost of £4000, which with a wedding to pay for was not achievable. So I carried on with life and struggled to overcome pulling.
I’ve taken time to be calm and address whats happening inside
Over the last three years I have done a lot of self reflection about what has caused me to pull and what has caused me to be so anxious. I have undertaken Therapy and Reki, I have quit my job and taken time to be calm and to address what was happening inside; to understand why I was harming myself by pulling.
This is something I needed to do to be able to hopefully stop one day. I used hair pulling as a child as a way of coping when I felt stressed or anxious so breaking a cycle that started so young will always be an ongoing battle.
But I’m battling on and a year ago I started a podcast about my journey and came out on Facebook and instagram with my bald patch on show. I told the whole world that I had Trichotillomania to free myself of a shame that I should never have had. It felt freeing, no more hiding, no more shame and no more feeling guilty, this is me, bald and all!
With my new trich-pride I wanted to address my fear of hair salons
My trichotillomania story will never be over, it has been in my life longer than it wasn’t. I used to hate myself for pulling but I’ve come to understand I did it to protect myself from whatever it was that I couldn’t handle; it was my soothing mechanism. With my new found ‘trich-pride’ I wanted to feel comfortable within myself to address my fears of hair salons. So I googled ‘trichotillomania friendly hair salons near me’, Hair Solved in Bristol came up and after booking my appointment I was ready for my first salon visit!
From start to finish it was a lovely experience, I was made to feel comfortable and at ease. They were professional and were in no way phased by my trichotillomania, its their everyday and it felt amazing to be part of their ‘norm’. During my cut, I chatted with Shannon about their enhancer and realised how affordable their prices were. So I spontaneously (for me!) agreed to an appointment to get it done, this was something I’d always wanted and I felt now was the perfect time!
I was so nervous, but I shouldn’t have been. It was lovely and with me and Shannon chatting, it flew by. It was finished and I finally had a full head of hair that I could treat as my own. Its been a week and I am having the best time with my new hair! Its so easy and looks so real, everyone has been so complimentary and it has helped ease my anxiety towards my hair.
Thank you so much to the team at Hair solved, it was truly a great experience and I am so so pleased with the results. I wanted to share my story because it may help other people with Trich to feel better too.