Archive for October, 2010

Hair Haiku

An art exhibit that I went to a couple of weeks ago had an interactive haiku writing experience.  I dismissed it, but later that night got an idea for a haiku to submit (they were accepting them via text).  I was going to send them a haiku about Trich as a “public service announcment” since I knew lots of people were going to see the exhibit.  Then I realized that they had to be poems about someone you love.  So, I didn’t submit after all.

Today I found the slip of paper I’d written my haiku on.  So, I will post it here as a PSA instead.  I may meander over to Facebook and post it there too.

I pull out my hair.


Shame.  But I won’t hide.

The day I wrote this was the day I was walking around town amongst crowds while the wind blew my hair up to reveal my bald patches.  It took a concerted effort not to just walk back to the car & go home, instead of staying out amongst people just being me.

If you’ve ever written a haiku or poem about hair pulling (or want to now), please share…


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Is it Addiction?

The first time a therapist told me that she likened hair pulling to addiction I was flabbergasted and offended.  I’ve spent so much of my life being a “good girl” and not trying anything I could get addicted to, that it just seem horrible for that to be possible.  I didn’t even know anyone  who smoked anything stronger than tobacco and I didn’t drink until after I was 21.  So that didn’t settle well.  (Honestly, I laugh a little at my naivete back then, knowing what has happened in my life since then.)

However, after studying hair pulling from the outside in (rather than from just a puller’s perspective), I see why she said that.  There are pleasure chemicals released when we pull, whether we like it or not.  It’s just like the endorphins that flood the systems of drug users.  They develop physical habits that go along with their addiction (that arm motion is hard for smokers to break), and it tends to happen in certain places time after time (favorite pub, the secret stash in the den).

Sound familiar, pullers?  Part of the reason our behaviors are so hard to break, is because our brain is drugging us when we pull, our hands, arms, even mouth, play a part in our ritual.  We have that place which triggers us to pull even if we have other things on our mind (for me that’s the car & computer).  It is REALLY hard to substitute all the parts of our ritual to satisfy our body’s need without pulling.  We do sort of go into withdrawal, but not generally as severely as a drug or alcohol addict.  But it can still be painful.  Just like with alcohol, our “addiction” is legal and around us all the time.   It is easy to get.  Ours is even free & rides around on our body.  It is TOO easy.

I’ve heard mention of 12 step meetings for people with body focused repetitive behaviors.  I’ve never been to one.  I don’t know if they’d help or not.  It probably depends on the type of person.

I was curious about our resources, so I emailed TLC to ask them how many support groups are ongoing right now for pullers to attend.  Here’s an interesting comparison:

There are 117 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings just in the medium-sized city near me. There are fewer than 70 Trich support groups in the ENTIRE USA that meet regularly. In said city, we have only one…and we’re lucky to even have that.

I dream of a time that we can walk to the corner church if we’re having a bad pulling day and converse with the dozens of other pullers in our community, instead of having to wait an entire month to drive an hour away to see the few brave souls who show up to support group.

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Awareness Day 3

I posted this one late today, but it is day 3 of my TTM Awareness “campaign”.  I have so many tidbits that I’d like to share with people, but I have a hard time keeping it short.  I can go on and on about this topic.  I guess that happens when you’ve got 21 year worth of information stuck in your head bursting to get out.

Here was today’s facebook quote:

Trichotillomania Awareness Day 3: Compulsive Hair Pulling is just one of three common body focused repetitive behavior disorders. The others are dermotillomania (compulsive skin picking) and onychophagia (compulsive nail biting). These become disorders when they begin to interfere in day to day life due to emotional turmoil, lost time, or inability to follow through with daily living.

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This week is TTM Awareness week and I’m going to try posting something every day, both here and on my facebook page. That’s where most of the people I actually know, will see this information, rather than people who are pullers.

I want to put up facts about the disorder and what it is like to live with. I hope to make some real life comparisons that might help people really see what this disorder is like and how prevalent it is.

Here was today’s:
1 in 50 people compulsively pull their hair out enough to cause anything from mild emotional discomfort, all the way to baldness & crippling anxiety. Of all the mental disorders currently known, only depression and substance abuse are perceived to be more common. Yet, next to no one even knows Trich exists. Most pullers live behind curtains of fear & shame, without educated friends & family to lean on. This needs to stop.

So, as I’m turning over ideas in my head for posts….

If you aren’t comfortable answering in a comment, email at the address in the upper right corner of the blog. Or, send me a comment, but notate that you don’t want it posted. I have to read & approve them all before they’ll show up anyway. (And if you’re someone who doesn’t pull, but there is something YOU would like to know, I’d love to hear that as well.)

I look forward to your input.

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