I have been pulling since I was 11. I’d like to think there was a real dramatic moment of discovery of this thing that would play such a large part in my life, but really, I discovered pulling in my friend’s mum car in a Tesco car park waiting for chips. My friend showed me how she split her split ends, and then made me try garlic mayonnaise. My life was changed that day, one for the better with the food from heaven, and one with the systematic destruction of my head. It was a fair trade off and I would not change it. I do love garlic mayo and it plays a larger part in my life than my hair pulling.
I am an extremely anxious person with faiiirrlllyy low self-esteem and am very prone to months of depression on end. That day in the car, I discovered an outlet for my anxiety, my negative feelings that I could not, and still cannot, find a way to express productively. I am trying to find a productive way. I tried the typical angsty teen song writing and poetry. I read back on it, it’s not great and it didn’t help me at the time but to be honest, it provides me with light relief these days. Some of it is horrendously bad. Bless 14 year old me, I was a trier. I tried drowning it out with alcohol and good nights out as I got older. I have great memories of being drunk with friends, laughing until I cry, crying until I laugh. My binge drinking turned into a daily occurrence. So I stopped. For a while. I can drink socially now, although I have a tendency to rely on it for help in social situations. It is a battle I still fight, some months I win that one and others I do not. I have found journaling a help with my overall wellbeing. I find when I write, I can sometimes express feelings that I did not know I felt. I find it a useful exercise for healing further down the line. The reflection process has been healing for turbulent times in my life. If we can’t learn from our own experiences, what can we learn from?
I’m learning that to look after myself, I must seriously give it some attention. When I go through good times, I naively think “I am healed! Success!”, only to fall with a thud a month later as I have not been looking after my mental health, drinking too much, eating too much crap and not journaling. I need to give my mind, body and soul equal attention. And give those three vital parts of me attention before I even THINK of giving that attention to another. I am prone to seek happiness in other people. I am learning that this is an entirely useless exercise, and I should cease doing this. I am learning to talk, to ask for help from trusted confidants. I am learning to choose these people wisely. I am learning to choose the people I surround myself with. I can create the life I want through a series of positive choices and a bit (okay a lot) of hard work.
My trichotillomania flairs in turbulent times. It flairs often before I know the bad times are coming. I figure if I can sort out my “base” mentality, then the hairpulling will take care of itself. I see the hair pulling as a symptom of my other issues. Maybe I am being naïve, but what if I am not? Although I despise my 2inch bald patch along with the bitty fluffy regrowth, and I get so frustrated with myself when I see it and the PILE of hair on the laptop/floor/jumper/desk, I don’t see my hair pulling as my worst problem. I see it as a bad habit, a terrible way of expressing my pain. I know some may see their hair pulling as something different, but their hair pulling is something different. It is a different thing to each of us. The only thing we can do at the end of the day is accept it. Accept that I do this, and it is okay. I am okay, and hair pulling does not make me a terrible human. It is something I do, not what or who I am.
I will sort my shit out. This has been a 12 year journey so far. I do not know how much longer this will take, but at the end of the day, does it matter? I’m living my life, and trying not to make the negativity a focus, of course sometimes it wins. And I have plenty of hats for when it does.