I have this habit that has been controlling my life since I was in kindergarten. I used to believe I was all alone. I believed I was the only person in this world that could not stop pulling out my hair, from everywhere! Hair from my head, eyebrows, eyelashes, and even leg hairs when I don't shave. For years, I would do everything I could to hide my bald spots. Then, one day, I had enough of feeling alone. So I went to this trusty sight called Google, and found out I have something called trichotillomania: trich, for short. Turns out, hundreds of thousands of other men and women suffer from this!
I still remember what first influenced me to start pulling. I was in kindergarten, sitting at the corner of a table with a few other kids around. We were working on an assignment and my teacher came up to me to see how my work was going. She looked at me and smiled warmly, stating, "oh, look! you have a wish lash!" I looked at her confused, asking what that was. She took the eyelash off my cheek, held it on her finger, and told me to blow on it, close my eyes, and make a wish. So I did, and I wished Power Rangers were real so I could be a part of the team!
I believed wishes came true the more you wished for it. So, not too long after that, almost all my eyelashes were used for wishes on being a Power Ranger, part of the Ninja Turtles' team, or to be a ghost person like Danny Phantom. Once I pulled out all my lashes, I moved to pulling my eyebrow hairs next; then leg hairs (until I started to shave), and finally, by 6th grade, I was pulling from my head. I had a giant bald spot on the very top of my head. Since my hair is brown, I would try to use brown or black eyeliner to color in the bald spots. I was anxious about doing a lot of normal things other children could do, like going swimming, or doing anything where my hat/beanie would potentially fall off.
Now that I am about to be 21 in November, I feel like I have much better control of my hair pulling. The only thing that truly helped me get my hair pulling under control is willpower. For years, I would want to stop, but deep down, I enjoyed the satisfaction of pulling too much to stop, and nothing would help. Wearing gloves or using fidget toys or spinners would never help. I still pull daily, and triggers are different for everyone. For me, its stress and anxiety, mostly. Others might pull due to depression or boredom. Also, most people start pulling during puberty, and some stop when they finish puberty, while others pull their whole life.
There are so many people who pull out their hair, it makes me feel like it's not actually weird or nasty. I think hair pulling is just as normal as nail biting, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. As I was writing this, I became overwhelmed with anxiety over letting everyone know one of my lifelong insecurities. But now that I have finished, I feel like this is something that nobody should be insecure or embarrassed about. I also realized this is something people should know about, so others don't feel alone either.