Living with trichotillomania

Through these experiences, I want to be able to help others, including Native Americans

My battle with trichotillomania has been on and off since a young age. My earliest memory of the start was in elementary school in music class one day when my head began itching and I began pulling. In 7th grade, it definitely continued to get worse up through high school. I began being bullied in high school from it; called names, lost friends, and had little support. I even tried committing suicide. My family did not understand my situation, and instead they pushed me to stop through shame. I wanted to wear a wig in school but I felt discouraged, thinking I might be made fun of worse.

I am Native American and my family also had superstitious beliefs. My problem in their eyes was from having someone who was “witching” me. Their assumption was that someone from their cultural view was jealous and/or hated me, and somehow got a hold of my nails or hair and buried it in a graveyard making me crazy. My anxiety built from the bullying in school, pressure to stop. My nail biting had also gotten worse as well, people saying my fingers were gonna curl in where I couldn’t use them anymore.

As soon as I was done with high school, I had more freedom with wearing wigs. But people still talked about me and bullied me. I periodically could control it but it would would continue on and off. I had gotten help with my anxiety and stopped for awhile with both habits. But it started again after I was married. I worked in places where I could hide my head with scarves and headwraps but it still was not a perfect solution. People still snickered and stared, being bullied at work and even though I passed it off, it still hurts. I tried to get help through counseling but my scheduling with work made it difficult. I’m currently facing financial problems which adds to my stress and anxiety and it’s been hard battling it on and off.

Living with these conditions is hard enough. I worry about if I find a new job, what will they think of me when I wear a wig or if I will be able to hide it? I have to wear scarves and hats to hide my head. I don’t want to wear a wigs at times and sometimes I do. I’ve also had a weird development of hating having long hair and nails, a type of OCD/PTSD from another incident involving a dog attack. My head itches and I don’t want long hair, yet my mind races over this and I want to feel pretty again. I want to be normal again and feel accepted. I feel as though people continually stare at me. I want people to understand these conditions, not only what I have, but what others go through. Through these experiences, I want to be able to help others, including Native Americans, to know that mental illnesses/BFRBs are not anyone’s own fault.

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