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“Stop playing with your hair!” my mother screamed at me.
For about the millionth time that hour, I slammed my hand on the table. I was trying to do my
studies, and I was obviously so focused on the book in front of me that I had absolutely no idea
what my hand was doing. I was easily becoming frustrated with myself, because really, keeping my
hand out of my hair shouldn't be too hard, should it?
Well, actually, yes. Yes it is. It is one of the hardest things that I could possibly do. I am not
your typical college student. There are quite a few people out there who go through what I go
through, but I'm not entirely sure on the actual statistics. It is more common than what you would
think, but there aren't that many of us out there.
“Rebecca Ann! I do not want to have to tell you again!”
Once again, I tore my hand from my hair and placed it back on the table, setting the back cover of
my text book on top of it in attempts to hold it down. “Yes, mum,” I said shamefully.
While other little girls were out playing hopscotch or jumping rope, singing Miss Mary Mack, I was
in the house, being punished for something that I could not control. As a teenager, the girls that I
went to school with showed off their faces with make up or fluffed their long, flowing hair. I was
beyond jealous. I'm surprised my face didn't literally turn green with envy.
I was the girl in the background of everything, hiding behind my thick rimmed glasses and, when
allowed, under hats. I was the girl who never let anyone else get too close to her, out of fear that
someone would really notice her. In a way, I was living a double life.
Mum sat down across from me at our dining room table, where I had set up shop to focus on my
studies. “Becca, listen,” she said softly. I always knew that my mum was hurt by this.
She thought it was her fault. In her mind, she was completely responsible for my `problem.'
“I've taken away your make up. I've taken away your scissors and your tweezers. Please don't
make me take away the concert.”
“Mum, you can't,” I pleaded. “I'm trying, Mum. Really, I am. Please, just don't
take away the concert.”
She gave me the look that she was so famous for giving when it came to me and my issues. “I
don't want to,” she said quietly. “I just don't know what else to do, Becca.”
She would never understand. Nobody ever does. It seemed that not a single person I knew could
wrap their head around the fact that even though I was doing this to myself, I could not control it.
I have been called a masochist many times. Even the bloody physicians didn't know what to do with
me. I thought that I was crazy. It was the only explanation. What else would cause me to do
something so indirectly self-harming? No matter what I tried, I could not stop pulling out my
It all started when I was nine years old. I was in grade four and I had grown a very painful sty on
one of my upper eyelids. It caused me great discomfort to the point where my mother stepped in. She
told me to pull out the eyelash that was on the sty. I did. I just couldn't stop after that. I
didn't stop until both of my eyelids were completely bare. Then, years later, I started pulling from
my scalp. It has been a battle ever since.
I thought I was a freak. My parents thought the exact same thing. They could not understand while
their little girl pulled out all of her eyelashes. Didn't it hurt?
Yes, it did hurt, but not in a normal painful sense. It was like I had been bitten by a bug and the
only relief was to scratch it. That scratch hurts, but it still feels extremely satisfying. That's
how it feels when I pull my hair. When I am not pulling, my scalp tingles just like a bug bite would
and my hands seem to be magically drawn to my hair. I do it without thinking about it. I cannot help
As it turns out, I had all of the warning signs. When I was a young girl, I would twirl strands of
hair in my fingers. I would wound them so tight that they would cling to my scalp like little buns.
After awhile, my head looked like it had little Princess Leia from Star Wars buns all over my head.
I looked utterly ridiculous. We found out later that this was one of the tells. I also scratched my
crown until it bled and then later picked at the scabs. Once again, my parents asked me why I would
do such a thing and once again, I had to tell them that I did not know. We were all at a loss.
Did my friends notice? Not really, although I never got too close to them to begin with. Every time
someone would say, “Goodness, Becca, your eyelashes are terribly short,” I would cower
and do my best to change the subject. I owned contacts, but I chose to wear my glasses instead, for
they proved to be a distraction from the bald patches on my lids.
I discovered eyeliner and thought myself to be a genius. Although I still noticed the blank
spaces between eyelashes, the eye pencil on my lids kept other people from noticing unless they
really looked closely. I never allowed anyone to do such a thing, and I started to feel
comfortable. My mother took away the pencil in attempts to get me to stop pulling altogether, saying
that the pencil wasn't doing anything except providing a disguise.
No one ever understood. Countless times, my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives would bring
up the subject around me. “Why can't you just stop?” “Why are you doing this to
yourself?” “You do know that you'll go bald, right?” “You're going to go
I can't help it! I've tried. I've tried for ten years to stop this, but I just can't. I've gone a
few months without pulling out a single hair, but it just keeps coming back. It's like alcoholism.
It is always there. I think that being an alcoholic sounds like a better idea than having this. At
least I could get rid of alcohol to keep myself from pulling. I can't really get rid of every hair
on my body, now can I? I even can't get rid of the triggers.
I found out that I pull when I'm stressed. Others with the disorder find that they pull after eating
certain foods, namely foods with high levels of sugar or caffeine. I pull when I am stressed about
school or family issues. I also pull when I am falling asleep or trying to fall asleep. I even wear
gloves to bed at night to keep myself from pulling. Try explaining that to the girls at
I always thought myself to be a nutter until I found out that this was an actual disorder classified
in the DSM IV. Once I found that out, I went from being a nutter to being mental. Fantastic.
To top it all of, I knew of no one else who was like me. I had no one to talk to, no one who
would understand how I felt or what I was going through.
I groaned and put my forehead on the table, trying my best not to cry. No, she would never
A/N: I've kept this little number back for awhile, but recently, I've gained the courage
to post it.
Call it historical fiction, if you will. I am not Rebecca. I am not from England.
The rest is all true. Every last word of it.
I suffer from a disorder called `Trichotillomania,' which is an impulse control disorder.
Basically, Trichotillomania (pronounced Trick-oh-till-oh-may-knee-ah, Trich for short) is the
pulling of one's hair, be it from the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or pubic areas. I've had Trich for
ten years, just like in this story. I didn't know that what I was doing had a name until a few years
That's why I am posting this. It is not all that common and very few people are aware that it
exists. Let's just say that I'm doing my part to get it out there.
If you have Trich, know someone who does, or just are curious, drop me a personal message. They
mysterious Dana88 isn't quite so mysterious anymore :P
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The preceeding was a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.
Please see the Terms of Service for more information.