Hi, my name is Brittany Kihl. I will be 23 in 9 days, have a part-time job, go to school full time and have a disorder called Trichotillomania. As I am typing now, just typing down just information about my story about dealing with trich, I have to pause and stop and go back to typing every few minutes or so. Why am I stopping so much, making it impossible to focus and finish typing what I have written down to send to you? I am sitting here focusing on searching for the “perfect” strand of hair to pull out and chew the root off. Trichotillomania effects me everyday with almost everything that I do or try to accomplish or focus on. I can’t just watch a movie, do homework, hold hands with my boyfriend, without fighting with my self in my mind to resist the urge to want to attack my head with my tweezer like fingers.
I first had an encounter with pulling my hair out when I was 12 years old on Halloween night. Standing and staring at myself in the mirror, I felt a a huge emotion rush over me. That emotion I would consider in my later years to be a form of depression. For some reason in that moment I took a huge amount of hair at the top of my head and pulled it completely out. My initial thought was that I didn’t think it would come out of my scalp that easily. When I realized what I did, I ran down the stairs to show my mother what I had done to myself. She didn’t seem to find it to be a problem and ignored the issue. Later that night I pulled two more huge clumps from the lower left and right side of my head. I have pulled almost every day since then.
It was a lot harder to hide my bald spots and habits when I was younger. I didn’t find a system to the method of my madness yet. I would pull from anywhere and for long periods of time with no control or emotional stability. I would color my hair, find constant ways to update my hairstyle, use bandannas to shape my hair to cover the bald spots on the sides of my head. My bald spot that was bad back then and to this day is the worst is the spot on the top of my head where peoples parts from there hair usually end. When I was younger I would have to bunch a group of hair together and create a small ponytail and tie it back with a small rubber band. I was made fun of a lot because of this and it made it hard for me to meet new people and trust them. This condition in high school made me have low self esteem which in return affected my grades and many other aspects of my life. I always wanted to talk to a psychologist or a counselor for this. But the people I opened up to about Trichotillomania didn’t seem to find it to be a problem that money should be spent on.
Once I started college, I started questioning the habit and why I do it. What can I do to stop myself? For my English class I had to do a research paper and I chose to write about Trichotillomania. Through research it helped me understand that I was not alone. Also that there are types of therapy used to help reduce trich and or get rid of the disorder completely.
Now I have taught myself different ways to deal with trich. I use habit reversal training, a stress ball, and most importantly trying to keep a health positive mindset. One of the key points in all the research I have done is to think critically about where you do it, what you are feeling when you do it, why you are doing it now (stress, habit, depression, anxiety) and tying to stop yourself from a long picking session. There are ways to stop yourself or get yourself out of a picking situation. Sometimes I straight up yell at myself out loud verbally. I learned yelling by putting myself down was not successful. But yelling with words of encouragement or a joke always helped me step back from the situation. Jokes are good and so is a sense of humor, its okay to laugh at yourself. I keep a stress ball my boyfriend gave me in my car because driving is where I pick my hair the most. Finding people who you can confide in and our supportive is a huge aspect of helping yourself with trich. My boyfriend and sister are very supportive which is helpful in keeping me positive. I am going to be getting another stress ball to have in my room because that is the second place I pick my hair the most. Also, if I am home and I have the urge to pick or I do pick and I feel I am going to pick for a while, I go and wet my hair. Because when my hair is wet I can’t pull one strand at a time. Another idea I have tried is removing myself from whatever situation I was in and going and doing something else for a couple minutes. For example, if I am sitting doing homework and get the urge, I will get up and go wash my hands. Or I call my boyfriend or sister and try to talk about it and wait for the tension to pass.
I am by no means cured from this disorder completely. But I choose not to give up either and let it run my life. I help myself by talking to others, I created a Trichotillomania Facebook page, do research, and try out new scenarios that can be beneficial to stopping the urge. I want to work towards a long term goal to finally end my battle with trich once and for all. With a positive mindset, people that stand behind me, and determination I will one day be free. Anyone who suffers from this you can do it too! We need to stick together and help each other by talking and building support and strength. My email is email@example.com if you want to talk. I would love for anyone to use my email as a source to write to me if you need someone to talk to or just feel that you are not alone. My name is Brittany Kihl and one day I will be free from Trichotillomania.