The crux behind Trichotillomania is that the person cannot STOP. IF you could “just stop,” which is a phrase that is commonly said to patients… Then, dontcha think that we would? If one can just sit there, and say to themselves, “Ok, I’m not going to do this anymore” & then cease to never pull again… Just like that. Using no techniques, medicines, vitamins, doctors, support groups, or therapies, exercises, methods, mantras, motifs, accountabilities or tools or any other form of weaponry to fight it down & regain control. … But to just plain stop? Then… I have the belief that they have a simple habit not a disorder, an extremely complex disorder, at that. Yes, habit is part of Trich for most but there are several other larger components that feed into BFRBs (Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors, newly classified in the DSM-V: Trich & Derma), it is not just a habitual behavior. It’s a disorder that is very, very difficult to stop. A Trichster has to overcome the habit part but also the OCD, perfectionism, anxiety, curiosity, urges, impulse control, self-esteem, confidence, Trances, logic blocking, triggers, addiction to serotonin and other feel-good endorphins, and self harm/self mutilation (depending on who you’re talking to), idleness, ticks, control, anger, boredom, nervousness, fidgeting or otherwise, coping mechanism— That is one hell of a list to knock out and habit is only 1 of many parts of BFRBs. So my question is, if you can just stop, without any type of help, then would that person have Trichotillomania, a disorder? My opinion is no, they have a simple (in comparison), habit. The habitual part of Trich falls into the times when one is unaware that they are pulling/picking or if it’s an automatic go-to coping mechanism and unconsciously reacting to a situation causing tension yet the person’s focus is on something different. e.g. watching a scary movie or taking a test. Again, the crux and very meaning behind Trich is that one cannot just stop. If one can just stop then they would not have the disorder… Right?
There are people, very few people who are “Pull Free” but they didn’t just get up one day and decided to never do it again and just quit and go on about their lives… No no no, they fight it every single day. They are not “cured” they are still in support groups and teaching/helping/supporting others and sharing their methods and techniques, mantras et cetera… Everyday. They still need support, they still want to use methods of accountability even if it’s been 5 years since their last dance. If it were a simple habit, I guarantee they would not give their time to fellow patients. These “Pull Free’s” would walk away and never look back. If you have ever read or seen “The Hunger Games,” these Pull-Free’s are like Mocking Jays, they are symbols of hope. Hope is so important. Even just a little. Anybody…ehum… who says, “There is no hope” is lying to themselves and to others. Straight to your face. If it was true they wouldn’t be doing things like tying themselves down or getting their hair shaved as a precaution or pull from other places to keep themselves from doing damage elsewhere. Nope. If they deep-down truly thought that there was no hope they wouldn’t have a hair on their body because they quit trying and trying IS fighting and fighting requires hope. I think some who aim/wish to be “pull free” have this idea that they can just stop, as if it were a habit & as if they’ve never tried that one before. Just up and quit. They skip the tools, methods, techniques, etc. and just expect their brain to go cold turkey. “Cold Turkey” is a phrase used for stopping a habit. BFRBs are disorders. Some people don’t realize Mocking Jay’s are fighting side by side still. Why else would they be in these Trich groups? Before becoming a Pull Free or a Trichster who hasn’t pulled for a day or a week or whatever one’s own personal definition of it is, they have to use things/weapons to help. Finding things to help are called “trials and errors” that in itself is a STRATEGY. Trying and failing doesn’t mean YOU fail, it means whatever tool you tried FAILED. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing either, it means you’ve tried something, it didn’t work, toss it to the side, try something else & that’s one step closer. Eventually, you will find things that work, things that kind of work, things that work when you put them together, & things that do not work at all. One must give each thing a good honest try to know 100% it doesn’t work for them at all. It’s like a puzzle, if a piece doesn’t fit, you pick up another. Trials & Errors not Trying and Failing.
Note Essay: One must learn for themselves. One can take suggestions but in the end, everybody’s BFRB is different. Customization is key. What doesn’t work for somebody doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for another person and vice versa. Patients can even make up their own tools and develop their own weapons- Get inventive. Because again, in the end, it is between you and your disorder. I have to be easy with myself and remember that I have a legit disorder. It is in no way my fault. I did not choose this, I do not want this. I have 2 options: A. Give up or B. Accept that I have a disorder but choose to fight it for as long as it takes. If it turns out that this is not some curable disorder then fine, whatever. I’m still going to try new things out and figure out how to reduce my pulling and picking to a minimum.
Hope is not killed at all… due to internet there are millions of people coming forward with BFRBs and that creates noise and grabs the attention of physicians/researchers/genealogists/psychiatrists. We are the front runners right now. :) Yay! [sarc] Doctors might discover a cure that’s so simple, it’s stupid! Like, an imbalanced hormone or lack of a vitamin or too much of a natural occurring chemical in our brains… The point is, we do not know all the information… yet! :) Who knows what the next 5-10 years will hold. We are just now being paid attention to properly. The numbers are too big and BFRB’s will be regarded as a serious and mentally, emotionally, socially, romantically, financially, and physically damaging disorder. As a psychologist, I can tell you that Trichotillomania is by far, the most intricate and complex disorder I’ve ever studied in abnormal psychology. As a patient, I can also tell you that this is also a slow, tormenting affliction that causes deep pain in almost all areas of one’s life. It’s not to be brushed off as a silly habit anymore. Doctor’s need to think and ask themselves, “Where are these millions and millions of people suddenly coming forward from?” …Hiding, dummies! That alone should speak for itself. BFRBs are embarrassing, they create shame and people who have it [a form of BFRB] are obviously negatively affected by it to the point of hiding and deeply suffering from it in silence.
The HATE that comes with it causes so much damage especially since it surfaces with the highest age and gender demographic of 12 year-old females. There is enough going on during puberty & then having to face school-mates. I have a bullying story that would make some people go pale in the face. It also causes suicide feelings, thoughts, ideations, attempts & completions. This is a big deal guys, I have hope that an answer is coming. Even if the answer means that there is no possible cure at that moment, I still want to know why I pull my own hair out or pick my skin. I would like to know why so that when other people ask me why, I can have a better answer for them other than, “I don’t know why I do it or why I can’t stop.” I want to be able to say, “It’s a genetic condition” or “It’s a chemical imbalance” or something… anything that’s better than the answer I have, right now. Ya dig?
Another thing I want to put out there is that I think “Trich” should be called, BFRB. I find myself talking about both disorders yet I tend to just say ‘Trich’ with the notion that I am implying Dermatillomania too. I have both but saying ‘Trich’ when I’m implying Derma as well, needs to stop. That is a habit. So unless I am only speaking specifically about Trich, or specifically about Derma, then I am going to try to use “BFRB.” To the derma-only community, that could be a bit demeaning. It may make those with derma only feel like everything is all about Trich or that Trich is the bigger issue when no, that is not true, whatsoever. They are both equally painful (mentally & emotionally).
Derma is something I’ve only known about in the last two years and after hearing many personal testimonies, I found that every single thing behind Trich matches up 99% to everything behind Derma. The one and only difference (that is mutual on both sides) is the medium. One is hair, the other skin. There is no reason why ‘Trich’ is more important or trumps Derma in someway; it’s belittling. For me, Derma was just new. Therein lies why it morphed into a habit. I had been slinging the term ‘Trich’ around for a decade before I was sadly introduced to Dermatillomania. (It was sad because I knew several million people were suffering from Trich. So, in my head, the numbers doubled when I heard about Dermatillomania. All that suffering!) :( Anyway, slinging around the term “Trich” when I mean both “Trich” AND “Derma” is a bit disrespectful. Even though I don’t do it on purpose, it is something I am going to work on not doing anymore. Essentially, if I say “Trich” but I am implying “Trich and Derma” then I will say: “BFRB”. (Duh, I know!) It sounds silly but I know that many others do this out of habit too. I’ve also heard Derma patients talk about it and rightfully so. It’s a respect thing and it’s just something that I personally need to & want to quit doing. Again, I CAN sit here and say I’m going to quit doing something that I want to quit doing/change because throwing around the “Trich” term is a habit not a disorder and because habits can quit. Disorders… Not quite like that.
My little motto, in the works! Let me know if you have any ideas to add!
Contain (pull areas)
Refrain (pulling from pull areas)
Obtain (new hair in pull areas)
Maintain (new hair and re growth from pull areas)
Stay sane (during re growth periods)
Remain (not pulling from pull areas)
Ehh… It needs work but you get the idea! Open to ideas/suggestions I’m trying this as a mental mantra and trying is fighting and that is all that matters.
Lastly, if you have actually read this, high-mother-effen-five! 👋 Thank you. Boxes are open! Please give feedback!
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